“This woman is inside my head!”
I said this to myself about a dozen times while pouring over my advance copy of How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind. As someone who studies the art of homemaking and decluttering, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Dana White’s brand new book. (You might know this author from the popular blog A Slob Comes Clean.)
Dana has years of trial-and-error housekeeping and organizing advice, and she’s put her best content into this humorous, super practical book that will change the way you think about home management.
She’s says she’s writing to slobs and people for whom normal housekeeping advice doesn’t work. But honestly, I think this is a book every homemaker should read–even if you are a naturally tidy person. It’s the missing puzzle piece. If you’ve heard lots of good housekeeping and organizing tips in your life, this book will help you implement them more effectively because it gives you the key to understanding your own psychology and the huge role that plays in keeping a home.
Oftentimes we’re our own worst enemies when it comes to keeping our homes clean and clutter free. We set up mental roadblocks, we procrastinate, we play the blame game, we wallow in guilt. If we want to make lasting success in keeping our homes orderly, we need to be honest about what makes us tick and learn to understand our own tendencies.
A lightbulb moment came for me when I read Dana’s chapter on “Project” mentality. Like her, I tend to be project oriented, and while that’s helpful in some instances (tackling things that have a clear beginning and end), it can get in the way of routine household tasks, which need to be redone regularly!
“A crazy thing happens when you realize the most basic home management stuff isn’t a project. When the dishes are done every day (and other stuff, but mostly dishes), and dishes and other stuff are taking way less time than they did when they grew to Project Status, time opens up for other projects. Real projects. Ones I like.”
-Dana K. White,
How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind
Instead of viewing these things like dishes or cleaning the kitchen table as projects, I’m turning them into pre-made decisions to keep them automated. I don’t neglect these things because they’re non-negotiable. I can’t reason my way out of a task or fall into procrastination–I’ve already decided that I have to do them every day!
When I approach routine tasks with Dana’s method, I’ll have more freedom to work on other things that need to be done for the home–and more time to do the things I love, like blogging!
Repeatedly throughout her book, Dana forces me to confront how I’ve been hindering my own progress in homemaking by not taking into account my natural tendencies. I’m reminded of another favourite housekeeping book: The House That Cleans Itself by Mindy Starns Clark. While Clark’s book covers different topics than Dana’s does (like sorting mail, storing cleaning supplies, or arranging furniture), both books encourage readers not to “go with the flow” of conventional organizing and housekeeping advice. When conventional advice fails you, they tell you to explore why, and then develop habits and systems that suit your personality and your family’s needs.
If you’re really overwhelmed by your home right now, How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind will dig you out of the funk and give you actionable strategies that will actually work–and last!
If you’ve already practiced a lot of decluttering and homemaking methods, then Dana’s book will help you tweak your approach to make everything you do more streamlined and tailored to your unique home. (I’m finding this to be true!)
How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind opens with a section Dana’s own honest (and often funny!) background story of how her blog and book came to be. Part 2 is all about maintaining a well-functioning home, with chapters on habit development, laundry, meal planning, and more. Decluttering gets its own meaty section, and explains where to begin decluttering, how to handle guilt and emotional clutter, and how to gain decluttering traction to help you follow through on your projects.
The final part discusses how (and when) to involve your family in the new housekeeping systems you implement. It also touches on a few special circumstances that might make it more difficult to manage your home, for instance, if you’re in a high-stress job or you deal with chronic pain. I wish this chapter was a bit longer, but overall, I think the book dealt with its subjects very well!
The book’s appendix is useful, too. There’s a “28 Days to Hope for Your Home” challenge that you can begin immediately to make a difference in your homemaking. You could start it now to have a more peaceful home by Christmas, or save it to tackle with New Year’s Resolutions.
How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind is newly-available on Amazon and in most bookstores. I don’t know if many libraries will have a copy, yet, but you can always request that they add it to their collection!