|Image from goodreads.com|
So January has been all about decluttering and appreciating how much I have, and I've been taking my tips from the Konmari Method. I'm focusing on decluttering for my first month-long (or more) resolution this year.
It started when I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, which launched me into a realm of tidying that I hadn't thought myself capable of. If you don't already know about this NYT bestseller, then you're about to find out.
Kondo boasts a 100% success rate for her clients in Japan. What's different about the her style, dubbed "The Konmari Method," is that she focuses on the keeping of things that only "spark joy" rather than disposing of things that you don't need. It puts a positive spin on the task of decluttering, and takes the headache out of the deciding process. There are no tables or charts to follow that tell you how long is too long to have something without using it, you just have to be honest with yourself and be willing to let stuff go that doesn't make you happy. And most of all, treat your stuff with respect. She sometimes loses people here, because she personifies objects to the point of weirding people out, ascribing feelings to socks, staplers, and what-not. She talks to her things: thanks her jacket for doing the hard job of keeping her warm, greets her house when she walks in the door, and doesn't ball up her socks because it hurts their feelings. So, she's a little funny that way. But if you can buy into the idea that some of the basic principles behind her method are genius, then you'll be in for a clutter-free treat.
Things I came away with that really worked for me:
- Declutter by category, not by room.
- Don't worry about where to put everything until you've truly decluttered everything.
- Declutter in this general order: clothes, books, papers, miscellany, and do things that are dearest to you last.
- Do your categories in a big way, not just a little at a time. Kondo calls tidying up an event. Don't get rid of a few things every day - do it as a marathon and make it count. The big changes will spark the real change that you need.
- Gather everything from that one category, from all areas of the house and dump them on the floor. This desensitizes you to it. You're more apt to keep it if you declutter them from where they are on the shelf/closet, so this is essential. It's also essential that you do all things from one category at the same time so that you realize how much you have in that category.
- Pick up each thing and decide whether it sparks joy. For clothes, some I knew right off the bat that they did or did not. Many I needed to try on. Keep what you love with confidence.
- Let things go if they: don't make you happy, don't feel right, aren't your style, are no longer useful, if you have too many of the same thing and don't use them all.
- If you have a hard time letting it go, thank it for its service and move it along to someone who will love it more. It may have helped teach you what wasn't your style, fit once but doesn't anymore, is too worn to be useful, or something you hate to part with because it was a gift or was expensive. Part with the things that make you feel guilty when you look at them, and let them move on so that you can too.
- Declutter everything first and then decide where it's permanent home will be. You can't organize your stuff until everything is decluttered, otherwise you'll keep moving everything around.
- You probably can't get a lot of money for most stuff. Get it out of the house as soon as you can afterward, and don't let anyone in your house de-rail you - if you think they will try to undermine your effort by pulling things back from the curb, do it when they are not around (so long as you aren't getting rid of their stuff!).
- Clothes/accessories/shoes: This has by far been the best change for me. Everything now fits in my tiny closet and my armoire. Summer and winter wardrobes are all together, giving me the most out of all of my clothes whatever the season. I donated 3-4 garbage bags of clothes, accessories, and shoes, and it made me feel 10 times lighter. Getting dressed, doing laundry, putting things away, and making new outfit combinations -- these are all way easier and less stressful, and my stuff has so much ROOM to breathe.
- Books: I thought this would be harder, honestly. I'm a librarian! I should love keeping all these books! But then, I'm a librarian, and why keep so many books when the ones I'm really reading all come from the library? So now I've only kept books that I know that I love, would read again, or that just make me happy. I got rid of about 70% of my books. The books I have that I love actually stand out now, and I have room for funky decorations that always looked cluttered when I tried to put them out before.
- Papers: So, my filing cabinet was the place of things-stored-and-never-looked-at-again. Receipts, old mail, coupons even got stuffed here and forgotten. So, I got rid of about 50% of that too. I'm no Marie Kondo, who says she prefers to keep no paper whatsoever, but I'm happy enough knowing that I only have things I need and I can now find them at the drop of a dime. Oh, and now I have a desk top. On which I can work. Without moving piles of stuff around first. Woo!
- Miscellany (Komono): Linens for beds we no longer have, 36 burned CDs, DVDs that I bought because they were only $2, a zillion wine-glasses from wineries we've visited, cords to I-don't-know-what-anymore, leftover blank wedding invitations I never used, pens that I hated to write with, lotions I've had for years and never use, cosmetics that have been around since the dinosaurs roamed the earth, tupperware without lids... The best thing about this category has been that it includes stuff I use every day and yet never bothered to get in order, so when I cleaned up all these little pockets of crap around my house, it made everything feel so much lighter!
Last but not least, if you are going to read this book. Remember: this is a guideline, and written for people who probably live in very different houses and in different lifestyles than you might have. And some of her advice is nutty. She got rid of her hammer and her screwdriver, replacing them with things that in my book are never a substitute. She uses her headphones instead of her speakers. She dries and puts away her shampoo in a cabinet after every shower. For me, that is TOO FAR. But for the most part, this woman is on point. Besides, who else has an organizing book without pictures make it onto the bestseller list?
The other major part in this month-long de-clutterfest is that I didn't buy anything outside of groceries (and gifts...for others). Whenever I was de-cluttering and thought I needed something, I wrote it down, and decided to buy it later if the need still applied. Not buying anything gave me the chance to see what I could make do with and see how much I really have already. When I finally went shopping, I found that I really only needed a few things, and I had the perfect sense of what those things were (black cardigan for work, and a better belt!).
Now that we are gearing up to move, I'm happy that I won't go through the hassle of boxing up a bunch of junk that I didn't really need or want! Whew! More to update once we actually move...