I’ve been sucked into the Marie Kondo hype and I’m not mad about it! Over the past couple years, I’ve walked by her book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up“, had it in my hand but never actually bought it. I felt like I never had the time to read a whole book about “tidying up”. But then Netflix came out with a series based on her book called “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo“. The first week it was released I watched the whole series and I was hooked! After the series, I finally purchased the book and finished it.
Here are some tips that helped me tackle my tidying up project:
Before You Start, Visualize Your Destination
Visualize not where you are keeping things but visualize what your goal is. Visualize the lifestyle that you dream of while living in a clutter-free space. Not just that you want to live in a clutter-free space or you want to put things away. Go deeper. For example, I want to walk into my closet everyday, feel inspired to wear something that makes me feel confident and powerful. I do NOT want to walk into my messy, “too many pieces of clothing” closet that gives me anxiety. I want to fall asleep every night with the thought of spaciousness and good energy. Not the thought of things needing to be put away or picked up or a space needs to be made for.
Do the Marathon
You’ve heard the saying, “just do a little at a time”. I have always hated this saying because if I’m going to do something, I want to be all in! But for some reason I’ve convinced myself into believing “a little at a time” was the best practice. That was until Marie Kondo. According to Marie, if you tidy up in one shot, rather than little by little, you can dramatically change your mind-set. If you use the right method and concentrate your efforts on eliminating clutter throughly and completely within a short span of time, you’ll see instant results that will empower you to keep your space in order ever after, says Marie Kondo. FYI- a typical house clean-up takes about a month so don’t be discouraged.
Sort by Category, Not by Location
I was taught my whole childhood to clean my room. That trickled into my adult life- clean my room, clean the bathroom, clean the kitchen etc. I always felt like things were clean and organized but I always had too much stuff. It felt like I could constantly be cleaning out drawers, cabinets and sorting through clothes without ever really getting rid of things. One reason so many of us never succeed at tidying is because we have too much stuff. When we disperse storage of particular items throughout the house and tidy one place at a time, we can never really grasp the overall volume and therefore can never finish, according to Marie Kondo. To stop running in circles, tidy by category, not by location!
Does It Bring Me Joy?
There are so many items throughout my house that I’ve just kept because I spent money on it. It’s the items that haven’t been used or touched in years and are always in the way but somehow still in our house. The thought of having to go through every single item and figure out what to throw away is a lot of work which terrified me! So back in the drawer it went. That was my first mistake- figuring out what to throw away. According to Marie Kondo, we should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of. The best way to do this is to ask yourself: does this bring me joy? If it does, keep it. If not, toss it.
The first episode of the show focused a lot on clothing…my biggest problem. During the first episode, Marie Kondo demonstrates how to fold clothing so it is smaller and more visible inside your drawers. Not rocket science but I thought it was genius! I can’t believe I’ve never seen this before. Right then, I decided I loved this process!
How I tackled it?
First things first- round up all my clothes throughout the whole entire house (that was a project in itself). Throughout my whole life I have always focused on one room at a time. One day I would focus on the bedroom, the next day I would focus on my upstairs closet and another day the laundry room. When I was doing it this way, it felt clean and organized but it never felt decluttered and tidy. Well that’s because I was doing it all wrong!
I have clothes everywhere throughout our house- the laundry room, our bedroom and our upstairs spare bedroom that I’ve made into a big closet. No wonder why I have a ton of clothes, they’re everywhere! Prior to “Tidying Up”, I would have went room by room and would have tried to fit everything into that place, without really getting rid of anything. Not this time! This time I wanted to see all of my clothes and shoes together. I grabbed every piece of clothing and shoe I own, put it in a massive pile on the floor and stared at it. After a few minutes of staring in disbelief, I got to work!
As cheesy as it sounds, I asked myself- does it bring me joy?
Most people think that clothes go out of style so it is easy to get rid of them. My thoughts on clothing are somewhere in the middle of “clothes always come back into style, eventually” and asking myself “I must have liked this for some reason, right?!”. I rarely got rid of anything. This time I needed to have a different mindset- if I can’t see my 31 year old self wearing this shirt, this pair of pants or that pair of shoes then I need to get rid of it! Once I got into the mindset of how I want to dress and not about why I wore it in the past, it was easy! A lot of items I was holding on to, didn’t bring me joy anymore. Like Marie Kondo says, we should be choosing what to keep, not what we want to get rid of.
My favorite thing I’ve learned from her clothing tutorial: the folding and storage of clothing! One of my biggest problems with drawers & storage in general is the mess I make of drawers and shelves by digging through the items because I can’t see what I have. Not to mention, the way I was folding my clothes takes up so much more room than the way Marie Kondo folds clothing. Here is a great video that shows each step.
I’m a sucker for books! Marie Kondo says put all the books in the middle of the floor so I removed all the books and put them in the middle of the floor. There are some books that I got rid of but a lot I did keep. I don’t have too many books and the ones I do have I use for reference or for decorating purposes (which I’m sure is a big “no-no” in her mind). For the past 2 years, any book I read I will take notes of my favorite sentences. I’m going to continue this and when I’m finished with the book- I will dispose of it if it doesn’t bring me joy. I’m still working on tidying up my books…stay tuned!
This is the category of I keep these items “just because”.
Gifts: If someone gifted you something, it doesn’t mean you have to keep it. If it doesn’t bring you joy or you haven’t used it, donate it or discard of it. The gift giver wouldn’t want you to feel obligated to keep it if it doesn’t bring joy to you.
Cosmetic Samples: The things we always plan on taking on trips but never do. The quantity of cosmetic samples and travel size products is very small so the product deteriorates faster plus most expire in a year or less. Toss it if it’s sitting in a drawer for a few months.
Unidentified cords: Do you know what it goes to? You probably never will…toss it.
Bathroom Items: I’m guilty of having “almost” empty product bottle but still buy a new one, put the old bottle back into the cabinet and never throw it away. Discard of it if you have no use for it anymore. Thank it for it’s service and move onward.
Sort your photos last and sort each picture one by one. Marie Kondo suggests that you take all of your pictures out of photo albums (yes, really!) so you can touch each picture one by one. She also suggests keeping about 5 photographs per day of the special trip/event and unexciting photos of scenery that you can’t even place belong in the garbage. This is something I’ve been doing since I was a child. I sort through all of my photos, write down the date, location, person in the photograph and store them in order, in photo boxes (see here). When I get older this is something I want to already have done. This isn’t a “I’ll do it when I’m old” project. I still find joy in going through these photographs a couple times a year too.
I’ve learned a lot from Marie Kondo’s book and her Netflix series. These are things that seem so easy and obvious, yet we are taught at a young age something completely different. We, as Americans, like stuff! Tons and tons of stuff. By completing a few of the biggest categories, especially clothing, I feel so much better and lighter. I haven’t bought any new clothing items in the past month because now I can see all of the items I love. I’m inspired to put different outfits & looks together. It took me a full week, about 6-7 hours a day to “Tidy Up” but I did it! It feel so, so good.
Being surrounded by things that spark joy make you happy- M.K.
What do you think of Tidying Up?