On the benefits of tidying up

cleaning up

I recently read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and it got me thinking. My previous attempts to keep my room neat would last about a day until the papers, books and most probably morning coffee cups started to pile up. Everytime I opened my anything goes in here drawer, I would find something that I had forgotten about. Sometimes these treasures would be useful (my other charger) and sometimes they were well past their sell by dates (an expired massage voucher!). My stuff was getting to me.

The KonMari Method, which is advocated in the book, is simple.  It is a category by category system, and tells you to only keep stuff that sparks joy. Simple, but not easy.


STEP 1: Take everything out and place it all in the same room This way you can see exactly how much stuff you have. It also makes it easier to sort stuff out into the keep or throw away pile.

STEP 2: Does this item spark joy? If yes, keep it. If not, toss it.

STEP 3: Categorise it  This helps you keep your space tidy as you understand the logic so you always put it back there.

dear diary

DAY 1: I started with my clothes. I had quite a few items sorted into different categories in my cupboard already. Like the I can wear this when I lose weight or the I can wear this when I lose a lot of weight. Once my clothes were on my bedroom floor, I immediately realised that I had way too many. If I wore a clean T-shirt every day, I would only have to do laundry once a month.  All of the clothes I didn’t keep were going to charity. This made it much easier for me – is this a nice to have or does someone else need it more.

DAY 2:  I have loads of books (shelves at my mom’s place and some here), and they are like children to me. Whenever I loan them out, I keep a record and have no shame asking for them back (even if a year has passed). This was going to be tough. I decided that I would only keep a book if a) I was going to read it again,  b) I hadn’t read it yet or c) it was a book that I would refer to over and over again.  8 books didn’t make the cut and now my bookshelf is a lot neater. These books will go to the second hand store, when I finally take them there. I haven’t managed to part with them quite yet.

DAY 3: My drawers were next. I dreaded this because I knew that since I had moved in, I had just thrown stuff in. The only drawer that had any sense of order, was the first one because it contained stuff I needed everyday. I had quite a few sentimental items stuffed in there that I hadn’t seen in about 4 years. There was no point in keeping these. Collect memories, not things. It’s a great feeling to be able to open and close a drawer without having to use brute force.

DAY 4: No wonder I had had trouble sleeping. My bed side tables were filled with clutter and items that did not spark joy. I carefully selected what I wanted in my immediate surroundings, and chose only calming things. Like my critter coasters, great books and some pictures.

“Don’t own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire.” – Wendell Berry

What tidying up taught me:

  • I had a lot of stuff
  • I realised how much of my stuff wasn’t important to me
  • And the stuff that was hard to let go of, reminded me of what I needed to work on
  • I rediscovered stuff I had forgotten about
  • I also had a lot of stuff that defnitely did not spark joy – so why keep this in your personal space?
  • It has reduced impulse buying. I picture that pile/moutain of clothes I got rid of and realise I have more than enough.
  • If I do buy stuff, I immediately ask myself “Where will this live?” and “Why do I want it?”
  • It has made me more decisive
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