The Magic of Tidying Up

Over the years as we transition from our parents home to our dorm rooms to our own apartments and homes the one thing we learn, and that’s every home needs to be cleaned. But that’s not something easily done. Sometimes it can be overwhelming with all the clutter we accumulate but there is a way.

For years, I have been hearing about the craze that the book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo has started since it hit book stores a few years ago. I can totally understand the hype around it. In a world that’s become more and more materialistic, where we want the bigger better thing, gadget, outfit, whatever, it’s no surprise our houses are more cluttered than ever.

I was no different. Chaos was ensuing in our home and it felt like it was never ending. No matter how much I cleaned.

So I decided to try out the book and see if it “sparked joy” in me.

Once I started reading, I got totally sucked in. It turns out; tidying really may be the way to bliss. Not just in making your home more efficient but your life as well. Here’s what I learned.

1. “ Putting things away creates the illusion that the clutter problem has been solved.” *

I’m a pretty organized person and have various storage containers to put things away. But over time they get full and my house still generally feels cluttered.  I thought that I had been tidying, in fact I had merely been wasting my time shoving stuff out of sight, concealing the things I didn’t need in a box. It’s a horrible cycle of hiding stuff.

Most of the time we end up putting something away and forgetting we have it at all, then get another one. That’s why Kondo says tidying must start with discarding. We need to resist putting things away until we identify what we really want and need. Then we need to store the stuff we do decide to keep with respect, in the best way to see and appreciate them.

2. “Tidying is a special event. Don’t do it every day.” *

Yes Kondo! Thank You! The daily task of trying to keep up with the clutter can feel like an endless chore. Only doing a little at a time is only going to drive you slowly crazy.

Kondo’s method has you tidying in one fell swoop rather than tidying up a little and then rebounding back. A complete de-cluttering session, rather than sorting things halfway, is needed to change your mindset. It seems overwhelming to do it all at once but she claims; once this is done tidying will be reduced to very simple task of putting things back where they belong.

“I never tidy my room. Why? Because it is already tidy. The only tidying I do is once or sometimes twice a year, and for a total of about one hour each time. The many days I spent tidying without seeing permanent results now seem hard to believe. In contrast, I feel happy and content. I have time to experience bliss in my quiet space… Although not large, the space I live in is graced only with those things that speak to my heart *”, explains Kondo.

3. “Tidying up by location is a fatal mistake.” *

Like most of you, I’ve always cleaned one room at a time. Makes sense right?! According to Kondo, instead of going from room to room clean by category rather than location. For instance, start with all your clothes, then books, then knickknacks etc.. Her rationale is the root of most peoples clutter lies in the fact that we often store the same type of item in more than one place. When we tidy each room separately we fail to see that we’re repeating the same work in many locations. Additionally we fail to see how much stuff we actually own.

4. “We should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of.” *

A large portion of the book is about discarding the things that don’t serve you anymore. It can be intimidating. I was unsure about getting rid of my things “just because”. It’s easy to get rid of things when there is an obvious reason for doing so. It’s much more difficult when there is no compelling reason.

But it’s not about becoming minimalistic. Kondo explains, just because you get rid of stuff doesn’t mean you’re home will feel less cluttered. It’s about what’s in your home that matters not what you’re getting rid of. It’s about cherishing the things you want to keep in your home and surrounding yourself with things that in her words “spark joy”.

“After all, what is the point in tidying? If it’s not so that our space and the things in it can bring us happiness, then I think there is no point at all *”, says Kondo.

After reading the book, it’s easy to see why it has become so popular. This book transforms the way you see your possessions. Although it offers practical advice for cleaning out your home and storing your stuff properly, the book is more about a philosophy of owning things. I definitely see a whole new way of tidying and find my home and myself more efficient as a result.

* Excerpts From: Kondo, Marie. “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.” iBooks.

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