January means resolutions, new goals, and usually getting organized! Yes, we take stock of our belongings and decide to make some changes. Look no further than The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, a great, easy book with wonderful nuggets to help you get off your duff and clean up. Well, more than just cleaning: tidying up. It takes more time than running from room to room in a frenzied way. Follow these organization tips and you will not only declutter your home but also your life.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a short, easy read. Marie Kondo is a Japanese phenom who took her skills in decluttering and tidying and translated them into becoming a sought-after cleaning consultant and New York Times best selling author. Her book on the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing has sold more than 2 million copies!
I’ll give you the SparkNotes version to save you the reading:
Summary: First, lay your hands on everything you own, ask yourself “does this spark joy?” and if it doesn’t, thank it for its service and get rid of it. Second, once you have reduced your belongings to only the most joy-giving ones, put every item in a place where it can be seen, accessed, and grabbed and then put back. Then you will have arrived at housekeeping heaven and never have to clean again.
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Getting Organized at Home: Tidying is the Key
“Tidying is just a tool, not the final destination. When your room is clean and uncluttered, you have no choice but to examine your inner state…and compelled to reset your life.” Here are the essential components to effective tidying: 1) discarding and 2) deciding where to store things.
- Doing it all in one shot as opposed to a daily chore is what Kondo suggests. Carve out some time and plan on making it an all day project if you must.
- Don’t focus on rooms, focus on categories. What she means is when you start with clothes, get ALL the clothes in the house, not just the clothes in your closet.
- Start with clothes, then books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items like CDs and DVDs, makeup, accessories, valuables, electrical equipment, household items, kitchen goods) and last tackle sentimental items.
- Look at what is there and ask yourself: “Does this spark joy?”
- You must touch every item. That means pulling clothes out of closets, book off bookshelves.
- “To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose.”
- The hardest category is sentimental items and photos, so they are saved for last.
You still with me? Or feeling more like this…
Hang in there!
- Fold, Don’t Hang. Kondo thinks a lot of our clothing would be better off (aka “happier”) folded in a dresser than hanging in a closet or folded in a storage cubby.
- The best organizing tool for the dresser is the…wait for it…shoeboxes!
- Store folded clothing pieces standing up rather than flat. “The goal is to fold each piece of clothing into a simple, smooth rectangle.” Then stand it up on its side in a shoebox inside a dresses along with other similar items. Voila!
- Arrange your clothes in the closet so they rise to the right. There’s a positivity to it, kind of like feng shui.
- If you are planning to buy storage units in the near future, Kondo says get a set of drawers instead.
- “The point in deciding specific places to keep things is to designate a spot for every thing. This may reveal that you need to spend more time on the discarding phase, but your home should have a go-to spot for each and every thing in your house.
- Two rules: 1) Store all items of the same type in the same place and 2) don’t scatter storage space.
So I’m sure you’ll probably say: it’s not just my stuff, but my family’s stuff too. How do I get them to get rid of stuff? Konda says if you live with your family, first clearly define separate storage spaces for each family member. She says to confront your own stuff and not worry about what family members have: “To quietly work away at disposing of your own excess is actually the best way of dealing with a family that doesn’t tidy…When someone starts tidying it sets off a chain reaction.” On this point, I am highly skeptical, but I will give it a try and see what happens.
Kondo believes that “Tidying ought to be the act of restoring balance among people, their possessions, and the house they live in.” Sounds very feng shui, doesn’t it?
Tidying Up: Bedroom and Office Edition
Hey, I’m willing to give it a try and even post some photos of the before and after (brace yourselves!)
OK, so I didn’t follow her suggestion and use shoeboxes. I found these nifty Drawer Dividers at Bed Bath & Beyond and used a $ 5 off coupon. The main point Kondo makes: don’t go nuts in The Container Store or buying more storage solutions than you need. Not that you CAN’T use those type of things, but go in with a plan and try to use what you already have first to organize.
As for my desk at home, it needed some TLC and a hard look at what needed to go.
So now I’ve hopefully saved you some time in having to read the book. Let me know if these principles worked for you or not. Where did you start first? How many bags will YOU be able to purge? Best of luck to you!
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