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Organizing Outside the Box: Conquer Clutter Using Your Natural Learning Style Paperback – 14 Sep 2009

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.3 out of 5 stars 31 reviews
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I expected a lot more from the former TV host of "Neat" 27 May 2012
By TurquoiseEyes - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've got pretty high standards when it comes to what I expect from organizing books, I'll admit. A lot has been written on the subject by now, and authors should have their own high expectations of themselves when publishing a book on the topic. Hellen is an intelligent woman. I've seen every single episode of her TV show from a few years ago, "Neat". I've watched her guest appearances on other shows from Canada & have read her blog regularly. The ability that she brought to professional organizing via TV was literally life-changing for me to watch. On-screen, Hellen's incredibly inspiring- you can tell she walks the talk, and I would always end up sorting through and de-cluttering SOMETHING after watching each show. Her sense of correct color schemes, creating Zen-like spaces seemingly with great ease and an uncanny ability to "read her client's mind" in final decor and style...all wonderful. She's a great professional organizer & life coach, kind & thoughtful but firm with her clients. There was none of the babying, hand-holding nonsense that you see on shows like A&E's "Hoarders", either. But the problem is that so little of her vast knowledge which was very well-shown on her TV program translates to book format.

There are no color photos in this book & very few in black-and-white. The length of the book is incredibly short. No before-and-after transformations are shown, either in writing or picture. No detailed case studies are discussed. Very, very little is written here by Hellen that hasn't already been written in previous magazine articles, books and online blogs about organizing- particularly when she goes beyond theory & attempts to put things into practice for us to follow. The only thing I can praise here is her very good explanation of visual vs. auditory vs. kinesthetic learners, and subsequently which organizing style they'll tend to favor, and what won't work. I'm an auditory person with a few visual leanings, though I knew this already going in. Though one has to keep in mind that just because they're a particular learning style, that doesn't necessarily translate into having one organizing style. For example, my mother and I are both strongly auditory learners, but she is a piler with her papers while I am most definitely a filer by nature. She's "out of sight, out of mind" with written material (if she doesn't have a paper out, she'll forget it completely). However, I find having papers all over the place immensely distracting and love my file cabinet. And not every person is even predominantly one learning/organizing type or the other, as most modern-day educators and social scientists will tell you. So while the author obviously knows how to work with different learning and personality types, keep in mind that this is not absolutely foolproof info she shares here. And the problem is that's about ALL this short book discussed.

No daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly charts of organizing projects or household chores to do were presented. A little bit was discussed about talking with family members and/or co-workers to achieve an environment organized for all. But again, theory was explained much better than practice. Most people don't have trouble finding an organizing system that they like, once they go shopping for it- but the difficulty comes in STICKING with that system! It takes a lot more work than finding the cute container or perfect day planner initially- organizing a business & home takes daily discipline, hard work & time management skills gone essentially undiscussed here. After six years of being absolutely dedicated to minimalism, organizating & simplicity, let me tell you- it is not always easy maintaining this lifestyle. Beyond explaining to you what style you are going to veer towards, and a surface glossover of how to start organizing, little was said about how to STAY organized day-to-day. There were a few broad suggestions, but it was nowhere near as comprehensive as say, The FlyLady's system. Again, I like & respect Hellen's work & overall message a lot. Her company, We Organize U, puts out a monthly email which is worth subscribing to for little tidbits of advice. I REALLY wanted to love this book, especially after reading the glowing reviews by other readers. But this book isn't one I can suggest to others myself unless you are just absolutely clueless as to what your beginning strategy should be, and don't know who you really are as a learner by nature.

