Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up - Does It Work?

If you've been visiting another universe, firstly: welcome back!  One of the first things you need to know about Planet Earth of late is everyone's trying to KonMari their lives. Marie Kondo is the most adorable Japanese woman whose book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up  is, as it promises, life changing.  Not only is it practical and also unflinchingly self-revelatory in her search for tidiness from age five, but it's beautifully written, like a wee haiku.

Marie Kondo. Love how she tucks behind her ears, elvish style

When we did our re-model six years, all the cheque writing started getting very stressful so we decided to do a mish mash of Ikea stuff for my closet. It was always a bit of a noodly tangle of stuff so this month I decided to California Closet it...fairly reasonable if you keep to basic finishes.

All of my clothes have been on the bedroom floor for a month. This is partly because the carpet in the closet needs to be re-laid, so the set of drawers can't be moved in yet, but mostly because my stuff doesn't fit in there anymore - how is that possible?

Last night I just ended up just chucking everything in as before, resulting in a tangly noodle of stuff. Then I remembered I hadn't performed he most basic of KonMari magic, which is is to fold everything vertically. More on that later.

Reading the book has not only resulted in us donating about 50 bags of clutter (I know this amount sounds obscene but Marie says after she's done a two-bedroom Japanese apartment, about 45 bags of stuff are taken away). This is despite the fact we don't do Costco and I try to hold up a string of garlic when passing Big Box Stores.

Some of the books and stuff being donated

Warning: my wardrobe is a work in progress, so does not qualify as closetporn - yet!

Trying to hang things attractively and with like-colors like they do in stores. Not sure why everything has come out as minty green
Need to replace hangers so they are all on the same page

It's also changed my writing a bit.  Don't keep a line/paragraph/chapter just because you've spent a lot of time writing it or you think the words are nifty - if it doesn't fit in your book, cut it out, baby!

But back to my wardrobe - how to get everything in? The final piece of the puzzle for me was: folding things vertically. That is, folding things into tiny oblongs and placing them vertically in the drawer.

Ta da!!!

All my workout tops -  and space to spare! They're resting today, it's a Saturday after all, and having glass of wine with friends later. 

Marie Kondo's tips for tidying up - and whether I actually, really, honestly followed them. 

1. Sort by category, not location: Don't do the bedrooms first, then the living room, then the rest of the house. Do all your clothes, then all your books, etc. 
Did my wardrobe and gave the rest of the house to Kevin. That worked! His office went from four filing cabinets to half a drawer. One quibble...we decided after the re-model not to build bookshelves so we won't keep books. So why is his office still filled with his old economics books???

2. Tidy in one go. Don't draw it out. If you tidy a bit each day, you'll find that you're tidying forever. Do it all at once and you'll have the system in place to stay tidy. 
Didn't do this, too lazy, spent three weeks with stuff on the floor. Still not finished yet.

3. Pick up each item one at a time and ask yourself, "Does it spark joy?" 
Cheated on this onethere was one shirt I love to look at but seldom wear. Is it joyful if you keep thinking "I should be wearing this, why aren't I?" Probably not.

Negotiating with Marie on this shirt

4. Fold your clothes so that they stand up vertically. This way, you can put all your t-shirts (or other items) in a drawer and see every item at once, rather than digging through piles of fabric to find the shirt you want. 
Changed everything, got so many more things in the drawer and I can see what they are. 

5. Don't repurpose clothes to loungewear. Don't justify keeping a torn, ratty T-shirt just because you think you can repurpose it as a pajama top. 
Already got me ugly lounge pants for me lounging anyways

6. Recycle your papers. For important legal documents, scan them. Everything else you should get rid of. 
Kevin did all this. He got four filing cabinets down to half a drawer. When you really get down to it, how many papers are actually legal?

7. Don't keep gifts out of guilt. After the joy of the gift-giving moment is through, you can donate the gift without guilt. It has served its purpose. 
Hardest one, just hope certain people don't visit. Maybe I can say the drought took it?

8. Storage experts are hoarders. A "clever" storage solution never really solves anything. A new box or organizer won't make you tidy. 
That's why that stupid bag-holder hanger thingy never worked.

9. Start with what you know will be easy to get rid of. If you start with mementos or items you attach a functional value, it will be harder to know if they spark joy.
Still cannot chuck photos, even if they are doubles, or the kids ceramics however chipped or broken and the kids' pictures.

Cy in particular has mastered a very primal abstraction. Some of this stuff belongs in a museum - am I right?

10. Pick up everything you are donating or recycling and say "Goodbye and thank you for your service."
Seems ridiculous but makes letting go so much easier.

Might apply this to my kids. Don't think they would pass No. 3 at the moment. Tempted to give them the old No.10.


  1. BB! you totally get a prize for posting first. As my Dad says you will be repaid in heaven.
    I know, the hangers are rubbish, I am annoyed at them for being ass backwards but they are rebellious.
    Interesting re the vertical stuff up. I wonder if I watched the pictures horizontally?

  2. I folded my underpants vertically and they took up more space. I'm now thinking about experimenting with taking only a small suitcase on a trip. At the moment that doesn't feel like a happy prospect.

    By the way, how does one of those rolled-up shirts look when it's unfolded for wearing?

