Book Review: Tidying as a route to creativity – I’m almost a convert

A few months ago I was sent a review copy of The Little Book of Tidying and this post has been on my To-Do for quite some time. That’s a sure sign I need to take the advice it contains to heart, according to the author, Beth Penn. Another indication is a cluttered fridge.

A fridge with out of date reminders swinging from magnets on the outside and out of date yogurts evolving into new life forms inside = a cluttered home.
And a cluttered home = too much time spent looking for stuff.
And time looking for lost things = less time doing the things that really matter, the creative things, the fun things.
That’s an equation I can understand.

The Little Book of Tidying is not a dreary moralistic tract. It’s more of practical application of mindfulness, an approach that appeals to me, and it packs a lot of advice into its compact 96 pages.



I particularly like the section devoted to all those products designed to help us lead more organised lives. Beware new storage containers, warns Beth.  They are bandages that hide clutter rather than tackle the clutter itself.

In other words, you’re buying more stuff to hold the stuff you already have and you’re doing it to kid yourself that you’re dealing with the stuff. Instead, recognise that if they are going to work they need to be maintained, labelled and updated. Is what is inside worth that amount of  effort?  And if it is, what’s wrong with a shoe box?

This book has the look, feel and price of a gift book, the sort of thing you might give to a son or daughter when they move away from home. Or a friend who is always apologising as she snatches stuff off a chair before you sit down. It’s a shame if it’s only used in that way. I suggest you buy it for yourself.

It has come into my world just as I’m in the process of setting up a new home, making decisions about what to keep and what new things I need to buy. Beth Penn has already saved me £50

“Even if something is used every day, that doesn’t mean you need it. I got rid of my toaster years go. Sure, I used it daily but the oven works just as well. And what did I get in return? Countertop space and one less thing to clean, maintain and, ultimately, replace.”

I was going to buy a new toaster for my beautiful new kitchen. I’ve earned it because I’ve nursed my old one for years, despite the fact its lost a knob and it hurts every time you press the lever down. But I am not that keen on toast and use one perhaps five or six times a year. Plus I am actively trying to cut down on the amount of bread I eat so why did I think I needed a toaster…?

Thank you Beth for that, and the toaster money will be spent on something much more important, more bookcases because, whatever you say, I am not going to ditch my collection and use the library as an alternative.  As Charlton Heston once said about guns…you’ll have to prise them out of my cold, dead hand.

And I’m going to keep The Little Book of Tidying because I’ve a feeling I am going to need it for a long time to come.

The Little Book of Tidying by Beth Penn, published by Octopus Books



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