Remember my last post when I said I was going to be better about getting my posts done? Then yesterday when I failed to post Tidy Up Tuesday?
Yeah…. I logged off the computer around 9:30 pm or so (early for me) and read for a while on my couch. Then at about midnight I realized I never posted. So…. I’m making up for it today.
I won’t lie friends, keeping up the tidying momentum is hard. I haven’t been doing a little bit every day, as I’d hoped, for the past couple weeks. I am keeping up with making sure the drawers remain awesome looking.
This is my 4 year old’s sock/underwear/PJ/dancewear drawer.
Small boxes work great to keep small items like socks and tights in order. (I don’t fold kid socks the KonMari way, that’s just asking for chaos!)
I did make a little more progress in my bedroom, conquering the clutter on my dresser.
Ugh. What a mess! The pile on the left is items set aside to sell or donate, they just never made it to the bins. There’s a package of dried out baby wipes. Our “baby” turned four last fall, why do we still have baby wipes floating around???
SO much better now! The small boxes on the left are holding the various small things my husband left on the dresser, like gift cards he received for Christmas and a lint roller. I used the boxes our Galaxy S5’s came in (after throwing out all of the paperwork that came with the phones. We haven’t looked at those papers in the year since we bought the phones, it’s time to let it go!)
Hopefully by next week I’ll have made more progress. I just need to pick something and do it, but when there’s so much clutter, it’s hard to know where to start. Now that I’m past the clothing and paperwork, it’s the “komono” (aka miscellaneous) items. And there’s no specific order, so it’s a little overwhelming. I may have to consult my book again and consider my options.
My husband had friends over this past Sunday, so he made a lot of progress shifting the clutter in the basement around, so it looks like a livable space. That’s somewhat inspiring to really go through the crap down there and, at the very least, pull out the boxes set for Goodwill and throw them in the back of my van. Goodwill is maybe a five minute drive from my house, but it’s hard to be motivated to leave the house when it’s so cold and snowy out.
First, let me show you how good my four-year-old daughters drawers are looking these days. Both she and my (almost) nine-year-old daughter are so excited by their nice organized dressers. I love it!
Her shirt drawer before….. what a mess! It was hard to find anything.
Her shirt drawer after! It’s so gorgeous! Picking out her clothes for the day is so easy now, she can just look in and point to which one she wants.
Now, the KonMari Method is very specific about the order in which you tidy. Just like I was a rebel to read her second book, Spark Joy, before reading her original book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I’m working slightly out of order as I feel inspired.
BOOKS & PAPERS
After clothes you’re supposed to tidy up your papers and books.
Books is an easy one for me, I’m keeping them all at this time. I cleared out my books last summer and do not yet feel the need to purge any more of them. I’m sure I will soon. KonMari says to get rid of books you’ve read (I’m keeping my favorites, thank you very much!) and the ones you have not read, because if you haven’t read it yet, chances are you never will. Again, I disagree. I bought my books because they looked interesting, I will get around to reading them eventually, and if they don’t become favorites I plan to read again, I will bring them in to Half-Price Books or donate them at that time.
Papers, on the other hand, are my Kryptonite. I can’t count the number of times I’ve given up on tidying because I just don’t know what to do with papers. Sure I’ll recycle a bunch, maybe shred a few (or more likely, put in a shred pile to deal with later), and then there’s the pile of stuff I just don’t know what to do with, so it gets shuffled to the side instead of dealt with.
Let me tell you, until you’ve cleared out your papers, you don’t know relief.
I do have a few papers left to deal with, but they’re bills to be paid once I figure out how to access the health credit money I received at the end of 2015. Then the paperwork is caught up with!
Papers to recycle in the paper bag, and papers to file or “deal with” in the yellow. That magazine? I can’t tell you how long I’ve had it. Over a year. I don’t even know where I got it! I feel no remorse in ridding myself of both the magazine or the pile of other magazines in the bag below!
