Simple life

What I’ve learned about decluttering

May 1, 2015

clothes drawer and cat

I’m still not convinced if lifestyle writing fits into my idea of this blog, but I was telling so many people about this book, it’s time to tell the world too.

I don’t find inspiring books too often, especially when it comes to self help ones. Can you imagine a good book about tidying and cleaning? I wasn’t convinced either, but then I read “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever“.

“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying” is not a book on how to organise your mess, it’s more about where your mess is coming from and how to change it. For that reason is more about cleaning your soul than your apartment. I know, it sounds a little bit cheesy, but it really is.

“The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”– Marie Kondo

What I’ve learnt

Here are a few learnings from a book backed by everything else I know:

You can’t organise chaos

So many times when I do tidying, I just do move my things around. Yes, I do remove some clutter, but I always leave too much and in the end stuck some random things I don’t want to deal with. That’s not a good way to do it.

The way to do is to take out everything, decide what’s needed and remove everything else. This will make everything easier, if an item is needed it will find its place in your space.

Does it bring joy?

Marie says you should take each item separately in your hands and ask yourself does it bring joy.

You need to focus at one item at the time. There is no telling yourself that skirt with that top is perfect match, but does that piece on its own brings you joy?

The question is phrased well, because it means you are to keep things that bring joy to you. There are no forced rules you should follow.

So, you say that item brings joy. But let’s dig deeper. There are two reasons why we are holding on things. We can’t let go past, or we are afraid of future.

“When we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.”– Marie Kondo

Deal with past

“If you just stow these things away in a drawer or cardboard box, before you realise it, your past will become a weight that holds you back and keeps you from living in the here and now. To put your things in order means to put your past in order, too.”– Marie Kondo

So we are talking now about pieces that bring nice memories. Maybe it’s a top you wore on your first date, maybe it’s a silly souvenir from a trip to Asia. It does brings joy when you hold it, but tell me why it was in one of those drawers you never look into and the last time you’ve seen it was the previous time you decluttered.

“Can you truthfully say that you treasure something buried so deeply in a cupboard or drawer that you have forgotten its existence?”– Marie Kondo

Think if there is a way to give the item it’s own space, where you can really appreciate. For example we have a fridge wall covered with magnets from different countries we visited, it’s a reminder there are so many other places to go, but also it brings nice memories of places we’ve been to.

If you can’t think of a place to honour your things, let them go. It’s OK to let go things from the past, they did their part and it doesn’t mean you will loose memories of those events.

Deal with future

Too often we keep things for future when we will be somebody else, like when I will get slimmer, when I will be running regularly, when I become a business lady that wears high heels. It’s about time to start becoming a person you want to be, or accept yourself as you are.

I love casual, cosy clothes that are soft when you touch them. I like cute dresses. I like wearing high heels, but only when I don’t need to walk, and I walk a lot. So my wardrobe just need to support it.

Another reason we keep thing is to prepare ourselves for future. You know those buttons and tiny random things in case we lose some? Do you remember finding one when you need it? Neither can I. We can’t be prepared for future, even if we wish to.

Analyse your life patterns, do you really need dinnerware for 20 people? Have you ever cooked dinner for 20 people? You really want to but it never happens? Do it now, or just stop deceive yourself. What is the worst case scenario. Let’s say in a year time you will finally do that dinner party for 20 people, you can easily just borrow dinnerware from friends and family, or in the worst case go shopping.

“Life becomes far easier once you know that things will still work out even if you are lacking something.”– Marie Kondo

Owning only things you really love means chores are easier

If you only have things you love, it’s easier to take care of them.

I remember when I bought ideal jeans while I was in college. They were so perfect. I love them so much I didn’t mind to hand wash them every week, just to be able to wear them all the time and trust me I hate hand washing.

Organise your things by type

Keep all your items from a category together. All books together, all cables in one place, etc. Marie has exact order you should follow.

I disagreed first, I liked to have cables I use in living room there, and others in a bedroom. But then I noticed that if there is a random item spotted out of place, if there is only one place to put it back my brain just itch to do so. When there is more than one place, you start to think instead of putting it back!

Store things vertically

“Things can be stacked forever and endlessly on top, which makes it harder to notice the increasing volume. In contrast, when things are stored vertically, any increase takes up space and you will eventually run out of storage area.”– Marie Kondo

Another brilliant practical tip. So you know when we store things on top of each other, it also makes really hard to access some. Harder access means when you are in hurry, you make bigger mess. When things are stored vertically you get better overview. It really changed my drawers.

My process

Marie says do it in one go. That’s easier said than done. I did a lot in first go, but I still struggle with letting things go. I blame it on money. I hate wasting money, so how can I let go that winter jacket, when I will need a replacement, that will be very similar?

“To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose. To throw away what you no longer need is neither wasteful nor shameful..”– Marie Kondo

That lady has a quote for most of my excuses as you can see. So maybe I won’t be an A student and will need to take a few more lessons, but I will finally get to the place where I only own things I truly love.

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