This week’s tip: Experience the joy of tidying up.
Everyone is talking about the life-changing magic of tidying up. I experienced it today. Have you heard about it?
It’s an internationally best-selling self-help book, written by Japanese decluttering and organization consultant, Marie Kondo. She calls her tidying process the “KonMari method”, and it’s pretty simple:
- Tidy by category, not by place. Kondo suggests first tackling your clothes, then books, papers, Komono (miscellany), and finally, mementos. She suggests making subcategories if it is helpful.
- Start by discarding. To decide what action to take for a particular item, ask yourself “Does this spark joy?” Trust your intuition. If the answer is yes, you can set the item aside to store. If the answer is no, it should be discarded or donated.
- Next, decide where to store things. Kondo urges you to keep your storage strategies simple. Everything should have its own place, and similar items should be stored together. She also teaches a particular method for folding your clothes.
- Start the next category, and repeat.
This minimalist idea of surrounding yourself with only possessions that bring you joy is not unique to Marie Kondo. Happiness Guru Gretchen Rubin often preaches that “outer order contributes to inner calm,” emphasizing that seemingly small things like an over-crowded closet can weigh us down more than we realize.
Writers Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus are at the forefront of the increasingly trendy minimalist movement, and their outlook sums it up pretty nicely:
“Minimalists don’t focus on having less, less, less; rather, we focus on making room for more: more time, more passion, more experiences, more growth, more contribution, more contentment. More freedom. Clearing the clutter from life’s path helps us make that room.”
A minimalist lifestyle doesn’t necessarily come naturally to me, but it’s something I want to pursue. I do believe that what Millburn and Nicodemus say is true — the less STUFF we have, the more room we make for what really matters. That said, to Kondo’s point, some stuff CAN bring us joy… so it’s important for us to identify what that is and get rid of the rest.
I have wanted to purge my wardrobe for quite some time. I have a LOT of clothes (especially tops), and the abundance of apparel resides within a dresser, a closet, AND a rolling clothing rack, all filled to the brim. It’s funny, because I don’t even go shopping very often — I’ve just accumulated things over the years and have never really made a habit of getting rid of much as time goes on.
My latest motivation for reducing the amount of clothing I own correlates with some exciting news: as of this August, I’ll be moving into a new apartment with my boyfriend, Eric! In an effort to respect our shared space, I’ve decided that it’s time to make the purge.
In her book, Marie Kondo strongly suggests that you set aside a dedicated time to thoroughly audit all of your belongings. “If you tidy up in one shot, rather than little by little, you can dramatically change your mindset,” she says. Fortunately, today was marathon Monday, which we happen to get the off from work in Massachusetts (for Patriot’s Day). So, in the spirit of the Boston marathon, I embarked on my own tidying marathon!
A few friends of mine were lucky enough to witness the entire process via a seemingly never-ending barrage of 1-second long Snapchats. Sharing the experience with a few close friends made decluttering feel far more enjoyable, providing me with a few accountability partners and helping me to stay focused. It also ended up being a great way for me to document the process for myself.
So, without further ado, I’d like to share with you:
My Attempt at Tidying My Wardrobe, Using the KonMari Method.
I started with my tops. Good lord, so many tops.
Did they spark joy? Here’s a summary of how that went.
No joy here. I discarded nearly 40 items from the tops category. See ya!
Next: bottoms. Fortunately, this category was a little less overwhelming.
Third, things that hang up (coats, blouses, etc). Quick and easy!
Fourth: socks and underwear. Boring 😉
Fifth: workout clothes
Seventh: accessories (belts, scarves, etc.)
…One donation pile, one trash bag, one bag of Smartfood, and 6 hours later, it was time to call it a day.
I didn’t end up having the patience to audit my shoes, dresses, or handbags, but I have to consider the day a success. Although it was challenging at times, the process was cathartic. The decision-making got easier with practice, and the final result did bring me joy.
I can’t claim that I’m anywhere near being a minimalist yet, but I feel great about the progress I’ve made! Removing all of that excess is going to help me make room for something better — I know it.
Want to learn more about this life-changing magic? Stay tuned for a review post about the book, coming soon!