Look at those beautiful ribbons of paper! Would you believe I found and shred a car insurance statement from 2006? For a vehicle we haven’t owned since 2007? No joke. I wish I could tell you why we still had that. No, I can tell you why. It was not wanting to deal with the piles of papers in my life (including those that were filed away, out of sight and (mostly) out of mind!)
My linen closet is tiny. Seriously, it’s ridiculous how small this thing is. And we have a lot of stuff. More than anyone could need or want. Because I’m a rebel, I didn’t purge as much as I really should, but I know I will. And for now, everything fits, and it fits a lot better than it did before.
Mind you, I didn’t really touch the top shelf. That’s cleaning supplies and that’s a challenge for another day, but you can see on the second to top shelf how nicely organized everything looks now. Initially I’d had these soft plastic baskets from the dollar store (the one in the closet was bright pink, but I have other colors in the house as well), but because they were round they didn’t really work to stand things up nicely. Everything was always toppling over in there. They do work great as a little laundry or waste basket, but it didn’t work for what I was trying to use it for.
One of the thing KonMari has her clients do is take empty boxes and use them to organize. I don’t have any shoe boxes at the moment, but even better, I found that cute Minnie Mouse tin which contained bath products my daughter received a couple years ago for Christmas, and I kept forgetting about! I took everything out so that they can go into rotation when their current bath soaps runs out, and now it houses all of the travel size bottles of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, baby powder and lotion (and a couple full sized bottles too.) The little blue basket I bought for the nursery when I was pregnant with my youngest who is now four. That’s filled with toothpaste, toothbrushes, and free samples. If you need to pull something out, you don’t need to dig around blindly in the closet, simply pull out the box and find what you need, then replace it.
Speaking of free samples, I’m a bit of a hoarder when it comes to those. As soon as I finish off the bottles of various products in the shower now, I’m going to start in on the samples. They do me no good sitting there in their shiny plastic pouches.
As for towels, I need to pack some up. I have way too many right now. I know as soon as I stock up on T.P. again, I’m going to have nowhere to put them, so that bottom shelf of towels is going to have to go.
(Don’t mind my poorly Photoshopped closet photos. The wall is only… 3 feet, maybe? from the closet, so the only way to get a full shot is to stand to the side and then piece them together. Anyway, you get the picture. 😉 )
KITCHEN TOWELS / WASH CLOTHS
In addition to my house having tiny bedrooms and a tiny linen closet, we also have ridiculous drawers in our kitchen. They look beautiful, but they’re not the most practical. They’re either too narrow, too shallow, or both!
Trying to dig through to find a wash cloth among the towels (and no, there’s no space to keep them in separate drawers) was a real chore. Not to mention trying to close the drawer when we’re done! No more. The KonMari folding method works for towels, too!
In her book, KonMari talks about how oftentimes when her clients go through their things and get them straightened out and organized, they want to go out and buy prettier items to replace those that have seen better days. That’s how I feel about my towels and dishcloths. But you know what? For now they get the job done, never mind that some of the towels have holes burned in them (oops?) and the dishrags are falling apart (they were cheap, what do you expect?)
Someday I’ll get my hands on nicer, newer towels. Until then I’ll be happy with just being able to reach in and grab exactly what I’m looking for!
“Live Simple… But Significant” Words to live by on my new shirt. (Ignore the poor quality, nighttime cell phone photos rarely turn out well.)
That’s my progress for the week! Slow and steady, working to the end goal.
I’ll leave you with one last image.
We went shopping for hubby to get new shirts (he outgrew or wore out most of what was in his drawers, so we rid ourselves of them, and had to supply him with new shirts.)
I browsed the clearance racks for myself, looking for anything that would cause me to feel that spark of joy.
I found this shirt: it fit properly, it felt comfortable, it was under $5, and it contains words of wisdom… words I’m trying to live my life by:
“Live Simple…. But Significant”
Best of all? When I tried it on, it sparked joy. It’s now one of my favorite pieces of my wardrobe.
