Have you ever just become overwhelmed with the sheer amount of stuff that you seem to have accumulated? Do you try to tidy up but just find that you are moving stuff around? I did that for years! That is until I discovered the best way to declutter which I would like to share with you now. I DID manage to change and it was all thanks to:
In this post I will share some information that changed my life in the hope that you too can get inspired and find yourself in a lovely, tidy house! (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)
My house used to be a complete and utter jumble. I had always been messy. For as long as I can remember, my clothes got piled up on the chair and my poor Mother had a constant battle trying to get me to tidy up! Fast forward 50 odd years and nothing had changed – except that a lot more stuff accumulated over that time and it was not pretty.
From time to time I did make an effort, like the last time I moved house (12 years ago) a lot of stuff got thrown out. Now and then I would have a big tidy up but I could actually observe myself moving things from place to place and nothing was really changing!
I had heard about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo and saw it at the airport when I was heading off on a weekend trip to Italy in January 2019 and after reading it while traveling, I was really excited to get back and put the principles into action myself.
What are the benefits of decluttering?
Whether you are aware of it or not, clutter causes stress and there is even a strong link between procrastination and clutter! (Which could make tackling the clutter a bit tricky!) When you declutter you will also feel like a more disciplined person – the type of person who has clarity and gets on more energetically with working their plan! Wouldn’t that be a great side-benefit?
Why is it impossible to keep up with tidying?
Marie Kondo says that the reason we can’t possibly keep up is because we do a little piece at a time. We think that to do it all at once would be overwhelming, however, when we tidy a little at a time, the place is soon in a big mess again. If you tidy a little each day, you will be tidying forever!
She was intrigued, even as a young girl, about why this was until in junior high school, she came across a book called The Art of Discarding by Nagisa Tatsumi which changed everything.
In the book, Marie discovered the importance of throwing things away. Having read the book on her way home from school, she said:
‘Once home, I went straight to my room with a handful of bin bags and closeted myself away for several hours. Although my room was small, by the time I had finished I had eight bags full of stuff – clothes I never wore, text-books from elementary school, toys I had not played with in years, my eraser and seal collections. I had forgotten that most of these things even existed.’
‘What shocked me the most, however, was how different my room looked. After only a few hours, I could see parts of the floor that had never been clear before. My room seemed to have been transformed and the air inside felt so much fresher and brighter than even my mind felt clearer.’
Can you imagine how that would feel? I can, because I did it!
How do you do it?
So, you have two tasks. 1) discarding things and 2) deciding where to keep things.
With regard to discarding, how do you decide what to discard? You hold the item in your hand and feel if it ‘sparks joy’. This is great in one sense as you can make a decision quickly – either it does or does not spark joy! But then you are worried about having nothing left!
The hard thing is, I won’t lie, you have to do this all at once so you will have to get up very early! One of the things that is very different to the way that you normally tidy is that you tidy by category, not by room. There is no point, for example, in sorting all of your clothes in one bedroom then finding more dotted around the house when you will have to discard and figure out where to store again. So bring all the items you are working with into the same room and start sorting. You are not just given free rein to start where you like – you must, must, must not start with photographs or very personal things or frankly you’re tidying day won’t get started until at least lunchtime, if at all.
I had 3 piles – keep, bin / recycle or take to the charity shop. One of my biggest failings in the past had been keeping clothes that I didn’t wear in case I wanted to wear them some time. It was a tricky challenge because I realized that I hardly had any clothes left! I had lots of space in the wardrobe and my drawers and seriously felt like I had nothing to wear, but the fact of the matter is I wasn’t wearing all those other clothes – they were just taking space in the wardrobe!
The book also goes into detail about how to fold your clothes which I loved and still fold my clothes this way (vertical instead of horizontal in the drawers!).
Does it work?
Speaking from personal experience, I can assure you it absolutely does work. However, I live in a one bedroomed house and it was a very, very long day. Also, the kitchen didn’t get done until another day. Despite the tiny size of my house, it took several trips to the dump with my Subaru Station Wagon fully loaded to get rid of all the bin bags (and a few more to the Thrift Shop). I felt so relieved and excited when it was done and that feeling stayed with me for a long, long time.
Is my house as tidy as it was that day? Not quite, but it is much tidier and I never have to do a big tidy up – just a few things put in their place. I still love putting my clothes away after I’ve washed them (a task I hated before) and they look so much better than when I just threw them in a drawer. People who know me well cannot believe I did this (which is very satisfying.)
If you would love the sense of space and freedom that this exercise gives you, please do it. It literally is life-changing. It is a huge task and I can only imagine how hard it would be with a big house, but the rewards would be multiplied too.
Quite apart from the actual doing of the tidying, the book is an absolute delight to read and if you are going to have a chance of doing this properly, you absolutely need the book – I have only scratched the surface here. It also gives a very interesting insight into the life of a young girl growing up in Japan and using her passion for tidying to help people transform their lives – and that is no exaggeration.
Have you read this book? I would love to know what you thought of it if so. Are you an expert tidier? Or would you LOVE to do this? I would love to hear about it in the comments.