BOOK REVIEW: Decluttering at the Speed of Life by Dana K. White

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My previous review was Organizing for the Rest of Us, Dana K. White’s third book. I guess I’m reading her bibliography in reverse chronological order, since Decluttering at the Speed of Life was her second book.

As mentioned in my previous review, the subreddit r/declutter seems to really love this book. I was just looking in the discord server and people were literally just talking about it and her podcast. So the book and its concepts do have some staying power, which is impressive for books in this genre.

I actually enjoyed this book.

I think it might be better to listen to in audio format than to read it. I saw people online mention they liked having it on when they are cleaning or going through the steps in the book. Which I think is the way to do it. I listened to the audio book as I was doing some driving for work.

It’s a good listen but the middle potion is extremely repetitive, so I recommend multitasking.

As mentioned in my review of her other book, White thinks of cleaning in three layers. Decluttering, Daily Cleaning, and Deep Cleaning. So this book is really about talking that first step, so that the rest of housekeeping falls into place.

The main thing that White pushes is the container concept.

Her Youtube channel has a video explaining it, but the TLDW is: your home, its rooms, and storage solutions are containers. Keeping a tidy home only works if everything has a home in the container.

It seems like a simple enough idea on paper. It’s easy to put stuff away if it has a proper home. I suspect if you are reading a book review about decluttering, you know that it’s not always doable.

White’s process outlined in this book makes it seem manageable. You start in the most visible space in your home and then work your way into the private/inaccessible spaces. This gets the motivation going, since you see your kitchen countertop more often than a closet or attic. I never really thought about it, but the idea makes enough sense.

If you are going to follow this process, it does seem like s much slower journey than if you followed the KonMari Method. Possibly for more lasting effects.

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I also like that this book tackled helping other people declutter. Like your kids and partner, but also other relatives or friends. The main idea of the container concept stays throughout. How you support your best friend vs your mom at decluttering their closet is pretty different.

As the older generation needs to downsize, having some tips on how to help them through the process is welcomed.

(The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning Method is also interesting for discussing how old people should handle their stuff near the end of life. Although I did not enjoy that book when I read it about 3 years ago)

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There were two things that I didn’t like about the book.

One: White is very pro “just donate everything”. The book does explain that this declutter method is about fitting it into day to day life. Going to one spot to get rid of everything, logistically, makes sense. But I don’t like it. Mindlessly donating all your crap is basically the same as throwing it in the garbage, just designed to make you feel like you are helping your community. That part was frustrating to read. I know that not everyone has the same access to donation or waste diversion resources, but I think it’s worth making a bit of a effort where we can.

Two: I didn’t enjoy an unexpected, weirdly specific and long rant about Garbanzo beans/chickpeas. Apparently people don’t like them. As a vegetarian that loves hummus, I found that deeply offensive.

To conclude, I understand the hype for this book. White’s writing style is personable and the method outlined in the book make sense. Sure, the process to a spotless house is slower, since she recommends always restarting with the most visible spot, making sure it’s not cluttered and moving on. But I can see someone sticking to it and being able to get their living spaces to a pretty nice condition.

I also found the part in the book about helping others declutter very insightful. Especially as someone that is known amongst her friends for knowing a lot about decluttering and minimalism. 😛

In my tier list, this book might actually get placed at the top cheese tier of “Popular for a Reason”.

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Have you hear of this book? I would love to hear about it in the comments. You can also see my other book reviews and my Tier lists by clicking here.

BOOK REVIEW: Organizing for the Rest of Us By Dana K. White

Dana K. White is a staple is in the decluttering/minimalist space. I see her second book Decluttering at the Speed of Life referenced pretty regularly on r/declutter as the book to read if you are interested in owning less stuff.  

I read a portion of Decluttering at the Speed of Life a few years ago, but didn’t have the time to finish it before it was automatically returned to the library on Libby. From what I remember, I enjoyed it and planned to revisit it for the blog.  

Her most recent book Organizing for the Rest of Us: 100 Realistic Strategies to Keep Any House Under Control is not a decluttering book, it’s a cleaning, and home maintenance book.  

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This book is a pretty easy read. Each of the 100 strategies are only couple of pages and Dana K. White doesn’t expect you to incorporate all of them.

That being said, it did take a bit longer than expected to finish. Almost every time I picked it up, I would read a couple pages and I would get an urge to clean something. It feels weird to read about how you should do your dishes every day when your sink is full of the pots from yesterday’s dinner.  

So in a way, the book was pretty effective at its purpose for promoting an organized and clean home. Even if it’s not in the way she intended.  

The book discusses a concept of the three levels of cleaning, most of the strategies in the book fall into one of three different levels. They are the following:

1) Declutter

It’s hard to clean when you have too much crap that doesn’t have a home. She gives a very brief overview on how to declutter a space. And recommends reading her other book for more details. I think she gave the right amount of info for someone who hasn’t read her other works, but not bog down the pacing of this book. 

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2) Daily maintenance

This is the bulk of the strategies. White is a big believer small cleans every day. I understand why dishes every day or sweeping or laundry makes the longer term flow of the household nicer. In practice that isn’t something I want to do for myself.

3) Deep cleaning

This is like the tips for how to clean your baseboards. Or the big seasonal cleans that really elevates a space from tidy to clean.  

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Again each chapter/strategy is really short. The book isn’t heavy with many anecdotes or extra filler, which I appreciate. I enjoyed White’s voice throughout, she seems like a really funny person.  

Overall, I think the book is a quick read and good for people that need that kick in the butt to clean their space. Or are overwhelmed on how to do it.

I did notice that the things I resonated with most in this book (the levels of clean, daily dishes, laundry days) have their own blog posts of her website. If you are curious about this book I would start there, since she has years of content at your disposal.

If you are interested in reading any reviews of decluttering or minimalism, book you can read my rankings of Minimalism and Decluttering books here.

Disclosure: I received a free digital copy of this book off of NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.