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I’ve felt an overwhelming urge to simplify lately. Do less, own less, worry less. Spend more time doing what I want, which sometimes means doing nothing at all. One of the biggest pulls has been to simplify by reducing my stuff.
At one point this summer I looked around me a realized that I was surrounded by stuff.
Clothes I don’t wear, or don’t even like.
Projects that I plan to work on… someday.
Papers that we might need to reference… one day.
Bowls and plates in the kitchen that don’t have a place because the cupboards are too full.
Decor items that I’ve picked up over the years that sit in the corner of my home office (nope, still not finished with that), usually because they don’t match our home’s style or, even worse, because I don’t even like them!
DVDs we will never watch again. Boxes of them.
Old notebooks and folders from high school and college that I don’t want to get rid of because sentimental value.
Painting supplies, tools, project stuff on the kitchen counters, shoved away in a closet, or scattered around the storage area of the basement.
I realized that if I was going to simplify my life, I needed to start by simplifying my stuff. I started thinking about this a couple months ago, right before I started my new job. I was ready for a fresh start. Around that same time, I heard about the book The Life‑Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. With promises like “the magic of tidying dramatically transforms your life,” I was totally intrigued. Before I ever even picked up the book, I was ready to purge. This was exactly what I needed. A total overhaul. In the book, she lays out a clear process, a theory that totally speaks to me, and even shows you how to fold your clothes and store your items to “make your life shine.” Her method is so popular, it even has its own name: the KonMari method.
Discard, discard, discard
The Life‑Changing Magic of Tidying Up suggests that so many people have a hard time keeping their homes tidy because we simply have too much stuff. Justin and I lived in a tiny apartment for several years, and never had much storage space, so we never really accumulated much. Then, when we bought our house two years ago, we suddenly started to accumulate things. You know, you buy a house, you need stuff. Right? I started to collect home decor items, hand-me-down furniture, project pieces that were just too good to pass up and would look really awesome one day when I made them over. Boxes of our old stuff that had been stored away at our parents’ houses made their way here. Our house is pretty small, and we don’t have much storage space. But it was like something shifted when we bought a house and our minds said “well, time to start accumulating useless items that you may or may not actually need one day!”
When I had this little epiphany earlier this summer, I was beyond ready to go through everything and discard. Reading this book only validated that desire.
The KonMari method tells you to go through every single item you possess, assume you are going to discard it all, and choose to keep only the things you love.
Tidy by category
One of the biggest differences between the KonMari method and what I’ve typically done (and I assume most people typically do) is to tidy by category rather than by room. Normally, when it comes time to clean up, I will choose a room to tackle and get going. But Kondo suggests this is part of the reason why people have a hard time keeping the house tidy and always have to go back and do it again and again and again. The KonMari method tells you to instead tidy by category. Go through each category (in a very specific order laid out in the book) and gather every item in that category from around the house, lay it all out in a pile on the floor, and then go through each item and decide what to keep.
Does it spark joy?
There are no rules dictating what to keep and what to discard, except to discard anything that doesn’t “spark joy.” Hold each item in your hand, and if it doesn’t truly bring you a little thrill of happiness, get rid of it.
I love it because the metaphor is so spot on. Our possessions are a reflection of us.
The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life – Marie Kondo
Many of us spend our lives surrounded by things we don’t need, want, or enjoy. Many times, in my experience anyway, this also means we’re surrounded by thoughts, commitments, and responsibilities that we don’t need, want, or enjoy. By minimizing what you own to only that which truly brings you joy, you can learn to let go of everything else in your life which doesn’t truly bring you joy.
Thanking your possessions for a job well done
Every change of seasons, I go through my clothes and get rid of the items that no longer fit, that I never wear, or that I don’t really love anymore. I always end up with a big bag (or two, or three) to donate. It feels awesome. I have no problem getting rid of clothes. But I am a very sentimental person in some ways. I’m also a very thrifty person. I feel guilty getting rid of something that holds a special meaning, or that I just bought. I have many things that I feel the need to hold on to, even though I will probably never use them.
One of the ideas I love most in this book is being grateful to your possessions for what they’ve done for you, and being able to let go without guilt. Every item you discard has served its purpose, whether it’s a piece of clothing that you once loved but just doesn’t really suit your style anymore, or a useless object you bought because you loved it at the time, but now sits in a closet somewhere gathering dust. Those objects had a purpose, and they served their purpose. Now you can let them go, so that they can serve a purpose for someone else.
Over the next several weeks I will be following the KonMari method to go through everything I own and purge. I’m so excited to clear away the clutter and get rid of stuff! I actually started last weekend with my clothes and I already have bags and bags and bags to discard, and I can already see a change in my mindset and even the way I look at my home and my surroundings.
As I continue through this experiment, I will share my experience with you all. And of course, if this does magically transform my life, I will be here to shout it from the rooftops! And if it doesn’t, I’ll be sure to share that as well!