Of all the health fads and lifestyle trends that have come and gone recently, perhaps one of the most surprising is tidying up. Tidying has always been one of those things that we know we should really do but can never motivate ourselves to get around to.
Now though, it’s the latest thing all the cool kids are doing and everyone wants to talk about it.
This is all thanks to a book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. The book talks about tidying as a form of catharsis and a way to help us feel on top in a hectic world – and her fans have found it life changing.
Is the book any good? Sure! It’s a little happyish in places (she thanks her handbag at the end of every day for all its hard work) and it’s definitely aimed primarily at women…
But as a bit of encouragement and inspiration to live a tidier life it can certainly motivate you in the right direction. And there are some excellent tips contained within that really can help give you a kind of ‘psychological detox’.
Let’s take a look at some of them…
Have One, Big Sort
Marie Kondo recommends that you shouldn’t try and tidy a badly unclean room in lots of little fits and spurts. She believes that instead, it’s better to have one BIG go at getting your home in order so that life will be easier going forward and so you can devote some real time to organizing your things.
But she says you should do this as soon as you can…
Discarding Is the Priority
When you start on your big clean, the first thing you need to do is to get ruthless and start discarding items. She says you should do this before you start tidying, as it will help give you more space to work. You stop the discarding process at the point when you find yourself questioning whether you can fit an item in your drawer.
I’ve actually been a fan of throwing things out ever since I read another book: How to Save an Hour Every Day by Michael Heppell. In that book, Michael explained that if you have a box on your wardrobe or under your bed that you haven’t been in for over a month – you should throw it out because you won’t miss it.
And think of it this way: each time you throw something out, the average value of your remaining items goes up.
Ask: Does it Bring Me Joy?
The next question: how do you know what to throw out and what to keep?
Marie’s answer is that you should pick each item up, hold it in your hand and ask whether it brings you ‘joy’. If the answer is no (and it’s not valuable, necessary or sentimental), throw it out.
I take this simply to mean that you need to be really honest with yourself about whether something is really necessary and whether it really adds any value in your life. I have a desk toy I’m looking at right now and unfortunately, I can’t say with certainty that it brings me joy.
This is one slight issue with the system though: there are certainly ‘grades’ of joy. At which point do you decide an item is not joyous enough?
Don’t Let Others Be Present
During this process, you must make sure that no family members or friends are present.
Marie thinks it’s bad juju to give your old clothes to friends because this will only make it harder to part with things you really should – when your friend puts that item on and looks great, you’ll find yourself wanting it back!
And I have another point to make here: which is that some items are hard to throw out if you think your friend/partner/Mum is judging you for getting rid of it. Especially if they bought it for you! This is something you have to do on your own…
Respect Your Belongings
Earlier I scoffed at the idea of thanking an inanimate object at the end of the day, but Marie does have a point about respect. She believes that you should treat your items like an athlete treats their equipment, or like you might treat an ally or friend.
Once you take this attitude, the hope is that you’ll start to be more careful with your things and treat them with a little more respect. And in doing that, you should find you’re able to keep them in better condition and prevent them from becoming damaged, cluttered or ‘stuffed’ into little spaces where they don’t really belong. Stop balling up socks and cut the labels out of your clothes!
The last tip I’ll share from the book is that you should try folding your clothes vertically before placing them in your drawer. By doing this, you can then look at your clothes and see everything you own, all neatly lined up. This is significantly more useful than having to rummage underneath the top layer, which only ruins your ironing and makes more work!
There are lots more tips in the book, many of which can really help you to keep a tidier home and a more organized mind. Give it a look and you might just believe in the magic of tidying yourself!