I’d been hearing a lot about this book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, so I rented the audio book and finally got a chance to listen last week.
It was quite absorbing! While the author has a few (ahem) strange ideas that definitely dip a toe into the realm of magic, I overall found her principles solid and I certainly could use a lot of help in the area of decluttering. She focuses on retaining only those things you love (those that “spark joy”) and discarding the rest, and suggests a specific order in which the discarding must occur for maximum effectiveness. You start with categories, not rooms or areas. For instance, one of the categories is books. Instead of going bookshelf by bookshelf, you gather ALL the books from ALL the rooms into a central location and go from there.
I was inspired to get started right away, and the author recommends starting with clothing. She said the average person, before decluttering, has 160 tops! I couldn’t believe I had that many, until I actually started gathering. I’m not a clothes freak by any means and until I lost a lot of weight a couple years ago, I would only buy clothes about once every two or three years. Conversely, however, I never got rid of any clothes! So there were many years’ worth, some I hadn’t looked at in a decade – in the master closet, in the guest room closet, taking up an entire dresser and hanging in the laundry room. I gathered everything onto the couch, and it filled the entire couch plus the back of the couch!
I divided everything into four piles: keep, give to charity, throw away, sell. The last category consists of very nice clothes that I’ll send to ThredUp, an online consignment store, so I’ll at least get a little bit of return on my investment. Ms. Kondo says it’s imperative not to worry about what things cost or that you’ll be “wasting” money by giving items away or throwing them away, and that’s a good mind-set to have. But consigning my nicer clothes does help me feel better about letting them go.
So I set to work at that big pile of clothing. After almost three hours, I had looked at and considered each item and kept only those I really love. I filled NINE tall kitchen trash bags with clothes to give away, two bags with clothes to sell and one bag with clothes to throw away (I tend to wear my indoor clothes to tatters!). When I’d started, there were less than ten empty hangers in the house. When I finished, there were 118! I now have enough room in one closet for all my clothes, plus I can now hang up all my jeans and there are two empty dresser drawers! The plan going forward is to buy only what I love, and it makes sense. I could have five “meh” shirts bought because they’re on sale – or I could have one incredible, beautiful and amazing shirt that I love for the same price. I thought it would be frightening to have significantly fewer clothes, but it feels just the opposite – like a burden has been lifted and that ALL my choices of what to wear are good ones. It’s so nice to look in both closets and see actual space!
So what did I keep? All the jeans that fit me (because I love them!); 28 blouses; 6 T-shirts, 6 pairs of shorts and 4 pairs of yoga pants for wearing indoors, all the bras that fit and all the socks that didn’t have holes in them (I own very few of each, so there wasn’t a need to cull them for excess). I didn’t get rid of any outerwear (coats, jackets, sweaters) because I don’t have many, nor did I cull any shoes, as I own fewer than 15 pairs – though I imagine that would be a bugaboo for some! 🙂
Next up will be the books. I’ve already started gathering them and look forward to paring them down in the next few days. My bookshelves are currently stacked two-deep and overflowing!