Tidying up your life…

On Sunday, I went to the barn for some spring cleaning–to help my friend and riding instructor get ready for summer lessons and pony camp, and because it was getting out of control (you could barely fit a horse in the front aisle). I spent five hours working on ONE section of the barn and we made a dent, but it seems like a cup of snow in a blizzard.

On Monday, I finished the audiobook I was listening to at Day Job (Second Hand by Cullinan and Sexton), so in a fit of tidying, I picked up Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. We’ve all heard about it, but it was interesting to learn about it from the source.

I have mixed feelings on her technique and the book in general.

The Book: It’s a bit repetitive as it tries to drive the point home. This could have been more noticeable because I was listening to it pretty much in two sittings, but I found it frustrating and it led me to tune her out at times. Sometimes this repetition felt like fluff to make this a full-length (if short) book. It also sells a pipe dream, which I’m always very suspicious about. She seems to be aware that she’s selling this pipe dream, but her saying it works and is not a pipe dream doesn’t really comfort me.

The Technique:

  1. The basic concept of keeping what brings you joy and getting rid of anything else is solid. To a point. People do tend to keep things long after the item has brought them any type of joy, and I think her process of going through EVERYTHING and handling it and making a yes/no call on it is good way to see how much we own and if it’s necessary to our lives or brings us happiness.

    However, I take some issue with her push to throw things out/donate etc. Because one of her points is “if you really want X thing, then you’ll buy it again and appreciate it more this time” – but this concept seems very grounded on a certain level of financial security (which I assume, to an extent, is the type of client she deals with, since people who worry about money don’t tend to pay people to sort their junk). Yes, I could throw away X and re-buy it if I really want it, but can I? I throw away X movie because I never watch it…but then I want to watch it, so I either buy it again or rent it….which feels like a waste of money when I owned the movie previously. And if I feel this way, I can imagine people on tighter budgets (like my riding instructor) would struggle even more with this. Especially with something as expensive as horse tack 😀
  2. I know the book world had a brief flurry of “GET RID OF BOOKS” upset that was quickly tempered by “KEEP THE ONES THAT BRING YOU JOY, FOOLS” and that about sums it up. She does say to get rid of books that don’t bring you joy, and I get the feeling she hasn’t really run into readers who will re-read a book six or seven times. But she also points out that everyone has things that they’ll have more of than other people, and that’s fine. So for readers, they’ll have more than average books that don’t get thrown out, because those books bring them joy. And that seems like a very healthy way to look at things.

    Especially since readers are well-known for hoarding books that they’ll never read. We all joke about it because it’s true. And I wonder if we did apply her technique to our TBR pile, what the result would be?

    I also wonder how this applies to digital hoards, but she doesn’t really talk about that, and since it’s so much less messy digitally, I’m not sure sure particularly cares 🙂
  3. I could see some Western people struggling with a few of the more Japanese-oriented elements of her teachings, because in some ways they are very different from what we know/how we think…sorta. The idea of things wanting to bring us joy like a living thing seems alien until you think about Stabby the Roomba and maybe not. But I do think there will be an element of feeling silly to some extent (and she recognizes this and addresses it). There will undoubtedly be some people who cannot get over this hump, however.

So the question comes up: Will I be applying Kondo’s method to my madness?

A soft yes, I think.

  • I will go through all my clothes and sort out what I don’t actually want. This is her recommended first step because it’s generally the easiest, and probably something we all want to do 😀 I don’t think I’ll get rid of twelve bags of clothes or anything like that, but I’d like to get rid of enough to give myself some breathing room in my closet/dresser. How well this goes will probably determine if I continue…
  • But the next plan will be to go through my DVDs and books. I have a bunch I will likely never read/watch again, and I think it would make me happy to be able to fill my shelves with books I want to see and that bring me joy just to think about. Right now I have all my DVDs visible, but I’m running out of room. I can also see myself selling a few of them to people, so giving them a good home. 🙂 Meanwhile, I have at least two large plastic tubs FILLED with books (and possibly a box at my parents’ house) of books I never look at. I definitely need to cull the herd. It’s not going to be easy.
  • Finally, if I survive this far, I will cut back on knickknacks. They are a pain to dust around, and while many of them brought me joy when I bought them, so many just sit around gathering dust and cutting them out of my life will clear out a fair amount of small clutter. Possibly even more than I realize, once I get started.

I do not envision this to be an easy task I have planned for myself, even if I’m not going to do a huge overhaul like she generally seems to do with her clients (her thing is “make it perfect or don’t bother, since you’ll backslide” but I’m not entirely sold on that).

I guess we’ll see. Anyone want to de-clutter their lives with me?

2 thoughts on “Tidying up your life…

  1. I applied her method to my clothes about three years ago and I was very happy with the results. I still fold my shirts and pants her way because I love being able to see everything in my drawers. I do think I need to go through everything again, though. My t-shirt drawer is full.

    We also did the kitchen and pantry and I try to go through my books periodically to make sure I still love them and not keeping them because I think I should. I do need to look at the knick knack situation and then there’s the basement.

    • Glad to hear it’s worked for someone! I’ll have to post updates when I do it—it’ll be interesting to see how much/little gets sent off. The folding clothes method is something I sort of already apply to some of my clothes, and it does make it easy to sort through (although I don’t really have much issue with that in general). Now to decide with of the thousand t-shirts to keep…

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