Clutter Books

A list of books (with comments) about clutter and disorganization and organizing. These are compiled from many sources, chiefly the DECLUTTR maillist. The links take you to the book description on my site or on (Usually you can get the book there at a discount if you want to buy it). Most books should be available through inter-library loan at your local library. Prices marked on this page are approximate list price before any discount.) (Remarks are those of the people who posted the information on the mail list. I have tried to organize this material somewhat while retaining all content from the maillist book messages. - Balance Check.)
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DeCluttr Maillist - FAQ - short version

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Last updated 8/11/98.


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In association with bookstore. This attention deficit disorder site recognized as a 3-Star Site! -by Mental Health Net

(Added by Balance Check - not part of official FAQ) 8/11/98

NEW BOOK (for me) - I've ordered it. Will let you know more when I've read it.

Lighten Up: Free Your Life From Clutter by Michelle Passoff (March 1998)

Author's statement: LIGHTEN UP! Free Yourself From Clutter is [the name of my] company that provides people tools to create miracles in their lives by being free from too much stuff. In addition to private consultations, seminars, lectures, workshops and retreats, I am thrilled to now have the book available. My suggestion is that you use it as a companion guide to clutter cleaning as a self-growth and life enhancement accessory. Discover how clutter cleaning can be an asset to creating an environment in which to live that nurtures and supports you in your life on a routine basis.

If you just flip through the pages of the book superficially you may mistake the book for a how-to manual like many you have seen before. But, LIGHTEN UP! Free Yourself From Clutter has more to offer than just helping you be neat and tidy. I recommend that you take the time to read it and discover the treasures that are woven throughout the pages. Like clutter itself, there is more in LIGHTEN UP! Free Yourself From Clutter than meets the eye!

(Added by Balance Check - not part of official FAQ) 5/31/98

Have you thought about the library? I'm planning on checking this book out and reading it for free. And that also means clutter-free because I won't have another book lying around (getting lost) after I'm done reading it.
Mark G.
Balance Check's note: This is my strategy, too - when my library privileges haven't been suspended for overdue books. I then do end up buying some of them when I want to keep them for a reference. The purpose of this page isn't to add to your clutter but to provide information about the books that are available.

(5/29/98) I started to research various ways I could store stuff and still find it. While traveling somewhere, I was checking out a bookstore when I spotted this book: THE ORGANIZATION MAP, by PAM McCLELLAN. (ISBN: 1558703160)

I flipped thru it and decided it was worth buying (the retail is 12.95, I got it for 4.98 ). It is set up in two parts, one is decluttering info and the other is step by step decluttering and decorating for each room of the house.

While her recommenations for decoratating seem too spare for me (the collector of beautiful things <grin>), I really like her storage idea. She calls it the box storage system: Everything that is not in frequent use goes into storage boxes that are all the same size and fit on a shelving unit. All the extra kitchen gadgets go in one box, all the holiday decorations in another, memorbiilia in another, and so on. She says the "average family" might end up with 30 boxes.

I never did the complete sort and group of everthing I own, BUT it did use the idea in a smaller way. I bought some shoebox sized plastic boxes w/lids at the dollar store. I put all my camera stuff in one, all my batteries in another, all my cat care stuff in a third, 3 embrodery projects I'm working on in another,all my small walkman and cassettes (w/parts) ,all my pens, markers, pencils together, etc. I have been doing this as I accumulate a pile of related items: into a labeled plastic box. All the boxes are stacked up on one of my bookcases. It feels great finally knowing if I have batteries and where they are, ditto with the film. And I've stopped buying writing instruments, since I've got a whole box full.

Although I have not yet achieved a clutter -free house, I have two great books

I recommend buying...buying, because you will refer to them often. They have been a great help in getting my clutter under control.

The first is "It's Here...Somewhere" by Alice Fulton & Pauline Hatch (appr. $11.00) and "File...Don't Pile" by Pat Dorff (apprx $10.00)

(6/16/98) I am on a major self-improvement binge these days as it has all gotten to be just a little too overwhelming(and I have an extremely high tolerance level)....I have of course had the desire to get organized for years but never really get around to it. The most helpful books I've read are "More Hours in My Day" by Emile Barnes (also her "Survival for Busy Women) and "File...Don't Pile" by an author I can never remember....if I could only find that book.....;) I guess from those titles you can guess that I have a problem with both paper and "stuff" as well as maintaining the things I do actually manage to get clean....