So that I back up what I say with advice (and not just criticism), I will give you examples of what I suggest you read instead of or at least in addition to this book. For a superior book on organizing every single room, closet, cabinet & drawer of your house backwards, forwards & sideways, read Linda Koopersmith's "The Beverly Hills Organizer's Home Organizing Bible". For in-depth help on performing day-to-day chores, changing your mindset about housework & being organized read "Sink Reflections" by Maria Cilley, or check out her website (she is The FlyLady I spoke of). For help getting your house cleaned weekly in a thorough but quick manner, read "Speed Cleaning", by Jeff Campbell. For simplifying-your-life strategies, the aptly-named "Simplify Your Life" by Elaine St. James is an inspiring start. It is geared towards those ready to grip onto a minimalist lifestyle, so it won't appeal to everyone, just a heads up. Julie Morgenstern's book, "Organizing From the Inside Out", is a little bit more likeable than St. James', discusses a very important strategy to attack every ounce of clutter consistently in your life, and is a book which won't scare away pack rats with tough love. Morgenstern's even better book, "Time Management from the Inside Out", is a huge favorite of mine. Even if you consider yourself efficent & intelligent about how you conquer time, I still believe it is a must-read. Students should not be without it! Jennifer Ford Berry's book, "Organize Now! (Revised Edition)", wasn't one of my personal favorites- BUT it has the distinct advantage of tackling one problem area a week for one year in your life. So obviously it is a methodical way to go about getting organized, if a little scattered & incomplete in content. It's a "rah-rah" book that will also help those who are not born organized, feeling completely overwhelmed, and need a big but do-able overhaul all over their house. I am most definitely NOT born organized, and need all the help I can get. But I found little additional help here from Hellen.
3.0 out of 5 stars pretty good 20 Feb. 2015
By Eva s - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Very interesting concept. Somewhat helpful but not life-changing like The House that Cleans Itself. I would also highly recommend the book Speed Cleaning and Organizing by Carey Westbaum if you want something quick and easy to read, which also shows you how to quickly and easily get things in order and quickly and easily maintain it. I also like the friendly manner in which this book was written
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hitting the Mark 23 Nov. 2009
By Kimberly Beaven - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hellen has done it again -- her newest book, "Organizing Outside of the Box: Conquer Clutter Using Your Natural Learning Style", is an amazing "kick-in-the-butt" reference guide. She is a no-nonsense woman and the way she approaches gearing your journey to peace and organization based on truly understanding yourself, your colleagues and family speaks of deep understanding and experience. I have to laugh as I think back to her TV show "Neat" and how she in her non-judgmental approach, takes the bull by the horn; her book reflects that mentality -- deep down you know that chaos and disorder are thieves, as she spells it out. She understands that there is an emotional/psychological and sometimes even a socialogical attachment to "things" and she helps, through her book, to frame that understanding. Once you know how you learn (yeah, I had the conviction bubble light up over my head) you understand why you do certain things or have certain habits. Fine tuning what actually works for you in your home or office brings a sort of enlightenment. When she describes working with a team/office environment, it makes sense that certain people are naturally more comfortable with doing things a certain way -- it is not my way of the highway, but, let's find the best way.

This is a great book and I think I read it as soon as I received it. Will be a handy resource for understanding my staff, colleagues, clients, and yes myself too.
5.0 out of 5 stars "Hellen says..." 24 Sept. 2013
By Clutter Bug - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Hellen Buttigieg's book is just like her: Smart, caring, and genuinely interested in helping people get happy - by getting out from under all the stuff! (Her TV show is NEAT, and she's also on You Tube.) Her book is short and to the point, a big plus when one is struggling to solve a problem now.

Upon taking the quiz at the beginning of the book, I could feel my eyes widening as I read the characteristics of my own "learning style"! In addition, the reader can use a number of her ideas for the secondary styles, as Hellen explains that most people have some overlap.

This book is presented in an attractive, easy-to-follow format. Bullets, bold print, sketches and pictures serve to illustrate numerous products and/or methods.

I have already used a number of Hellen's ideas, and am in the process of incorporating others. Hellen addresses not only the subject of putting things away neatly, but the more daunting problem of finding them later. Her ideas are tangible problem solvers that one can use immediately.

The only thing I don't know is how to pronounce her last name but, as she is becoming a household word, I just refer to her as "Hellen" ("Hellen says ...").
3.0 out of 5 stars ... just not worth $10.00 - otherwise it's a good book. 25 April 2014
By pen - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a very tiny paperback, only 100 pages. I was expecting a real "book".
This is a great tool for someone who wants to learn their own style, or someone else's (learning style)...
She has great tips to offer to try for organizing, work, schedules, "to-do's", etc for each type of learning style.

That is all it is (and a bit of advertisement for some products)

It's not really a helpful book for organizing or removing clutter, tackling the "why's" and working through "why" we hold on to things and how to detach, and remove them (as in her great TV show NEAT). That's what I was expecting.

It's a great step by step guide for 1. identifying your learning style (or someone else's) and then offering lots of suggestions for "organizing" very basic things (desk, office.. "to do's", clothes) in your life ..
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