Wednesday, 18 November 2015

How Marie Kondo changed my life (or not)

I caught the Kondo bug a wee while ago, in the middle of a bedroom decorating/sorting project. The timing was perfect: I was already in the mood for getting rid of stuff, and I devoured her book (the magic art of tidying and decluttering) for insights, tips and know-how.

I wrote about my thoughts at the time, and I've been thinking about it all again - since I find myself on the brink of another purge. Did any of it make a difference? Was it just another clutter diet/decluttering recipe book to add to the pile and quickly forget? 

First things first: I have not Kondoed the whole of my home/life in the way that she advocates. I live with 4 other people (one adult, three children) and they have their own stuff, only some of which I have influence over!

I have approached some things (e.g. clothes) fairly systematically in the way that Marie Kondo suggests. Most is hanging in my wardrobe, and the rest is folded - in the Kondo way - in drawers. I really like her approach - being able to see everything easily in one place. It makes it easier to see what you have got; it makes it harder to forget things; it makes it easier to rotate and vary your outfits. 

One of the consequences of placing folded clothes on their edges (in drawers), rather than putting them in piles, is that it allows for effortless rotation. I already did this for my handknit socks, but I now also do it for underwear too: freshly laundered and folded items are added at the back of the drawer, while items to be worn are almost always taken from the front (I do make the occasional exception!) This means that each item is now being worn regularly. There are numerous advantages to this: less time needed for dressing in the mornings; everything is getting worn - so favourites are lasting longer, and old things don't languish for ages before they are discarded.

I have also been working on gathering things into single locations - another of Kondo's central tenets - everything together. I recently found myself looking holding a handbag and wondering where to put it. A wee whisper in my head told me to put it with the other bags - and so I did. I'm working on this with the children's toys too - but that's a rather steeper mountain to climb(!)

Apart from these rather practical things, one of the more personal changes has been about joy and enjoyment. Although asking yourself whether a particular book or vase or thing brings you joy seems rather, um, pretentious, I have come back to the idea of joy several times when trying to decide what to do with something. Using joy as a benchmark is good because it cuts through the 'I should keep it because...' dialogues; it's a high hurdle - and it gives me permission to get rid of things. And, you know, I can't think of anything (so far) that I have regretted giving away.

Another by-product of Kondo, has been an appreciation for the fit between space and stuff. I realise (maybe I'm just late to the party here?) that it is possible - to make stuff fit into the space allocated. If it doesn't fit, then the strategy should be to make it fit, not accommodate the overflow somewhere else.  I am slowly coming to the conclusion - thanks to Marie Kondo - that my next step is to deal with my stash. It no longer fits into its hidey holes, and is starting to encroach on and into all sorts of places where it doesn't belong. I have to make it fit into the space allocated. Nibbling away at the edges with a project here and project there is unlikely to do it, and I need to do something a lot more radical. I'm not sure what, but it's going to be my priority for 2016. If you've got any suggestions, I'd love to hear them!

Has Marie Kondo's book changed my life? Yes, and no. My home is far from clutter free, and far from tidy, but some of it is more organised, and the transformation is gradual rather than radical. Readers might also like to know that my husband now folds and arranges his drawers in the same way as Kondo. That's life changing! 

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