More --

 Get your act together by Pam Young and Peg Jones :In association with bookstore. (see below for more books by them)

Organize yourself by Ronni Eisenberg and Kate Kelly - (see below for more books by them)

Totally Organized by Bonnie McCullough

Sidetracked Home Executives by Pam Young and Peg Jones : (see below for more books by them)

Organizing for the Creative Person by Dorothy Lehmkuhl ($14)

Bonnies Household Organizer by Bonnie McCullough

HOW TO CONQUER CLUTTER. Stephanie Culp. PB, ISBN 0-80879-362-9 (1) $15 (see below for more of her books)

Don Asletts Clutter Free by Don Aslett

500 terrific ideas for organizing everything by Sheree Bykofsky

I'm ok...but you have a lot of work to do by Pam Young and Peg Jones


Clutter Control: Putting Your House on a Diet by Jeff CampbellIn association with bookstore.

Spring Cleaning by Jeff Campbell

Speed Cleaning by Jeff Campbell


Messie's Superguide by Sandra Felton

The Messie Motivator by Sandra Felton

Messie No More by Sandra Felton

The Messies Manual : The Procrastinator's Guide To Good Housekeeping. Sandra Felton. Fleming Revell Co. PB 0-8007-5133-7 (2) $12

Messies 2 by Sandra Felton

I've noticed this seems to be a common thread among the "organizationally impaired"--we buy tons of organizational books. I have tons of them. The problem for me seems to be that knowledge doesn't seem to translate into action. I KNOW what I need to do--I just don't DO IT. This has always been somewhat puzzling to me. I seem to get overwhelmed and I don't do anything--or I start a new system and stick with it briefly but then get derailed somehow. I have done or not done most of the things I've read about on the list -- including not paying bills when I have the money to do so. Logically it doesn't make sense and I know it--so why do I do it? I seem to have great difficulty establishing a routine in my life. It just doesn't make sense to me. Can anyone else relate to what I am saying?

For anyone that could have written this last paragraph, here are three more books!

You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid, or Crazy?! - Kelly & Ramundo

Driven to Distraction - Hallowell & Ratey

Women With Attention Deficit Disorder: Embracing Disorganization at Home and in the Workplace Sari Solden


Sandra Felton. THE MESSIES MANUAL: The Procrastinator's Guide to Good Housekeeping (see above for more of her books)

Sandra Felton: THE MESSIES SUPERGUIDE: Strategies and Ideas for Conquering Catastrophic Living.

Sandra Felton, Meditations for Messies


The Complete Idiot's Guide to Organizing Your Life by Georgene Muller Lockwood, 1997, $16.95


 Alcoholics Anonymous TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS - by Anonymous - available in hardcover ($5.40), paperback ($4.50), audiotape ($44.95) and gift pocket ($3.50) versions.

Don Aslett: Clutter's Last Stand, Not For Pack Rats Only, How do I Clean the Moosehead?

Stephanie Culp: How to Organize, How to Simplify Your Life (not found on

How to Conquer Clutter
Stephanie Culp / Paperback / Published 1989
How to Get Organized When You Don't Have the Time
Stephanie Culp / Paperback / Published 1986
Stephanie Culp's 12-Month Organizer and Project Planner
Stephanie Culp / Paperback / Published 1995
Streamlining Your Life : A 5-Point Plan for Uncomplicated Living
Stephanie Culp / Paperback / Published 1991
You Can Find More Time for Yourself Every Day
Stephanie Culp / Paperback / Published 1994
610 Ways to Keep Your Day from Slipping Away
Stephanie Culp / Paperback / Published 1998
(Not Yet Published)
Conquering the Paper Pile-Up
Stephanie Culp / Paperback / Published 1990
Organized Closets and Storage : Ideas for Every Room in Your House
Stephanie Culp / Published 1990


Deniece Schofield: Confessions of an Organized Housewife: The Secrets of Uncluttering Your Home and Taking Control of Your Life : ISBN:1558703616

Deniece Schofield: Confessions of a Happily Organized Family: Hundreds of practical ways to have a neat home, happy kids and calm parents - all at the same time! : ISBN: 1558704248

Deniece Schofield : Kitchen Organizing Tips : ISBN: 1558704221


Ronnie Eisenberg and Kate Kelly : Organize Your Home : Simple Routines for Managing Your Household : ISBN: 0786880066 (also by Kate Kelly - You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?!)

