Three months ago I read ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying’ by Marie Kondo, which the blurb claims will allow you to:
Transform your home into a permanently tidy, clutter-free space and be amazed at how your whole life changes.
See my original post for more about her method, and to see some photos from my decluttering exercise.
Three months of normal life on, these are my reflections.
The magical / life-changing stuff
I really did manage to radically declutter! I got rid of a lot of stuff, and I really can’t see myself ever getting drowned in stuff again. I feel much lighter with less stuff weighing me down! I don’t want to be surrounded by tiring visual clutter – I want to continue to own a small number of high quality, joy-sparking, useful items.
Having completed the exercise for everything I own, it is now also easy to ongoingly identify items which I should pass onto other people. For example, today I went through my shelf of novels and picked out an unread book that I am going to give to a charity shop. It feels really good to liberate an unloved item from my collection and release it back into the world, where hopefully it will bring joy to somebody else. It feels far less wasteful.
The decluttering exercise also allowed me to know myself more. I can now tell you which kinds of post-it notes bring me joy; what pens to buy, and the kinds of clothes I really like (and which I only think I like). I now know what kinds of bedding makes me happy, and which duvet covers to avoid buying, and so on. This has inevitably changed the way I shop for things for the better. If the item doesn’t bring me joy at the point of acquisition, then why would I buy it!? It serves as a great litmus test for purchases, and has already prevented buying things that would have simply cluttered up my space. Again it feels less wasteful!
I am spending less on things I will regret buying. And yes, I have a tiny overall budget, but even when I am buying clothes or books in charity shops or on eBay it’s possible to find joyful items.
Having followed the Konmari Method I now have less stuff and everything I own has its designated home, so it is much easier to clear away and tidy. There is no decision making to be made about where to put something, there is no stress or mental-energy associated with trying to cram too much stuff into a drawer or a shelf. My craft drawer. for example, has neat plastic folders in it, so bits of paper don’t just get shoved in there in a haphazard way.
The stuff that isn’t quite magic
In all Kondo’s methodology and psychology she has missed some significant contributors to untidiness! In my case, for example, I struggle with low energy, and so the effort and energy required to fold clothes and put them away, for example, cannot be underestimated.
What about that moment when you get home from a holiday and you’re exhausted from travelling, and all your stuff is in a suitcase? Or what if you are perennially running late? Or what if you inevitably change your mind about what to wear 30 seconds before you need to run out the door?
One of the solutions I’ve come with is a box where I put unfolded clothes (often a mixture of clean and recently worn clothes) that at least stop them spreading (although I think I need a bigger box!). The same with shoes. I have a shoe box by the door where the most recently worn shoes get dumped when I stagger through the door. Then, when I have a day with energy they get sorted and put away.
I guess another solution could be to abandon the nice folding, but I really do love taking out carefully folded and rolled socks etc. out of the neat drawer every morning. There is also a nice restfulness that accompanies them being folded away nicely.
I also haven’t actually finished the process! This is my fault, not Marie Kondo’s. She insists a number of times in her book to complete the whole process in one go. I still need to finish rearranging my bookshelves to optimise the space and make them look visually pleasing. There is also big box of things I need to deal with. My shredder has broken which doesn’t help!
So my task for September, is to finish dealing with the remaining stuff. To make my room visually pleasing. And to go back through all my things and ask the question “does this spark joy” all over again. I know there is a whole load of stuff that got through the first round, because I was less attuned to the process.