Today is “Organize Your Home” day. Normally that would (a) inspire me to overhaul
my entire house at least one closet, or more likely (b) ogle Pinterest, home magazines, and the Container Store to admire other people’s organized spaces, or maybe even more likely (c) just feel depressed at how messy my own home feels.
The reason is because I recently read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. It honestly inspired AND motivated me to declutter my house.
First the book is small, even cute. It is also a quick read. I am not a fast reader, but I was able to finish it in less than 24 hours. (I actually think I read faster as I progressed through the book because I wanted to get started tidying right away!)
While I highly recommend reading the book for yourself, I want to share some of the key ideas I took from the book and used to guide my own experience.
DISCARD FIRST. ORGANIZE LATER.
Organized clutter is still clutter. Putting it in pretty boxes won’t change that. So start by letting go of the things you don’t want or need.
TIDYING UP IS NOT A DAILY CHORE BUT A SPECIAL EVENT.
Many people think of tidying as cleaning or organizing a little bit each day. But the Konmari method shared in the book views tidying as a special event (AKA massive decluttering). Cleaning one drawer or donating a few outfits will not change your life. But if you are able to remove over 30 bags of unneeded items (like I need), it is empowering and exciting.
DECLUTTER BY CATEGORY.
Rather than tackling one closet or room at a time, Kondo advises going through your possessions by category. Start with your clothes, then books, papers, miscellany, and finally, sentimental items.
CHOOSE WHAT TO KEEP, NOT WHAT TO GET RID OF.
One key to the KonMari method is to determine which items “spark joy”. When you touch the item, does it make you happy? If so, keep it. If not, discard it.
If you are starting with your clothes, take them all out. (You can break them into smaller categories if needed: shirts, pants, coats, shoes, etc.) Stack them all on your bed or the floor. Pick each item up one by one, and determine if it sparks joy.
Following this advice, you are not choosing which 5 outfits to give away. Rather you are choosing to only keep the items that are special to you. It may seem like a small distinction, but it actually makes a BIG difference.
NEVER STACK ITEMS.
(I need to preface this section by saying I am still working on this one. I love the idea and am incorporating it, but I am still working on converting some of my stacks.)
When items are piled on top of each other, the stack tends to grow taller and taller, creating more clutter. The lower items become harder to get to, and simply get tired from supporting all the weight. Instead, stand items vertically side-by-side.
Stand your books upright for easy access. The same goes for your clothes. Fold t-shirts into long narrow rectangles (the width of the neck opening) and then fold in half twice (or thirds once…whichever yields a finished product the height of your drawer). When doing so, the shirts will actually stand on their own. This allows you to fit many more in the same space, and every one is visible and can be grabbed quickly. Life-changing!
TIDY AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE.
When following Kondo’s philosophy, tidying is actually exciting. When you allow yourself to let go of all the things you don’t want or need (that don’t spark joy), it is freeing and empowering.
Capitalize on that excitement by tackling all of your categories as quickly as possible. I thought it might be overwhelming, but believe it or not, I found myself looking forward to tackling a new category each day I could.
Finally, after the massive decluttering, every item actually has its own designated space. You know exactly where to find it, and you know exactly where to put it away. It is no longer “easier” to just drop an item on the table; I WANT to put it away where it belongs. Unbelievable.
Admittedly, I have not decluttered my entire house yet, but I am working on it. And I LOVE the results so far! I will testify that The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up can be truly life-changing. It is the best $10 I’ve EVER invested in “self-help”.
If these tips are intriguing to you at all, I highly recommend reading the book. There are a ton of tidbits that make Kondo’s method unique and powerful. I would love to hear your feedback on the ideas presented and your own life-changing experience in the comment section below.