Are you ready for the next phase of your life but still living in a place that looks like your previous incarnation? Does your house look like teenagers still live there but your kids are all grown now and live in their own place? Are you starting over with a new life still surrounded by all your old stuff? Then now’s a great time to turn your place into something that reflects who you are now – and who you want to become.
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I’ll tell you a secret – I love organizing. I happily sort my things into piles. I am a ruthless discarder. I turn all my hangers in the same direction. But organizing does not love me back. I get things all nicely organized in one place and go on to the next project only to find that my first project has gone back to its old bad habits while my back was turned.
But I am always ever optimistic that my next try will be the one that will finally “take”; that this new organizing system will finally be the one I can lean on forever and will turn me into the neat person I just know is living inside of me.
I turned, as always, to a book for help. The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo has been a bit of a sensation for the past year or so. It’s a New York Times best-seller and I’ve read countless other blog articles about it.
The first sentence of the book is mildly ambitious:
In this book, I have summed up how to put your space in order in a way that will change your life forever.
This seems like this might be the book for me.
Marie Kondo promises that if I follow her system I will never revert to clutter again and, as an added bonus, attract dramatic changes in my life such losing ten pounds, attracting new business, and gaining new love.
I don’t mean to sound flippant when I write that. I truly believe that cleaning up your living space to make room for the life you are working toward can take you closer to that life. It’s the ultimate “dress for the job you want, not the job you have”. So clearing out the clutter of our previous life is a great way to make room for the next phase of our new life.
So what is Marie Kondo’s method, which she calls the KonMari Method? To appreciate it, you really do need to read the entire book – a short easy read; but here are few highlights:
- Before you start, visualize your destination. Where do you want to be when you finish your organizing process? What is your ideal lifestyle and why do you want it?
- Focus on one category at a time, not one room or area at a time. The best sequence is clothes, books, papers, miscellany and finally, mementos.
- Discarding must come first. When you begin to organize, gather everything from the category you are organizing, place it all on the floor and go through it all. Discard everything you don’t need and then, only when you are done discarding, begin putting things away.
- As you go through all your belongings, ask yourself: does it spark joy? If the answer is no, don’t keep it. It’s as simple as that.
- Save mementos for last. If you start with mementos, you’ll get too bogged down in memories.
- Make Tidying a special event, not a daily chore. If you a do a little a day, you’ll never finish. Although she doesn’t say you can organize your whole home in one big job; she estimates it will take about six months to do it right.
So, can this book change my life and make me the organized person I know I am inside? Well, let’s see together. I’m currently using the process to organize my clothes. I also plan to use KonMari method to organize the rest of my house over the next six months and will publish Before and After shots as I do.
The proof of the pudding, of course, will be in whether this is a system that truly lasts forever, as promised. So I will continue to follow-up on my previous projects as I move forward.