The 12 Best Books on Intentional Living

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There’s been a lot of discussions lately about decluttering, intentional living and organizing your home and life – thank you Marie Kondo and Netflix!

While this streaming series helps provide a visual for what getting organized can look like, there are lots of great books on the subject as well. Each touches on the subject in a different way and highlights the need to slow down and be more intentional.

Here are a dozen of my favorites:

I consider this book the bible of organizing.

Organizing from the Inside Out provides a framework on how to view any organizing project and create a system that works.

Julie’s S.P.A.C.E. technique – Sort, Purge, Assign a home, Containerize, Equalize – is simple and straightforward and doesn’t require a lot of fancy organizing products. The other key to Organizing from the Inside Out is the emphasis on the intuitive nature of effective organizing.

So many times, I’ve been asked: “Can you organize me?”

No, but I can help you get organized. For organizing to be sustainable, it has to be intuitive to you and you have to do the work. Living an intentional life works the same way – you create it day by day, choice by choice.

I first became acquainted with Courtney when she spoke at a women’s conference and I could not wait to read her book. What impressed me the most was the authentic voice Courtney uses throughout, offering tips and suggestions, while never falling into a “this way or the highway” tone.

This book outlines the joys of living with less and ways to get there that are doable and actionable for anyone who wants or needs a change.

For anyone who has struggled with a cluttered wardrobe, Courtney is a godsend. She created Project 33 – keeping the 33 most essential items and creating an entire wardrobe around them – be sure to check it out.

Brene Brown is the cool older sister, best friend, and confidante everyone wants. I have read or listened to all of her books and one of my favorites remains Daring Greatly.

Starting with abundant research, Brene delves into the stories of people just like you and me, people who want to live their best life but are sometimes stuck in the mediocre (or worse).

What I love most about Daring Greatly is that it challenges us to be vulnerable; to be authentic; to be our full, flawed selves.

Without that kind of openness and honesty, with ourselves and others, it’s difficult to create an intentional life that supports us and those around us.

I also highly recommend Brene’s Netflix special as well. My favorite line is “If you don’t work out your own *&(%), you’re going to end up working it out on someone else.” Brilliant!

This book is an absolute must-read for anyone who has experienced backsliding in any area of their life, including organizing and decluttering.

The author does an amazing job of explaining how habits are created and why they are so darn hard to break. If you’ve ever wondered why you can’t stay organized, or eat healthily, or to make positive financial decisions, this book explains a lot.

Living intentionally is dependent on creating and sustaining positive habits – without positive habits, disorganization and reactive decisions are bound to return.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks to living intentionally and mindfully is getting started and staying motivated.

Mel’s book really delves into the roadblocks we put in our own way and how we can change our thinking and our actions.

It’s really our thinking that drives what we do so she starts with that – how changing how we look at situations changes everything.

Mel doesn’t paint a rose-colored glasses kind of world where change is easy but change must happen if you want different. If you don’t change, nothing changes.

Reading Gretchen is like catching up with a girlfriend over a cup of coffee or a glass of wine – authentic, funny, and down to earth.

Better than Before focuses on the power of positive habits to create the life we want to live and see how we’ve been sabotaging ourselves.

The book focuses on the little, everyday habits – exercising a little, eating just a bit healthier, sleeping just a bit longer – than feel doable.

This isn’t about creating a training regime to run a marathon or create a 10 step plan to retire when you’re 35 – it’s about focusing on the small stuff that impacts us daily.

Gretchen’s newest book – Outer Order, Inner Calm – is a hallelujah for organizers!

What’s going on outside in your life – how your office looks, what’s piling up in your car, how finding something to wear in your closet is like an archeological dig – reflects what’s going on with you mentally and spiritually.

Everything in the universe has the energy and the energy of disorganization and clutter is negative and loud. It’s difficult to make our best choices and live intentionally with all that noise and negativity.

Are you looking for more motivation and direction in getting started in living an intentional life? If so, I highly recommend Brendon Burchard’s The Charge: Activating the 10 Human Drives that Make You Feel Alive.

Brendon is a dynamic speaker and a powerful writer and The Charge is written in a really approachable way.

In the book, he focuses on control, competence, congruence (living into your values), caring, connection, change, challenge, creative expression, contribution, consciousness, and celebration.

Living a fully intentional life means being mindful of what doesn’t move you forward in life and by focusing on the drives, you create the life you want to live. Listen to this book if you can – Brendon reads his own books and he has a wonderful voice.

When I started my organizing business, How to Organize (Just About) Everything was a great resource.

Peter is funny and down to earth and sees disorganization and clutter as a problem to be solved, not a character flaw.

For visual learners, the checklists and step-by-step instructions are really helpful and while the book covers a lot of ground, I skipped anything that did not pertain to my organizing work.

It’s All Too Much remains a favorite of mine because it really taught me to get to the “why” of organizing and how the clutter and disorganization in our lives drain us of the potential to live our best life.

We create roadblocks in our lives with our stuff and by eliminating anything that’s holding us back and holding us down, we can step more fully into our lives.

This book, It’s All Too Much, was a catalyst for writing my own book.

Don Miguel Ruiz’ The Four Agreements is a masterful work reminding us that by being kind to ourselves and others, we create a more beautiful, peaceful and intentional world.

The folklore that Ruiz uses in the book may not resonate with every reader – I have to admit that I struggled with it a bit – but his message is positive and powerful.

In a nutshell, be impeccable with your word; don’t take anything personally; don’t make assumptions, and always do your best. The premise may seem simple but it’s in the execution that we struggle.

Living an intentional life is based on kindness – to ourselves and others and the world around us; Ruiz gives us a roadmap to get there.

I can’t finish this list without adding Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Covey emphasizes over and over (and over) that we create the life we have by the choices we make and the habits we continue.

While this might not seem to be a book about living intentional, it’s actually really effective in outlining how we have to act in order to create our best, intentional life.

Covey’s number-one principle is to be proactive and I couldn’t agree more. When we react to situations, we are usually fearful and defensive. Being proactive doesn’t mean we don’t have fear; it just means we choose to face the fear and act positively and decisively anyway.

Some of the content feels a little dated but the message remains powerful and transformative.

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Website: Your Organized Life

For almost a decade, Lisa has worked with clients in the Boston area to create organizing systems that work. As an organizing coach, the focus is on supporting the client in creating the best life possible through letting go and lightening up on all the things that are holding us back. Organizing is a process, not an event – and Lisa guides and supports her clients in creating new habits and systems that work.