Summary of The Joy of Less by Francine Jay

BookSummaryClub Blog Summary of The Joy of Less by Francine Jay

Are you running out of space in your home? Most of us have this problem. No matter how much we clean or get rid of our old stuff we can never quite clear up space. Could the problem be that we actually buy too much stuff? More often than not, this is true. In this day and age, we are encouraged to buy more, to have more and to always want more. 

There are many things in your room right now that you don’t need. But where do begin trying to determine what is important and what is not? You have to start with a minimalist mindset. It will not only help clear up the clutter in your life but also enable you to realize what is truly important in your life. 

In this book summary readers will discover:

  • How to begin sorting out your stuff
  • Steps to take it room by room
  • Getting your family involved is a crucial step for maintenance

Key lesson one: How to begin sorting out your stuff

Whether it be your room, apartment or house, you tend to collect stuff over the years. You could like furniture, gadgets, hair products or even appliances. Everyone has their own thing going on. To be honest, though, we probably don’t need most of it. To begin your journey to adopting a minimalist mindset, you must first develop a non-attachment to your belongings. As much as it might seem difficult at first, you have to remember that material items are not important. If there was a fire, what would you grab when you left the house? Probably not your television. Keeping this in mind is essential to developing a minimalist mindset.

Thus it is best to start by dividing your things into three categories. These three categories are useful, beautiful and sentimental. Things that are useful are functional and practical. They also include our basic needs like clothes, food, water, shelter, beds, plates and laptops These are things that we use and make our lives easier. Things that are beautiful, are those things that provide us with deep satisfaction and sentimental things are reminders of people, places and occurrences that are important to us. 

Separating your items into these three categories will make it easier when you begin to declutter your space and your life.

Key lesson two: How to STREAMLINE

STREAMLINE is a technique to declutter your home. Each letter stands for a step that needs to be taken.

Firstly, you have to Start over. This means that you approach your space as if it were new and you were starting all over again. Next up is Trash, Treasure or Transfer. This is when you go through your possessions and divide them into three piles. Items that are broken, stained, expired or just junk are classified as Trash. Useful, sentimental and beautiful things fall in the Treasure pile. However, you must always remember that the beautiful and sentimental items that you keep must be those that you will be able to display. Things that you no longer use will go into the Transfer pile. This is when you really need to be strong and not consider the need for them again someday in the future. 

The next step is Reason for each item. This involves going through your treasure pile and asking if there is a reason you are keeping it. This is followed by Everything in its Place. In this step, you need to determine how often you use an item. Once you know this, you will know where it should be kept. Things that are used daily are kept close by in what is referred to as the Inner Circle. The Outer Circle is reserved for things that you need monthly or so and are therefore kept out of the way. Everything else is kept in Deep storage. This usually refers to areas like basements, garages and attics where you keep things that you do need but rarely. 

The following step calls for you to keep All Surfaces Clear. This means that you should keep your desks, countertops and tables free of clutter at all times. Having surfaces that are cluttered is highly distracting and will limit your productivity in these areas when you are trying to work. This is followed by Modules. Modules refer to items that have similar use. Much like how bandages, gloves and rubbing alcohol is all kept in a first aid kit, you need to group all items based on their use. Once you have done that you can remove excess supplies. This means that if you find that you have five hairbrushes, you can get rid of four because you only use one. Arranging items in modules and eliminating the excess is an important step in this technique as it prevents you from having excess supplies in different rooms of your home. 

This brings us to Limits. You need to establish limits on your collections. It is easier said than done, however, it is worth remembering why you started this process in the first place. Keep those items which are your favourites and whenever you want to buy something new, really think about it. Are you going against your limits? This brings us to the next step, If One Comes In, One Goes Out. If you buy something new or a new version of an item, you need to get rid of the old one. Do not delay in doing this. You can consider the old item as something to transfer because you no longer have use for it.  

The second last step is Narrow Down. This step asks you to complete as many tasks as you can with the minimum amount of products. Think about the cleaning products you use in your home. One multi-surface cleaner will eliminate the need for individual products for your floor, counters, stove-tops and tables. Lastly, Everyday Maintenance is crucial for a minimalist home. If you commit to maintaining the steps of the STREAMLINE technique every day you will be thankful in the long run.

Key lesson three: Steps to take it room by room

The STREAMLINE technique is useful in every area of your home. Tackling one area at a time is recommended and each area decluttered will reveal its benefits.

Your bedroom is meant to be an area of peace and relaxation. Therefore, your room should be a place where your sleep and where your clothes are kept. There is no real need for anything else. Items that are considered Treasure should include things like the book you are reading and maybe your phone as it is most likely your alarm clock. Anything else like craft stuff, toys, magazines should either be in a different room or given away if you have no use for them. 

Your wardrobe should also be decluttered to ensure that you save on time, money and stress. Just think about not worrying about what to wear and going through your entire wardrobe to find one item! The best way to clear out your wardrobe is to take everything out and form Trash, Treasure and Transfer piles. If something is torn or stained, it immediately goes into the Trash pile. Try on your clothes to check if they still fit you and are suitable. If they don’t add to the Transfer pile. Most importantly, realize that clothes can get outdated. If you are someone who likes to follow trends, employ the If One Comes In, One goes out rule.

Living rooms can be tough to declutter as it is a busy area and one that you spend a lot of time in. Here you have to question the reason for each item in the room. Is it necessary to have a television in the living room if you have a separate media room? You can also create Modules where you keep items together that can be easily attained when needed. A plastic tub with toys, board games or craft items. In this way, you can grab a tub depending on what is needed and it can be easily put away. 

If you have a home office it is best to start with Narrowing down. This is especially true of documents and papers that you have lying on your desk. You need to keep all surfaces clear if you want to be productive and focused. Digitizing information can be extremely useful to get rid of piles of documents and everyday maintenance will ensure that you stay decluttered.

When it comes to the kitchen, you have to learn to let go. If you have never used the slow cooker that you got four years ago chances are you never will. Give it to someone who will make use of it. Your pantry also needs to be emptied and each item checked. Has it expired? Do you have too many canned goods? You will be surprised how much you can get rid of during a kitchen clean-up!

Key lesson four: Getting your family involved is a crucial step for maintenance

Once you have completed decluttering your home, it is important that your family is a part of the everyday maintenance. By you taking the step to adopt a minimalist mindset, you take the first step to inspiring the others in your home. Get your kids involved and teach them by being an example. If they see you being non-attached to material things they will also learn what is really important. 

You can get everyone involved when you declutter the garage or basement. In this way, you work together as a family and develop the same mindset. You can even assign each person a different area of the home to maintain thus making them develop the habit of decluttering. It will take time but it will be worth it.

The key takeaway from The Joy of Less is:

Material things are not important. Realizing this is the first step of developing a minimalist mindset. Our homes are usually filled with clutter and learning to separate these into three simple categories will help us on our journey to a clutter-free life. Once this has been completed you can implement the STREAMLINE technique to easily declutter your home and clear up all the hindrances in your environment.

How can I implement the lessons learned in The Joy of Less:

Once you have implemented the STREAMLINE technique, try to do something every day to maintain it. This means that you get rid of old or unused things every day or that you remember to put everything back in its place. By doing this every day, you maintain your minimalist mindset, reinforce the habit and encourage your family to do the same. 

🤙 Your Next Step… 🤙

Head across to one of the following pages for more goodies

🍕 Read our Blinkist review and become a member of Blinkist. Read or listen to 3000+ full version quality summaries!

🍕 Read our list of the best business books of all time

🍕 Read some more of our book summaries

🍕 See our top book summary apps