Pretty Neat: The Buttoned-Up Way to Get Organized and Let Go of PerfectionWhen I was asked if I’d like to review Pretty Neat: The Buttoned-Up Way to Get Organized and Let Go of Perfection by Alicia Rockmore, I thought it was going to be another book on how to organize a closet, or tag sale, and the like. I was wrong.  There is a small portion of how to handle clutter and toys, but the bulk of the book is how to master your schedules, how to say no, how to delegate, how to master your to-do list, and the like.

Much of the book no longer applies to me. I no longer have my day planned by the needs of my children’s activities (yes, I miss this, really!).  And I no longer have to get dinner on the table and homework conquered (yes, I miss this, too). And I gave up being the perfect housewife years ago and I haven’t looked back, so for me much of the book was about 10 years too late.  Still, I did find the chapters on clutter helpful as now that the kids are grown and gone, I can no longer blame them for the dirty dishes in the sink, the laundry on the floor, or the muddy footprints on the stairs (now I blame the hubby!).

I do blame the clutter on living in the same house for 23-years. When I look at photos from our first 10 years here I’m struck by how little stuff we had.  Especially furniture and knick-knacks.  But over the years, a few things were added each year until 23 years later our home is a museum filled with our children’s childhood.  And that’s why it’s hard for me to tackle it.  It’s not just clutter, it’s memories.  The chapters on mastering your clutter does offer suggestions on how to handle things when everything you touch has a memory attached to it and it’s a chapter I’m going to have to go over a few times to convince myself I’m ready.  We’ve already mastered one bit of it, we’re not bringing anything new in.  And in the meantime, I’m going to try the “review” process from the book.  If you can’t part with something immediately, put it in a box and put away for a predetermined amount of time, say 6 months.  At the end of 6 months, pull out the box and see if you still feel the same way about the item and then toss it, donate it, or find it a permanent place in your home.

Keep closet clutter at bay - keep a donate box and add to it daily

Keep closet clutter at bay – keep a donate box and add to it daily

I also loved the ideas on how to cure closet clutter. Instead of doing a once-a-year huge clean-out like I usually do, the book recommends keeping one or two bags or boxes in the bottom of your closet and when you pick out clothes, toss in anything that doesn’t fit, is stained or ripped beyond repair, isn’t flattering, takes too much work to wear, etc., immediately and when the box/bag is full, donate or toss it.  This method seems so much more doable that the big to-do I’ve been doing.

The book mixes instructional information with real-life stories of successful women. It’s written in an easy-to-read style and it’s easy to skip around and read what’s relevant to you at that moment. It’s also easy to refer back to should you need a quick refresher.  It’s definitely a great book for new moms and one I’d be happy to pass on, it’s that good.