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Throw Out Fifty Things: Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life
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Throw Out Fifty Things: Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life

3.42 of 5 stars 3.42  ·  rating details  ·  1,289 ratings  ·  279 reviews
"Our lives are so filled with junk from the past-from dried up tubes of glue to old grudges-that it's a wonder we can get up in the morning," exclaims motivator, best-selling author, columnist, and life coach Gail Blanke.

"If you want to grow, you gotta let go," is Blanke's mantra; and that means eliminating all the clutter-physical and emotional-that holds you back, weighs
Hardcover, 270 pages
Published March 20th 2009 by Grand Central Life & Style (first published March 1st 2009)
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Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie MorgensternStuff by Randy O. FrostEnough Already! by Peter WalshClutter's Last Stand by Don AslettEat That Frog! by Brian Tracy
Best Organizing Resources
20th out of 64 books — 40 voters
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie KondōThe Tipping Point by Malcolm GladwellThe Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide by Francine JayThrow Out Fifty Things by Gail BlankeThe Power Of Less by Leo Babauta
Life Management
4th out of 15 books — 17 voters

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Community Reviews

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Julie (jjmachshev)
I was very excited to read "Throw Out Fifty Things: Clear the Clutter, Find Your Life" by Gail Blanke. If you could see my house, and especially my 'reading room/office', you would understand immediately. I have such a hard time getting rid of 'stuff'. I have clothes in my closet that I bought three years ago that still have the tags because I haven't yet worn them...but can I throw them out? Uh, NO! Why? Well, duh...because I haven't worn them yet! If you don't understand that, then you are lik ...more
Yes - check it out - I'm writing a review. I can't pick apart prose nor make cross references to 16th century literature and Sylvia Plath when reviewing a modern day preternatural bestseller, but I can be honest. I'll confess - I read cheesy self-help books. I've read ones that, afterwards, I felt were full of crap as well as ones that hit a little too close to home. This book, however, made me think. It made me shift my worldview of myself just a teensy bit, but it's made a lot of difference. ...more
Lauren (Lauren Reads YA)
Skipped like, half the book because the second half is all about mental clutter and I feel like I'm doing pretty well with that. I mean, I'm doing well with physical clutter too but I just want a book that tells me what to get rid of and how to stop my parents from being total hoarders
I picked this up at the library. Based on a quick glance at the cover, I thought it was a book about clearing clutter from your house. I should have looked at the pile of words under the title, which include "broken heart, promises, missed opportunities" and various other self-helpy buzzwords. The writing style reminds me of the women's magazines I read as a teen, rife with unbelievably uplifting anecdotes and breezy, we're-all-friends-here tone. Do I even have to say I hated it? I didn't think ...more
Donna Radcliff
I haven’t quite finished this book yet, since I had to turn my book loan in for inventory, but I pulled the workbook offline and I have started with my “purging”. This is my list of 50 things I’m throwing out, selling or giving away (it is a work in progress). Note: multiple items of the same type (like jewelry or clothing) counts as one item.

The Bedroom
1. Hard plastic storage case for free weights that disappeared years ago.

2. Old jewelry (including the silver and turquoise necklace my ex- husb
Anna Balasi
This is a great book to get rid of the unnecessary clutter in your home and in your head, cleaning out the junk and having more space for the important things.

I think one of the best things about this book is how "throwing" isn't exactly dumping all the things you deem useless in the trash. The book, in fact, encourages getting rid of the junk the right way, either through recycling, swapping, and donating. For a book that encourages throwing things away, it's actually green and almost nothing
This would (and did) make a better magazine article than a book. Here, I'll do it for you: "Throw out fifty things. It'll get the ball rolling and then you'll get rid of more stuff."

