Okay, to say that a book can change your life seems a little drastic, but I recently read a book that was the capstone to a journey I began a while back. Marie Kondo’s bestseller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, was the final push I needed in a direction I needed to go.
I am a recovering stuffaholic. I majored in marketing in college, and though I understand the tactics, I allowed the ads to draw me in… to convince me that I needed the latest this or the newly-updated that. A few years back, I began to realize that my house was cluttered, so I took the logical(?) first step and began to organize. I created an entire board on Pinterest that was dedicated to organization ideas. I researched the topic and found ideas for ways to organize kitchen utensils, clothes, toys, cleaning supplies, even junk drawers! What I failed to realize was that it would have been much easier to clear the clutter than to organize it.
You see, the organization tips sound great until you step back and realize that most of them require you to purchase – you guessed it – even MORE stuff. You begin to think that if you just had the perfect set of baskets in your pantry, and a set of those beautiful glass containers for all of your dry goods, and a hanging organizer over the door, and an organizer for your canned goods, and some type of organizer for the 250 plastic containers and lids, ……. then your kitchen would look awesome!
Once you make a trip to The Container Store, Walmart, and Target, and you arrive home with all your newly-acquired organization “solutions” you are ready to get started. You begin to pull all the things out and put them into their pretty new compartments and you start to feel that sense of accomplishment. You know the one…look at me, I have organized all this stuff! If you’re like me, though, months pass and the hard work slowly slips away, giving way eventually to another cluttered mess. That’s because, like me, you probably started at the end. That’s right. Organization is not the beginning. It is the end.
This is where Marie Kondo’s book is useful. You have to first start by getting rid of all the stuff you do not need. This is the hard part, but it is the part that makes all the difference. Here is my warning, though: if you have hesitant family members or children who live at home, you might want to start with The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life, by Francine Jay. This book was the first one I read, and I probably applied more of the principles in it than from Kondo’s book. I love that Joy gives you permission to put things on hold and think about them for a while before making a decision (Kondo, on the other hand, wants you to speed through the work and get items out of your home as quickly as possible).
When you are new to letting things go (or have family members who don’t quite buy into it all yet), a holding pattern is the best solution. Pack up the things you think you can do without, or in Kondo’s words, “things that do not spark joy” and put a date on them. Revisit them in 6 months and see if you want anything back. Or, better yet, if you haven’t opened the box in 6 months, just let it go. Either way, you get a chance to see what your home could look like without all the excess. You might just find that you value the space more than the stuff.
I currently have several large containers of items that I have placed on hold, and I plan to revisit them in a few months. For now, I am certain that I enjoy the empty space, but whether some of the items get to hang around remains to be seen. My very favorite lesson from Kondo’s book is her Konmari method for folding clothes. Why didn’t I learn this years ago? I love opening drawers and seeing items folded using her technique. You can see every single item and pull out exactly what you want without disturbing anything else. Take a look:
Though I found Kondo’s approach to be a bit more drastic than I felt I could take with a husband and children along for the ride, her words definitely inspired me. While I don’t see myself ever reaching a point where I talk to my socks or empty every item of my purse every night only to pack it all back into the bag the next morning, her words are soothing and through them, she paints a picture of a calm home, filled with joy. She made me want to pull every item in my house out into the open and put very few of the items back (Incidentally, I didn’t- I just looked at each item and made a decision. Don’t tell Marie.). Most importantly, she made me believe that it is okay to live with only the things that spark joy.
Maybe you are one of the lucky ones who learned these things at an early age and already have a calm, uncluttered home. If so, I applaud you (and thank you sincerely for hanging around for the entire post 😉). If you’re like me, though, and feel as if you are surrounded by too much stuff, check out these two books. Post a comment and let me know what you think. If you have already begun a similar journey, I’d love to hear your advice.