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“The life-changing magic of tidying up”

I pick stuff up.  Like it’s my job.  All day.  Every day.  Picking stuff up.  It’s getting old.  Actually, it got old years ago.  I’ve had enough.

I had a little come-apart on the kids a few weeks ago.  You know the “I’m going to throw all your stuff away if you don’t pick it up” speech.  Pretty sure every mom’s had one of those.  Or ten.  And I was mostly serious.  I’ve already started hiding things under paper towels in the garbage can.  Now I’m thrown’ stuff away like it’s my job.  Because I’m sooooo tired of picking stuff up.

I’m also tired of clutter.  And things where things shouldn’t be.  And drawers that are too full, shelves with things falling off them, and a basement that requires a tetanus shot before you go down there.

Too. Much. Stuff.

Months and months ago I said I was waging a war on excess.  The war was never appropriately waged.  The battle plan didn’t work.  The excess lives on.

Then a friend recommended a book.  It was unlike any other “get your life organized” book I had read.  And I’ve bought into the idea.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo.

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Her claim:

project-life-2 copy

Pretty bold statement.  But I believe it.  I’m buying into this.  And I’m going to follow the advice in the book.

I’ve read my fair share of self-help, motivational, and business-type books.  Nearly all of them address the space we live in.  The need for order.  The need to clear the clutter.  Clutter, mess, dis-organization–it grieves my soul.  But I’ve never come across an effective strategy so once the clutter’s cleared (if we even appropriately clear it), it STAYS that way.

This method is different.  So I want to share the cliffs-notes version of what I read (some of the things I highlighted in the book).  Then I’ll share MY personal approach/strategy to this and then I have a little invitation for all of you reading this.

My guess is, if you’re reading this, you have FAR more than you need.  If you’re like me, you have excess. Things that clutter up your life.  Things that other people could benefit from.  Things that bring NO joy to your life or home.  It’s something I want to fix.

 

**My highlights (I still HIGHLY recommend you read the book so you can catch the vision yourself):

-The premise of the book is to clear the clutter by category instead of by room and to do it in a concentrated period of time.

“If you tidy up in one shot, rather than little by little, you can dramatically change your mind-set”

“You only have to experience a state of perfect order once to be able to maintain it.”

“The key is to make the change so sudden that you experience a complete change of heart.”

 

-Here’s her strategy for what to keep and what to discard:

“All you need to do is sit down and examine each item you own, decide whether you want to keep or discard it, and then choose where to put what you keep.”

“The whole point in keeping and discarding things is to be happy

 

-Her rule for deciding what to keep (she refers to this process as the Konmari method):  “DOES THIS SPARK JOY?”

Instead of deciding what to get rid of, you ask yourself “does this spark joy” and decide what to keep.

“The question of what you want to own is actually a question of how you want to live your life” (one of my favorite quotes from the book)

 

-The method:

Before choosing what to keep, collect everything that falls within the same category in one place.  “Gathering every item in one places is essential to this process because it gives you an accurate grasp of how much you have.”

Then you physically touch each item, ask yourself if it sparks joy, and then decide what to keep (and what to discard).

Once you’ve done the sorting, you designate a spot for everything, keeping the same type of items in the same place.

Order for sorting per her suggestion:  clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellany), and lastly mementos. After reading the book I felt there were some pretty big categories left out (which I’ll address in a minute)

 

This is obviously the condensed version of the book.  And there are a few parts where she talks to her things that I’m not adopting (I get why she’s doing it, but it’s just not me–so I’ll leave the talking to the things part out–just get past that part if it’s odd to you and embrace the overall message of what she’s teaching).  Maybe by the end I’ll thank my socks.  Who knows.

 

There were some things that weren’t addressed in the book.  Like kids.  Anything relating to kids.  There was no talk of toys which is a pretty hefty category in my house.  I’m pretty sure NO toy sparks joy for me.  More on that category in a minute.

 

**My approach.  I read the book.  I highly advise you read it first.  Thinking of doing this for my whole house (we have a good-sized house with 6 people living in it which means we’ve accumulated FAR more than we need) is grossly over-whelming.  I get that.  But I really believe doing this the RIGHT way will have a dramatic effect not just on my home, but over my (our) life (and soul) in general.

So I tried to break it down into a more manageable plan.

I walked through my house and made a list of different categories I can sort by.  Then I’ve made a time-line to complete each category (grouping smaller categories together that can feasibly be done together). My goal is to finish the entire house by my birthday (end of November).  It’s ambitious.  But I want to do it right and I want to get it done so we’re going for it (I’ve mostly convinced my husband this is a good idea).  I think breaking it down into smaller categories, AND having a time line in place will be key in actually getting this done.