Ironically I only made it about fifty pages in.
Didn't quite finish this as the second half of the book was more philosophical ("throw out" those old, negative thoughts about yourself) and less action-oriented (throw out your old cinched-waist, tapered-leg, acid-washed size 2 jeans from high school). I probably would have given this 3 stars, but I didn't like the author. To me, she always sounded like she had to prove to you just how cheery! and motivational! she was, which just got annoying after a while. I did like that she threw in a lot o ...more
Okay, this book isn't THE must-have, only-one-you'll-ever-need decluttering book (which, for me, remains undiscovered), but Throw Out Fifty Things appeals to pack rats like me in one fundamental way: Gail Blanke gives us permission to keep the things we love even while encouraging/prodding/slightly nagging us to get rid of things that we don't need and don't suit us anymore. Amid the TV shows and books advising people to dump everything unused and keep a near-empty home, Blanke counters with the ...more
I am not a hoarder, and really don't mean to be a pack rat, but things stack up on me. I am grateful that this book has given me permission, so to speak, to get rid of so many things in my life that I will never use again. I love that Gail Blanke made the connection between physical clutter and mental clutter. Cleaning up one leads to cleaning up the other. I think I've known that for a long time. I just sent two huge bags of clothing and two bags of books to D.I., our local thrift store, and I ...more
Michael Wilson
If you saw the condition of my home office right now you’ll immediately understand why this book intrigued me. It has way too much stuff in it. Bookshelves overflowing. Papers piled in baskets, in computer paper boxes, or just scattered around. My daughter has clothes she wants to sell on eBay, I have hundreds of HeroClix figures and accessories that also need to go on eBay. Scrap wood, library books, old magazines, cardboard boxes, bags and packing material, old printer and computer equipment a ...more
Dec 28, 2012 Hol added it
I skimmed this after grabbing it from the Free Book Room on my way out of the office for winter break, as I love throwing stuff away and thought some how-to support for the process might be nice. Quickly I discovered that the author has far greater faith in the conscious mind than I do. She advises the rapid chucking of not only old books and clothes but old beliefs and attitudes. In this way her reader may achieve a totally new life in two weeks. I could try that, but my subconscious mind would ...more
I am a big fan of purging clutter and getting organized, so this book was right up my alley! It is a quick read, with each chapter covering an area in your home or life that needs cleaning. It goes beyond the usual "toss clothes that don't fit" type of clearing out, moving deeper into the ideas of throwing out things like regrets, bad memories, fears. (Blanke connects objects to emotions, for example if an heirloom makes you sad, sell it.) This book did inspire me to do a major clear out of my h ...more
I read this book a few months prior to moving and it was a great guide to decluttering. The goal of getting to 50 things was a really good motivator to getting rid of more stuff, and also there was a rule that groups of things only counted as one thing, which added to the challenge. Dispite that, though, I found it easy to get rid of 50 things, in fact, we had a mountain of stuff on our kitchen table and we got rid of 83 different kinds of things. If you count individual items it was 259 things! ...more
This was another book that I downloaded to my phone to listen to while I worked in the kitchen and in the yard. I love books on organizing and this one really doesn't fall in that category. It is more about getting rid of things that don't make you feel good or don't fit into the life that you see yourself having. The first part of the book is about clearing out physical clutter and the second part is about getting rid of that mental clutter and those bad attitudes or habits that keep us from ac ...more
This book is a very quick read and yet makes some really good points. It went far beyond what I expected, which was just some tips on getting rid of/organizing stuff around the house. Instead, much of it was about ridding yourself of negative ways of thinking. Some of the things she recommends getting rid of:
--the need to be right. For example, if your co-workers are ticking you off, you can wallow in that, and yes, get people to agree with you. But do you have a bigger goal than being right? Li
Annie Smidt
I saw this book while wandering around Powells in PDX a couple months ago and, having just visited Adam, Courtney and Milli in the Man Vs Debt RV ( and hearing a little about how they sold almost everything they owned in trade for the freedom of travel and new experiences. Seemed like a good thing to read on the plane to inspire myself to have a big purging fest when I got home.

So, the first part of the book is what you might expect —Blanke walks you through the rooms of h
Writing this book must have been very cathartic for Gail Blanke, because she just about poured out her whole life story onto its pages. I learned a lot about her marriage, her kids, her dogs, her parents, her time at summer camp, her appearance on Oprah, etc.

What I didn't learn was how to clean up clutter. If I followed her vague rule for throwing things out--"If it doesn't make you feel good"--then I'd keep most of my stuff because it's my stuff, and it makes me feel good. That's not helpful.

