When I started my blog back in September last year, it was always my intention to write book reviews. And it’s crazy to think that 4 months in, I’m actually writing my first!
Obviously, I have a list of books I want to review which is as long as my arm, but as it turns out, the first one I’m writing about is the very last one I read, following my newly-found purpose to declutter our home.
So far, I’ve given away to charity 2 bags of my clothes, 1 bag of toys, 1 bag of baby clothes and I’ve successfully found new homes (through selling or gifting) to a lot of my children’s old clothes or ‘baby things’.
It feels good.
That’s the best way I can describe it.
But I have a long, long way to go.
More rooms to tackle.
More things to go through.
So I decided to grab a copy of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organising”, by Marie Kondo (2011). The book has 4.5 stars on Amazon US, and a staggering 11,165 reviews as I type this, so I thought this lady must be onto something good!
First of all, who’s Marie Kondo?
Well, this Japanese lady is known worldwide as an Organising Consultant thanks to the 4 books she has written on organising, which, according to Wikipedia, have collectively sold millions of copies. She created her own organising method, known as the ‘KonMari method’.
So, without giving it all away, these are my key takeaways from the book.
1. Organise your space according to your vision of a dream life
I haven’t done this. That’s a great start, right?
My starting point was: “What can I get rid of that we no longer use or need?” But Marie Kondo makes a good point. Like in business and many other areas of life, ideally, you should start with your vision! She reckons that if you visualise what your perfect, ideal lifestyle is, you can then start to visualise the environment you want to live in, and therefore start to create that environment for yourself. One where you can easily access the things you need and like, and discard the rest. It makes sense, right?
2. When creating your dream space, don’t be afraid to discard things that don’t fit your vision
An example she gives is the one of that book that you bought or were given that you never read. If you never read it, you probably won’t. If it has little or nothing to do with your dream life, then get rid of it. If you ever want to read it in the future, you can always buy it again. But if you haven’t read it until now, you probably won’t.
It’s a good point, and seeing she mentions books, I actually went through our bookshelves a couple of months ago and got rid of a lot of stuff, but I kept all the books, including the ones I never read. And the ones I’ll never read again. So here’s one for me to mull over a bit.
3. Go for efficient and intuitive storage and improve your body and mind
Letting go of things can have multiple benefits, and I totally agree with this. Marie Kondo suggests organising your space in a way that feels natural to you. As per the KonMari method, you should arrange things in categories and go through one category at the time (clothes, CDs etc.). Then you evaluate the usefulness and purpose of things – evaluate things with your eyes and hands, and only keep the things that ‘spark joy’ and make you happy. If something doesn’t make you happy, let them go with gratitude and move on. Always try and do what feels right for you, your environment, your belongings, and your well-being. In fact, she makes the point that getting rid of old, dusty things can actually help sanitise the environment you live in, and make you feel physically better as a result.
4. Communicate with your possessions and space
Here’s one I struggled I little bit with. Marie Kondo recommends to communicate with your possessions and clarify their relationship with you. Thank things for their purpose. Thank things for serving you all this time, but if they don’t fit with your overall vision, part from them with gratitude. I guess I’m just not used to the idea of talking to inanimate things, but if it helps you to come to terms with letting more go and declutter more effectively and efficiently, then why not? She says that if things have served their purpose but no longer contribute to your life, you shouldn’t keep them ‘just because’, and that’s a good point!
5. Keep your sentimental items last
For anyone, these are the hardest things to let go of, so Marie Kondo recommends to leave this category as the last one. And I’m sure we can come up with lots of examples of things that perhaps were gifted to us, but we no longer use, and we still don’t want to part with them. Marie Kondo suggests to only keep things that have happy memories attached to them, and really ask ourselves whether these items correspond to our current wants or needs.
6. Strive for simplicity and visual order when storing and organising
This is the bit that made me smile the most. Because my husband must have thought I KonMari’d (yes, it’s a word now if it wasn’t before) my wardrobe.
According to Marie Kondo, you should organise your clothes by colour, or material or length (longer clothes on one side and then shorter tops on another side, for example). In other words, clothes should be arranged in a way that’s visually appealing to you.
After coming home from the hospital in September (following the surgery on my broken leg), The Husband asked me to help him unpack and put my clothes away. You see, I had broken my leg while unpacking the children’s clothes, so I never got to mine.
With each item he unpacked he started asking me where, in the wardrobe, it went.
I looked at him, confused.
“Ehm, just put it in the wardrobe?”
It turns out that The Husband thought I arranged my clothes per colour.
“What did you take me for??!” I asked.
Well, it turns out this is a legitimate technique! I’m curious, do you do this?
7. While organising your space you can change your disposition
According to Marie Kondo, if you do this exercise of working out what your ideal lifestyle and space should look like and start organising things accordingly, you go through an empowering process of making decisions and acting on them. This in itself changes your disposition – it helps you abandon the negative self-perception you might have that you are a messy person, for example, and can’t keep a tidy house. So effectively, she’s saying that anyone can do it!
It’s not a quick process – apparently it takes Marie Kondo about six months to declutter and organise someone’s house, but she states that if you continue to keep your vision in mind, you will only need to do it once, because going forward, you’ll actually question whether each and every item that comes into your life fits in with your vision. And if it doesn’t, then it won’t come in.
For me, there’s an argument there about gifts and new hobbies and passions that you might develop in life. I might have a vision in mind today and change it in 5 years’ time, for example. So if I was into crafts and made a little corner in my spare room for that but later on decided that crafts are no longer part of my vision, it would mean my vision has changed and my space does need reorganising. And it’d be time to part with things.
I don’t think someone’s ideal vision can stay the same throughout their lives, but I take the point that when you’ve gone through this process once, it shouldn’t take you another six months to do it again!
So what do you think? Will you be reading the book? Have you already read it?
And have you decluttered your home already? Or will you?