I was incredibly lucky to have received a copy of Spark Joy from Goodreads First To Read Program.
Warning: This is going to be a long review, because this is a book I am passionate about.
~ This book is magic for those who are ready to say goodbye to the mess. ~
Let me tell you something, this book came into my life for a reason. I don’t belong on hoarders, but given more time and a little less motivation to keep tidy, I could. My clutter is all over, and I didn’t know how to get started and keep the momentum going. There’s a reason Marie Kondo’s first book is called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The KonMari Method is life changing. At least for me.
NOTE: This book contains little illustrations to better understand some of the folding and organizing techniques, but there are no actual photographs. There are not a lot of illustrations, but they certainly add a nice bit of charm to the book and were helpful for me.
P. 38 – “We can only transform our lives if we sincerely want to.”
In full disclosure, I did not read the first book. I’m not sure if I would have read this book had I not won a free copy, but boy am I glad I did. (And upon finishing this book, I went out and bought the first!) Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ve probably heard of Marie Kondo (aka KonMari) and her Japanese art of tidying. If not, it’s okay. I’ll explain.
In a nutshell – this is a book for people who know they need to declutter their homes and lives, but are not really sure how or where to begin. (Raises hand.) That’s me.
First of all, she starts off telling you that you should really read her first book prior to reading Spark Joy. I’m a rebel. I didn’t. I think if you’re already at that point where you know you need to make changes to the way you live and tidy, then you can go ahead in good conscience and keep reading. She then goes on to tell you to imagine what your ideal lifestyle and home would look like, and encourages you to find images for inspiration. (Pinterest anyone?) This will help inspire you to keep going. (I skipped this step, I should really do it soon!)
It’s quite obvious that tidying is a spiritual thing for KonMari as much as it is a practical thing. When dealing with your clutter you’re supposed to ask yourself “Does this spark joy?” It sounds so incredibly cheesy, but it’s an affirmation that works, even for someone non-spiritual. She even talks about things that don’t spark joy but you know you need, and how to find the joy in them. (Like tools for repairs around the home, unless you’re a tool aficionado, you probably don’t feel joy when you see your tools. But when you’ve got a loose screw, I guarantee you’ll feel joy once you have your screwdriver in hand and that screw is no longer loose.)
She also touches on the difference between cleaning and tidying. I’ve always used them interchangeably, but there really is a difference. You pull out your Mr. Clean or vinegar spray to clean, but you put things where they belong when you tidy.
There’s a section, on page 31, called ‘The Clutter Photo Shock Treatment.’ This is actually something I do myself. I take photos before I start tidying and I post them to Facebook. Essentially, I hang my dirty laundry for the world to see. I own my clutter and my shame. After I post my “after photo”, (which isn’t often enough…) the words of affirmation from my friends and family are motivating to do more.
P. 37 – “People who see themselves as bad at tidying have simply never known the right way to do it and therefore have never experienced what it’s like to have a tidy house.”
But, the clutter keeps piling up because I don’t get rid of stuff. And let’s talk about stuff. Do we really need all the stuff we have in our lives? KonMari says no and I agree. But it’s hard to let go. What I love about this book is that it tells you it’s okay to let go. I know, it sounds stupid, why should I take the advice of a book when I already know it’s okay to let stuff go, I just won’t? For me, I think it’s because I’m reading someone else’s words. Someone else is telling me, “Hey, do you really need those photos from your 10th grade Snow Daze dance? When was the last time you looked at them? Do you even talk to those people anymore?” And, honestly, the answer is no. I don’t need to keep them. Especially since I long ago scanned them into the computer and put them in a Facebook album. There’s absolutely no need for me to hang onto the physical prints anymore. It’s been over 15 years. Letting them go is like a weight off my shoulders.
