Ever since my mother died suddenly, and my sister and I had to clear up our parents’ house, with its 30+ years of hoarded treasure and debris, I’ve been kind of a minimalist. Not only did I vow to not leave that quantity of stuff for anyone else to deal with, I experienced a set of cross-country moves, relocations, divorces, breakups and job changes that put me through 7 moves in 10 years–and showed me the charms of traveling light, or at least, lighter.
As someone who enjoys pruning her bookcase and closet, I wondered if Marie Kondo’s methods for reducing clutter in your house and your life would teach me new things, or just be the same old same old. I’ve been reading the book for the past 2 weeks, and now that I’m just about done, I can report there are some really good ideas, which I am putting to work in my life.
1) In a tidy life, everything has a specific place.
Kondo advocates unpacking your purse and putting everything away separately every night, which seems like a wasted effort to me, but I love her premise of having everything set out in an easy to see space so that you are aware of it and use it.
I reorganized my kitchen on these principles, and the rest is a huge improvement, putting baking tools and baking ingredients together on the same shelf, and putting all the cloth napkins into a box in the cabinet beside the tablecloths, so I can see them and use them.
2) Throw out or give away things you don’t love, they’re clutter.
In a culture like ours, where most people have far too much “stuff,” Kondo’s maxim is permission for some much-needed pruning. Not only did the old bits of wax candles get tossed, so did the candlesticks that held little votive lights that I never liked (were they a gift?) and the tablecloths I never use (they were given away). Next weekend, I’m going to apply Kondo’s principles to my everyday clothes, putting everything on the floor, reviewing item by item, and only keeping what I loved.
3) Don’t hoard items you don’t need and can’t use.
When did my recycled glass jar collection swell to more than 27 jars? I haven’t made jam in 2 years, since I cut back on sugar, so I surely didn’t need the dozen little jam jars and lids, did I?
And those big jars–do I really need to keep all 10 of them? Dear God no.
And the little mustard-type jars I thought might be good for home-made salad dressing–how many of those did I need to keep?
Yep, I now have 10 empty glass jars of assorted sizes and the rest are GONE.
4) Don’t hold onto things for Because reasons.
- Because it was expensive
- Because a friend gave it to you
- Because you might use it later
- Because it used to fit
are not reasons to keep items with you, says Kondo. Keep things because you love them and they make you feel good.
5) Kondo’s approach goes beyond things–I am using it for people and social media.
I’m excited to use this approach with my clothes, and pare things down once again for real, but I confess, the place I’ve really applied this approach is with my social media feeds.
For the past 2 weeks, I have been relentlessly and ruthlessly unfollowing people who give me intense FOMO, who are so self-serving they put my teeth on edge, who have an interest in kitten puppy and baby videos published by remote radio stations so intense it’s 80% of what they share, and who never seem to say anything original. They’ll never know it, but they’re GONE.
I’m also cutting the cord with the curmudgeons in my feed who are too liberal with the Yes, Buts, and the objections to what I post, and with the folks who go on and on about how “All lives matter” and don’t seem to see all the institutionalize racism and systemic oppression practiced on people of color in this country. Ditto bye-bye to the folks who think transpeople are freaks and funny, and the ones who are so libertarian, they’re into Donald Trump as a disruptive force and/or guns.
Thanks, Marie Kondo, for reminding me my social stream needs tidying as much as my closets–and to even better effect.
I borrowed this book to read it-not because I didn’t want to clutter my bookshelf by keeping it, but because I was worried I’d pay $10 + and not get enough new ideas. Now that I’m almost done, I think there are definitely more than $10 of ideas in the book.
Some of my fav points?
- Keep only those things that spark joy, and get rid of the rest.
- More storage is NOT the answer, let some things go.
- Use the boxes you have to make order in your drawers (think computer cases and shoe boxes, in particular.)
- Throw out papers–you don’t need them and they drag you down (she qualifies not ALL papers)
I’ll share more of her advice and my take on it as I work through my clothes, my books, my keepsakes, and those pesky mounds of papers.
PS See great Twitter stream photos of people who have #Kondoed their items and lives.