Book Review: The Joy of Less by Francine Jay

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Our society has become obsessed with consumption and production, leading to a concerning issue of overflowing landfills. It’s time to reflect on whether we truly need all the stuff we have in our lives to combat materialism.

Chances are, you possess many things that aren’t necessary. In Francine Jay’s The Joy of Less, you’ll gain insight into how to declutter and make decisions about what to keep and what to toss. Adopting a minimalist mindset can help alleviate stress and save you money.

But, the real treasures in life aren’t material possessions. If you’re curious about the book, this review will provide all the information you need to decide if it’s worth your time. So let’s dive in.

Key Insights

Lesson 1: With STREAMLINE method, you can declutter your home and enjoy a clutter-free environment.

The STREAMLINE method is a process for decluttering and organizing. It consists of the following steps:

  1. Start Over: Imagine the space you are organizing as if it were brand new.
  2. Trash, Treasure, or Transfer: Go through each area and decide whether to throw away, keep, or give away each item. Clothes with stains, expired makeup, and unwanted mail all belong in the trash. Only keep beautiful and sentimental items that you can display, so only put them in the treasure pile if they meet these criteria. Put anything you no longer need in a pile labeled “Drop Off.” Don’t hoard these items just in case you need them again later.
  3. Reason for Each Item: Consider whether each item you want to keep serves a purpose or has sentimental value.
  4. Everything in Its Place: Determine how often you use each item and place it in a location that makes sense based on that frequency. Your laptop and toothbrush should be in the inner circle or within easy reach without having to bend or stretch. Items like special kitchen utensils and cleaning supplies can be kept in the outer circle, along with items you rarely use. It’s possible to store these items somewhere out of sight, such as in a closet or attic. Basements and garages are examples of deep storage areas, as are the attics and lofts of larger homes.
  5. Clear All Spaces: Make sure all surfaces, including countertops and tables, are free of clutter.

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Lesson 2: The second half of the STREAMLINE method is to help you organize your stuff.

The second half of the STREAMLINE method consists of several steps to maintain organization:

  1. Modules: Group similar items together, such as putting all first aid supplies in a first aid kit.
  2. Boundaries: Set limits on how many items you keep, and consider alternatives to physical possessions, such as using a library or electronic reader instead of buying a large number of books.
  3. If One Comes In, One Goes Out: When you acquire a new item, get rid of an old one that serves the same purpose.
  4. Narrow Down: Use multitasking techniques, such as using an all-purpose cleaner instead of multiple sprays, to accomplish goals with as few resources as possible.
  5. Maintenance: Make a habit of getting rid of one item per day to prevent clutter from accumulating.

Lesson 3: To create a peaceful retreat, you need to declutter your bedroom and closet.

The STREAMLINE method can be used to declutter and organize your bedroom and closet. Here’s how:


  1. Sort items into piles of trash, treasures, and items to give away. Since you use your bedroom primarily for sleeping and storing your belongings, the book you’re reading and the alarm clock belong in the treasure pile. The term “moving stuff” refers to things like toys, craft materials, and magazines that need to be moved to another location or donated.
  2. Keep clutter to a minimum and only keep furniture that is necessary. The author and her husband have only a futon mattress on the floor. They no longer need a vanity since they do all their personal hygiene in the bathroom.


  1. Empty your entire closet and sort clothing into piles of trash, treasures, and items to give away. Don’t stop until every drawer, hanger and shelf in your room is empty.
  2. Throw away clothing that is beyond repair.
  3. Keep clothing that enhances your appearance and is suitable for different occasions. Remember that fashion changes quickly and you may end up with a closet full of clothes that are no longer in style.
  4. Use the “One In, One Out” rule to stay on trend and avoid accumulating too many clothes. Don’t forget to get rid of an old, unused suit when you buy a new, more expensive one.

Lesson 4: Decluttering improves your living room and home office space.

