How to declutter irrevocably: 6 effective steps you won’t forget about

I’ve actually read “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying” by Marie Kondo a year ago (so theoretically it is still a March favorite 🙂 ) but I thought it could be interesting to give you a “one year later “ review of how I’ve implemented the tidying principles of the beautifully organized Marie Kondo. Her vision of interior space is about being surrounded only by the things we love and having decluttered and organized closets. She comes from Japan where the apartments in the big cities can be quite small and having too many objects can quickly become a nightmare.

And still, one of her client was having a hard time getting rid of the piles of books occupying about half of the space of her bed, she shares. When you’re tidying, you’re also making room for new things in your life, and by that I mean other things than new material stuff. Like peace of mind, your forgotten passion for a hobby, the desire to explore new countries or to make new friends.

Remember the saying that “a messy room equals a messy mind”? Tidying causes dramatic changes in your lifestyle and in your mindset. For instance, the women sleeping with her books couldn’t find a life partner. Can you see why? Some time later after she got rid of her books, she found the right fit. I don’t know if that story was a little bit distorted for the sake of the humor of the book (it is hilarious from the beginning to the end) but that conveys a message, right?

If you’re keeping your fat pants in case you put on weight or if you keep the remains of a finished relationship, it’s going to take you a lot of elbow grease to turn the page for the next chapter of your life to begin. I believe Marie is right when she says “To put your things in order means to put your past in order too. It’s like resetting your life and settling your accounts so that you can take the next step forward”.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying - Marie Kondo
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying – Marie Kondo

I’m sure you think tidying is dead boring. And I must be one of the few with Marie to actually like it! Unless you do too? But in order to feel like home again and have a fresh start, you’ve got to go through tidying. I extracted 6 golden rules from the book to help you organize and declutter your home. On your marks, get set, go!

  • Do it all at once, it is a special event: you cannot possibly tidy everything in one day, but you should choose a period of time in which the tidying process is accomplished once and for all.

 

  • Tidy by category, not by place: you may have one category of objects all over the place – for example clothes – and it is easier for you to start by a category of things and assign them one unique place.

 

  • Start with clothes, books, etc. and finish with items that have a sentimental value. It is much easier to get started. When tidying, ask yourself: does this spark joy? Is it really something that is useful or that brings me delight and comfort? Check in with your gut feeling first and listen to what it tells you. “During the selection process, if you come across something that does not spark joy but that you just can’t bring yourself to throw away, stop a moment and ask yourself: Am I having trouble getting rid of this because of an attachment to the past or because of fear for the future?”

 

  • Don’t give the things you want to get rid of to your family or friends, unless there is a very good reason and they will enjoy it. Otherwise you’re just postponing dealing with the problem.

 

  • Prohibit “downgrading to loungewear”. If you’re adopting a brand new lifestyle, there should be no exception to it, especially at home. Bring yourself to throw away your washed-out t-shirts and pants that you were trying to convert into lounge wear. Please !!!

 

  • Storage should help you put things away, not get them out. Store vertically. With horizontal storage, things get buried and forgotten. And soon enough, you find yourself wondering why you don’t have enough room for your staff. Well at least my old-self used to think like that!

 

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying - Marie Kondo
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying – Marie Kondo

 

For a live demo, you can have a look at this great Google talk.

I would like to share with you my favorite quote of the book that really summarizes the philosophy of the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing. Actually, I think it goes really deeper than a simple method, it’s a restart for a new lifestyle!

“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. Can you truthfully say that you treasure something buried so deeply in a cupboard or drawer that you have forgotten its existence? If things had feelings, they would certainly not be happy. Free them from the prison to which you have relegated them. Help them leave that deserted isle to which you have exiled them. Let them go, with gratitude. Not only you, but your things as well, will feel clear and refreshed when you are done tidying. As you reduce your belongings through the process of tidying, you will come to a point where you suddenly know how much is just right for you. You will feel it as clearly as if something has clicked inside your head and said: this is just the amount I need to live comfortably. This is all I need to be happy. Interestingly, once you have passed this point, you will find that the amount you own never increase. And that is precisely why you will never rebound.”

So, how did it work for me? Funny enough, I started reading this book when I was moving out exactly one year ago. And I’m very glad of this happy coincidence because otherwise, I wouldn’t have had 60 boxes of stuff but probably 100. Or maybe 120.

As Marie suggested, I started with my closet and extracted all the dinosaurs I had kept in there for the past 10 years or more, resulting in 4 enormous garbage bags. Then I dealt with accessorizes, shoes, books, old electronic devices and went several times to the dump. When dealing with my sentimental belongings, I decided to be relentless because some of them were keeping me in the past when all I wanted was to go forward. I kept my correspondence and a few items, that’s it. This massive and unique decluttering process opened my eyes about what kind of life I wanted to live.

First, I want to travel more and having a huge wardrobe and tons of belongings makes it very complicated for two reasons: they are expensive and reduce your travel budget and moving them costs a fortune. Second, I want to buy more qualitative things that will last longer and will bring me more joy. Finally, combined with my career break and my travel across Canada with one small suitcase for 3.5 months, this tidying process set me free from a not that dramatic but still existing shopping frenzy.

I shop differently now, focusing on the things I really need and grouping (“batching” is my new favorite thing) my shopping sessions. It has saved me so much time! I really want to adopt a minimalistic lifestyle and focus on more important things than material belongings. I encourage you to give it a try and see how it works for you. I’m sure you’ll discover things about you and your lifestyle that you could never have imagined without going through this phase of decluttering.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts about the book if you’ve read it or your opinion on minimalism. Leave a comment in the section down below and give a thumb up if you liked this post and would like to see more on the topic or other books.

Wishing you all good luck in your tidying resolutions, lots of love,

Delphine

 

 

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