Thursday, February 4, 2010

Reviewed: Throw Out Fifty Things

I told you a couple of weeks ago that I was reading some interesting books on the topic of organizing.  I finished Throw Out Fifty Things by Gail Blanke and thought it was fascinating. The format of the book is simple. Gail, a motivator by trade, among other things, is extremely inspiring and motivating as she talks you through various areas of your life and why and how to throw out the things that are weighing you down and stopping you from living the life you want. I thought the book would be more focused on physical clutter, but throwing junk out of your kitchen, garage and attic is just a warm up for the real work Gail wants you to do. She spends over half the book on emotional clutter, i.e. the “mental mess,” and it’s kind of shocking how much each of us is carrying around with us just in our heads that sucks our energy at least as much as that pile of year old magazines at the foot of the bed does.

Gail’s approach is folksy and full of anecdotes about herself and her clients. Some of the extreme cases she talks about serve to put in persective most of our problems and make us feel like we can throw some of this stuff out and it won’t be that hard. Gail tells us what she’s throwing out right along with us, which make the entire process seem really doable. Therefore, I recommend this book to anyone who wants someone to hold their hand while getting rid of some stuff, but who maybe don’t want an actual person there to witness the process. I also think that even fairly well adjusted people can learn a lot from the emotional clutter portions of the book. Who among us can say that they’ve mastered all of these things:
  • Letting go of the regrets and mistakes of the past
  • Letting go of being right about everything
  • Letting go of thinking the worst
  • Letting go of waiting for the right moment
Seriously, if everyone were able to let go of the things she talks about in these chapters, the world would be a lot less of a tense, anxiety-ridden place.

I didn’t actually follow the "throw out fifty things" mission of the book, but if I was a place in my life when I was feeling really stuck and needing help making a big change, I wouldn’t hesistate to pick this book up again and follow the instructions to the letter.

Lelah Baker-Rabe is a Los Angeles-based professional organizer. To discuss your organizing needs, call her at 818.269.6671 or email

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