A few months ago I discovered the Konmari method of organisation and had to buy the book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo. I literally blitzed my way through it, in the hope that I’d be motivated to seriously declutter my stuff and ultimately the house.
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Before I moved in there wasn’t much there – the OH lived in an empty un-lived in house with furniture, some clothes, some kitchenware and that was about it. Being a girl, I have a lot of stuff. Even when I declutter I have a lot of things left. And while I’m not particularly bad at tidying, the volume of stuff does mean a lack of storage. And the need to have lots of things I used daily close at hand, means there are lots of organised piles around the house.
So we need to declutter. And have the house looking tidier which hopefully will encourage the OH to tidy up after himself (he leaves stuff around more often than me – dishes, glasses, magazines), and for N to realise his toys are what’s making the mess and that he needs to put everything away after use.
Inheriting various things from my mum’s house did mean I had to declutter and tidy a lot to fit them in which did help, but I could see that there was still a lot of stuff that isn’t really needed.
The Konmari method (her book is The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up*) is severe. Marie Kondo takes no prisoners. If you use an item or it brings you joy then you can keep it. Otherwise get rid. Some of her ideas are a little wacky – saying thanks to your bag every evening, letting socks breath, and thanking items for helping you do things is not for me – but all of her clients have reduced their belongings and possessions by up to two thirds and haven’t missed it.
There are several stages and she’s very strict in the way you declutter and then organise afterwards.
- Books, dvds, audio
You’re not allowed to do other people’s for them, although you can encourage them to understand the benefits, but they have to give you permission to throw their things out. I did do N’s clothes back early in May when we gave him my old chest of drawers from my mum’s house; his drawers have remained immaculate since then. (I’ve also since then organised the OH’s drawers as well, although not chucked anything – I’m not sure he’s even noticed!)
I started back in the summer on a weekend when N was out on the farm. I do enjoy clearing things out, and occasionally blitz things, but then I seem to get back to where it was before really quickly. So this time it was hardcore, no looking back.
According to the method, you need to take every item of clothing from around the house, put it in a pile and then sort through it – to sell, to donate, to chuck (or recycle ideally). I just used everything out of my wardrobe, drawers and floor.
I have a lot of clothes – I’ve got clothes that I love from years ago (usually amazing ball or cocktail dresses), size 10s that I don’t think I’ll get back into however much I try, and every size up to my current one…and that included about 30 pairs of jeans across those size ranges. Usually when I’m clearing out, I sell a lot of stuff, but with this I needed a clean break. Selling clothes means storage, a temptation to remove things out again, and the danger that the OH might get sick of all the bags around the house and burn them on a whim. So I had 3 different piles – for swishing/friends to raid first, charity shop, and textile recycling bins.
By the end of the weekend I had 2 bin bags to take into work for colleagues to rummage through…maybe one day we should have a proper swishing party. 2 bags for textiles recycling, and horrifically another 8 bags for charity. Oh and one for the bin – items that weren’t fabric so not for recycling. My work friends loved me the week after, then the remaining items went to the Katharine House Hospice charity shop we support. I also included bed linen and towels in my clothing total although not as much went of those.
Then it was on to organising.
Marie has a specific folding technique. It seems normal and obvious once you start doing it, and it takes up so much less room. The idea is to get as much as possible in drawers, leaving only creasable items in the wardrobe. Although I’d cleared out that much I still didn’t have room for my remaining few pairs of fitting jeans in my drawers but they did fit in the wardrobe.
I have one double wardrobe, one chest of drawers (equivalent of 5 drawers high) and my coats are in the OH’s wardrobe. After the clear out and folding, I had space in my underwear and socks/tights drawers, and a lot of space in the OH’s wardrobe. Nothing is spilling over into the spare room wardrobe either. The only issue is if I ever need a suit for work, I’ll need to buy one because I gave away about 10 suits from previous jobs that no longer fit. When I lose my weight, I shall just celebrate by buying myself a new wardrobe and totally getting rid of all the old clothes.
Clothing done, I then moved on to books a few weeks later. While you can do one after the other, with work and other commitments, I didn’t have the time. I think it’s also good to reflect on how amazingly well you’ve done in one place before moving on to the next.
I love books. I love reading. And I have had a lot of books. I also believe that every house should have books in, especially with children in the house. Now, N’s books must outnumber mine.
I do now read a lot on my Kindle Paperwhite*. I held off for a while but it’s so easy to read, hold and especially read in the dark late at night without disturbing others, so I am a convert. It certainly helps with the Kon Mari method. But I did want to keep some books.
Most of my books were double stacked on an ancient cheap Argos flat pack book case behind the tv. It looked a mess even when I’d previously cleared out a lot, but now I had a proper antique book case from my mum’s, so there was no excuse. It was time to clear out properly.
I rarely re-read books, and that’s what Marie says in the book. Why keep them in case of re-reading, when books are fairly cheap and you can repurchase or borrow from the library? But then when I was a child (probably between age 8 and upwards), I voraciously read my way through my mum’s bookshelves. So it’s a shame when books go, that N won’t have them to pick up and savour. Although most probably wouldn’t be his taste.
I had piles and piles of books once I’d removed them from my shelves. Quite horrific when I think how much I’ve spent on books over the years, but then an awful lot of pleasure too. I had 15 plastic bags full of books after I’d put all the unread books into the my mum’s old bookcase. I added DVDs in there too, so that’s neat and tidy and all dvds are now hidden away tidily (except when N strews his across the floor and tv cabinet.
The remaining few books that I’ve kept are those I really love, the classics that I am likely to re-read, and those I’d like to pass on to N. The rest have gone to charity shops. I’ve probably got 60 books left, and once I’ve got through the ‘to read’ shelves, they’ll mostly go too.
Results so far
It’s very therapeutic doing a proper declutter. I’d have liked to have tried to sell a lot to make some money back, but I know that having stuff sitting around the house wouldn’t be good.
The next steps I’ve not started yet. Paper is going to be quite daunting but I’ll do my tax return first, then hit the paper (probably over the Christmas holidays when I’ve got time off).
The results are worth doing. Months later, clothes still have their place, and it’s rare that clothes are left out for more than a day before being put away. It’s doesn’t take long to fold everything after drying, although I’ve still got to train N the way to do it which does mean I’m the only one who can do the laundry – but then I did it anyway. My empty book shelves behind the tv now have photos on them and there’s wall space.
My aim once I’ve decluttered totally is to decorate the house (well, get someone in), Get some shelves above the tv (built in hopefully) for some arty minimal decoration, and just have a better more clear space for all N’s stuff. We do need to get some more toy storage, because I’d moved everything upstairs but N just brings it all back down again. A shed is needed first to get rid of all his outdoor toys and the camping equipment into the garden from the utility room, and to clear out the playroom/dining room as well. Maybe then we’ll have a house that’s actually finished instead of half a job and boring magnolia.
Have you gone through the konmari organisation method? Do you blitz or do little bits?
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