Blessed By Less: Better Instructions for Simplifying Your Life



If, year after year, you’ve been making New Year’s Resolutions to simplify your life, declutter, and get more organized, join the club. I think just about every mom does this every single year.

And if there’s a book on the subject, I’ve probably purchased it. I read them all and am temporarily inspired at best. Then they sit around collecting dust on my bookshelves.

I think that what is lacking in the many, many home-organization books I’ve bought over the years is the spiritual dimension. If there’s a spiritual angle at all in these books, it’s a New-Age feel that just turns me off.


Blessed by Less is inspired by the Gospels, not some guru–and that’s what makes the difference. A direct Gospel focus ends nearly every chapter, and there are plenty of allusions to the Gospel and faith throughout the book. There’s even a chapter focusing on letting go of “cheap faith” in favor of a deeper faith.

This book is not meant to be a step-by-step manual on getting your house in order. Those books have their place, but I find that with step-by-step solutions, I’m tempted to “excuse” myself from certain tasks based on some not-so-extenuating circumstance in my life and my household. Instead, the reader is challenged to devise tasks based on personal situations. Working out your own goals, then following them through, requires self-discipline but is more empowering.

Author Susan Vogt covers a lot of ground in a small volume. Each chapter is based on a smart strategy, and the table of contents breaks this down further, so if you need to work on a particular solution, you’ll be able to find it quickly. There’s also an excellent list of further resources at the end of the book; don’t skip this!

It’s easy for the author of a book on this topic to sound as if she has it all together. That’s a huge turnoff for readers who feel like they can never measure up. Kudos to Susan Vogt for keeping it real in this book, whether she’s talking about her attempts to give up complaining for Lent or her hopes that chocolate doesn’t count when choosing to eat more simply. Little touches like this helped me relate better to the author and feel more receptive to the challenges she issues in these pages.

Will this book help me organize my basement, closet, desk and kitchen, like I want to do this year? Yes, in a way. It has given me a new way to focus on how I spend my money, time and energy.

Blessed by Less has inspired me to re-examine my relationship with my stuff–and my family’s stuff. By reading this book, I have learned to travel—and tread—a little more lightly. (I might even clean out my 10-pound handbag!)

My first action item will be taking all those old home-organization manuals off my bookshelves and listing them on or donating them to the library’s book sale.

Order Blessed By Less and support with your purchase!

Be sure to check out our Book Notes archive.

Copyright 2014, Barb Szyszkiewicz


About Author

Barb Szyszkiewicz is a wife, mom, Secular Franciscan, managing editor for Today's Catholic Teacher magazine and editor at Her three children range in age from high school to young adult, and she enjoys writing, cooking, and reading. Barb is a music minister at her parish and an avid Notre Dame football and basketball fan. Find her blog at FranciscanMom and her family’s favorite recipes with nutrition information for diabetics at Cook and Count.


  1. I so need something like this to get me going this year! My ‘word’ for the year is Finish. And to be able to finish all that I start, I will need to be decluttered and more organized for sure.

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