Last Friday I showed you the enormous bulk of items I threw away. I would like to share a book with you that helped me in my tidying process: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. I illustrated some tidying tips Marie Kondo gives to get rid of your mess, organize your home and create a space you love. Here is how Marie Kondo does things different from conventional tidying wisdom.
Tidy for once and for all
You might have heard the tidying advice to throw away an object every single day. That’s more or less how I started my tidying project before I read ‘the life-changing magic of tidying up.’ Tidying a little bit every day does help, but it’s a very long process.
The first half of everything I discarded, I did over the course of 7 months. The second half (after reading the book) I did in 2 weeks.
Marie Kondo says that you only need to tidy one time really well. After that it’s just a matter of keeping things in their proper places. When I came back from travelling for 3 months through Asia, all my belongings were in boxes. Since I needed to unpack them anyway, I thought I might as well go thoroughly through everything I own in a massive tidying rage. Ever since I de-cluttered my space, it hasn’t been as messy. Of course, some days I do have some clutter lying around. It’s laundry day, I’m working on a creative project, or I bought some materials and haven’t given it a proper place yet. But in general, I’ve noticed a major difference. It has become easier to keep my room tidy.
Sort per category, not per location
Every now and then I get serious about tidying. Normally, I pick a closet, take everything out, discard what I don’t want anymore, and put everything back in neatly. In other words, I sort per space.
A far better way to tidy I discovered, is to tidy per category. For example, gather every book you own. Instead of having a couple of books on your shelf, a few in your drawer, and a couple in your closet, you pick one location for all your books. This causes you to actively think of a good storage place for a category of objects, rather than giving objects the same place that they once (probably randomly) got. It doesn’t merely work for books; it goes for any category.
I used to have some jewelry on my top shelf. But every time I wanted to wear something, I had to get up on my couch and reach for the highly stacked boxes. In other words: I barely wore my accessories because it was too much trouble to get them out. These days, I have them all together on an easy reachable place. I wear much more accessories again simply because of this.
Putting everything of one category together has an advantage. It is easier to find a specific object when you’re looking for it. Also, you are less likely to forget about what you own. And when you consciously pick a suitable location it values your belongings.
Select objects based on whether they spark joy or not
If you forget everything I talk about in this post, remember this. When you are tidying, ask yourself the question: Does it spark joy? It’s such a simple selection criteria. Yet, I haven’t heard it used much in tidying tips, ever.
Often you end up keeping things because they are functional or you don’t know what else to do with them. I think the best thing I took from the book is to actively surround myself with objects that I love. These days, when I look around in my room, I only see objects that I love. Can you imagine what a difference that makes in how you feel in your space? Keep things because you love them, not ‘just because’.
You have permission to discard ‘perfectly fine things’
We all have items that we never use, and not even like that much, but tell ourselves to keep. Whether it’s a gift you received from a friend (and therefore has sentimental value), a functional object you think you might need some day (that second corkscrew), or that t-shirt that you can still wear when cleaning the house.
Marie Kondo tells you to let go of these items. They have fulfilled their purpose in your life already. Some books’ purpose are to be only read halfway, some vases’ purpose is simply to be received, some clothing’s purpose is to know why it doesn’t make you feel comfortable while wearing it. Even though these objects might be in perfect condition, you don’t have a good reason to hold on to them. Thank them, and let go of them (she gets a bit wacko with talking to objects, which I didn’t really do, but I did adopt the general feeling of gratitude for however long these items served me).
I hope you enjoyed seeing my room, all the clutter I got rid of, and now what tidying tips helped me in that process. Even though I considered myself to be capable at tidying before reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I definitely gained some new insights and helpful practical tips. Next post, I’ll be back to show you a peek inside the turquoise creative cabinet I built.
Do you have any tidying tips to add?
[Disclosure: this post contains Amazon affiliate links.]
Carly and Moth
August 10, 2015 at 10:56
Marie Kondo is everywhere isn’t she! My mom has been talking about her book for the longest time now and working on decluttering our house. It’s such a good idea and Marie has some seriously great tips!
August 11, 2015 at 11:20
Yeah I have her name seen pop up in many places! My mom is also into Marie Kondo at the moment :)
August 10, 2015 at 11:03
thank you so much for sharing this.
i totally need this.
August 11, 2015 at 11:20
You’re welcome, hope it helped!
January 22, 2016 at 09:31
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December 30, 2016 at 02:31
I love your “at a glance” review of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up! The universe recently introduced me to it again so I finally read it. I cannot wait to get started!!! I feel like she opened my eyes to me living with all these things that really bring me down instead of inspiring joy! I love your graphic, it’s awesome! Is it ok if I use your graphic on my blog? Of course, I will attribute it to you. It’s awesome. I’m glad i found this on Pinterest!
January 2, 2017 at 11:27
Hi Maggie! Thanks for your comment. I’m still very happy with my big tidying spree and I’ happy to hear you’re also finding value in cutting down on clutter. Normally I don’t mind too much if people use one of my images if they attribute properly, but in this case I would rather not… The reason for that is that the image took me a lot of time to create by illustrating it by hand, and basically it is half of the content of the blog post, since it contains the most important information I want to communicate. So it then feels as if not just a simple image is used, but also valuable content is copied. I hope you understand.
February 9, 2017 at 04:26
Marie Kondo’s statement that people hang on to stuff either due to fear of letting the past go or fear of the future really gave me a lot to consider when I was trying to simplify my life. I fear a future with nothing because I have known some desperate times. But, when I thought about this fear of the future, this is more due to my poor self-image. If I am satisfied with how I am living my life, stuff won’t improve or destroy my feeling of worthiness. How many items do we buy because we want others to be impressed?
February 9, 2017 at 10:07
Interesting thought. I feel like I don’t have a lot of trouble with getting rid of a lot of things. If I had to choose between the two you mention, I think I find it more difficult to let go of the past. Especially since I’ve moved a lot in my life, and sometimes objects are the only physical thing that I’ve got left of that time period in my life, since the people, countries and context changed.