**The categories I’ll be sorting (these would all be individual based on the things you have in your house–just get a notebook, walk through the house and make a list):

Clothes/Shoes (each member in the family), Books, Medicine cabinet, kitchen cupboards (dishes, appliances), Pantry, Cleaning supplies (laundry and under sink), hair stuff, cosmetics/bathroom cupboards, blankets and towels, bags (suitcases, backpacks–I think my kids backpacks had babies–bags everywhere, duffels, purses), girls room stuff (knick knacks, etc.), desk drawers and cubbies (art and school supplies), games, papers (filing cabinets), kids school stuff, electronics (earphones, gadgets, chords, camera gear), toy room, downstairs cold storage, tools, boat stuff and sports gear, camping gear, holiday decor, home decor, gift wrapping, paper goods and party supplies, mementos (treasure chests, bins of memorabilia), and photos.

The hardest category for me will be the toy rooms (yes, I said roomS).  Not sure how I’ll even handle those.  If it was up to me we’d get rid of nearly everything but my kids still play with some of the stuff.  We’ll see how we handle that one when it’s time (on the calendar soon).  Suggestions are warmly welcomed.

 

My invitation to you,  JOIN ME.  Accountability is huge in getting something like this done.  And everything is more tolerable when other people are doing it with us.  Get the book.  Read the book.  Draft your plan.  SET A DEADLINE to have it done.  And check in and tell me how you’re doing.

If you’re already doing this, have done it, or want to commit to do it, comment below.  Then we can all keep each other accountable to really do it.

If you’ve already been through the Konmari process, I would LOVE any tips/advice you have.

Another promise in the book and one I’m holding on to:

project-life-2

 

A home without clutter.  Organized.  Peaceful.  Full of things that spark joy.  A promise that if we do it once, and we do it right, we’ll never have to do it again.  And a heart at peace so we can focus more on the things we’re meant to do.  Not on picking stuff up and putting stuff away all.day.long.

 

To follow along on my progress with this, you can follow my Instagram account @ltross.  When I’m all done, I’ll post a follow-up with tips and tricks I learn along the way!

Who’s with me?  We can do this!!!   Let’s make things happen.

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  • Just finished the book and I’m totally buying into it too, started on clothes and already have 6 garbage bags! I was wondering how I’m going to tackle kids Toys too… Curious to hear how others do kids stuff.ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      I think my approach with kid stuff is to let them help with some of the decision making (with stuff in their room and some of the toys). Then I’ll discard some of the toys I think we can live without (most of them!).ReplyCancel

  • I have been doing this for years. I have never read the book but it has just been something I have figured out over my life as a mom. 10 years ago we lost everything in hurricane Katrina. And you know what? It was fine! It was actually quite liberating to know that we can still be happy with almost nothing. And it is just “stuff”. I remember saying that all the time when people would ask me about the hurricane… “It is just stuff and it is just not that important!”. After that, I have been very careful with what I have let back into my home. And I tell people all the time that I only keep things that bring me joy. Sometimes people laugh and then I tell them I am serious. I only want things to surround me that make me smile and bring me joy. We just cleaned out my two teenage daughters room last weekend and I kept saying, “does this bring you joy?” It is an amazing phrase that cuts through the clutter pretty quickly.

    As for the toys, I go through things when the kids are not home and I get rid of all the things that I never see them play with. As their mother you usually have a pretty good idea of which things are meaningful to your kids. i usually just put the toys in garbage bags and put them in the garage. If they are in there for a while and nobody asks for anything, then I take them to goodwill. The majority of the time they never even miss it… Out of sight, out of mind. Once in a while they do ask for something that I have given away and I am honest about it and say, “oh I think we gave that away. There are some kids that don’t have a lot of toys and they needed it more than us.” Just make sure once you clear stuff out the kids don’t discover the bags! Because then they want to keep everything 🙂ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Tessie,

      I didn’t realize you lost everything in the hurricane!!!! That’s crazy and I bet quite a story. This kind of discarding isn’t all that hard for me because I really don’t get that attached to things. My mom told me once I wasn’t sentimental. Which for the most part is pretty true. I love photos. And journals. And a few mementos from my sporting days. But for the most part, I can live without pretty much everything.ReplyCancel

      • Yes. I guess I am the same way about not being too sentimental 😀ReplyCancel

  • I read this book this summer. I really loved it. I have gone through all of the clothes in the house and we recently finished our kitchen. I’m part of a great support group on Facebook that helps and provides encouragement. I really believe in the joy aspect of the book. I wish you all of the best on your adventure to a more joyful home.ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Mariah,
      The Facebook group sounds awesome. What a good way to keep yourself accountable and have some support.ReplyCancel

  • Jessica

    So want to do this but as a working mom it’s on my 2-week Christmas Break list. I hope to have the book from the library and read by then and can get the bulk of it done then and finish up on weekends or what not. I’m very interested to hear your journey, I’ve been following Becky’s and it will be good to see yours as well to give me a good idea.ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Jessica,
      Time is definitely always an issue. Which is why I’ve tried to break it down into manageable chunks. Things I can do in an hour or two on weekdays, then save the bigger things for weekends. My kids have fall break this week and instead of a vacation like we usually do, we’re staying home to cleanse the house. They’re super thrilled about it.ReplyCancel

