Outer Order, Inner Calm by Gretchen Rubin

“…it’s important to remember that outer order isn’t simply a matter of having less or having more; it’s a matter of wanting what we have.”

41RaMB9o7bL._SX360_BO1,204,203,200_If you’re someone who feels like you’ve got too much stuff and all that stuff weighs on your mind, then Gretchen Rubin’s new book Outer Order, Inner Calm is for you. If you enjoy Marie Kondo’s show on Netflix but you think that her system is too rigid, this is definitely a book you should check out. (Literally. Check it out from your library so you don’t add to your clutter! ) Its bite-sized bits of advice are logical and encouraging and just might give you the push you need to let some things go.

If I only take away one idea from Rubin’s book, it’s this one: If you don’t need it, love, it, or use it, you should probably get rid of it.

Simple, right? And for me, it works better than Kondo’s “spark joy” idea. Everybody’s different, and Rubin seems to get that.

img_3736Another favorite piece of advice: The Three Strikes and You’re Out Rule. If she’s thought about getting rid of something twice before, the third time she thinks it, she gets rid of it. I sometimes find myself holding on to things that people have given me as gifts, but they’re things I don’t really want. I just keep them out of guilt, I guess. Now I can use this idea to show myself that I really DON’T want that scented candle or whatever it is.

Another great tip: Make a Mock Move. Would you bother to wrap up this item in bubble wrap and stick it in a box and put it on a truck to take it to a new house? If not, out it goes.

This is a very approachable advice book for people who don’t want to dump every piece of clothing they own in a big pile on the bed and tackle clutter all at once. Rubin is logical but also recognizes that people need beautiful things and sentimental things in their lives. In fact, her last section is titled “Add Beauty.” I really enjoyed this book and found it very helpful. You can read a few tips at a time or read the whole thing straight through in no time at all. I bet it will inspire you to look at your belongings and habits with a new eye.


29 thoughts on “Outer Order, Inner Calm by Gretchen Rubin

  1. Oh I like this-the advice you’ve listed sounds very practical. And I’m just like you Laila-I have scented candles that have literally been given to me as gifts, and that’s the only reason I’m keeping them. I don’t really burn candles, especially that i have young kids! Yeesh, I just need to get rid of those…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This sounds much gentler than Marie Kondo. I like the three strikes and the would pack this up and move it question.

    I’ve got some gifts too that i am keeping out of guilt. Though once my husband and I “accidentally broke a cow shaped creamer someone had given us. We’re vegan, we don’t cream! And yet there was this gift we kept. For years! *sigh*

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Because my husband had changed homes at least once per year (and sometimes more) before I met him, I had to develop a system of how to deal with his things. When a person moves a lot, I’ve discovered, their things become their home. We basically chose a system of need (obviously), must be stored clearly (and it’s sentimental), or displayed so you can see it (and then you’re responsible for dusting it). Things like the microwave is a need. Year books would be stored/sentimental. Displayed would be any kind of beautiful things, but whoever is the keeper must also be the duster. That’s usually the breaker — no one wants to dust their knickknacks!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. True, true. There is an incredible sense of practicality tied to this thought that I love. I really need to crack down on my packing and cleaning. O_o I just need to get myself in the frame of mind where things can be thrown away. That’s a challenging frame of mind for me!


      2. You might have to encounter this when you move into the new place. I think seeing how much we own as we get ready to move is a wake-up call. Nick I would move every year or two, and the more we moved, the less stuff seemed of any value. I mean, stairs, man. All those stairs. It was the easiest way to let go of books you don’t really want to read again.


  4. Yes, gifts are my downfall too – I seem to be completely incapable of throwing our even trivial gifts, like Secret Santa gifts from people who’re not even really friends. That plus letters, postcards, birthday cards, none of which I ever look at… Ha! You may have inspired me to get the bin-bag out… more room for books!! 😉

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  5. I’m a bit of a hoarder, but I have a local friend who is also a bit of a hoarder and periodically helps me go through things and appreciate them so I can let them go. Then I help her do the same. It’s a good system for us.

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  6. Great review, Laila! I love how quick and efficient this review is; it fits well with the theme of the book. I’ve read The Happiness Project by Rubin, but her writing style didn’t connect well with me. I didn’t really care about her personal journey, which I believe had to do with the detached way her writing comes across to me. Despite this, it sounds like this book might be a better fit for her writing style.

    Have you applied any of these techniques in your home?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I honestly didn’t care for The Happiness project either. I suspect that I might not really like her in real life if i knew her, ha ha. But i like her podcast and her last two books – they are much more prescriptive and not as much about her personally.

      I have applied some of her techniques. I got rid of this giant old blue stuffed bunny that my mom foisted upon me. Apparently it was the bunny my grandfather bought for me when i was going to be born. They all thought I was gonna be a boy (this was the late 70’s and they didn’t have technology to figure out the sec of the baby yet.) Anyway, this thing was hideous and I never wanted it but I felt guilty and hung onto it for years in the closet. I realized I’d thought about getting rid of that things three times (much more than three times) and said, Okay, it’s time to finally let it go.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. What an astute observation, Laila! I wonder if that’s the case for me, that I wouldn’t like her much in real life… There are many people whose ideas I respect while I’m not into them as a person. Ahh, public intellects. I struggle with them all.

        Cool– As David and I are preparing for a move, I’ll be applying a lot of these techniques whether I want to or not. I think I’ll pick up this book from the library to see if it can help with The Great Purge, as I am calling it.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I dream of getting rid of everything in my house someday! I don’t even want to keep the furniture. That will have to wait until my kids are grown, though. In the meantime, maybe I’ll pick up Rubin’s book and de-clutter a room or two.


  8. Great review because I have this book on hold at my library right now. Sometimes a fresh and realistic perspective can be so helpful. I really like the mock move idea. I think I need to take that approach with the clothes in my closet. Sometimes I will just take a day and just purge and I always feel better. It’s time to do it again! Thanks for sharing this one Laila!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. That’s all sound advice. I think it’s interesting to read about different people’s approaches to clutter. And how one person who moves a lot is inspired by this to KEEP a lot of stuff, but another person who has moved a lot can be the person who carried very little. There’s definitely a class-angle at work, too, that gets overlooked sometimes. If you’ve grown-up poor, you’re sometimes inclined to keep stuff (even though paradoxically, you might have less space in which to store it) because you know/fear that you will not be able to replace it should/when the need arise/s and you’ve already invested in it once already. I’m not a Kondo-devotee but I did enjoy watching the show and seeing how different families responded to different ideas about stuff (especially with their partners – phew, so much tension)!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good point about the class angle; I hadn’t considered that. I like how Rubin tailors her advice to specific types of people (her own classifications – underbuyer/overbuyer, the Four Tendencies, etc.) At least she recognizes that not everyone can handle one style of decluttering.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I love the sound of this book and the lessons sound practical. I usually struggle with letting go of things. Sometimes I keep random stuff like gift wrappings because I think I might re-use them lol but this year, I have been trying to de-clutter. The three strikes rule sound easy to implement. I am already thinking of stuff that I have been thinking of getting rid off. Will add this one to my TBR. Thanks for sharing, Laila.

    Liked by 1 person

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