February 9, 2016
An Intro to The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Are you read for some extreme tidying? No wait, wrong question. Are you ready to CHANGE YOUR LIFE?
Yeah, I don’t know if I am either, but had to start this whole endeavor off with a bang. Let’s get excited! About decluttering!
If you’re lost, let me back up. This past summer I read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. Even then I was a little late to the game. EVERYONE was talking about it. I was skeptical that it could really be life changing, but I was intrigued at what made this book such a hit. And I was also sick of all the clutter in my house.
So I read it. For a book about decluttering, it’s a pretty enjoyable read. The author has just enough quirkiness to keep things amusing, while still doling out some practical advice. Now, I’ve read many a blog post and magazine article about how to clear the clutter, organize your house in 15 minutes a day, and become a minimalist in 100 easy steps. I was surprised to find that the KonMari method (the name given to the method outlined in the book) actually has some unique specifications and tips. If you’re really serious about decluttering, then I suggest you read the book, but here’s a quick recap of those things that make this book a bit different than what you may have read before.
- It’s better to declutter all at once than just a little bit at a time. So many other decluttering gurus say to break it down in to manageable chunks and do a little each day. Marie Kondo says to just go for it. All the way. She says that when you make it a BIG EVENT you get to enjoy the benefits much sooner. This gives you more motivation to stay decluttered. Forever.
- Declutter by category, not location. This makes a lot of sense. You can’t accurately get a handle on all your stuff if some of it is hidden away. For example, you can’t tell how many writing utensils you have if you have pens scattered between the bedroom, kitchen, office, your purse, and at the bottom of the junk drawer. You have to gather them all together before you can decide what to keep and what to discard. in a similar vein…
- Store things according to category rather than frequency of use. For example, I have a small collection of cords in my desk drawer. My husband has other cords in a box in his closet. Some cords are kept in camera or laptop bags. However, any time I need a cord I can never remember where I keep that particular cord and I end up looking in several different places. But if I kept all the cords together I would know there was only one place to look. Every time.
- Keep only those items that “spark joy.” This is really the central rule to her whole system. You are supposed to physically handle every item you own during the decluttering process and sort it into “keep” or “discard” based on how it makes you feel. She claims that you will be happier if you are only surrounded by things that give you joy. It’s a rule that sounds lovely, but probably the one I have the most trouble implementing. It feels a little impractical to me.
This book also has it’s quirks though. There were a few things while reading it that I thought were either a little strange or just unhelpful.
- Along with the whole “spark joy” rule, Marie Kondo is a little out there about the things in our homes. She talks a lot of “waking up” your belongings so you can see them more clearly. She encourages thanking the things you decide to discard so you can release them to the world without guilt. She talks of a certain way to fold socks so they are “at rest” in your drawer. It can be a little odd.
- This book is written from the perspective of a single woman living alone in a small Japanese apartment. She doesn’t really address some of the big issues that many American families have like garages full of stuff, or baby gear that you feel like you should keep for future children. I guess she would say that you should still ask “Does this spark joy?” But I kind of wish she had spent more time addressing things like the craft closet rather than cosmetic samples and spare buttons.
Despite it’s oddities, I still found the book to be pretty inspiring and motivating. I also feel like it gave me some very clear steps to follow. So, although it took me about 6 months to get going, I’ve officially started Tidying My Home. Updates forthcoming.