Book Review – “The Joy of Less” by Francine Jay

by Dan


Francine Jay, aka “Miss Minimalist”, is a writer who I came across on Twitter whilst I was nearing the end of my 100 Daily Acts of Simplification. This week I have managed to find time to read her book “The Joy of Less“.

The Joy of Less is another one of those books that I found myself nodding in agreement all of the way through. The simple living philosophy, and the decluttering methods described, match precisely what I discovered during my own 100 day experiment. This book is primarily about decluttering but also touches on living a minimalist life in general, encouraging you to think about everything from your current possessions, new purchases, commitments and priorities.

For me, the first 90-odd pages were the most useful. These describe the general minimalist philosophy and decluttering using the helpful STREAMLINE acronym. Those who know they need to declutter, but don’t know where to start, will find this book very helpful to grease the cogs and get things moving, as well as holding your hand through the entire process. The middle third of the book takes each room in turn and walks through the STREAMLINE method for each. For this reason that section is probably best used as you tackle each room, as the theory is duplicated but with helpful tips specific to that area. The remainder of the book looks more widely than just your possessions, and the minimalist life in general.

From her description of her own home and life, I would describe Francine as a true minimalist in the literal sense – things are pared down to their bare minimum – but what I really liked was how she asserts that minimalist means different things to different people. Only you can decide how much is “enough” and wherever you decide to draw your own boundaries, this guide will help you get there.

Another thing that resonated with me was the suggestion of a “One-a-Day” approach to decluttering as an alternative to taking it all on at once. As someone who committed to making one thing simpler each and every day, most of my Daily Acts of Simplification (which included quite a lot of decluttering) were of this small bite-size variety. I can vouch for the fact that this incremental approach really does compound into a significant difference over time. Some of my improvements, when I have more time, are of the larger variety, tackling a whole room or area at once. This book has taught me that I have a lot more to do in this area. I particularly took on board Francine’s suggestion to empty the room or area completely as a starting point, and only put back in what is deemed critical. I haven’t really done this, and will do so going forward. Her method of sorting the rest is similar to my Red Tagging Exercise, only more structured. Another powerful synchronicity was the description of visualising your ideal room which is so similar to my Subtraction Exercise that I nearly fell off my chair!

The message here is that this stuff works, and if you try it you will know it to be true! Simplification is simple, you just need the resolve to make a start and to keep going. Read my piece on entropy for more on how science tells us that attainment and maintenance of order is a continuous process.

Readers will find the writing style in The Joy of Less humorous and engaging, and the content full of practical wisdom. I am now a big fan and will continue to follow Francine’s work on her blog