Last year, I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. I definitely recommend reading this book as your New Year purge or spring cleaning approaches!
I pride myself on being a pretty organized person. However, we all get used to our “organization” methods and become blind to spots that we need to improve on. This book was a great way to reset and to be able to take a hard look at all of my stuff in a critical view. I will share my big takeaways below.
1.Organizing by Category
Like most people, I always organized by room. I typically started somewhere easy, such as the bathroom, and worked my way up to my bedroom. Kondo suggests working by category. And not just in any order, but this order specifically: Clothing, Books, Papers, Komono (Miscellaneous items), then Mementos. Why this order? Clothing is typically the least emotional category, and by the time you work your way up to the personal memento category, you will more confident in your decision-making ability.
The reason that the categories are nice is because these items can be everywhere in the house. Take clothing for example, I have my bedroom closet, but I also have two closets at my entrances that are filled with coats, gloves, and shoes. Rather than looking at all of these items separately, we need to view them all together to get a picture of what we have and what we do and do not need. Books and magazines are other items that seem to find their ways throughout the house. The exception to this is Komono. Miscellaneous items could be jewelry, kitchen supplies, a bathroom closet, etc., these items should be view by room or typical place of use.
I cannot remember how she touched on this in her book, but I remember her discussing this in some capacity. However, I always set up “keep”, “donate”, “trash”, and “unsure” piles. You could also have “sell” and “recycle” piles too, whatever fits for you. Most of those are pretty self-explanatory. For “unsure”, I put a time limit on it. If I don’t use it or wear it in 3-6 months (depending on the item), I know it is time to get rid of it (via donation or trash) or find another use for it. For clothing, I do this by hanging the hangers facing the opposite ways for these items. If I wear the item in the designated time, I switch the hanger the usual way. Once the time period has lapsed, those with hangers still the facing the opposite way, are removed. I focus on my clothes seasonally. Because, say that I do my entire closet in spring, of course I won’t be using my winter clothes until much later in the year and don’t want to make that purge prematurely.
2.Give Your Items Respect
I can be a hoarder of books. That being said, I am not someone who rereads books (except Harry Potter). Therefore, the books that I get are read then put on a shelf indefinitely. Kondo asks us to think about the feelings of our belongings. I know, I know. It sounds cheesy. However, think about that book that you have had on your shelf for 5+ years and hasn’t been read since you put it there. Someone else could be enjoying that book. I did a huge book purge and donated them to my local library and domestic abuse shelter. Getting rid of that bookshelf gave me more floor space and made me happy thinking of all the people that will be able to enjoy the books as they deserve to be enjoyed.
3.Focus On The Task
Stay on the task of the category that you are focusing on. If you are on the paper category, stay on the paper category. Many of us may keep our documents with mementos, such as letters from friends or pictures. Do not get down a worm hole by starting to read to look at these items. The time will come for that, but it is not now.
What I didn’t follow…
Folding. Kondo beautifully describes proper storage methods for items, particularly when it comes to folding. While I think that many will love this, it was not for me. To each their own, right?
Use Technology To Your Benefit
Aside from the books, another huge purge for me were mementos. I had some many printed photos from years ago that were in photo albums that I never look at. Now, as much as I would like to forget my pre-teen awkwardness, I didn’t want to get rid of these photos forever with no chance to return. To deal with my dilemma of too many photo albums, I scanned the photos into Google Photos. This was a great alternative. The photos will be accessible, but I can remove the physical clutter. I also took photos of old cards that I kept for sentimental reasons and uploaded them to Photos.
The Life Changing Part
It may sound weird, but a good purge does the body and mind good. And I am not just talking about when you’ve had too much to drink. Haha. Using Kondo’s methods made the task of tidying up less daunting. It gives a great structure to follow and allows you to take charge of your things.
I have found that the physical tidying up has also helped with my mind clutter. When were are surrounded by so much stuff, it makes our space more chaotic. That chaos seeps into how we move about our space and how we react to our surroundings. Tidying up is that cathartic purge that we are all need in our lives to clear our physically and mental spaces.
What are your tips to tidiness and organization?