I’ve never understood those who pooh-pooh practical advice on decluttering your home.
It’s sometimes dismissed as unnecessary guidance through a monotonous and straightforward process.
I disagree. Sure, some of us may find reducing our possessions easy and may just be able to get on with it. But others – like me – find we’ve formed bonds with the most innocuous of belongings and need to summon up the strongest willpower to say goodbye to each and every item.
The decision fatigue that results from decluttering even the smallest of spaces can be exhausting. And if you are not ruthless enough you can find that you’ve worn yourself out for nothing, realising at the end that you have simply rearranged your possessions rather than reducing them.
For those who fall into the latter category, having a friendly but – let’s face it – pushy, guide can be a huge help.
Enter Joshua Becker’s latest book, The Minimalist Home.
It takes readers through a transformation of their home using the ‘Becker Method’, a five-step approach to decluttering room by room.
The process includes the instruction to handle each object and ask yourself: ‘Do I need this?’ The phrase is the practical cousin to Marie Kondo’s whimsical ‘Does this spark joy?’ and sets the tone for what is a no-nonsense book filled with good advice, hard truths and the occasional bit of snarky humour:
“If your yard displays a lot of decorations, especially kitschy stuff of the garden-gnome or plastic-flamingo sort, rethink the wisdom of that. Please.”
However, to suggest ‘Do I need this’ is the essence of this book would be to do it a disservice.
At the heart of this book is a metaphor: of home as a harbour, offering shelter from the high seas of life while also acting as a port to head back out from.
So, if anything, Becker wants us to stop focusing on the minutiae of our possessions and instead wants us to take a step back and reflect on our home as a whole to see if it serves us, our goals and our relationships.
The first goal is to picture your ideal version of each room and create an environment that serves that vision, whether it be a home office that is an inspiring, organised space or a kitchen that brings people together over food.
Is your bedroom restful and intimate?
Does your guest room have space for people to unpack their belongings?
Does your garage offer an inviting gateway when you drive home?
The second goal is to free up money and time to allow you to live a life with more fulfilling pursuits than the accumulation of stuff.
His advice on how to make changes, then, is both straightforward and surprisingly refreshing. Got too many knick-knacks? Ditch half of them. Can’t move in your bedroom? Cut the amount of furniture. Agonising over sentimental items? Pick the most precious to keep.
Finally, Becker encourages his readers to assess the home as a whole and even consider giving it up for a smaller property.
Sure, his approach may go too far for some and he has a fondness for empty surfaces that not everyone will share.
He recommends, for instance, that you remove all small kitchen appliances from counters and store them in cupboards. The clear worktops, he argues, will be worth the minor inconvenience of getting your toaster out each morning.
Well, ever keen to try new things, I gave it a go. My other half was so unimpressed by the idea that it lasted less than 24 hours.
But the fact I tried it is testament to Becker’s infectious enthusiasm and encouragement. While I had already minimised much of my home, I often found myself putting the book down and getting up to tackle one of the remaining clutter corners with a new vigour.
Do you need to read a book before you can declutter? Of course not. But if you think some step-by-step guidance might make you a little bolder in revolutionising your home, this might just be the help you need.