Decluttering for a more organized home and life

Odyssa Rivera Abille

I was halfway through Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up when I saw this video of the author’s interview with Stephen Colbert. Kondo is charming and the concept is disarming.

What struck me while learning this KonMari method was this: I have made myself a pile of goals and projects to do. And each one came with stuff.

Here’s a good example.

In November, I got hold of tea tree and peppermint essential oils. With my brain going on ‘entrepreneur’ mode, I went to the market to buy funnels, spray bottles, receipts, sticker paper, a liter of distilled water, and went ahead with using a tried and tested formula for a yoga mat spray.

Since I practice yoga, I have friends who MIGHT like this stuff — yoga students and teachers. I was almost sure that I was going to get a profit.

Not one bottle was sold, and it left me with stuff that takes up space. It also reminds me of a recent failure.

Other projects come with not just tangible items but online accounts, email, photos, videos, conversations, more and more ideas. It eats up energy and could get frustrating.

Stay or go, keep or throw.

Pay close attention to how your body responds. When something sparks joy, you should feel a little thrill running through your body, as if your body is somehow slowly rising up to meet the item, embracing it even. -MK

I did a mini-KonMari in my tiny room at my parents’ house. I moved back 2 months ago for this reason, and as expected, I still have items here that I received as gifts from more than a decade ago.

I have a box of printed photos from the time that digicams weren’t available yet. While it’s nice to look back…do I really need to keep all of what’s inside? If I throw these away, does it mean I’m throwing away happy memories too?

There are a few of my journals from years ago. Going through the pages makes my heart leap. They say so much of how my life was, the people who were with me, the thoughts I couldn’t say out loud. These will stay.

After hours of gathering the objects in my room, including clothes, papers, and art materials, I discarded more than half of my possessions. I’m not done yet.

Lessons From The Book

  1. Every item has a purpose, even if the purpose lasts for only one day. This is what Kondo says about donating or throwing away things that used to be important:
It has already completed its role in your life, and you are free to say ‘Thank you for giving me joy when I bought/received you.’ -MK

2. Be grateful for what your stuff is helping you achieve. That laptop bag is helping you earn money from your job. Your favorite pumps are bringing you to places. The hat is protecting you from the heat of the sun. Learn to appreciate each item.

3. Never feel guilty for throwing things away, especially gifts. When you give a gift, you imagine the receiver using or consuming that gift. If it’s a candle, you imagine our friend lighting it up one night to relax from a long day’s work. If the item is sitting on your shelf for display, the value of the item gets wasted. Use it or lose it (as in, give it to someone who will find it useful).

When you come across something that's hard to discard, consider carefully why you have that specific item in the first place. When did you get it and what meaning did it have for you then? Reassess the role it plays in your life. -MK

4. Tidying up gives us mental clarity. It feels clean, crisp, inside and out. It gives an image of freshness, light, and space.

5. Tidying up can make us better decision-makers. It helps to know what we want to do next — a new project, try out a new sport, focus on learning a skill — because there’s less clutter, there are fewer things to think about.

Recommendation

This book is for those who want to organize their home and their lives. For those who are curious about what the fuss is. What in the world is the KonMari folding method?!

This is for those who are uncertain about which items seem important and which ones really are.

Tidying up is not only about throwing things away. It’s about knowing what’s important enough to keep.

Odyssa is the author of two poetry collections on love and travel. This article was first published in Medium.

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I write about relationships, the complexities of human life, and writing. I'm a self-published author of two poetry collections entitled "Like A New Sun Rising" and "From Where I Stand" available at www.amazon.com/author/Odyssa.

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