It’s a New Year! As it progresses, I’m still looking for the secrets to decluttering my home. Sue me, but I like a well-organized and decluttered space. It’s not restful to me if it’s a mess and I want restful and relaxed when it comes to my home. I have tried so many organization methods over the years to keep my home neat and tidy, but with little success. I have purchased countless organizational systems, just to have them work for awhile and then fall out of usefulness or favor. So I’m, once again, considering Marie Kondo and her book: “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” Maybe you’d like a primer or a refresher on this method too? It’s worked for me in the past. I think it’s definitely worth a shot in 2023.
For every minute spent organizing, an hour is earned.”Benjamin Franklin
What Doesn’t Work in Decluttering
We are talking about the secrets to decluttering, so first we have to discuss what doesn’t work because there are a lot of other organizing methods out there. Believe me. I have tried most of them. These methods of decluttering just don’t work:
- Discarding one thing per day – well this is an interesting idea and you’d have 365 less things at the end of a year. However, the pace of discarding in this way never seems to keep up with what you are bringing in. This method will not have the dramatic impact of other, all-at-once methods because the organizing will just go on and on.
- Tidying under pressure – some folks think that the secret to decluttering is the motivation of an out-of-town guest’s arrival or a special occasion. They think this will result in good organization, but it’s at best a temporary fix.
- Organizing by location – will not work long-term either. You can clean the coats in the front hall closet and make it look great, but then other clothes in other places are still a mess.
- Decluttering based on your personality – is a strange but popular theory, but seldom results in a permanently organized space.
So What Are The Secrets to Decluttering?
1st: Picture The Ideal Lifestyle That You Want to Lead – It’s An A+ Decluttering Secret
OK, so you’re loaded down with clutter and not well organized but something in you says that you want to leave this way of living behind and finally get organized. Why? Is it because you want to live differently? Of course! A great place to start is to ask yourself the question: What does my ideal life look like? This question will help to motivate you for the event that is decluttering and organizing and is one of the primary secrets to decluttering.
For example, when I got divorced and was moving from a large home into my own, small, 2-bedroom condo, I had to eliminate a lot of things that I owned because they just would not fit. I was starting a new single life and I thought long-and-hard about what that life would be like. What I wanted was a relaxed living space that I and my guests would find comfortable. I wanted to be able to keep it clean and organized. I wanted to have more time to take a class, enjoy a good book or maybe even go out on a few dates.
The things I chose to bring into my new home would be judged against this new definition of life. Having a clear picture in my head made this process a lot easier. Perhaps you want a more relaxed environment too? Or maybe you want your home to inspire your creativity? Or maybe you want a place for more entertaining than your home allows now. Whatever your ideal life looks like – go for it – and use it as a guide as you work to organize. It’s a great secret to decluttering.
2nd: Organizing and Decluttering is a Special Event
Marie Kondo believes in tidying in one fell-swoop and within a short period of time. It’s one of her primary secrets to decluttering. I think this way really does work. You organize all your things within a few days or a week and then you’re done – for good. Other methods have you going on-and-on with the organizing. That not only limits the satisfaction you will get out of a completely organized home, but it also allows a lot more wiggle room for giving up when you’re only half done. Schedule your organizing over a long weekend or every evening for a week and then just be done with it. Once your home is set, the only things you’ll need to be tidying are what you use daily and need to put back where they belong.
3rd: Go Through Items by Category Not By Place – It’s a Secret to Decluttering
If you tidy by place (bedroom closet, chest of drawers, kitchen cupboards, hall closet) instead of by categories (clothing, books, papers, miscellaneous and memorabilia), you will not be as successful. For example, when you organize the entire category of clothing you should gather all of it in one place. You will gather it from all the closets and drawers, and go through it all at the same time. It is the only way to get a clear picture of what you actually have. When you finish clothing you will do this same gathering and assessing thing with books, looking at them all together. And then you will move down the line to the other categories. If you don’t do this by category you will more than likely be stuck with things that you really don’t need as you discover them in different places.
Finally: Spark Joy – It’s The BEST Secret to Decluttering
OK, so you know what your ideal life looks like and how clearing the clutter and tidying up is going to help you get to that place where you can live that ideal life. So, starting with ALL your clothing (this includes hats, belts, shoes, scarves, underwear, socks, etc.) in a pile on the bed or floor you will pick up each item, take a really good look at it and ask yourself: Does this item give me joy? Am I happy when I wear it? Does it make me feel good? Or is it just something I bought on sale, haven’t worn in years, makes me feel fat, etc. No joy means no keeping. This way you are focusing on what you want to keep as opposed to what you should throw away.
My Results Have Been Astounding:
When I did this, I filled 23 bags with unjoyful clothing and shoes. Yup – 23 bags. It’s embarassing but true. I was left with about 1/3 of what I had when I started and it felt great. I only kept the things that make me happy and the rest went out of my life and into donation. Then I did the same thing with books (14 boxes gone to a local book sale). I kept only my favorites that I knew I’d want to re-read. Then I did the same with papers (down to one, two-drawer file cabinet). Then all the miscellaneous items (the balance of which I brought to my consignment shop, Consignments Ltd.) and ended it with memorabilia (which was the hardest, I’ll admit).
I probably kept more clutter than I should have, but… it goes that way sometimes. As I finished each category over the long weekend, I decided where and how all that was left should be stored. This became fairly easy to determine with so much less stuff. It’s been nearly four years since I employed the Konmari method, so now, at the begining of 2023 I’m definitely up for a re-set. Perhaps it will stick this time. LOL
A Final Thought…
Marie Kondo is not a god and I don’t think she has the perfect method for all things organization (my goodness, she wants you to thank your socks and wish your discarded items farewell). I do believe, however, that her overarching concept is the best one I’ve come across. Take time to do this all at once, organize and discard by category and only keep what you really love. These are the secrets to decluttering.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little primer. I’m employing this decluttering method this weekend. Wish me luck. As always… stay safe out there, my friends… and have fun.
For more information on organizing and decluttering, check out How To Organize Your Closet and Start 2023 Right.