It’s no secret I believe in living small, especially if you're a writer.
Marie Kondo’s new book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, caught my attention at the bookstore, so when a colleague said she was reading it, I decided to as well.
For the most part, I found myself nodding my head as I read-- Kondo talks about how a tidy space makes for a focused mind:
“We amass material things for the same reason that we eat--to satisfy a craving. Buying on impulse and eating and drinking to excess are attempts to alleviate stress. From observing my clients, I have noticed that when they part with excess clothing, their tummies tend to slim down, when they discard books and documents, their minds tend to become clearer, when they reduce the number of cosmetics and tidy up the area around the sink and bath, their complexion tends to become clear and their skin smooth.”
I believe environment impacts mindset; however, Kondo takes some things to the extreme.
For one, she greets her house every day--out loud-- and also shows appreciation for her clothes before putting them away by saying “Thank you for keeping me warm all day,” and does the same to her accessories by saying, “Thank you for making me beautiful.” I thought that was a bit over the top, but it makes sense since showing appreciation for objects and believing in their energy is at the heart of Kondo's organization method, which she calls the "KonMari Method."
She recommends tidying by category-- so instead of organizing the books just in the family room, for example, you’d physically move all the books in your house to one area and then handle each one by hand to determine whether or not it brings you joy. If it does, you keep it. If it doesn’t, you give it or throw it away. Only when you’re done discarding items do you then figure out how to store them.
“Once you learn to choose your belongings properly, you will be left only with the amount that fits perfectly in the space you currently own.”
I did take her advice on how to store my clothes, and I have way more space, plus my drawers look nicer. She also recommended hanging clothes in the closet so the longest items hang on the left, and the shortest items hang on the right, since the upward line is supposedly more visually pleasing to the eye-- believe what you will. My drawers sure look happier.
I also, for the most part, get rid of papers, which Kondo says are wholly unnecessary-- unless you can’t find the information online or store it digitally. The code that connects my universal remote to the TV always needs to be re-programmed, and I just Google the code rather than saving the manual. Every little bit of paper adds up to more clutter. If you like to keep journals or do some of your writing by hand, then keep everything in one place and keep only what you use or need.
When it comes to unread books, she also suggests eliminating them from your stockpile because usually they keep getting pushed back further and further in the queue. As a big reader, I get what she’s saying here-- sometimes I do go and pick up what’s unread on my bookshelves, but for the most part I buy a new book and read it right away, never looking at the ones that took me longer to get to. Although Kondo wouldn’t approve, the way I’m combatting this is by not buying anything new and just going through what’s on my shelf. Borrowing books from the library is another obvious option. Save the purchases for books you know you'll reread again and again.
If you’re interested in organization or are looking for a way to make major changes to your life but don’t know where to start, I recommend picking up this book. The spirit of what she’s saying is true, even if some of the details sound a bit intense. Cleaning up your physical space does wonders for the mind.
Learn more about the book here.*
You really don’t need a lot of objects to live comfortably. Although objects can bring joy and comfort, having too many can have the opposite effect, especially if you’re hanging on to things out of guilt or duty. In the end, things are just things that you can’t take with you when you die.
I hear heaven has books, though... whew.
*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.