Organizing by category is key and probably one of the reasons I’ve failed so often in my own tidying sprees in the past. “Remember to store things of a similar nature to each other. Storing should go very smoothly if you repeat this step each time.” This means, keep your clothes together (obviously. Exception being things like Winter jackets, those would go in your entry closet with other things belonging in the ‘outerwear category.’) Other examples might be to keep all of your electronics together (perhaps keep your digital camera in your desk drawer to near your computer.) You might have a hobby area of storage. There’s no wrong way to categorize, as long as it makes sense and works for you.
Perhaps KonMari is best known for her clothing storage – essentially, storing your clothing folded upright. Search YouTube for “KonMari Method Folding” and you’ll see exactly what she means. It’s amazing how much more you can fit when you fold this way. It wasn’t until I organized my drawers and could see all of my graphic tees laid out, that I realized how much joy they bring. (It was also at that point when I realized I own an absolutely ridiculous number of socks!) When I see my Hogwarts tee in line with my Green M&M and Transformers tees, I just feel happy. Previously they were hanging in my closet where I had to dig and dig to find them. No more!
The ONE thing I don’t necessarily agree with KonMari on is books. As a lover of books, it’s hard for me to part with my favorites. On page 125 she says, “We read books because we seek the experience of reading. Once read, a book has already been ‘experienced.’” While this is true, it doesn’t mean the book needs to go. My Harry Potter books will forever stay on my shelf because they bring me joy, (I like diving back into the world of Hogwarts), along with my Meg Cabot Mediator and 1-800-Missing books and my Vampire Academy and Bloodlines books by Richelle Mead. However, you may find that you’ve outgrown some of your books and have no desire to read them again, and seeing them on your shelf does not bring you joy. They’re just wasting precious real estate. So, I do agree on giving your book collection a ‘Joy Check’, but don’t just ditch them because KonMari says to. Just be choosy.
Before I even finished the book, I started my journey. My clothes are reorganized; I was able to remove a dresser from my over cluttered bedroom (houses built in the 50’s were not built for the lifestyles of people today!) I still have to actually physically remove some of the items from my home, but it’s done – for myself, my husband, and both my young children. I’ve also started step 2, which is the books and papers. When you realize it’s 2016 and you’ve got a car insurance statement from 2006 for a vehicle that want kaput in 2007, you know you’re overdue on shredding and need to reassess which papers to keep and which to ditch.
One more thing to add, I think some people believe KonMari wants you to ditch absolutely everything and live a minimalist lifestyle. To an extent, that’s true, she encourages you to downsize and get rid of what you don’t need and what no longer brings you joy. However, she has little stories peppered in the book, including a few about clients who absolutely love an item, but it really doesn’t have a purpose, so they’re willing to say goodbye. However, she stops them and asks, does it bring you joy? And if the answer is yes, she helps them find a way to display it in their home. My ceramic dragon and faerie figurines bring me joy, I’m not going to let them go just because they don’t serve a practical purpose. Their purpose is to bring me joy when I look at them. So, don’t come into this book expecting to be told to ditch everything you own, because that’s not the case.
Once upon a time, there was a girl who was a self-professed pack rat. The girl had a hard time letting anything go because it “might be useful someday” or “it still has life left. I can’t just throw it away” — among other excuses.
The girl met a boy and they got married. Together they had two daughters. The boy didn’t like to pick up after the daughters. The daughters didn’t like to pick up after themselves, either. The girl didn’t have the time or energy to pick up after everyone in the house, including herself.
Before she knew it, the girl was living in a home that looked like this:
Note: These photos were NOT all taken on the same day. Most were taken while the rooms were “in the process” of being “sorted.” The problem I run into is that nothing ever ends up actually sorted, but rather it’s shuffled from one place to another!
The girl and her family simply had too many possessions.
The girl knew she needed to do something about it, and many times, she tried. She pulled out old clothes, books, toys, and so on, listing them in online sale sites and putting them in garage sales in the summer. Some things sold, but most did not. The clutter continued to pile up.
Then one day, the girl decided she would try to win some books through the Goodreads First to Read program. She entered many book giveaways that day and was pleasantly surprised the next day to discover she had been selected as a winner. Which book did she win, you ask?
Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
The girl had heard of Marie Kondo and her organizing methods, but had never read her book. During the summer, only months earlier, the girl had been working in her local Target store talking to store guests about ThredUp.com, encouraging them to clean out their closets and consider sending their unwanted clothing items to Thred-Up in exchange for a Target gift card. On two separate occasions, the girl was told about Marie Kondo and her KonMarie Method. The girl jotted the name down, and then promptly forgot to ever look it up. Inspired by the company she was promoting, she did clear out some clothing items.
With her book win, it seemed as though fate had stepped in. When the book arrived at the girls home mere days later, she immediately jumped in, devouring the pages. She read right up until bedtime, then spent quite a long time laying in bed, trying to fall asleep while thinking about how she was wasting time on sleep, and instead should be purging her wardrobe of unwanted and unneeded items. Purging herself of possessions that no longer spark joy.
The thus began the girls (ongoing) journey from pack-rat to minimalist……….
This is my story. My life. For reasons I really can’t identify, I have a hard time letting things go. I know they’re just possessions. I know that in most cases they can be replaced. I still can’t bring myself to let things go.
Anyone who has seen the TV show Hoarders can tell you that this is a psychological issue. The struggle is real. While I’m no where near as bad as the cases profiled on Hoarders, my family does have a problem and I’m the only one who can fix it.
In Spark Joy by Marie Kondo (which I will be reviewing soon – promise!) the reader is encouraged to read the original book first (The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering an Organizing.) Being the rebel that I am, I jumped right in on Spark Joy because, well, I already had it. From what I gather, the main reason to read the first book first is to help the reader really decide to tidy up. I was already at that point. She states at one point in the book that some people really need to hit rock bottom before they can start really tidying up their homes, and therefore, their lives. Rock bottom is where I am. I’ve been here for a while and tidying has always failed for me.
Before I talk more about the KonMarie Method, check out my mess of a bedroom. I’ve been in my house going on 7 years now. From almost day 1 it’s looked like this. We have simply too much stuff and we don’t know how to store it. Thankfully, with the things I’ve learned, we’re getting there.
This is a somewhat sloppy panorama of three walls of my bedroom, which I put together in Photoshop, using photos taken on my smartphone. There was about 1 foot to walk between the light colored dressers and the bed. About another foot between the side of the bed and the wall not pictured. It was NOT fun. What you can’t see, is on the floor next to the light colored dressers are a couple of laundry baskets full of miscellaneous items, most of which have no business being in the bedroom! I’ve tripped in the dark many times.
Lesson 1: Clothing
The KonMari Method has you start with clothing. Gather up every piece of clothing you own in one place. Then sort through it, hold it in your hands or try it on if you must, and feel it. Does it spark joy? If yes, keep it with confidence! If not, say goodbye.
Oh snap! I had no clue I had this many articles of clothing. (This doesn’t even count what was in the FULL laundry hamper!) It’s more than enough for me, and I have friends who are shocked at how little I have! (Please note, I left my husbands clothing alone. Only he can decide what does or does not spark joy. We did, however, go through his dresser a day or two later and got rid of a bunch, only to realize he hasn’t purchased many new shirts in a good 8-1o years! Then we went shopping.)
There’s a lot of talk that can inspire some eye rolling, especially those of us raised in America. Marie Kondo literally wants you to say goodbye and thank the items you’re getting rid of. It sounds hokey, I know, but I promise it can help, at least it did for me. She talks of items that spark joy, which can be hard to imagine at first. I didn’t really know what she was talking about, until it happened.
I had two identical hoodies in different colors. I put the blue one on and thought to myself, This fits. It’s comfortable. I guess it sparks joy? I’ll keep it for now, I can always change my mind later.
THEN I put on the purple hoodie. A small smile spread across my lips as I looked into the mirror and realized this purple hoodie sparked far more joy than it’s blue counterpart. With confidence I put the blue in the ‘get rid of’ pile and moved the purple to the ‘keep’ pile. I may still get rid of the purple one in the future, but for now, I’m choosing to keep it with confidence.