The living room is an important space for spending time with friends and family. To make the most of this space, follow these steps:

  1. Consider the purpose of each item in the room. Only keep furniture and items that serve a necessary function. The author and her husband did not need a couch or a TV while they were abroad. They did not have many guests over, as they were usually out of town on weekends and evenings. A coffee table and two chairs were sufficient for their needs.
  2. Divide activities into modules, using labeled containers to keep materials organized. Thanks to the modules, not only will it be less of a hassle to gather the materials for the particular activity, but also cleaning up will be a breeze.
  3. Keep the floor clear to prevent accidents so you and your children can play safely and without worry. If books and toys are scattered on the floor, children can trip over them as they move around and explore.
  4. Reduce paper clutter in your home office by scanning and filing documents electronically and using paperless options. You can invest in a scanner and switch to paperless options like online banking and digital newspaper delivery.
  5. Organize your desk and minimize paperwork by regularly going through and disposing of unnecessary documents.

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1. Defining Your Own “Enough”

One of the aspects I like most about “The Joy of Less” is that Francine Jay doesn’t impose a rigid definition of minimalism on her readers. Instead, she encourages you to find your own “enough” based on your personal needs and preferences. This tailored approach allows you to create a living space that reflects your unique values and lifestyle, rather than adhering to arbitrary standards.

2. The Value of Space

Francine Jay’s book also highlights the importance of space in our lives. A clutter-free environment not only makes it easier to start projects on a whim, but it also contributes to better mental and emotional well-being. By emphasizing the value of space, “The Joy of Less” provides a compelling argument for embracing minimalism and decluttering.

3. Practical Strategies for Decluttering and Maintenance

The Joy of Less offers practical suggestions for downsizing and keeping your living space clutter-free. From reevaluating your belongings and being a mindful gatekeeper to implementing the “one in, one out” rule, Jay’s book presents a range of actionable tips for maintaining a minimalist lifestyle. Moreover, the book’s room-by-room decluttering guide is a valuable resource for those seeking a more organized home.


1. Limited Applicability

One of the drawbacks of “The Joy of Less” is its limited applicability to certain living situations. While the book contains valuable general advice on minimalism, it becomes less relevant when discussing specific parts of the house that not everyone has access to, such as a basement or a lawn. For readers living in smaller apartments or who don’t own a home, some of the advice may not be as helpful or relatable.

2. Minimalism as a Luxury

Another criticism of “The Joy of Less” is that it tends to present minimalism as a lifestyle accessible mainly to those who are financially stable.

The reality is that minimalism may not be an easy choice for everyone, especially those who grew up underprivileged or have a hard time letting go of items due to their potential monetary value.

The book could have delved deeper into the challenges faced by people in different financial situations and provided advice tailored to their specific needs.

3. Lack of Depth on Minimalism Philosophy

While the first part of the book does a great job introducing the philosophy of minimalism, it leaves some readers craving more in-depth exploration of the subject.

Providing a more comprehensive examination of the foundations of minimalism, as well as expert insights and interviews with professionals, such as psychiatrists or former pack rats, could have greatly enriched the book.

This would have allowed readers to better understand the underlying motivations behind our attachment to possessions and how to effectively navigate the challenges of adopting a minimalist lifestyle.


The Joy of Less by Francine Jay is a transformative book that has helped many readers, including myself, improve their quality of life by embracing a more minimalist approach to possessions.

By defining our “enough,” reframing our relationship with our belongings, and following the book’s room-by-room decluttering guide, we can create a more peaceful and serene living environment.

With less stuff, maintaining a clean and organized home becomes an enjoyable and achievable task. This book truly deserves a permanent spot on anyone’s bookshelf as a constant reminder to keep clutter at bay and enjoy the benefits of a minimalist lifestyle.

About The Author

Francine Jay, also known as Miss Minimalist, is a writer who focuses on living with less. She shares her experiences and provides helpful advice on her website, where she is part of a lively community of like-minded people who appreciate the joys of minimalist living.

Through her bestselling book, The Joy of Less, which has been translated into twenty languages and named one of Amazon’s Best Books of the Year, Francine has helped hundreds of thousands of people declutter their homes and simplify their lives.

In her latest book, Lightly, she offers a complete philosophy for serene and simple living that encourages readers to lighten not just their possessions but also their schedules, stress levels, and spirits. 

Buy The Book: The Joy of Less

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