The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up (or How I Broke Up With 50% Of My Clothes)

 
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Jess Lively, one of my favourite bloggers and podcasters, recently recommended the Japanese book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.

After moving into our new home almost a year ago, I've been planning a long overdue declutter - particularly of the boxes we haven't even unpacked yet. Oops. Jess and a few others had raved about the title, so I downloaded and read it in a couple of evenings last week. 

Abruptly, my plan to empty a few boxes in the spare room took on new life. I will disclaim this review by saying that there's some seriously weird stuff going on in this book. Marie is a 'cleaning consultant' who has been obsessed with tidying since she was a small child. She empties her handbag completely every night (what the?!) and believes we transfer energy as we stroke our clothes.

I'm clearly not into all aspects of the book, but the concept is that you 'tidy' or declutter your house by category, starting with clothes. You find every single item of clothing and place them in one area. Then you handle each piece of clothing and ask 'does this spark joy in me?' A little way out I know, but it's really saying: does this make me happy or give me positive feelings? 

The harsh reality. Am I a hoarder?

The harsh reality. Am I a hoarder?

This weekend I did it.

It took almost 3 hours but it was pretty amazing. I found it very challenging to start with. 'I've only worn this twice', 'I can't believe I'm wasting so many clothes', etc etc. Then as Marie points out, I thought:

To get rid of what you no longer need is neither wasteful nor shameful. Can you truthfully say that you treasure something buried so deeply in your closet or drawer that you have forgotten its existence?
the Keep pile on the left, and the discard/donate pile on the right. And the kitten in the middle!

the Keep pile on the left, and the discard/donate pile on the right. And the kitten in the middle!

I held each piece of clothing and thought 'joy or no joy?' The answer really does strike you quickly and intuitively, and for some items you know the answer before you even pick them up. My answers for many items I let go were:

'No, but it used to.'

'No, but it reminds me of our trip to XXX.'

'No, but I bought it to look like XXX.'

The order to review your clothing in is: tops, bottoms, jackets/coats, socks, underwear, bags, accessories, shoes. 

Marie also has a great way of folding (and recommends folding over hanging for most clothing). I was dubious at first, and will have to see how it goes for me in coming weeks, but the premise is that you can see all clothing at once and folding clean clothes to put them away makes you appreciate them and continue to review if they still bring you joy.

The end result and my first foray into a new folding style.

The end result and my first foray into a new folding style.

 

So my takeaways from my first life-changing tidying attempt?

  1. I was hanging on to a lot of stuff - figuratively and literally.
  2. Two of the garbage bags were for the bin, rather than for donation. If I can't even donate them, why am I keeping them?
  3. There's some freaking nice stuff in those donation bags, so I hope someone will benefit.
  4. Do you know how freeing it is to know you'll never put your foot into a sock with holes again? 

Stay tuned for my next round of tidying - books. As an avid reader and former editor who has been building a library for many years, I am truly afraid.