Sunday, June 28, 2015

Does It Bring You Joy?

I read "The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo toward the end of last year, and decided to try the "Kon Mari" method in my home. As with anything I read, I take away the parts that I find useful and modify the parts that don't fit with my way of thinking. So far I'm finding the method refreshing and effective!

For those who are not familiar with this book, the author encourages us to discard -- "all at once, completely and intensely!" We don't have to be hoarders to know that many of us simply have too much stuff. The theory is that once we get rid of the excess, we can keep our homes cleaner and neater. I'd read the Kon Mari Method can seem a bit intense, and Kondo has some ways of dealing with things that are unique for some of us (thanking and saying goodbye to things, for instance). She appreciates minimalism. I have raised a family and have decades of collecting many things, so am keeping these added "life layers" in mind as I choose what to keep and what to toss. 

There is a certain order to clearing things out, according to the Kon Mari Method. You start with clothes, then books, then papers, then komono (miscellaneous), and lastly momentos.  Out the window are the traditional decluttering methods of one room at a time--instead you are to purge all the items for a particular category throughout the entire house.

I tackled clothes right after I read the book. I was shocked at how strewn around the  house my clothes were! I found them in my bedroom closet, the front entry closet, the laundry room, two different dressers, and there were even a couple sweaters in the trunk of my car! No stone was left unturned as I weeded out the tired and poor fitting, and constantly asked myself the all important question at the heart of the book, "Does it bring me joy?" If not -- out it went! After hauling several bags of clothes to charity, I was amazed at the new found space! I even tried my hand at the recommended folding of my sweaters into rectangles that would stand on edge in the drawer. This allows me to easily see what colors I have to choose from.
Next on the list was books. In my heart I knew I was never really going to re-read many of my fiction books, so out they went. Also gone -- old textbooks, some of which were written 30 years ago! I culled other books and made a large dent in my overgrown collection, but did keep many that "bring me joy."

Next it was on to papers. It is best to approach this task with the mindset of Kondo's opening words to the chapter: plan to "discard everything!" I knew full well that wasn't really going to happen, but having "the idea" in the back of my mind helped me be more ruthless about what I truly kept. I will always have more papers than the book recommends for a few reasons:

1. I'm a die-hard snail mail fan and postcard collector, so have stationery, letters, and postcards. These are things that bring me joy.
2. Genealogy is a hobby. While I try to keep much of my family research on my computer, I do keep logs of research completed, copies of some hard-to-find documents, and research handed down from relatives.
3. I'm a speech and language therapist. I have collected some valuable materials through the years that I do refer to and use. In addition, I am required to maintain some records.
4. I own a home and car, and have children. There is a certain amount of paperwork needed in these areas in being a responsible person.

In my bedroom was an ugly metal file cabinet with a jammed drawer. I hauled all papers from that old cabinet upstairs to my home office to file or purge. It was so freeing, and I really lucked out as the next day there was a note on my mailbox for a "metal hauling" service that was going to be in the neighborhood that week. Perfect timing for me to drag that yucky cabinet out to the street and have it taken away! This cleared a corner in my bedroom and inspired me to angle my little writing desk under the windows. I love to sit there, looking out at the birds and trees, and pen a quick note to someone.
In the kitchen, I tossed or filed any accumulated papers, leaving only four pretty files folders in a basket: current bills (in the blue folder with the flower), 2015 tax receipts, items to take care of this month, and filing. I left this basket in the kitchen because it's the most convenient place to deal with the mail as it comes in.
The filing folder contents go to the home office when I make a trip upstairs and are immediately filed. While I don't have much filing to do with the adopted Kon Mari mindset, I do have some items like insurance policies, professional license renewal proofs, continuing ed certificates, and so forth.

I was about a third of the way through the paper purge when the holidays arrived, and then the next thing I knew the end-of-the-school- year craziness hit. Now that summer has arrived, I'm committed to finishing this project, so am back in my office again, tunes cranked up, tossing papers.

I've found it convenient to toss the papers to be recycled directly into paper bags. That way the whole bag can be tossed in my curbside recycle bin.
I also have a couple growing boxes of papers to shred. This file cabinet was completely filled with old private practice papers, home warranty manuals, and notes from seminars.
ALL were unnecessary and have been purged, and the cabinet is completely empty now! I have a feeling I will be using it for crafting supplies or something else that brings me joy, but if not, I will re-home it.
I'm eager to finish the paper purge and move on. Have you Kon Mari'd your house? How did it go? What did you learn?


  1. I like the idea. It makes sense. And actually it echoes something I'd been thinking about. I've come to the time to purge my papers... I have TONS of them. I told Hubby that I was going to go after them all at once and instead of going thru them to find papers to throw out...instead I'll be looking for what few papers to save. Completely different mindset. We might have company mid-July, so I will be digging in right after they leave.

    Clothes are pretty much done, books too - although they could use another go through.

    1. It is a different mindset to think of what few papers you might save. Let me know how it goes!