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


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.

person holding a stress ball
Photo by Matthias Zomer on

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)

trash near door
Photo by Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas on
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”.

close up photo of feta cheese
Photo by Irita Antonevica on

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.