Ronnie Eisenberg and Kate Kelly : Organize Your Family!: Simple Routines that Work for You and Your Kids : ISBN: 1562828711

Ronnie Eisenberg and Kate Kelly : Organize Your Office! Simple Routines for Managing Your Workspace : ISBN: 0786880376

Ronnie Eisenberg and Kate Kelly : Organize Yourself! : ISBN: 0028615077


Young and Jones, Sidetracked Home Executives (Warner 1981)
The sisters' first book, SHE (for short) outlines the use of a 3-by-5 cardfile system to move from "pigpen to paradise". Written at the end of the '70s, this is definitely a "Becky Home Ec-ky" presentation--but it contains the best description of what we Get O (short for Get Organized) types call SHE Classic. Readers learn to corral household management, clutter control, and cleaning using a 3-by-5 tickler system. Get O Rating: 5

 Young and Jones, The Sidetracked Sisters Catch-up on the Kitchen (Warner 1983)

A kitchen book, companion to SHE. I believe the kitchen book is out of print, and it's not quite the blockbuster for the terminally sidetracked that SHE was. Still, it provides a way out of messy, disorganized kitchens and pantries, and offers help for menu planning and meal prep. Get O Rating: 3.5
 Young and Jones, The Sidetracked Sisters' Happiness File (Warner 1985)
Also out of print, and it's too darn bad, too! The Happiness File (or HF to us diehards) was the book that made the system work for me. It shows how to use the basic SHE cardfile to achieve personal growth. A month-by-month guide focuses on different areas for growth and order-- and this, IMHO, is their best book. Even though it's out of print, this one is largely available in public libraries. Get O Rating: 5+.
 Young and Jones, Get Your Act Together (Harper Collins 1993).
GYAT, as it's known, is a streamlined version of the Sisters' earlier works. It introduces a stripped-down version of the cardfile, touches on some of the HF issues, and reprints much of the earlier, ill-fated "I'm OK" dogburger. New publisher onboard, this book is the first effort of the Sisters' new careers as "media celebrities". Some readers like the SHE Lite treatment, others find it doesn't work for really stubborn Sidetrackers. Get O Rating: 3.5 (....) SHE and GYAT can usually be found at large chain bookstores or Christian bookstores (these are not "Christian" publications, per se).

The sisters themselves peddle a variety of SHE items, but I've not checked in lately to see what they have. Address is:

Sidetracked Home Executives, Inc.
P. O. Box 5364
Vancouver, WA 98668
[360] 696-4091


Other products available (at least in the past) are preprinted cards, and QVC sells "Slob Sisters" set of video and audio tapes. CEO (Cynthia Ewer, Organized)

 The slobsisters (Sidetracked Home Executives) now have their own site on the www at

The site doesn't have a lot of content, yet, but you can order most of their currently available materials/books from the site. Bonnie Rice (GET-O-LIFE Newsletter)



Edward M. Hallowell, MD, wrote "Driven to Distraction." He also has a new book out called "Worry." I attended a lecture of his here at MIT on the subject of toxic worry.

 Surprisingly, Dr. Hallowell said one way to deal with toxic worry is to GET ORGANIZED AND GET RID OF CLUTTER! He said that many people live on the"brink of chaos" and that this induces chronic excessive worry if you're not taking action on it. He also strongly suggested "connectedness" as a way to deal with toxic worry. This group gives me both -- a way to take action on my clutter, and connectedness. Thanks.

Time Organization and Management

Time Management for the Creative Person by Silber

I think this one is good.

"It's About TIME! The 6 Styles of Procrastination and How to Overcome Them" by Dr. Linda Sapadin with Jack Maguire

(Hmmmm, think I need to read this one again. . . soon. . . well, maybe later. :)

More info about "It's About TIME!" (Notes from Michele K)

 Oh . . ! Another really good source for finding out-of-print books is MX BookFinder:


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