Learning the Art of Decluttering


Hanging pants logo

Towards the end of December, I kept seeing articles about Marie Kondo and the book she wrote, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. With the hustle and bustle of the busy holiday season, I downloaded it onto my e-reader, and promptly forgot about it. I rediscovered it while I was on a long flight, and figured, why not?

I breezed through the book over the next few days, and couldn’t wait to get home and start the process of decluttering. For those of you who haven’t read the book… the premise is that to truly organize your life, you need to get rid of items that no longer “spark joy” for you. This involves systematically gathering an entire category of items into a pile, picking each item up and deciding if it sparks joy, and then discarding any items that do not pass this test. Items to be discarded should be thanked for their service on the way out. Seems pretty straight forward (although thanking my clothes out loud was a little too much for me).

I was getting ready to move, so I figured that I would follow Kondo’s plan with all my possessions, and only move the stuff I truly loved. Sounds great, right?

I gathered all of my clothes into a huge pile on my bed, and started to sift through them as I put the ones to keep in boxes. I love how Kondo discusses the reasons people keep items they don’t need. There is guilt: maybe it was a gift, or maybe the item was expensive. Sometimes it is fear: what if I need this again? And sometimes we keep things because we think we should.

pile clothes

yoga pants waiting to spark joy

I gave myself permission to get rid of things that don’t fit, or that aren’t my style anymore. I got rid of things that I never wore, and things that I had loved in the past, but didn’t love any more. It was very liberating.

Unfortunately, that’s where I stopped following the Marie Kondo method as written. I ran out of time to go category by category, piling everything together to be sorted. So I did what I do when I find a new idea that resonates with me, I adapted what was useful for my life at the moment. As I packed, I gave myself permission to get rid of things that I no longer use. I let go of the fear that I might need them someday, and should hold onto them. I stopped worrying about how much money something cost, or that it was a wedding gift. If it didn’t spark joy, it was out.

The result is that I got rid of a lot of possessions that were weighing me down. There is room in my closet to see the things that I enjoy wearing. There is room in my kitchen for the appliances that I use. My bookshelf now holds only books that I plan to read again.

hanging tanks     Its much easier to find clothes in my closet now

I still have things that I don’t need or use, but overall my house feels much less cluttered. Once I’m finally unpacked, I’m sure I will give Kondo’s full method another try. Right now I’m enjoying the results that her book inspired. If you are interested in learning how to declutter your life, I would highly recommend this book.


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