That’s right, I jumped on the bandwagon. Sue me. Give it a go. I have a great lawyer.
But no really, when I first read about this book I was skeptical. From what I was reading, the author recommended a lot of purging. Like, a lot. And I’m by no means a hoarder but I am quite materialistic so that made me a little nervous.
My husband and I come from different backgrounds and we hold onto things for different reasons. I was worried that her recommendations would be too much upheaval for our household. It was important to me that I was respectful to his feelings. But I also strongly felt that I had too much stuff to ever feel like I had a tidy home.
A note on our home: we live in around 270 square feet of apartment space. For you Aussies and Brits and every single other country on earth, that’s about 26 square metres. Yep. It is insanely small. When you live in a small space, untidiness is not only more noticeable, it is really in your face and I found myself constantly trying to tidy which subsequently made me feel quite stressed out.
So I decided to give this book a try. A lot of people I knew and trusted had followed it with great success and none of them seemed to be sobbing with regret, or missing discarded items terribly. In fact, they all sung its praises.
So, let’s talk about the premise. Marie (Kondo, author) is a tidying guru in Japan. Her seminars book out instantly. She has a 3-6 month waiting list of clients. She’s hardcore. She advocates having ONLY what you need and what “sparks joy”, and discarding everything that does not meet these criteria. She uses that phrase a lot – “spark joy”. I’m going to be really honest with you. I’m still not clear on what exactly that means. There are some things I own that are necessary to my life, that I use all the time, that would be a great hindrance if I lost them – that do not ~~spark joy~~ in my heart when I touch them. But I like them? I love some of them? I feel like this book likes to attribute characteristics to objects that, to me, they do not hold. But that’s okay – I get her point. Keep things that you feel good about. Don’t keep stuff just “because”. Sure, ok!
I started with clothes. I got rid of a tonne of things that I had either not worn ever, or hardly ever worn, or that didn’t fit. I didn’t think I had any “maybe one day” items but turns out I did. No. Stop that. You deserve all of your clothing to be able to fit you now (unless you are pregnant etc in which case of course your entire wardrobe should not consist of maternity wear, that shit’s gonna end one day) so get rid of anything that doesn’t fit right or that doesn’t suit you.
One of the main tips she gives is to “thank” each item before sending it on its way. I like this! Instead of just callously trashing an item, thank it for whatever role it fulfilled in your life for however long (even if it was just “thanks for teaching me what styles DONT suit me”) was something that made me feel better about ditching things. She also talks about treating your items kindly, for example, don’t ball up your socks – just fold them because they have been working very hard and it’s nice for them to have a rest in your drawers, not be balled up and stretched all the time. Ok, sure, that makes sense. And it looks attractive. Bonus!
However, here is where I want to start in on my first “con” of very few cons. Sometimes, feeling that way about things makes them harder to discard, not easier. If you anthropomorphize objects too much, you run the risk of feeling guilty for throwing them away. For example, she talks about gifts. If the gift itself is not something you see yourself using, then the purpose of the gift is in the giving, in the care that someone took whilst choosing it and wrapping it for you, yes? Sure. That was its original purpose. But then I would think about how the person who gave it to me might feel, depending on the item’s significance. And that made it harder to give things away. Thoughts like “just because this [item] has a hole in it / is missing is pair, or because I don’t use it, doesn’t mean I should just throw it away, it served me well!” began to permeate. But – yes it does. It does mean that. So the respect/love-for-items philosophy can be a double-edged sword.
Ultimately I felt like the winning strategy for me was to just think of the end result. Will I ever think of this item again? Will there come a time when I think “gosh, I know tossing that shirt out made my place tidier but AT WHAT COST? IF ONLY I KNEW THEN WHAT I KNOW NOW ABOUT MY IMMEDIATE REQUIREMENT FOR THAT SHIRT AND NO OTHER SHIRT”? Almost certainly not was the answer in most cases.
The other great thing that I took from this book is how to fold things to be as neat and tidy, and, not gonna lie, aesthetically pleasing as possible. God, it’s so beautiful. She advocates the vertical storage method which is absolutely genius tbh. I had kind of done that with my t-shirts, because our set of drawers is not great and the drawers don’t really come out the whole way… that’s another story. But she said to store EVERYTHING this way, and I really see what she’s saying about this. It works great and looks really attractive and aesthetically pleasing on an organizational level. Let’s take a look at some highlights. I wish I had before pictures! But I don’t. So here we are.
Pants, thermals, jarmie pants & sweats
Hanging stuff – I tossed about half of this!
It was astonishing to me how much room I had left after I folded everything this way. I think that’s also because I got rid of a lot of things that I didn’t see myself wearing, and donated some warm stuff that I found I wasn’t wearing even though the weather was right for it. I took a large box of stuff to the local homeless shelter and threw out some stuff that wasn’t in great condition.
The rest of it didn’t hugely apply to me, honestly. We didn’t have a scrap of kitchenware (apart from a couple of very special pieces we got for our wedding which have not even been unpacked) so we bought or borrowed only EXACTLY what we needed and nothing more. We have two pasta bowls, four plates, four forks, four knives, three white wine glasses, etc etc. So not much work needed to be done there.
The other quite challenging part was my makeup. Now, you wouldn’t think having moved here in April would mean I had accumulated a tonne more makeup but you would be so wrong. Where have you been?! Anyway, there was a fair bit. There were a lot of items I’d purchased from the drugstore to “do dupe reviews” but that kinda never happened and I didn’t love them so they all went into the giveaway box. Same with things that were expired, and there was a decent amount of that too (sob, bye Chanel foundation). I had a kitchen-sized trash can full of stuff to throw out, and an overflowing shoebox to give away.
If I’m really real, I probably still have too much. But I’m only human.
I feel like this post ended up quite a bit longer than I planned (of course), so I will end it here. I also picked up Kondo’s new book, the “sequel” if you will, Spark Joy – An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up. I haven’t read a lot of it yet, but it appears to be a little bit of repetition of the first book, honestly. It DOES however have some illustrations for some of the more complex folding techniques she recommends which I have found VERY helpful!
So all in all, this was an extremely positive experience and I feel that I will really continue to utilize these techniques and hone them as I build a home for my family.
Would anyone be interested in a blog post that goes into any more detail than this one, on any particular subject? Let me know in the comments.
Thanks for reading!