I was expecting more of a de-cluttering, home organizing type of book. So you can imagine my confusion when half-way through listening to it, she had gotten through the whole house. But that's ok, because truly, it's the rest of the book that shines. Sure, I know I need to throw away all those old, half-used Clinique Bonus Time lipstick tubes. Yes, I know I need to clean out "that drawer" in the kitchen. I KNOW these things. Supposedly, the Flylady is helping me with that (as I stick my fingers ...more
I was excited to read throw out 50 things because I've adopted somewhat of a minimalist approach to my life recently and was looking for some inspiration. Unfortunately, Blanke seems to be encouraging what I like to call reinventing yourself through things and consumerism. She advises you to throw out 50 things, not because we should stop being so attached to objects, because it's bad for the environment, because we need to get over consumer culture and become freer with less belongings. No, she ...more
Lynne Tull
Gail Blanke introduces the book by revealing her "methodology", the "Michelangelo Method". For you self-disciplined, self-starting individuals the second paragraph of the Introduction says it all. "And that's my job as your coach: to help you let go of all the extraneous marble: to chisel your way through the stuff, junk, and clutter-physical and mental-that stands in the way of helping your very best self move into the next glorious phase of your life.” There are just two things you need to kno ...more
Ruth Hill
I had seen the buzz about this book on my blogs this summer, and I remembered adding it to my list on the library website. But I wasn't sure what I would think of the book. I have read so many clutter books, and I figured this one wouldn't be any different.

Was I ever wrong! How refreshing it was to read about a lady who actually struggled and still struggles with the various things she writes in this book. She has organizational issues. It was amazing to have her "throw out" the things even as s
I once read a book that advocated only keeping things you really love. I found that advice somewhat impractical. I do not think I could find silverware that I really love because frankly, I don't care about silverware all that much but I need it to eat.

This book has a related but much better approach. Instead of having only what you really love Blanke recommends getting rid of anything that makes you feel bad. I'm sure most people have some things they've kept because they "should" (it was a gif
I listened to the audiobook of this one and ended up liking it more than I expected. The first half is the traditional clutter clearing advice and I was wishing that I were at home so that I could actually start diving into some of the piles of stuff. The second half is more about psychological clearing. I thought she brought up some very good points to consider, although hearing it all together was a tad overwhelming.
I'm always looking for coaches to give me permission to part with things I know don't matter and in the end will be left for someone else to deal with. The first half of the book deals with physical clutter and the second half with mental clutter, like letting go of waiting for the right moment. The author says the two are related. I can work on improving my own clutter but the catch is you can't thrown out things that don't belong to you. So, I think one important message I took from the book i ...more
There are some books that you just want to read again as soon as you finish and for me this was one. It was so much more than just de cluttering the physical parts of your life (which I need to do) but also the emotional parts (which we all can use some help with). I haven't reached 50 things yet, but I am making my list!
I wasn't really enjoying Blanke's exhortive life-coach style, but the clincher was her talking about illness as something we can control. It's just one step away from blaming people for being sick.

I don't think her decluterring philosophy really gibes with mine, either. Having categories count as only one "thing" doesn't encourage people to keep tossing. And in my experience, putting a lot of emphasis on what happens to stuff after you've decided to get rid of it is very counter-productive. It k
I borrowed this book from the public library, because I feel the need to do a thorough cleaning out of my house. I have accumulated so much stuff over the years that I do not use that just fills up closets, drawers and lots of other places in my house. This book was a quick read, but filled with plenty of helpful hints, inspiring stories, resources for recycling and much more. It covers cleaning out your house, your business and your mental mess, then the last part gives you questions to conside ...more
i have a strange thing for self-help books, even though i think they are usually awful and not particularly relevant to my life. I also have a thing for feng shui, and this book is a watered down mix of both. But I'm still sort of enjoying it. Actually i think it's more about enjoying the process of getting rid of things and organizing my house, a process i started before picking up this book. I'm into her idea of keeping a list of the things I'm getting rid of. Otherwise, eh. She's pretty ditzy ...more
This book was fine, and it did give me some ideas of where to focus my (early) spring cleaning efforts. But honestly, only about a third of the book was about actual physical cleaning/purging. The other two-thirds was self-help about confidence and having no regrets and whatnot. If that's your bag, that's fine; it's not mine at all.

This is one of a couple books in the same genre that I checked out of the library; I'm reading another one right now that seems closer to what I was looking for: Uncl
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see also:
Gail Blanke is founder, president, and chief executive officer of Lifedesigns, LLC, a company whose vision is to empower men and women worldwide to live truly exceptional lives.

A best selling author, Ms. Blanke’s last book, In My Wildest Dreams, Living the Life You Long For was published by Simon & Schuster in June 1998. The book has appeared on Am
More about Gail Blanke...

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“I will not compare myself with others, nor them with me. I will appreciate myself and others for what I and they contribute.” 11 likes
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