Through a series of synchronicities, I stumbled upon the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. It made the spirited promise that through properly simplifying and organizing my home once, I will never have to do it again. Not only that, it will transform my life in unexpected ways. Decluttering suddenly became possible.
The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
As someone who is in a perpetual battle with her “things” and also open to a positive shift in my life, I figured this was worth a shot. First, I began the challenge of tidying my life wholeheartedly. Then I set out to declutter in one shot, as completely and quickly as possible, per her recommendation.
I soon realized that the true point of the book was correcting my relationship attached to my stuff. Through attaining Marie Kondo’s KonMari Method, I reconnected with every item that I own from clothing to papers, to books, to trinkets.
While I connected with each and everything that I own through her Method, I pertained what it meant to me, noticing if it meant anything at all. The big question that I asked myself over and over with each item is, “Does this bring me joy?”
The goal of the KonMari Method is to surround yourself only with the things you love. In her words, “for you to truly cherish the things that are important you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose.”
The fundamental method of tidying is transforming the home into a sacred space, a power spot filled with pure flowing energy, this is an essence that is completely accessible to everyone. All people are entitled to this sacred place of bliss. The only requirement is the desire to claim it.
Through purging the old you empower a shift in your life and invite in transformation.
Marie emphasizes that tidying be a tool, not the final destination. The true intention should be to establish the lifestyle you want most once your house has been organized, constructing a methodized system assists in aligning, past, present and future matters.
When we honestly confront the things that we own they evoke many emotions within us. Acknowledging these emotions allow us to process them and move on with our lives.
This is cosmic, genius-level stuff. Who knew?
How does the KonMari Method work?
Before you start, visualize your destination. Think in concrete terms so that you can vividly picture what it would be like to live in a clutter-free environment.
Tidying involves two activities: discarding and deciding where to keep things. Discarding must come first. As Marie adamantly repeats: “Do not even think of putting things away until you’ve finished the process of discarding. The secret of success is to tidy in one shot, as quickly and completely as possible, and this starts with discarding”.
Then coordinate your space thoroughly in one go. A dramatic reorganization of the home causes correspondingly dramatic changes in lifestyle and perspective. It is life transforming. If you use the right method and concentrate your efforts on eliminating clutter fully within a short span of time, you’ll see instant results that will empower you to continue keeping your space in order.
Marie reminds us to make squaring away a special event, not a chore. Once everything is harmonious, only simple upkeep will be needed. When you are surrounded exclusively by items that give you joy, you will improve the care and vitality, as well as an enhanced upgrade of your objects.
The two secrets of tidying: how to discard and storage.
How to discard
The best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to total each item in one’s hand and ask: “Does this spark joy?” If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it. The trick is to handle each object and notice how your body reacts to the item in question. The KonMari Method asks you to imagine yourself living in a space that contains only things that spark joy. She frequently reminds us: “You deserve to be surrounded by only those things that speak to your heart.”
She dares you to take the plunge and discard all the rest.
The KonMari Method recommends discarding by category and not a place. Before you choose what to keep, collect everything that falls within the same category at one time. Take all items out and lay everything in one spot. Pick which items spark great happiness and keep only those. It is that simple.
This step is necessary because it gives you an accurate grasp of how much you have and makes it easier to choose what to keep.
The best sequence to discard is clothes and footwear first, and then books, papers, miscellany and lastly mementos and items of sentimental value. As Marie continuously reminds us, we must tidy in the right order. “We do not even think of putting things away until we have finished the process of discarding.”
If you are finding it challenging to eradicate things that don’t give you joy because you might need it later or don’t want to waste. Marie urges you to reassess the role attached toward the specific object and the purpose it played in your life. Thank it and let it go!
The book gives in-depth tips on discarding each category, and reasons why you might consider doing so. Her voice of reason continually rings true through the disposing process.
Other tips she gives us:
- Let go of stockpiles.
- Don’t let your family see, it is extremely stressful for parents to see what their children discard.
- If you are mad at your family, your room may be the cause. To quietly work away at disposing of your excess is the best way of dealing with a family that doesn’t tidy.
- The urge to point out someone else’s failure to tidy is usually a sign that you are neglecting to take care of your personal space. The first step is to confront your stuff.
- What you do not need, your family does not either. In other words do not pawn the stuff that doesn’t give you joy to your family and friends.
Of course, ultimately, if you can say without a doubt, “I really like this!” then it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. f you truly love yourself for having it despite the opinions of others, then just ignore what other people think.
Reduce until you reach the point where something clicks. As you reduce your belongings through the process of decluttering, you will come to a point where you will suddenly know how much is just right for you. It is truly liberating to know where everything is and what you own.
Marie shares that tidying is a dialogue with one’s self. Get rid of those things that no longer spark joy. Make your parting a ceremony to launch them on a new journey. Share and celebrate this occasion. Possessions are even happier and more vibrant when we let them go versus when we first get them. Saying thank you, bye bye to things that no longer bring us joy is truly freeing!
Remove first, store later: Once you learn to choose your belongings properly, you will be left only with the amount that fits perfect in your space. I love this philosophy!
Storage: How to store your stuff
Once you have discarded completely, it is time to think about storage. The KonMarie Method suggests that “when you are choosing what to keep, ask your heart; when you are choosing where to store something ask your house.”
“Storage is the sacred act of choosing a home for your belongings. Moreover, this is the goal. Once you have everything put in a home, you have crossed the finish line”.
Designate a place for each thing. The point in choosing specific places to keep things, is to designate a spot for everything. Possessions that have a place where they belong and to which they are returned each day for a rest are more vibrant.
Pursue ultimate simplicity with storage, so that you can tell at a glance how much you have.
