Saturday, January 2, 2010

It's All Too Much

Publisher's Summary. When Peter Walsh, organizational guru of TLC's hit show Clean Sweep and a regular contributor to The Oprah Winfrey Show, appeared on national television shows and told people how they could reclaim their lives from the suffocating burden of their clutter, the response was overwhelming. People flooded Peter's website ( with success stories about how his book had changed their lives.

Peter's unique approach helped people everywhere learn to let go of the emotional and psychological clutter that was literally and figuratively choking the life out of their homes.

With his good humor and reassuring advice, Peter shows you how to face the really big question: What is the vision for the life you want to live? He then offers simple techniques and a step-by-step plan to assess the state of your home, prioritize your possessions, and let go of the clutter you have been holding on to that has kept you from living the life you imagine. The result is freed-up space, less stress, and more energy for living a happier, richer life every day.

Review. It’s All Too Much by Peter Walsh is not the typical how-to-organize your clutter book (e.g. the ones that send you scurrying to Wal-Mart to stock up on plastic storage boxes). Rather it is a call to purge the clutter. Walsh’s philosophy is to focus on “the costs of clutter.” These costs include the emotional (clutter causes a stressful environment and discontent in relationships) and the financial (wasteful spending on “stuff” rather than meaningful experiences or purchases).

One by one Walsh debunks the top excuses for keeping clutter:
• I Might Need It One Day:
Answer: Clutter keeps us from living in the present.
• It’s Too Important To Let Go:
Answer: Clutter makes us forget what’s really important – families, friends,
relationships – NOT things.
• I Can’t Get Rid Of It – It’s Worth A Lot Of Money:
Answer: Clutter robs us of real value.
• My House Is Too Small:
Answer: Clutter steals our space.
• I Don’t Have The Time:
Answer: Clutter monopolizes our time.
• I Don’t Know How It Got Like This:
Answer: Clutter takes over.
• It’s Not a Problem – Someone Else Just Thinks It Is
Answer: Clutter jeopardizes our relationships.
• It Isn’t Mine
Answer: Other people’s clutter robs us of opportunities that should be ours.
• It’s Too Overwhelming:
Answer: Clutter erodes our spiritual selves.

Who knew that clutter caused all of these issues?

After reading the excuse-busters I was convinced, but where and how to start? This is where the nitty-gritty work begins. First, Walsh advocates a Kick Start day which basically encompasses a massive surface purge and a lot of trash bags. While this might make for good TV in real life I prefer to go a bit slower. And Walsh does concede that you can accomplish the same purging in smaller increments with “a little bit everyday.”

Once you have surface purged either via the Kick Start or little by little, Walsh then tackles decluttering the average house room-by-room. Every chapter starts with an admonishment to set up a “Room Function Chart” as a floor plan to reconstructing the room. While it is helpful to consider each room’s purpose, the formality of making a chart that all household members sign off on is for most people an unnecessary extra step. In the room specific chapters I most enjoyed the practical tips, such as, hanging all clothing in one direction, but in another after wearing (to determine what clothes you actually wear).

As a booklover I also appreciated Walsh’s discourse on book ownership. Specifically, Walsh asks: “What was it that you were purchasing when you bought this reading material?” According to Walsh, some people purchase books simply to read. These people can usually part with a book after they have digested it. Others, however, buy books “to acquire the knowledge contained in the book.” To these people parting with the book is tantamount to surrendering this knowledge. However, as Walsh aptly notes “when you buy a book you do not suddenly own the wisdom it contains – all you have bought is words on paper.” I’m going to keep Walsh’s wisdom in mind when I prune my book collection.

In short, It’s All Too Much is perfectly divided between the emotional reckoning with the costs of clutter followed by the practical-step-by-step advice. For these reasons, I highly recommend It’s All Too Much!


  1. Sounds like a great book! I have a few things I need to get rid of and I use some of the excuses you've listed not to do it.

  2. I read this one last year - it was good. Excellent review.