My fiance told my future parents-in-law that I was messy. They then recommended the book ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying’ by Marie Kondo. At the time, I had little interest in the book and just carried on in my merry little ways. Then I happened to come across an article about a woman who amongst other things had used this book and the Taylor Swift album ‘1989’ to help in the aftermath of a relationship breakup. I was intrigued. And what did I do?
Well I downloaded the rest of the Taylor Swift album on iTunes – I already had ‘Blank Space’ and ‘Style’. Lol – I am not ashamed to admit that I listened to them for the majority of last year to help me lift my mood in my own personal crisis.
I also downloaded the book onto my Kindle (my fiance and I share our Kindle accounts and books – sweet huh?).
I started reading the book in that quiet time between Christmas and New Year. I did not put it down until I finished it. It dd not tell me anything that in my heart I did not already know and it started me on a mammoth decluttering project that I have nearly finished. This is also while I am trying to plan my wedding but I think the two go hand in hand. I am also going to be 40 this year – so I am entering new phases in my life and I want to start them afresh. My attitude during this process is that I am letting go of the old to allow the new to come in. I have inevitably learnt much about myself and my previous buying habits during this process.
The Marie Kondo method is to keep things that ‘spark joy’ and to discard everything else. She advises that the secret of success is to tidy in one shot, as quickly and completely as possible and to start by discarding which is another way of choosing what we want to keep. Marie Kondo asks us to hold objects in our hands to let us feel what it means to us. She asks us to keep only those things that speak to our heart. It is not a concept that I was particularly familiar with. I was used to the concept of having things – “just because”.
Has it been easy to discard? Surprisingly – yes. I suppose this reflects my lack of attachment to many things that I own or reflects the emotional state that I was in when I bought the items.
She asks us to start with clothes. She asks us to take each outfit in our hands and listen to our bodies reaction to the clothes. Yes, it seems strange but it worked for me. I have LOTS of clothes (my fiance is always complaining about this!). I was able to let go of items that have had an important place in my life but now needed to move on. So clothes that are now too old, too small or reflective of where I was in the past – have all gone. I took them to a charity that are shipping to Eastern Europe (funnily enough they did not take my ‘ethnic clothes’).
My clothing ‘collection’ is now much smaller!. It feels more streamlined now rather than chaotic. I have less of a problem of “what shall I wear?” because everything there feels like it should be there.
The other difference is that I no longer have clothes lying around the flat looking out of place. Every item of clothing has a home now – it is either in a drawer, the wardrobe or in the laundry basket. My chairdrobe is no more! (NB – it has been taken over by my fiance but I not going to worry about that now – the aim is to sort myself out and eventually he will follow suit…)
My book collection is still just as vast with no noticeable dent (no pictures to share!). Some of my books did make it to the garage – I know I have to relinquish them at some point but I just cannot do it now! Some of my books went to the British Heart Foundation. However, despite carefully reading Marie Kondo’s words – there are still stacks of books lining the shelves. I do not know when I will get round to reading these books but I live in hope. It does not look too cluttered – I have tried to arrange the books that are remaining in a more visually pleasing manner. I suppose that I am hoping that when I clear my other things – I will be able to use this space to store my books. I guess this also says something about what are my passions and interests . At the moment my bookshelves are definitely more joyous to behold – but there is still more work to be done.
The next area was paper – Marie Kondo recommends discarding everything! So yes, there is nothing that sparks joy about a 10 year old NPower bill but I had to be both ruthless and judicious about the household paperwork that I was going to keep. 2 shredders later (yes I bought another shredder because the old one did not cope with the amount of paper I was passing through it!) I have reduced the paper work to less than 10 plastic folders that all sit on one shelf – vertically stacked!. It was and is liberating. It’s much easier to find that Thames Water statement or Council tax bill. And that is a joy in itself. My back room was basically a storage room for all the papers that entered my home. There were piles and piles on the floor, on my desk and on the shelves. My fiance now tells me that he used to find it oppressive! I guess on some level I found it oppressive too and I suppose at some point I just stopped ‘seeing’ it.
So I can actually sit at my desk now! It’s so nice. It’s also pretty weird considering that I have spent most of my life studying and I continue to study to keep up to date with my profession, that my desk could have got so messy.
I then got to komono (miscellaneous items).
Marie’s suggested order was:
Valuable (passports, credit cards, etc)
Electrical equipment and appliances (digital cameras, electric cords, anything that seems vaguely ‘electric’)
Household equipment (stationery and writing materials, sewing kits, etc)
Household supplies (expendable like medicine, detergents, tissues, etc.)
Kitchen goods/food supplies
So I was back in my back room sorting through my stationery…
I moved on to the kitchen and the clutter seemed endless. I have never seen so much tupperware…
But I kept going through the night (with a Netflix series to keep me entertained). And now the kitchen is looking better and it is more a pleasure to cook and prepare food. I have even managed to consistently wash up the dishes because it is a joy to keep the place tidy. It is also easier because the cupboards are less cluttered – I can put things away more easily
So after 4 weeks of tidying – I have reached a natural break – I am exhausted – I have been to the recycling centre every weekend and everyday that I have not been at work. I need to focus on other things but this exercise has been good. The flat feels lighter, cleaner and yes, less cluttered!
The next stage is how I am going to keep it this way! I guess its all about choices and lifestyle. I have mostly existed in a hectic whirlpool. Getting up early and in the dark to go to work, skipping breakfast and arriving harassed at work. Getting through the working day and then staying – unpaid – for extra hours after work and arrived home hungry and exhausted. Therefore unable to enjoy my home or maintain my home. This of course is unsustainable and I have been promising myself for years to CHANGE. However old habits die hard and I have just carried on regardless. But you know what they say “If you do want you’ve always done, you’ll get what you always get” or something like that. I think that is why this book rang true with me and why I was more receptive than I usually am.
I am finding that for some things – less is definitely more. Random aside – I have even lost weight! Not sure if that is because I have a tidier and less cluttered home or the effort of carrying heavy equipment up and down 2 flights of stairs. Maybe I have been eating better and more regularly instead of the haphazard fashion of the past. The chaos of mess seems to signify – for me at least – decisions not made, questions not answered and homeless items. At a time in my life when my money is being diverted to other projects it really makes me think about what I buy when I go shopping. I realised during this process that I have multiples of everything and everything that I need. Granted this is half a lifetime of stuff but most of it has been accumulated in the past 10 – 20 years or so. It just never occurred to me that perhaps I did not need all of the stuff. Of course my parents, siblings and fiance have been telling me this for years…
Tidying has also made me realise that my flat is in urgent need of rejuvenation and renovation. My stuff is old and very outdated but much of it works. Again not something I was not unaware of but something I had just been blind to with the stress of the daily grind. It will be my project for next year…
So I am so glad that I read this book!