5 Things I Learned from Tidying Up
It’s October, folks. I can’t really believe it.
This late into the year, you’ve probably heard about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. It got a LOT of attention in the news and across the blogosphere over the last many months and it seems every month or two there’s a new wave of bloggers and friends who pick it up and jump in full force. I read it at the beginning of January and immediately jumped on the Purge All The Things bandwagon. Here are a few thoughts I had on the book and a few things I discovered while tidying up…
On the Book:
Marie Kondo says of her clients that she has a 100% success rate and a 0% relapse rate. Whether or not that’s true, it’s certainly compelling. Her method walks you through the importance not of organizing your things, but getting rid of and curating your things. I love a good organization project, but going through your belongings and purging them is something I thought I was doing a pretty good job of. Plus, with as many moves as I’ve had in my life, I find I’m not overly sentimental about much in the way of belongings because if you own it, you’ve got to pack (and unpack) it again when you move. And blah.
As I read, I was interested to see that I had done a pretty good job in certain areas–for instance, we regularly go through books and toys, I go through my closet once or twice a year, and organize my pantry again regularly to keep things neat and tidy. Still, as I really dove in, I found there was still a lot of stuff. Paperwork from years ago that at the time WAS important, but was no longer relevant. Six mostly empty tubes of the same kind of lip balm. Extra pieces to, well, I don’t remember.
She stresses the importance of going through ALL your belongings (things in attics, closets, drawers, storage spaces, etc.) and asking yourself, “does this spark joy?” (aka are you still using it? do you love it? does it make you feel happy?) She also recommends going through your belongings in order–clothing, books, papers, and things. You build momentum as you go, and it gets easier!
Give Yourself Permission to Feel Free.
I’m totally someone who feels bad if I spent money on something and didn’t end up loving it (but it’s too late to return it), or someone I love a lot gave it to me and it’s just not my style. Going through all my belongings encouraged me to give myself permission to let these things go. Keeping an ill-fitting shirt in my closet (that I won’t wear because it just doesn’t flatter) just because I spent money on it is a waste of space and energy.
Folding is king. For real.
Bam. I’m now a much bigger fan of folding. I didn’t fold the way that Kondo described in her book before now, and her way is a much better way. I can fit much more in a small space and having it be easier to navigate and look more tidy. How is that a bad plan?
Books: Agree to Disagree.
Kondo feels like keeping lots of books is useless. (Her thought: once you’ve read it, are you really going to read it again? It’s outgrown it’s use.) We regularly go through our books to pass along or donate anything we don’t love or refer to, but I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of more or less ALL my books. I just really, really love them. They’re decorative, beautiful, and comforting to me in a house. They’re one of the things that help a house feel like a home to me. And I don’t own hundreds. So, agree to disagree? Maybe let this rule slide since books spark joy? Who knows.
Put Your Discards to Use.
For the last few years, I’ve been selling my good-quality used clothing to ThredUp. They payouts aren’t huge, but they’re something. I’m very happy to donate to charities or shelters, but during graduate school when money was tight, this was a great way to go.
There are also toy consignment shops you can sell used toys (in great shape) to. We’ve done this as our kids have outgrown playthings or something’s just not getting played with. Again, you’re not going two walk out with cash to burn, but if you don’t have time or energy to hold a yard sale, this is a good way to go. (Though, if you want some great yard sale tips, Cassie has you covered)
If there are blankets or books or clothing or toys or furniture you’d like to donate, there are LOTS of great agencies and organizations to do this through. I particularly like women’s and homeless shelters, but you do what works for you! It’s freeing to give away things that other people can really use and that sparks joy.
Treating My Belongings with Respect.
This was actually a kind of controversial/polarizing element of the book. Kondo describes discovering a client balled their socks together in pairs and described feeling SO sad that after working hard all day protecting her feet, her socks would never be allowed to rest, since balling up her socks meant they were still hard at work. She also describes thanking her belongings, greeting her home upon walking in, etc.
Lots of folks felt like screaming BELONGINGS ARE NOT PEOPLE! And I get that. But what I took from reading those experiences wasn’t that we should treat our socks like they have just as many feelings as your children, neighbors, and co-workers. I took it to mean that you should treat the things in your home with respect and value. It goes right along with the saying “Do no keep anything in your home you do not think is beautiful or know to be useful.”
I feel like choosing the items in our homes with care, treating them with care and respect, and feeling grateful for what we have are all great principles. I don’t greet my house upon entering, nor do I think it’s a cardinal sin to ball socks (it’s the only way I can keep tiny baby socks together!), but I do think that these principles cultivate gratitude and peace. If I notice something in my house that seems pesky or annoying, I get it out of there. That way, most of what’s left in my house is something I can appreciate for some purpose (whether that’s Q-tips, or shoes, or the duplos that never seem to be all the way put away).
So, who knew I had so much to say about tidying up? What about you? Have you read the book? Tried it? What did you like? What didn’t you like?
What’s your biggest pitfall when it comes to tidying up?
p.s. This is not a sponsored post. For convenience, I have included affiliate links to both Amazon and ThredUp which will never change the price you pay for anything. If you use the ThredUp link to sign up, it’ll send you a $20 credit for $10 off each of your first two orders and me a $20 referral credit for your first order. Feel free to use or not use the links!
I haven’t read the book but my friend is and she has been passing on tibits to me here and there. We went through a really big purge before we moved to Georgia last year and essentially did a lot of the things that the book says without actually reading it. We still have a ton of stuff that I feel like we could get rid so I think I’ll probably actually read the book soon to give me the big push to do so!
I like how you explain the treating your belongings with respect. The whole ‘assigning your belongings feelings’ part was a little out there for me–and I tend to be more sentimental towards possessions, which doesn’t help. I read it, liked it, and am working on implementing it. (Except the chapter about books, that was awful). And I agree that the folding is life changing!
That’s really interesting. I might have to read the book myself, but I feel like I’ve already read so many reviews that I don’t need to!
Love your shirt you used in the folding illustration by the way.
I call copyright infringement! I came up with that way of folding and organizing my drawers a long time ago, and even put it on my blog! To be fair, it’s not rocket science, and someone was bound to come up with it on their own without my help. I guess. But still. Sigh.
When you win your settlement, you can treat me to dinner and we’ll talk all about it!
Got the book for Christmas and I loved it! I jumped on the clothes bandwagon really quickly and got rid of 3 huge garbage bags (how did I have that much to get rid of ????). Then the pregnancy sickness overtook. But I am finally getting my energy back and have been wittling away at the paper and files madness (thank you tax season !). It seriously feels so amazingly freeing to get rid of it all, like a fresh new haircut !
It really does! It just feels LIGHTER inside and out when there’s less clutter around!