May 18, 2015

Tidying up is good for the soul

A few weeks ago, I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I typically don't pick up self-help books but it's been getting a lot of attention lately and let's be honest, the title alone totally appealed to my organization loving soul. I read it in one sitting during the plane ride home from San Francisco and by the time we landed, I was happily envisioning a whole Saturday filled with throwing out the useless junk in my apartment. I was 100% ready to declutter.

The whole book is actually pretty fascinating. The author, Marie Kondo, has been obsessed with cleaning basically since she was a child. It's crazy to think her intense desire to organize led to this bestselling book and an extremely popular consulting agency in Japan where she teaches people to be tidy. I'm still wrapping my mind around the idea that people sign up for cleaning lessons. I got the impression this book is a crash course in her three month lesson plan of getting people to scale back on what they own but I felt like I got a lot just from reading her book. There are a couple hokey things she advises her clients to do that I don't ever see myself doing (like thanking an inanimate object) but I wholehearted agreed on how best to get rid of things you don't need, how your feelings on something can tell you if you should keep it or not and that ultimately, keeping things clean has a lot to do with getting into the habit of putting things away in a spot you've designated for them.

So that Saturday, I actually followed her methodology of decluttering (which is patented as the KonMari Method) where instead of cleaning room by room, you should clean by category. For example you start with clothing but still further divide that by going through all your tops first, then your bottoms, then socks, underwear, etc. Once you've finished going through and discarding, or keeping and putting away, every piece of clothing, you move onto the next category. The next one is books and once you're done there, you move onto papers. And it keeps going through a few more categories, leaving sentimental items for last.

And that's exactly what I did. I went through all my clothes. I went through all my books, picking up each one (which she specifically advises) and thinking about why I wanted to keep them. When I was holding a book I considered putting in the "donate" pile, a note from a friend slipped out and totally changed my mind (I ended up keeping it). It's a very long process and took the entire day but I really did go through every item, room and drawer in my apartment.

The result? Six bags of garbage, one huge bag of clothes to donate to Salvation Army (imagine one of those blue IKEA bags filled until it's about to burst) and three bags of books to drop off at the library. I wanted to take a picture for this post but I was just so excited and relieved to be rid of this stuff, that I couldn't wait to throw it all out.

My apartment feels so much lighter and in the three weeks that have passed since then, I've been making it a habit to put everything away. No more being lazy to hang up my clothes and letting a pile build on the side of my bed. No more letting papers and other stuff clutter up the dining table. I'm trying to be a lot pickier about which books take residence on my shelves. Same goes for bags (my other weakness!). In a way, maybe this is easier for me because by nature, I am a neat person who likes things in a specific order. But I get lazy and usually when I'm super stressed or unhappy, my apartment tends to reflect that (in the form of being messy).

Here's my advice. Read the book and even if you don't, give the decluttering thing a try. I swear, it's actually pretty fun.

Have you read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up?
I'd love to hear your thoughts on it or on cleaning!

3 comments:

  1. Basically, I need to read this book! I'm a naturally organized person, and I think it would be extremely fascinating to read about Marie's methods for decluttering. So thrilled to hear it worked for you -- and so cool that you were able to get rid of so much stuff!

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  2. You may laugh, but I would take a class on how to clean. I am honestly terrible at it! I imagine if I went to therapy for it I'd end up blaming my mom (who was a house cleaning terror), but at the end of the day I just don't know HOW to clean and clean well. And decluttering... this is something I've been thinking of for months, just haven't done it yet. I like this method! Would make things a lot easier than going room by room. I'll definitely have to pick up this one! Glad it helped you with decluttering your space!

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  3. This sounds like a helpful book so I definitely think I'll check it. I think I'm good at decluttering, but I just don't do it enough, so it'd be good to hear from Marie, who's a professional on this stuff!

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