A new order for messy people: Fay Wolf’s new book teaches the virtues of decluttering

It’s spring, and a young man and woman’s fancy turns not to love or to baseball, but to spring cleaning – tidying up, cleaning out, sorting, organizing and purging.

There is no shortage of books on the topic, from newcomer Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” to the ever-popular Martha Stewart’s many volumes on home organization and cleaning. Now Fay Wolf—singer, songwriter and professional organizer (yes, there is such a thing)—has written another one.

Does the world need another book about cleaning up and getting control of your stuff? Apparently, the answer is yes, and “New Order: A Decluttering Handbook for Creative Folks (And Everyone Else)” is the hot new bible for the organizationally impaired. A small square cute book with an eye-catching, colorful cover, Wolf’s book is typeset in colors of black, white and red with simple clear line drawings and lots of boxed-out text blocks.

At first, I didn’t see many differences from other books in this genre: sort items one at a time into piles labeled keep, trash, donate, recycle, designate a home for everything, sort mail when it arrives, etc. What makes this book different is Wolf’s emphasis on making space in your life for creativity by making space to create in your space. Owning fewer things and storing those things neatly and efficiently leaves more space to work on a craft, paint, make music, dream or just take a peaceful nap.

Early in the book, she asks, “What are you truly looking for? Maybe it’s not just the lost set of keys or the bag of cleaning supplies you swear you bought, but something along the lines of sharper clarity, less anxiety, more control of your domain. More time (not spent looking for things).”

As she methodically works through the nuts and bolts of sorting closets, files, photos and emails, she returns again and again to the notion of leaving space, leaving openings not for more things necessarily but for more enjoyment of what is important to you. I loved her low-tech, super cheap,

use-what- you-have approach to storage and her suggestion, “Be a storage weirdo. It’s cool.” This means if you have an empty freezer and no place for your paper plates and cups, in the freezer they go. She says there is no right or wrong place to put stuff, just find the spot that works for you. I also loved the entire chapter called “More Karma where to donate/recycle/shred just about anything.”

This was a deceptively simple little book about de-cluttering and making time and place for what we love. If we are what we spend our time doing, shouldn’t it be authentic and joyful and not just running in circles hunting for things we’ve lost or piling up more stuff that doesn’t make us happy?