Un-cluttering Your Heart to Make Your Life Fuller!
Perhaps during your hibernation over the late December – early January break, you got the chance to catch up on a little Netflix viewing or more likely got into a binge or two. A new January 1st release on Netflix that got a lot of attention this year is Marie Kondo’s Tidying Up series. Marie Kondo is a Japanese mother of two pre-schoolers who has become the darling of the home organizing world. Kondo authored the mega-selling (we are talking over eight million copies in over 40 languages) 2014 book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”.
In Kondo’s first season series, the viewer gets to meet a variety of families at different stages of their live ranging from newlyweds to retirees and everything in-between like about-to-be-parents to parents with pre-school and school age children. Each household is guided with a refreshingly kind and encouraging approach that offers no judgement – just opportunity to be unburdened by clutter from an accumulation of too much stuff.
Let’s be honest here. Everyone has the pre-requisite ‘junk drawer’. So what happens when you find yourself opening drawer after drawer and each appears on the verge, if not already there, of being another ‘junk’ drawer. It happens, no matter our best intentions, the busy-ness of life gets in the way. We often get trapped in the rationalization that “maybe I should keep this just in case I might need it in the future”.
That “keep it – just in case” can get all of us into a life burdened by burgeoning clutter. How can tidying up help us? Would you believe it can effect our willpower? Doug Lisle, PhD, Psychologist, Co-author of The Pleasure Trap and 2019 ForkSmart Summit Presenter shares these insights, “Keeping a tidy home environment means that your mind has less worries about what you “should” be doing, than if you keep looking at a stack of messy papers on tables and desks. A tidy environment will deplete your willpower less than a messy one, and thus help you with other goals requiring your limited willpower, such as healthy eating and living choices.”
So here are some tips for tidying up and in turn, strengthening your willpower to take better care of yourself and in turn, more likely to help you to feed yourself well!
# Tip 1: Thank your home
Before starting the tidying up process, Kondo begins by kneeling and uses silent reflection to give thanks for the protection our home affords us, which enables us to all live a healthy, productive life. This mindful practice serves as a reminder of all the benefits a home provides us with each and every day.
# Tip 2: Clean by Categories
Rather than go room to room, it is more effective to go by categories like choosing to go through your clothes first and then move on from there to: books; papers; kitchen; bath; garage; miscellany and finally sentimental items.
For example, the key to sorting clothes is to remove all clothes from every spot in the house and pile them on your bed to sort them. The opportunity to see all items you own out of your closet(s) helps you to be able to say ‘goodbye’ and even “hello” again to items that you wish to keep and use in the future.
# Tip 3: Ask if it sparks joy
This involves picking up each item you own and ask yourself if it “sparks joy”? This practice is not about judging the item’s value or how often you use it. It is all about whether it “sparks joy” and if it does – keep it and if not. give it away.
# Tip 4: Say goodbye to your stuff
Kondo recommends in the process of saying “goodbye” to those items you are either donating or disposing of, it is helpful to also thank each item for its service. This practice helps relieve you of any guilt which may be provoked during the process of this clean out.
# Tip 5: Go at your own pace
Our lives are busy and demanding on our time and energy. So pace yourself – you are not on a ‘makeover show’ that has everything done in a matter of days (often with a big crew). Kondo suggests that a full clean house will take “roughly a month”.
# Tip 6: It’s okay to start small
It may seem overwhelming to take on what seems like an overwhelming project, so consider starting with one dresser drawer if that gets you started on a path toward a tidier home.
# Tip 7: Honour your sentimental attachments (within reason)
Photos, personal letters and cards, ticket stubs and the such can be hard to part with. So use shoe boxes and albums to store those precious momentums and remember to keep them within arms reach, so you can enjoy them on a regular basis.
# Tip 8: Celebrate your hard work
Instead of aiming for a big reveal of your newly tidied home, take time to appreciate everyone’s efforts to make your home an uncluttered and more serene environment that rids you of stress and welcomes peace into your life.
# Tip 9: Keeping it clean
Now that you have a tidied up home, you will notice how much easier it is to keep it clean. Less stuff means less dust collectors and less dusting! Organized stuff, with each item having it’s designated spot, means you are no longer spending minutes to hours trying to find that item you know is somewhere in the house.
# Tip 10: Getting reacquainted with what you value
As you sort through your stuff in each of these household categories, you are on a journey of self-discovery. You quickly learn what is important to you. Your values become fully revealed in the process. This is just as beneficial as digging through to the back of your closet!
Reflections . . .
On a personal note, Andrew and I went through this process during the third week in January. In three weeks, we were able to get through all parts of our home except the garage (choosing to wait until warmer weather). We used Kondo’s methods and changed the order of categories to meet our needs. The results? Our home is more calm and less stressful because we know that each item has a place and can be easily found again for use when needed. We were also delighted to find items that had been forgotten in storage were kept and used because they truly spark joy. It also made us feel good to share items we no longer needed or no longer ‘sparked joy” for us, yet has the potential to do so for others. Another big bonus? Our home now invites keeping tidy and as a result, weekly cleaning is so much easier and less time consuming. Now there is more time to relax and enjoy our home!