- Store all items of the same type in the same place
- Don’t scatter storage space
If you live with your family, first clearly define separate storage spaces for each family member. To concentrate the belongings of each person in one spot is the most effective way for keeping storage tidy. Everyone needs a sanctuary.
Forget about “flow planning” and “frequency of use.” Clutter is caused by the failure to return things where they belong. Therefore, storage should reduce the effort needed to put things away, not the effort needed to get them out. Clutter only has two possible causes: Too much effort is required to put things away, or it is unclear where things belong. According to Marie, storage experts are hoarders, since putting things away creates the illusion that the clutter problem has been solved.
If you are aiming for an uncluttered room, it is much more important to arrange your storage so that you can tell at a glance where everything belongs. Rather than worrying about the details of who does what, where and when.
Never pile things: vertical storage is the key. Stacking is very hard on the things at the bottom. So it creates the illusion of inexhaustible storage space, which makes it harder to notice the increasing volume. Stackers accumulate.
Marie gives countless tips for all the various storage scenarios. They are practical and inexpensive. No need for commercial storage items; Shoeboxes have indefinite uses.
The Deeper Meaning of Decluttering and Organizing
In this final section, we tune into the deeper meaning of living an uncluttered life and reveal hints of what this magic could look like for you. It’s like detoxification for your space!
Some of the tremendously insightful moments to this process for me was owning that I had left a lot of my stuff at my parents’ place over the course of years through various moves. Filtering all my stuff in a short period was an intense process, and I am glad I did it. I completely cleared out my parents’ shed. They now have an empty shed in their back yard! 90% of the objects in there no longer gave me any joy. In fact, some of it was literally garbage for the trashcan.
Marie kindly reminds us “your parents’” home is not a haven for your personal keepsake. No matter how wonderful things seem in your memory, you cannot live in the past. The joy and excitement we feel here and now are more important. People never retrieve the boxes they send “home”. Once sent you will likely not open them again. It’s true! Had I not read this book I might not have addressed these forgotten boxes until life demanded that I do it. Instead, I did it of my free will, processed a big part of my past, and feel much lighter for it. My parents are grateful too!
Also, I recognized that I had kept so much stuff that was no longer necessary. Boxes and boxes of irrelevant paperwork, books that were no longer of interest to me, and clothes that were from decades ago that no longer appeal to me. Thank you, I release this, goodbye!
“By handling each sentimental item and deciding what to cast away, you process the past. If you just stow these things away in a drawer or cardboard box, your past will become like a weight that holds you back and keeps you from living in the here and now. To put your things in order means to put your past in order as well. The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past. Possessing a surplus of things that you cannot discard doesn’t mean you are taking good care of them. It is the opposite. By paring down your belongings, you revitalize your relationship with your possessions. Disposing of something does not mean you give up past experiences or your identity. Through the process of selecting only those things that inspire joy, you can identify precisely what you love and what you need.”
This book invites us to have an intimate and interactive experience with all the stuff that surrounds us. Touching it, noticing it, seeing if it excites us or if it makes us bored. Not only can we see what it is taking up the precious real estate in our life, but we also have the opportunity to create a new way of interacting with our stuff. One filled full of gratitude and appreciation. Suddenly we are in the right relationship with our material objects. I realized how much stuff I did indeed have. There were many things that I thought I had to buy that I ended up having multitudes of already in my possession. Brand new!
Experiencing this process shed new light on my consumerist nature. Now that I know what I have and where it is, I understand I have everything I need. It is a wonderful state of mind. I am also in greater appreciation of my belongings since I’ve always enjoyed the acquisition process, and my things have wonderful stories. I truly am surrounded by things that I love! How extraordinary is that?
In essence, tidying is the act of restoring balance among people, their possessions and the house they live in. Consider the following: Your possessions want to help you. Everything you own wants to be of use to you. In this way, you surround yourself with things that bring you joyful emotion.
The magic effect of tidying
“Letting go is even more important than adding. The lives of those who tidy thoroughly and completely, in a single shot, are without exception dramatically altered. When you put your house in order, it makes room to discover what you absolutely want to do. At the core, the things we truly like do not change over time. Putting your house in order is a great way to discover what they are”. This process is an excellent way to reconnect with yourself and your preferences. It reminds us to appreciate our wonderful selves.
Practically speaking, when we put our house in order the air inside becomes fresh and clean. Reducing the amount of stuff in our space also reduces the amount of dust, and we actually clean more often. Because clutter has been eradicated, it is much easier to clean, and, therefore, we do it more thoroughly. When our space is completely purged, we do not have to worry about tidying, so we are free to focus on the next assignment of importance. This is a triumphant discovery for those that enjoy living in tidy spaces but don’t want to spend copious amounts of time cleaning.
One of the magical effects of tidying is confidence in your decision-making capacity. When we delve into the reasons why we cannot let something go, there are only two: An attachment to the past or fear for the future. It is important to understand your ownership pattern because it is an expression of the values that guide your life. The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life. Let your home and your surroundings be the expression of how you want to live your existence. It will become a daily affirmation in your space.
You also learn that you can do without, life becomes far easier once you know that things will still work out even if you lack something.
The crux of this book is rooted in gratitude and reverence. The point of organizing your life is to take account of what you have. To unquestionably love everything that you do have, to make peace with the things that no longer serve you and release them. Start practicing daily gratitude for all the things in your life on a daily basis, in this consistent state of gratitude the likelihood of your home returning to its original cluttered state is virtually impossible.
Pour your time and passion into what brings you the most joy, your mission in life. Your real life begins after you put your house in order!
Learn more about tidiness in this fun video! Her new book is about Sparking Joy!