#BookReview: Unf*ck Your Habitat by Rachel Hoffman


About the book

Finally, a housekeeping and organizational system developed for those of us who’d describe our current living situation as a “f*cking mess” that we’re desperate to fix. Unf*ck Your Habitat is for anyone who has been left behind by traditional aspirational systems: The ones that ignore single people with full-time jobs; people without kids but living with roommates; and people with mental illnesses or physical limitations, and many others. Most organizational books are aimed at traditional homemakers, DIYers, and people who seem to have unimaginable amounts of free time. They assume we all iron our sheets, have linen napkins to match our table runners, and can keep plants alive for longer than a week. Basically, they ignore most of us living here in the real world.

Interspersed with lists and challenges, this practical, no-nonsense advice relies on a 20/10 system (20 minutes of cleaning followed by a 10-minute break; no marathon cleaning allowed) to help you develop lifelong habits. It motivates you to embrace a new lifestyle in manageable sections so you can actually start applying the tactics as you progress. For everyone stuck between The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Adulting, this philosophy is decidedly more realistic than aspirational, but the goal is the same: not everyone will have a showcase of a home, but whatever your habitat, you deserve one that brings you happiness, not stress.

My Thoughts

I simply had to request this book when I saw the title as this is exactly what I needed to know in that moment – how to unf*ck my habitat! I am a fan of decluttering books – I can’t resist them (which I do realise is some kind of irony that I’m collecting books about how to stop cluttering up my house)!

My mum wasn’t a hoarder but she did find it difficult to part with things that had any kind of sentimental value and as a result I grew up with the same mindset. The amount of times I’ve not being able to get rid of something I really don’t like purely because I love the person who gave it to me is ridiculous. I need to streamline my house though – I’m now permanently disabled and housework is physically difficult for me without adding in a load of ornaments and trinkets etc.

This book is one of the best decluttering books I’ve read because it’s the only one I’ve read that acknowledges that life is busy and we don’t all have the time or energy to declutter our houses in one go. Rachel Hoffman advocates a 20/10 approach – do twenty minutes of decluttering and then have a sit down for ten minutes to take stock of things. You can do as many of these as you want in a day but she stresses that the sit down is as important as the decluttering. I had a go at this as I was reading the book and it’s a revelation how much you can get done in twenty minutes when you’re forced to focus! I’ve now adapted this into daily life and I do all the chores, as well as the decluttering, in twenty minute bursts followed by a rest.

Hoffman also includes sections for if you are ill/disabled, if you have a very busy life, if you live with someone who has a different attitude to tidying up to you, or if you live in a very small space (including if you live in one room of your parents’ home). There are short tasks given throughout the book along with longer chapters on exploring why you have clutter and how to work through having a more streamlined home.

This is a quick read but the lessons in it have been invaluable to me and genuinely have led me to re-evaluate my approach to keeping my home clutter-free. I’d recommend it to anyone who is struggling with clutter because I’m sure that everyone will find something in this book that helps them make a start.

I received a copy of this book from St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.

Unf*ck Your Habitat is due to be published on 29th December in the UK and can be pre-ordered now.


20 thoughts on “#BookReview: Unf*ck Your Habitat by Rachel Hoffman

    • I’m exactly the same – I quite enjoy cleaning but hate tidying up and finding places to put things. This book genuinely helped me because it focused me on doing a bit at a time and keeping at it every day so that it becomes part of normal routine rather than having a massive clear out and then ending up back at square one weeks later. I hope you manage to get your decluttering done.

    • Do you? I love the bit where all the stuff I’ve sorted goes to the charity shop or tip but I hate the process of sorting out. It’s the being overly sentimental thing – it slows me down and I get sidetracked reminiscing about stuff. I’m gradually getting better at chucking stuff out though.

  1. This sounds much better than those other decluttering articles and books that are really only trying to sell you some neat storage systems. Sentimental attachments to stuff does SO get in the way, but I have to admit, I am filled with remorse for all the books (especially the books) that I dumped when we lived in a tiny flat. Ah well…! How to declutter one’s conscience….now there’s a book I need!!

    • I need a book for decluttering my conscience too – I feel such guilt for some of the things I’ve got rid of over the years, esp. books. This book is all about making decluttering and organising a part of your everyday life and it’s definitely helping me. It’s amazing how much you can get done in 20 min intervals, it really focuses the mind!

  2. It sounds like a lifesaver for me! I have FAR too many other important things other than to tidy up – and I’m married to a wonderful man, but he’s a chaos demon… I’m pre-ordering this one. Thank you for sharing!

    • I hope the book helps you as much as it’s helped me. My husband likes everything to be organised but I’m terrible for putting things in piles to put away later. This book is about doing a bit every day so it becomes a part of your life rather than having a massive clear out and then falling back into old ways. Let me know how you get on with the book.

    • That must drive you mad. I have to admit that I’m the untidy one in our house – I make piles of things to put away later and then it just looks untidy until I get around to it. My disability doesn’t help so I’m working hard on paring down possessions so that there’s less stuff around to be tidied.

  3. I’m in the middle of the Marie Kondo book now-I stopped as I’m writing and want to give it my full attention but to be honest I’m not sure how it’ll go as being renters we unfortunately move a lot and with that comes some serious de cluttering. I am in the stay at home mum camp, but am really bad at housework (I really really try but it takes me so much longer than the average person and it never looks perfect-the best I can hope for is a ‘sorry the place is a bit messy’ state after an hour of cleaning!)

    • I’ve read the Marie Kondo book and really enjoyed it. I’ve been taking hints and tips from a few decluttering books this year. The Unf*ck Your Habitat book is more about getting into the habit of doing a little bit every day so that it becomes routine rather than having a massive clear out and later falling back to old ways. I think when you’ve got children it must be even harder to keep your home tidy. It’s tough renting too – we own our house now but before we moved here I moved three times in the space of year and it was a nightmare. It’s hard to keep on top of it when you have to move often. I hope the Marie Kondo book helps you.

      • I really hope it does too😉 very jealous of people who can clear things out and clean without the ‘what ifs!’ Hoping it’s a magic book that’ll put me in that frame of mind!

  4. This certainly sounds like a sensible approach to de-cluttering! I like it very much when ‘how-to’ books acknowledge what life is really like.

    • Yes, that’s what I enjoyed about this book – it takes into account that people don’t have time or the energy to do huge clear outs in one go… or the money to set up new storage systems. I do all the chores in 20 min intervals now and then have a sit down and it’s made such a difference. My house is less cluttered and easier to keep tidy now.

  5. Great review! I’m a keen declutterer, I do it every six months. I got into the habit when I lived in bedsit land years ago.

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