I have read oddles of books and articles on organizing and decluttering over the years, although you would never guess by looking at my desk.
My tried workspace is a gathering place for clutter.
Every time I declutter, the clutter just creeps back in and it has becomes an endless cycle in my workspace and my home.
Then I stumbled upon this little book titled “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” My life has changed forever.
This photo provided by Ten Speed Press shows Marie Kondo, author of the book, “The Life – Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” (AP Photo/Ten Speed Press)
Author and acclaimed cleaning consultant Marie Kondo has transformed hundreds of lives by her unique approach to decluttering. There is a three-month waiting list for her consultations and tickets for her public seminars sell out overnight. Her blockbuster book quickly sold more than three million copies worldwide. What’s more amazing is that clients that use her methods never revert to clutter again. It has transformed their lives.
Her approach is very simple, yet so different from anything I have read before. I was eager to get started because I knew I desperately needed to declutter my rooms at home and my space at work. Here is what I learned and how I am living differently today.
1. Discard first
A lot of organizational advice starts with decluttering. But Kondo’s thinking is much deeper than that. Kondo believes everything that surrounds you must bring you “a spark of joy.” But it’s not enough just to look at it. Kondo tells her clients to touch everything they own before deciding what goes and what stays. The “spark” is instantaneous. If you hesitate, it does not give you joy, therefore it needs to be discarded. This “spark of joy” thinking made it much easier for me to discard items faster. There’s a big difference between looking at an item and touching it. I found that once I picked up an item, it was easy to know if it brought me joy or not. In fact, I was surprised how many pieces of clothing I actually disliked and I was happy to remove them from my cluttered closet.
2. Set aside time to tidy
Some say to discard one thing a day. Others say whenever you add something, throw something away. Kondo says if you do this, you will be tidying forever. Instead, she says to make tidying a special event and not an everyday chore. Set aside time to tidy and make it a once-in-a-lifetime task.
3. Sort by category, not by room
This is very different from other organizers that say to tidy one room at a time. Kondo has a systematic approach to tidying based on the category of sentimental value, starting with the least sentimental category first and the most at the end.
Here is a list of categories in the proper order to attack:
Notice how photographs are at the end. Kondo says “People who get stuck halfway (tidying) usually do so because they start with the things that are hardest to make decisions about. Things that bring back memories, such as photos, are not the place to start.”
4. Discard with gratitude
If you watch hoarding TV shows or almost any show that has decluttering tips, they usually say to “be ruthless” when sorting through your clutter. Kondo’s approach is more gentle, which to me, makes it easier to let things go.
What I learned When you love your things, you treat them with respect. If you surround yourself with too many things, how can you appreciate everything. For me, it’s best to pare down. Only keep what I really treasure and respect what I have. I can’t say that I did everything in Kondo’s book. I don’t have the luxury of a huge chunk of free time to set aside just for decluttering. I still don’t empty my purse every time I come home. But I have made huge strides in organizing and learned a lot along the way.
Cleaning is like detoxing. It’s really a fun, cleansing process. I look forward to the few hours I have every week to sort and clean. I started with my clothing and within an hour, I had 4 garage bags to donate to charity and 2 bags to throw away. I went from 71 blouses (who knew I had that much!) to 31.
I take better care of what I have left. For example, my t-shirts are now folded and stored vertical. This is advice from Kondo who believes that if you see what you have, you will use it. Same goes for my socks. I kept buying new socks because I was always running out. When I took the time to fold my socks and place them vertically, I realized I had more pairs than I thought.
A better appreciation of space. I have room to breathe. Before, my room was so cluttered with stuff, it was never relaxing. Now, it’s like a breath of fresh air. Although this book may not be for everyone, it was a game-changer for me. If you are looking for a fresh approach on decluttering and want to simplify your life, I highly recommend this book.