The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up

Minimalism, as a concept, appeals to me.

I find clear surfaces soothing. Clutter has always felt chaotic. I believe that when one is encumbered by too much stuff, it's harder to derive joy from things which are truly precious.  

The trouble is, becoming (more) minimalist requires release. Like most people, I find it hard to throw away things that might be useful someday, that I paid good money for, or to which I have an emotional attachment. 

This weekend I read a book that's begun to change all that. Yesterday, riding high on the motivation of Marie Kondo's The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I began the long overdue process of decluttering The Spring Cottage. 

There are, I'm sure, more relaxing ways to spend a day off than turning my home upside down in order to discard bags and bags of once loved belongings.

But the clutter had brought me to my breaking point. In the wake of Showroom's move from Paddington to the Brisbane CBD, bits and pieces from the old shop that weren't needed in the new one came home with me. Our small house was already bursting at its seams with things N and I have carted from home to home over the past seven years - I can't tell you how much stuff we have from our student days in England still stashed under beds and in wardrobes... Stuff we haven't needed for years and don't even like! The result? Not a whole lot of visible floorspace in the rooms where we come to wind down at the end of a long day.

Marie Kondo's method is for removing stuff in pursuit of a more ideal lifestyle is as sensitive as it is simple, and that's what I like best about it. Here're the basics of her approach.

1. Discard first, store later.

Kondo believes that you can’t organize clutter. The first step is to get rid of everything you don’t need.

2. Tidying is a special event.

What Kondo calls tidying is purging to the rest of us. Her point, though, is that purging excess stuff thoroughly one time results in a shift so wonderfully profound that you'll never end up in a messy semi-hoarding state again. 

3. Storage experts miss the point.

Putting things in drawers and closets creates only the illusion that the clutter problem has been solved. Organised clutter is still clutter. 

4. Sort by category, not location.

Don't tidy room by room. Rather, sort through every item you own by category in the following order: clothes, books, papers, miscellany, then mementos. The idea is to start with the things that are most replaceable with the least amount of sentimental value so you can practice making quick decision about what to keep and what to remove. 

5. The spark of joy.

How do you decide what to keep and what to throw away? Kondo's method is to hold each possession in your hands and think about how it makes you feel. If this item sparks joy, you should keep it. If it doesn’t, don't. NB: Important documents are the one exception to this rule, but there are fewer of these than you’d think.

6. Embrace vertical storage. 

Kondo's method centres around taking care of your possessions by showing them respect and gratitude - crushing things at the bottom of stacks is an organisational no-no: it encourages you to keep too much stuff because you can stack much more than you can store vertically and stacking is hard on the things at the bottom. 

7. Learn how to fold.

Kondo is adamant about proper folding technique, which I love because it enables you to store clothes standing up rather than laid flat. The great thing is that you can see everything in a drawer at a glance when you fold this way, which really helps me keep track of what I have and what my options are for getting dressed in the morning. 

For a demonstration of the Kondo method for folding various clothing items, I like this video series: 

Catherine Roberts