This is part one of a six part series I will be writing over the next weeks.
Full disclosure — I love books on tidying, cleaning, organizing, and eco-friendly household tips.
I took Adria Vasil’s Ecoholic to bed with me every night for a month several years ago. I spent hours pouring over the information on ecologically-responsible cleaning products, bedding, kitchen things, and cosmetics. It actually sparked my changeover to all non-toxic cleaning products in my own home.
Another book I really enjoyed was Ellen Sandbeck’s Green Housekeeping. I absorbed the tips on fabric softeners, how much cleaning fabrics really needed, food safety, and choosing appliances. It too accompanied me to bed, but for not quite as many days.
Over the years, I have perused Martha Stewart’s books on organizing and had long-running subscriptions for several home and lifestyle magazines.
Needless to say, I was not looking for another book on tidying.
So Popular I Had Not Heard of It
My friend E and I were walking through a Montreal bookstore when she told me her cousin had recommended this new cleaning book to her. It was supposed to be really good. So good, there were over 1100 holds on it in the Ottawa library system.
“How good could it be?” I thought to myself.
Upon my return from our trip, I found an article summarizing it. I sent it over to E.
“Now there’s no need to read the whole book,” I wrote in my comments. And, indeed, I never intended to read it myself.
Fast forward three weeks and, not only have I read the darn book, but I’m writing an article on it on my blog AND have committed to doing the program it details as my overarching summer project. That’s movement.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Marie Kondo has written a petit how-to guide on clearing the clutter of our homes once and for all. It really encapsulates one principal: Your home should only include things that spark joy in you.
I know — it seems a little overly hopeful that we would only ever have things in our home that are joyful but, and this is Marie Kondo’s point, why would you want anything less than special in your space? Rent and mortgages are too expensive to waste space on things that are not up to par.
She goes even further, though. She completely sells the reader on what a completely tidy home can mean: everything in it’s natural spot, time and energy to enjoy your home rather than clearing all the time, and — this is the kicker — no rebounds back to a cluttered house. Huh. No rebounds? I’m in.
An End to Purging that Never Ends
The interesting thing is that I had already done a purge just before leaving for Montreal. I had just — that morning, in fact — schlepped my purged items to the donation centre. So, now I was sitting on my patio reading this book and thinking about all the things I had missed. All the items that I could easily, now, release. If felt like a revelation.
It was odd to me that just a few weeks before, I had gone through all my closets save one and all my rooms, except my office, and had painfully (painfully) chosen items that didn’t need to be there any more. I had piled them up, asked friends and family if they wanted (read: wanted to save) any of the items I was about to betray. My policy thus far had been A Home Forever. That was about to change and I was a little sick over it.
But now I know that I didn’t go far enough. According to Marie Kondo, a more extreme version of decluttering and purging is needed. When you think you might be throwing away too much, keep going, using one guiding question when you touch the item whose fate you’re contemplating: Does it spark joy for you?
When do you have the right amount of stuff left over? Kondo writes that there will be a click. You will know that this is the right amount of items and in the right proportions. For instance, some of us will be happier with 100 shoes and one cooking pot while some will need to have a larger number of kitchen appliances and two pair of shoes. It’s all personal. It’s all about what is joyful for you.
The Secret Sauce
The secret to Kondo’s program seems to be the way she gets people to declutter: all at once in a multi-day (sometimes multi-month) marathon and by category — not by room. By the way, she does a very good job of explaining why this is her method.
She also spends quite a bit of time explaining how to get everything you do keep into your space — without purchasing expensive organizational products and systems.
My Summer of Tidying
I have committed to doing the KonMari program, as she calls it. I’m terrified. And excited.
I’m most worried that I will naked after purging my clothes. I don’t really enjoy clothes shopping and often purchase what will do and what fits fine for now. There are very few things that I buy because they’re wonderful. I may be wearing two items for a few weeks until I can replenish with the right items.
I will update my progress as this all goes along. I’m hoping for an easy time, but know that there will be difficult moments. I think this is an important exercise for me to go through right now and I think this is the right summer to do it.