    1. WFF: the shirts shown in pic are just workout ones and are that stretchy fabric so think they will be alright. will let you know tomorrow. But I don't know how sweaters will fare?
      Jeans seems fine, I end up rolling rather than folding, not sure if that is Kon Mari safe.

  3. Ok. My life (and wardrobe) needs this. It is time I started. My OH does not play the declutter game though. It makes doing it hard when I can only clear mine.

    1. Hi K Ville, lovely to see you again.
      I know they always say when throwing your kids stuff out (toys etc) you have to make sure they're at school and they never miss it when they get home.
      Same technique with OH?

  4. I tried to write about that book but I couldn't, you've done very very well. I was able to do a massive clear-out but never sure why or how, though it did feel good and I don't miss anything.
    I kept clothes that spark joy even if I never wear them, they were only a few items so I say keep the shirt. I kept many many things my children have made in a big trunk downstairs, and a smaller trunk with their favourite toys. They spark joy for sure. I think her methods needed that kind of adapting for a family home. You must keep all of Cy's art, he's a genius and when he's President it will all be very valuable.
    The paper thing was helpful to me, why does all that paper need keeping besides the tax returns, and gov't documents? It doesn't, that chucking was very freeing.
    Wow you really do have a HubStar, he's so good at de-cluttering, economics books aside. ;)

    1. Love the photos on your blog of your folding and your wardrobe.
      I've actually had a pair of orange Mui Mui shoes for 14 years that I've barely worn and bought in London - they were just like closet jewelry for so long and a friend just showed me what top to wear them with - that I never would have thought of

  5. Jody isn't this the best book? I love folding her way and it was great I can get a ton of shirts in a drawer, especially good in the boy's room! I also love her recommendation for putting purses inside purses. I did forget what I had that way though.. You are so lucky to get to have California closet they are beautiful. I do love you colors of mints and blues!! x Kim
    p.s. I'm with you those ceramics are masterpieces

    1. Hi KIm,
      Love how she makes you think long term about valuing things too. She anthropomorphises (sp) clothing and things so that you think about who made it and who sold it to you and that it has another life. I suppose the end result is that you really think about buying more stuff too.

  6. I can't live minimally, I need a bit of clutter to keep me comfortable and happy.
    I do have my closet color coded and that's about as organized as it's ever going to get.

  7. I've seen bits of this all over t'interweb and I love it...mainly because I love folding...sad I know but it calms me...........

    1. I like it theoretically, but too lazy to carry about the impulse

  8. I've been doing the rolling up thing lately - I had no idea I was on trend. It started with towels in the airing cupboard and recently did my t shirts and PJs. Had to laugh at the bit about keeping torn t shirts as lounge wear...guilty!

  9. I loved this book! I have slid a bit and to be honest, one week after getting rid of a little used pot I needed it, something welled free wrote about!

  10. I don't know about this, I am afraid it will expose the fact that I don't vacuum enough. I can be pretty ruthless with throwing things out so I don't have a big clutter problem with clothes but if somebody would scan all the paperwork for me I'd love that!

    1. yes our scanner has never worked, so put paid to that.
      I am ruthless too, have no prob mostly with throwing things out, in face I think I probably do it too much and it doesn't force me to live with my mistakes

  11. OK, I'm a rebel. Honest? I hated this book. Don't tell me you believed her nonsense about "reading magazines" at 5! And come on, emptying your entire purse everyday, as soon as you come home. Then putting all
    the contents away? What if there's a fire?
    The folding helped with a few things,but I'm not disrespecting my clothes by throwing them on the floor.
    I want her publicity team working for me😀
    And if this comment leads back to Google+ I'll just shoot myself. I worked for 2 hours to change that!!
    Yes, lunch!! Any day!!
    xoxo. Happy Weekend!!

    1. Fair enough too.
      Jennifer - I hate to tell you leads back to Google PLus! Click into your comment and see if I am wrong - I hope I am!!!

      This comes up...

      Google Plus:

      Just wanted to let bloggy friends know something that I have been finding for some time. If you have Google Plus, your comments will lead to Google Plus site and sometimes hard to find your blog name and also most recent on that site. I look for it to the left and right and even when I find it, it is often not the most recent post....

    2. And yes lets do lunch in two weeks time!

  12. I found the vertical stacking would tumble if something was taken out so for me it didn't work... I don't really like her and she may work but she's too ruthless and I have said this before but too extreme for me.

    Having said that a declutter is great but I would feel so violated if she came to my house I feel...

    1. Yes I have found it needs to be packed tight for it all to work. it may be that I have to do the folding and lay it horizontally.
      I think I must be very suggestible and excitable about new things.

  13. I read the book and liked it but that vertical folding stuff looks stupid and doesn't work for a hard core ironer like me.

    I love the idea of a de-clutter and love that she says you can thanks and item and say good bye etc. Maybe I need to read it again?


  14. I thought it was a good read.
    I give my occasional piece of ironing to Kevin, as a Virgo he is much better at all that.

  15. DONOT chuck the kids art work!THATS's AN ORDER!!!!!!!!!!

  16. I am neat about everything except paperwork. I always assume some sort of audit armageddon situation. I need to enlist an expert to help me here I suspect. I love your closet. Looks organized!


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