  • Meredith

    I have this Audiobook. I’ve listened to it twice now (just to make sure I got it all). I’ve done my office and I’ve started on clothing. I already feel so liberated! When you figure out how to go about the kids stuff let us know. I’m in the same boat, and my daughter gets so attached to things!!ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Meredith,
      My office is going to be a big one. So many papers and random stuff in there. As for kids stuff, I’ll probably have to sneak a bunch of stuff out when kids aren’t home. They think they love everything when they haven’t paid any attention to it forever. Obviously some stuff is important to them, but I have found my kids play with less the more we have. Too many choices. And too much clutter in the toy room. Makes it hard for them to enjoy anything when they have too much.ReplyCancel

      • Wendy

        living with 2 little ones I have found that the only way to deal with toys is to sneak them out like a ninja in a black garbage bag in the middle of the night;) Anytime I have forgotten this and tried to deal with toys when the boys were in the room it has resulted in tears and dramaReplyCancel

        • ltross17

          Black garbage bags and paper towels over anything they might be able to see 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Marlaina

    I love this book! I am a natural get-rid-of-stuff gal but the book really explains why being clutter-free us so important. It is important to teach your kids the skill of de-cluttering and sorting and getting rid of stuff.ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Marlaina,
      So true. I hope I can teach my kids now the value of ONLY keeping things that really truly matter to them.ReplyCancel

  • Maiken

    I’ve just spent a week going through our stuff. I just finished today. I find myself feeling light. You can’t see all the stuff I’ve gotten rid off, by looking at our house. But I know that it has gone. I think I’ll might go through it all again, at some point until I meet that magic moment when it all just clicks for me; this is enough. I’m not there yet, but that’s okay for now.

    I haven’t even thought of touching my two teenagers rooms. I would LOVE to go through them, but they are convinced that I won’t leave very much stuff. I think they are right.

    Perhaps I would have been more thorough going through it all had I not had a husband and two children, who has an opinion about everything. My luck is that my husband is stuck in Greenland these days due to weather conditions and no planes are taking off and my kids have a fall vacation, which means they sleep most of the day, and only come up for air when they’re hungry. I got to sort by myself without anyone telling me that we need to keep this or that. I’ve gotten rid of everything once I was finished with at category, then it was gone, and I wouldn’t get cold feet or anything.ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Maiken,

      I don’t have teenagers yet. But I remember what my room looked like as a teenager and I have no idea how my mom tolerated it. Good luck with that one 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Megan

    I’m so ready for this but I’m a bit of a hoarder. You say you don’t get attached to things-everything has meaning to me. It’s terrible! We are a military family and moving stresses me out because of all the stuff-and we move ALL THE TIME. I have to stop the craziness! I’m getting this book and getting on board.ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Megan–
      Consider taking a photo of some of the stuff that you get attached to. Sometimes you don’t need the physical thing, you just need some sort of reminder of the thing. I have found photographing that thing (in good natural light ;)) is good enough to allow us to let it go.ReplyCancel

  • Wendy

    I loved reading this post because it felt like I could have written it!! I live with my husband and 2 boys, 3 and 5 years old so I am very familiar with the never ending task of picking up stuff. The management of stuff has consumed so much of my time that I too found myself reading this book this summer and took to the whole concept like a fish to water. I was going to do it and end clutter for once and for all! and I made a great start of things, got through clothes and books and made trips to goodwill and the library to make my donations and then I went back to school (I’m a teacher) and everything came to a halt. I haven’t given up but the momentum has definitely been lost. I had the same complaint as you about the book-she doesn’t address families with kids and toys, oh the toys, and pieces of toys and outdoor toys and…well, you know. I thought I would do a small, manageable category each weekend but that just isn’t happening but your post has reinvigorated me because what I have done has been so liberating. I did find that it was very important to actually take everything from the category and put it all out. EVERY piece of clothing, EVERY book, etc. It just gets harder when you get to all of the little bits, those drawers of crapola that we all have. I’m still determined, just taking a mini break. Excited to hear about your progress. In the book she said it takes an average of 6 months to complete the process and I can see why, if you do it right there is A LOT of stuff to lay your hands on and ask if it sparks joy (and some additional time if you want to say thanks to your socks;)ReplyCancel

    • ltross17

      Wendy-
      This comment is awesome. I laughed out loud at the comment of saying thanks to your socks. I’m finding the hardest part of this is keeping the ball rolling. It really is SO much work and takes SO much time (totally worth it, but still). The big categories seem easier to follow, it’s when you get down to the little details–like the drawers of crap–that it gets a little harder for me. Still trying to plow through with small categories at a time.ReplyCancel

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