Finishing school and taking stock of my house (which I've horribly neglected the past two years) had me thinking about clutter and how it makes me feel. It makes me feel pretty lousy. It clogs me up, slows me down, and makes my mental space cloudy. Living in a small house makes buying and storing things pretty tricky. While it can be a blessing by eliminating a lot of temptation to buy "stuff", it can be frustrating when you're a book lover and don't want to let go of your books. Add in living in the same house for 14 years, and I've got a lot of accumulated "stuff".
So I thought I'd read through this book and try to apply Marie Kondo's ideas to my place. Known as the "KonMari" method, Marie Kondo's book is pretty genius. But you have to be willing to spend some time, energy, and bouts of emotional angst to get the job done. I'm still a work in progress, but I want to share what I think about this method and how I'm doing so far in the process.
The KonMari method leads you through items in your house one by one, rather than tackling rooms. Rooms tend to bog you down and you don't make much progress. By spending one day on clothes, you work through and think about each item, and whether it gives you joy. If it doesn't --donate it, recycle, or put it in the trash. By sitting and spending time with each item, it makes you focus on one thing at a time and makes you pause to really give each item the time it deserves. Sounds crazy, but it does work. By looking at each item and deciding if it gives you joy, you eliminate the guilt of getting rid of something and instead send it on to people who could use it and perhaps find joy in it. The KonMari method focuses on clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items), and finally, sentimental items. It's important to work through your items in this order.
So how have I done? I've made some progress. I'm guilty of not following this to the letter. I have taken drastic steps and reduced my books. I'm still wrestling with reducing more. I see the piles of books I haven't read, and it's quite frankly causing me stress. This is the one final straw that had me reaching for this book. I've cleaned out clothes and donated bags of clothing to Goodwill. That felt pretty good, and it was easy to do. I cleaned out my underwear drawer and actually folded everything according to a KonMari video (there are lots online!) and I have to say I love to see the colorful rainbow of undies I have neatly folded and easy to access. Now I don't have to search but can see it all in one fell swoop. I've also cleaned out my dresser and folded my clothes and placed them vertically in the drawer. It makes it so much easier to see everything. I've found clothes I forgot about, and can now wear. I've eliminated so much clothing that I never wore. It will make me more thoughtful about how I spend money on clothing.
Books, well, they are my heart. I decided in one fell swoop to eliminate any book I had that was missing a cover. That was probably about 50 books. They went into the recycling bin. Then I went through and pulled off books I have already read and took a hard look at others I've bought but still haven't touched. Painful as it was, because I feel like I've wasted money, I made some decisions and eliminated those books as well. I've started to check out more books from the library--those books that I want to read, but don't necessarily want to keep. I've checked out more books in the past two months than I've checked out my whole life! This makes me happy, saves me money, and saves me space.
I've started on getting rid of paper, too. Went through all my files from school and either recycled or shredded most everything. Kept a few papers, but with every paper I wrote for school saved on the computer and accessible from anywhere, there's really no need to have a paper copy. Shredded heaps of old bills, receipts, and junk.
I still have a long way to go, but I've made progress. Reading The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up has been an eye-opening experience for me. It gave me the motivation to start making my home once again into a clean, clutter-free, happy place. I feel less burdened by clutter and find it is easy to let things go. I use the same few things over and over, so why have so much other stuff that I'll never use? A better use of my money is to use it to travel, spend time with friends, and buy only what I really need. I can see what I have, and what I don't need to buy. This does also work for groceries! Kitchen cupboards are next up on the list sometime this month. It may seem crazy to look at a can of beans and ask if they spark joy, but it does work. And while I'm not following the KonMari method to the letter, I am not focusing on one room at a time, but one thing at a time. It does make more of a dent and I feel like I've accomplished something big each time I take bags to Goodwill or I fill up my recycling bin.
Take some time to read the book. You may follow it to the letter, or pick out pieces that work for you. Either way, it is a motivator and gets an A+ in my fight to eliminate clutter.
Rating: 9/10 for a new way of looking at the things we have, why we have them, and how to live life clutter-free and joyfully. Practical advice that will work for anyone who has the desire and the will to work on eliminating clutter.
Available in hardcover, e-book, and audio. There are also many videos on YouTube demonstrating some of the methods in this book. It took me a few tries to fold my undies a new way, but now I've got it down!