The purple hoodie was my first feeling of joy during this process, but not the last. The ultimate joy I felt during my clean up was when I picked up my Harry Potter graphic tee. As soon as it was spread in front of me a grin broke across my face. There was absolutely no thinking required, this is one of my favorite items and I was keeping it.
Letting go of items we once loved can be hard. But looking at them practically is helpful. I have a pink and white striped shirt with a hood which my sister gave me a couple years ago when it no longer fit her. It was one of my favorite tops to wear. As I went through my clothing I realized it had a small hole in the back. In the past I might have decided to hang onto it for a few more wears, or until the hole got bigger, but no more. The shirt had a good run. I loved it while it was whole, but having a hole in my shirt is not the image I want to project to the world. I didn’t just throw the shirt in the trash (or in my case, recycling, because we can recycle lines in my city), instead I held it in my hands one last time and said a silent goodbye. It was peaceful. (I know, this sounds super lame. But remember when I talked about Hoarders before? It’s a psychological thing. Trust me. No regrets throwing it away.)
This is the closet before “the purge.” Somewhere around the middle separates my clothing from my husbands. (The yellow board game is right about the start of his side.) And as you can see, the bottom is cluttered. We also have some clothing items scattered on the floor. (The floor stuff is 100% his fault! That’s his side of the bed!) At the very bottom we have a couple of nice drawers which were not being put to very good use.
What about items we “know” we love? I had two sweaters I received a good 8 or 9 years ago. They’re still in good condition, I took great care of them. They were nice sweaters, perfect for an office job or a holiday party. I loved them, but realized I haven’t worn them for a year or two. As I held them in my hands, I realized the spark of joy I used to feel when seeing and wearing these sweaters was gone. As we grow up, our tastes and feelings change. Just like I no longer love the band Hanson like I did when I was 13, I no longer love these sweaters. I posted pictures of them on Facbeook and asked friends if any were interested in purchasing them for a couple bucks each. A friend of mine from high school will be trying them on soon and probably buying them. It’s good to know they’re going to a good home, and nice to have my closet a little emptier.
LESSON 2: STORING CLOTHING
How did I ever find what I was looking for before???
Once you’ve decided what to keep and what to get rid of—and both Marie Kondo and I encourage selling or donating items that have life left, and trashing those that are stained or with holes—it’s time for storing them. Marie Kondo recommends using built in storage before all else, which makes sense. She also talks about moving dressers into closets, which simply won’t work in my home.
If there’s one thing to take away from the KonMari Method it’s folding. I’ve tried a similar way of folding in the past I think, but I didn’t have the dedication to stick with it. (To be honest, I already had my underwear drawer almost completely organized as she recommends!)
Now I know where everything is! (This was before I moved everything to the big dresser.)
I mean, look at my shirts? I used to keep my graphic tee’s in the closet where it was nearly impossible to find what I was looking for. Now I need only pull open the drawer and glance down to find exactly what I want.
Down to one dresser! Which is actually nearly empty, so it may end up as storage for the overflow items from the hall closet. It functions well as a nightstand though. I just need to clear the top, but the first assignment was clothing.
I honestly didn’t even get rid of all that many articles of clothing, but we went from the big dresser with the mirror, the big light wood colored dresser, and the smaller light wood colored dresser to JUST the big mirror dresser! For both of us! We’ve left the smaller of the dressers in the room, but removing the larger dresser has improved the flow of the room by leaps and bounds. It’s amazing how removing one piece of furniture can do all that.
Stay tuned for more updates on my progress! I’m planning on making this an every Tuesday thing.
This is a slow progress, I’m taking things daily, but I’m done with clothes. (For the entire family!) and all drawers are organized (though I may play around with arrangements a little bit more.)
Next week: Books and papers!
BONUS:Here’s a great video that helped me figure out exactly how to fold with the KonMari method! 🙂