“Clear your clutter and enjoy the magic of a tidy home – and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.” – Marie Kondo
I don’t know about you, but the month of March gets me into the “spring cleaning” mindset. Putting away the snow boots, heavy coats, scarves and other winter-related items thrills me. What else thrills me this time of year? Looking for things I can discard, donate or for which I can find a new home. The month of March sparks a lot of creativity as well. I love to move things around and shake things up!
The inspiration for this blog came as I was composing an email to a dear friend of mine who is moving and needs help decluttering. She has so much on her plate these days, that she reached out to me to inquire if I could take a trip to see her and help her with the process. Since I will be unable to go due to travel plans, I told her I would email her some pointers and guidelines from one of my favorite books, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – the Japanese Art of Decluterring and Organizing by Marie Kondo. What a gem! It’s the perfect book to declutter and tidy up “once and for all.”
So, as I was composing the list, I had an “aha” moment and decided that it would make for a perfect blog on spring cleaning. After all, March is all about clearing out, cleaning up from the winter and getting reading for spring (especially here in the northeast). As with any type of creative and inspirational project, I believe the key is to have fun doing so. Enjoying the process and the fruits of our labor is the name of the game. When all is said and done, we can sit back, take in the beauty we created and maybe even pop a bottle of bubbly to celebrate.
In an effort to not overwhelm, I only pulled specific tips and guidelines from the book:
1. Visualize your destination
2. Vividly picture what it would be like to live in a clutter-free space
3. Tidy up / de-clutter / discard in the right order
3. Selection criterion: Does it spark Joy?
4. Choose what you want to keep not what you want to get rid of
5. Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard / donate all the rest.
6. Think in terms of category not place
7. Collect everything that fits within the same category at one time
8. Don’t let your family see
The BEST sequence is:
CLOTHING: divide into sub-categories
Clothes for specific events
*Place every item of clothing on the floor, be sure to handle each one, and ask yourself “Does this spark Joy?” If so, it’s a keeper!
BOOKS: divide into four broad categories
General (for reading pleasure)
Practical (references, cookbooks, etc)
Visual (photograph collection, etc)
*The criterion is still of course whether or not it gives you a thrill of pleasure when you touch it
*Discard / donate books that you keep saying you will get to one day (because most likely you never will)
PAPERS: Dispose of anything that does NOT fall into one of these three categories:
1.currently in use
2. needed for a limited period of time
3. must be kept indefinitely
*All papers should be kept in one central place not scattered everywhere
*Discard all those pages you ripped out of a magazine (if you haven’t used it, you never will)
MISCELLANEOUS: here’s the sorting order
Skin care products
Valuables (passports, credit cards, etc)
Electrical equipment and appliances (digital camera, electric cords, anything that seems vaguely electric)
Household equipment (stationary and writing materials, sewing kits, etc)
Household supplies (expendable like medicine, detergents, tissues, etc)
Kitchen goods / food supplies (spatulas,pots, pans, baking pans, blenders, etc)
Other (spare change, figurines, etc)
*Don’t keep things “just because” – these items too need to be handled and kept only if they bring you Joy
Other Misc items:
- Gifts: many gifts remain unopened/unused/used once – thank it, thank the giver and discard / donate / pass on
- Travel samples: we collect them yet never take them on trips – these only last a few weeks to maybe a year – discard/ donate
- Electronics packages: you can always get help on-line or in the store – discard boxes/packages
- Unidentified cords: will always remain a mystery- discard
- Broken appliances: contact your local recycler and get rid of them
- Extra bedding: yes we need some extra bedding but don’t stockpile or hold onto if soiled, mildewed or have no use for
- Spare buttons: in most cases no one replaces buttons – if it’s a special garment/coat sew the extra button inside if it
- Products from the latest health craze: if you’re not actively using them, thank them and discard/donate
- Free novelty goods: None of these are going to bring you any pleasure – discard them / donate without any qualm
- Small change: coins are stripped of their dignity when left to just waste away-use your coins – adopt the motto “into my wallet” or put them in a jar/piggy bank and cash them in every now and then
- Sentimental items: no matter how wonderful things used to be we cannot live in the past – the joy we feel here and now is more important – sort through the keepsakes and discard/donate/give away – the space we live in should be for the person we are becoming now not the person we were in the past
- Photos: do NOT put them in a box to “someday enjoy”- it doesn’t happen – keep the ones that inspire joy – keep your photos in albums – discard photos/albums from your past that you never look at
DESIGNATE A PLACE FOR EACH THING:
This is a routine to follow every day, and you will avoid seeing clutter all over the place. The point in deciding specific places to keep things is to designate a spot for EVERY THING.
STORAGE: two rules
1. Store all items of the same kind in the same place
2. Don’t scatter storage space
*If you live with your family first clearly define separate storage spaces for each family member
“Clutter is caused by a failure to return things to where they belong. Therefore, storage should reduce the effort needed to put things away, not the effort needed to get them out.
You should arrange a room / storage space so you can tell at a glance where everything is than to worry about the details of who does what, where and when.”
Marie Kondo’s magical little book is simple and very clearly understood. It really cuts to the chase, and it also identifies pitfalls that trip us up and keep us stuck. That is why it’s so important to adhere to her process. The process is truly transformational and will not only declutter and organize your personal sanctuary, but it will do wonders for your mind and spirit! There’s a whole lot more content in the book that is valuable and practical, so check it out! Needless to say, this book also makes for a delightful gift.
Happy Spring Cleaning my darlings!
Inhale love & light…Exhale grace and gratitude, JTC