This week I have a little gem for you: a book coming all the way from Tokyo!! It will give "spring cleaning" a whole new meaning.
It is called The life- changing magic of tidying up by Marie Kondo. If you didn't know already, there is an ART of decluterring and organising.
Marie Kondo has always loved organising stuff since she was 5 and she began studying the art of tidying seriously at age 15. Today she owns a business in Tokyo where she uses her KonMari Method to help people transform their homes into peaceful and inspiring spaces. It’s amazing to me that I, and probably all of us, have been approaching tidying the wrong way.
In the book her brutal and strict approach to de-clutter is absolutely remarkable. The idea is simple: if you don't love an item, don't keep it. The thought of it might seem a bit extreme at first but the happiness that comes with unloading bags of unnecessary clutter is amazing.
For most of us we accumulate clutter over time and we don't even notice it until we hit a breaking point. I always hit mine in December because I know kids will get lots of presents and I'm already stressing about where all the new stuff will go. Saying that I cannot blame all the clutter on the kids, as like most of us, I have a wardrobe full of clothes that I don't wear anymore. Do you know that clutter is one of the greatest stress triggers and literally increases your cortisol level. The clutter around us has the affect of distracting us and sometimes can even cause chronic tiredness. But when you reduce the noise of the things that surrounds you, you can finally focus on yourself. The konMari method is much more than just throwing things away because it's asking you the most basic question in life: do you love this item? or Kondo's famous trademark "does it bring you joy?" A simple but yet super powerful question to ask about everything in our lives.
So declutter your home to declutter your mind.
Key points that will help you declutter once and for all:
- Allocate 6 months to this project but you have to stick to it and stay focus
- Visualize your ideal home before you start throwing things away. Where do you see yourself in 6 months time, think of concrete and realistic points and focus on them. Sometimes we keep things because they are convenient. For example, I have had this cabinet/unit since I moved into my flat. I absolutely hate it but I kept it as it was big and so convenient to store away all my dining room/kitchen things. I have now gotten rid of it and replace it with another unit which is much smaller but is perfect in my living room.
- Remember that the endgame of this isn’t to throw out or donate as much as possible which Marie Kondo acknowledges will only brings you unhappiness, but to make sure that the things you hold onto make you happy. Cherish the items you love. For that, determine if each item "spark joy". Do this by taking each item in your hand and asking yourself “does this spark joy?” If yes, then it stays. If no, then throw it out. For this method to be effective, you must touch every item so that your body and emotions can react and will tell you how you feel about the item. It might sound a bit weird at first but it will become an invaluable tool especially for organizing wardrobes and drawers. We often develop superficial attachments to clothing (It was very expensive, I might wear it again if I lose weight, I wore it when I met my husband etc), not actually considering if the clothing (dress, shirt, trousers...) actually serves a purpose.
- Sort by category rather than location. Usually when I tidy things around the flat, I do it room by room, kitchen, living room, bedrooms etc.. which is a natural instinct to do it this way. We haven't been taught to do it differently. Again, I feel quite amazed by the whole KonMari concept. In most households, items falling into the same category are stored in multiple places. That's why its easier to tackle this task by picking a category to tidy (Books, Clothes etc...)
- Tidy following the right order: start with clothes first (to be clear that means everyone's clothing) then books, papers and finally "Komono" (miscellaneous.)
- Once you fill up your bags of unnecessary items, discard of it straight away, whether you want to donate to charity, bin it or give it away. You must discard first. Don’t put anything away until everything you are going to discard is removed, in case you get tempted to have a look and have a change of heart. It’s harsh but it works. Once it’s out of the house you do feel relieved.
- After discarding, this step is critical to avoid a clutter relapse: designate a specific home for every single item you keep. According to Kondo, stack-able storage solutions encourage hoarding, so simple and easy to use options are best like using boxes in drawers. I finally put all my Beauty boxes to use which is weird in a way as I'm basically hoarding all of them too. So I'm glad they are becoming handy. The idea is that it should be just as effortless to put something away as it is to locate it later. The book really teaches you in depth on how to store all items of the same type in the same place.
Remenber that joy is simple but a powerful feeling. The konMari method is really life changing as it teaches you to follow your instinct and work on your emotions. Sometimes it's good to let go of things and feel the joy around you. It's something that can be applied beyond clothing and possessions.
Happy Kon Mariyng x