July 7th, 2015
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, how’s that for a melodramatic title? I think I’ve seen this book on nearly every blog I follow sometime in the last 6 months, so I’m sure you’ve heard of it by now. It’s by Marie Kondo, a Japanese “cleaning consultant” who has a weird obsession with tidying up. Thankfully she channeled her weirdness into this lovely little book about the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing.
The book’s core lesson is to get rid of everything you own that doesn’t spark joy. Marie suggests paring down your stuff by category rather than working room-by-room. First you sort through clothing, then books, papers, miscellaneous items, and mementos last—donating, recycling, or trashing whatever leaves you joyless. There’s a bit of crazy in the book, and a few sections apply specifically to Japanese homes, but overall it was an interesting read with plenty of helpful tips. Keep in mind the book doesn’t address the fact that there are some items in your home you have to keep around regardless of their joy factor, like a toilet brush. No joy there, but I totally need that.
I read this 6 months ago, and since then I’ve worked my way through the categories. I donated at least 2/3 of my wardrobe (maybe more) and haven’t bought any new clothing since. I don’t even miss the stuff I gave away—apparently I wasn’t wearing it anyway. I donated many boxes of books, but I kept even more (shh don’t tell Marie). Shelves filled with bunches of books bring me joy, regardless of whether or not the individual books do. Papers were up next—I must have recycled 20 lbs of old instruction manuals. Miscellaneous and mementos were harder to pare down because the categories are so vague. I was more scattered about sorting through those, but I made good progress, and this list helped me identify those pesky miscellaneous items.
Our home doesn’t have a traditional designated storage space like a garage or attic. We have a handful of small closets and some shelving I put up here and there. I’ve always liked this about our house, because I thought it kept us from collecting extra stuff. Before I started “tidying” I didn’t feel like we were drowning in junk or even needed more storage, yet somehow I donated more than 40 boxes of stuff. I don’t even know where it was all hiding! I wouldn’t call it life-changing, but I feel lighter knowing all those unneeded things are gone. Now I just have to be vigilant so that a new collection of joyless junk doesn’t find its way into my home.
Having an orderly environment makes a huge difference when it comes to my creativity. Sometimes I can’t get started making things until I have a clean space to work in. Is anybody else like that? I love the look of those cluttered, messy artists’ studios, but I’d never get anything done in there!
Have you read and/or applied this book? Any thoughts?