Monday, May 16, 2016

5 Points to Ponder from "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up"

A few days ago I shared that I was reading "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo.  Since then, I have finished the book.  I have to say that there were a lot of points made by Ms. Kondo that truly resonated with me.  (Disclaimer: this short post is in no way a review of her book, just a reflection of my reaction to the book.)  Here are the five points (in no particular order) from "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" that have changed the way I look at our untidy home:

Number 1:  All the items in your home need to spark joy (for you and your family)
When I first began reading Ms. Kondo's book, I was skeptical about the concept of items in my home sparking joy.  After all, how much joy can a toaster or a roll of toilet paper spark?  However, as I continued to read I began to understand what she was talking about.  Walking into a home that is filled with items you don't really care about can cause a lot of negative feelings.  When I walk into my home in its current state I feel anxious, overwhelmed, and a little guilty.  None of those feeling even remotely resembles joy!  Right about now you may be asking, "how do I know which items spark joy, and which items don't?"  To figure out which items spark joy, Ms. Kondo recommends touching each and everything you own as you are doing your cleaning.  You will know right away which items you love and which items you do not based on your emotional reaction to the item.  Only keep the things that make you feel happy, love, and joy.

Number 2: Sort items in your home by category not by room (and in the correct order)
This was a new concept for me.  I always thought that to declutter and clean you always started with one room in the house.  I would work hard to get that one room completely sorted out and then loose momentum for the rest of the house.  Ms. Kondo recommends sorting by category.  This means that you only sort the items in that category and don't look at the whole space.  The wisdom to this method is two fold.  First, is the fact that most of us keep multiple items in the same category all over the house.  For example, we have school supplies and art materials in almost every room of our house.  By pulling all those items together in one spot, we can see the volume school supplies and art materials we actually have- which is a ton!  Secondly, by tidying in this way it is easier to know which items spark joy and which spark discord.

The order in which items is sorted is also important.  The reasoning behind this is, if I were to start trying to purge and sort items that hold emotional significance first, I would be setting myself up for failure. If I tried to sort my kids art work and photos first, every piece would be sparking joy all over the place.  I would end up keeping everything they every made (which I have done and is part of the reason why our home is so untidy)!  So the proper order according to Ms. Kondo is clothing, books, paper (not photos or memorabilia or kids art), komono (miscellaneous stuff), and mementos last. Working in this order will move you through the emotional process of decluttering.  By the time I get to the memorabilia category, I will know without a doubt which of the kids art pieces to keep, and which I can let go of because I will have already honed my skill of know which pieces spark joy.

Sentimental items like this Birthday card from my daughter. are sorted out last.

Number 3: Start discarding your own things first
Even though I know my husband has a huge pile of clothes that need to be discarded, I am not going to touch anything of his.  It is up to him to figure out which of his items spark joy for him.  I am only going to work on my things.  After I have gone through the process of discarding my unwanted items, I will work with the kids to help them decide what items of theirs spark joy for them.  But I am not going to do it for them.  This is going to be hard!  It is all too easy o go into the kids room while they are at school and start hoeing out stuff.  I have done it before and it isn't pretty!  My thought is that if I set the example of keeping my own things tidy, and then work with the kids to go through the same process, it will teach them how to be tidy in the future.

Putting my own things in order first will be a challenge!

Number 4: You don't need to buy any fancy storage organizers you have what you need already
I love this!  Ms. Kondo does not recommend running to the nearest big box store to purchase storage totes or anything else organization related (except maybe trash bags).  Instead, she advocates for using what you already own.  Things that you might consider recycling, like shoe boxes and their lids, make great (free) storage containers.

Number 5:  Gratitude for your home and possessions is important 
Ms. Kondo discusses expressing gratitude for your home and possessions.  She suggests telling your items and home (in your head or out loud) "thank you".  Even items you are discarding deserve words of thanks for the job they have done working for you.  I can hear my husbands voice now, "that sounds a little HIPPY DIPPY".  Maybe it is, but I agree with Ms. Knodo on this point.  I am grateful for my warm home (especially in our harsh New Hampshire winters). I am grateful for my shoes that make my walk to work comfortable.  And I am grateful to the bridesmaids dress at the back of my closet, and I will tell it so when I let it go on to serve someone else.

So the time has come to put the wisdom of "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up" to the test!  Our untidy home will soon sparkle with joy (or at least I hope it will)!


  1. You made some excellent points, I'm having a hard time lately since Brian is doing construction. I don't have a home for things like extra linen. I am also guilty of not getting rid of my "thin clothes" but that's next on my list! You're doing a great job!

    1. Thanks so much Stacey! It is just shocking to me how much Matt and I have collected over the years, and how much of it really doesn't spark joy for us! I am determined to put an end to that!

  2. Thanks Heather for the motivation. I'm up "tidying" as we speak!!! Maybe we can both work towards the sparkle together:))))

    1. Sounds great! I'll keep you updated on my progress. It is going to take some time, but I know I will get to the point where I love my home again.

  3. Number 2 is a new idea for me. I like it. It makes sense. As for extra linens, I once read a tip about only folding them a little so they are still pretty flat and then storing them between the mattress and slats or box spring. That way they are right there when you need them (who wants to paw through a linen closet in the middle of the night after a child's accident?) and don't need any closet space.

    1. I never heard the tip about the extra linens before! That's a good one!