Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Do You Believe in Magic?

I did something that felt super grown up yesterday. Over the last week I read the book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and took its advice. Written by Marie Kondo, a celebrity personal organizer and de-clutter-er from Japan, it tells you everything you need to know to employ the KonMari (her trademarked system) method of decluttering your life. I decided my closet was the perfect victim for this organizing trend, and so Monday was the day it happened. Be forewarned that if you drink too much of her kool-aid, you might start talking to your clothes, thanking your socks for their hard work, and greeting your home each time you arrive at the front door. Whatever, man. The closet looks good, so she must be on to something!


Before I go into the details of how and why this worked for me, let me just say I feel like I'm channeling Gwyneth Paltrow and all of her rich-person minimalism with this whole program. Suddenly I was like "Hmm maybe I'll make kale shakes for breakfast now...and name my firstborn child Apple...and be spiritual but not religious." Then I was all like, "But wait, Anna, remember how you like pop tarts and Jesus and not scarring children for life?" Right. So maybe not.

I digress.

First, I will say that it's always good to evaluate our relationship to stuff, and I found that this kind of confronted the root emotional reasons why we keep stuff, instead of doing a more legalistic "get rid of one thing each day" or "throw away everything you haven't worn in a year" type of method. Here are the steps she follows - distinctive from other advice you've probably heard about putting your house in order. The first step, obviously, should begin with getting rid of stuff.

1. Downsize by category, not by room. Don't go around the house tidying up one room at a time. Work on clothes first. (This is the only one I'm doing - since it's the only category where I had an extreme amount of excess, but you could apply this method to everything you own.)

2. Get ALL OF THE THINGS from one category and put them on the floor in one place. And I mean EV-ER-Y-THI-NG. Yikes. This is where my first-world-guilt kicked in. As I stared at that massive pile of possessions, I couldn't believe that this all belonged to me. Just look at that beaut.

My mountain of stuff. 

3. Physically pick up each item, and ask yourself, "Does this spark joy?" This was the most important question, and the central idea to why you should keep anything. You don't ask whether you wear the item a lot, whether you have worn it in the past two years, whether it is in good condition or not, or even whether somebody gave it to you as a gift. You should be surrounded only by things that you love, that spark joy for one reason or another.

4. Keep the joyful stuff - pitch the rest. For real. Get rid of every last item you own that doesn't have a spark of joy. Now, I had to think around a few things. For example, exercising is something I love to have in my life, but it doesn't spark joy at first - I know it always comes after the workout is finished. So I kept the workout clothes with this in mind. Or, while I don't absolutely love my school-issued Timothy Christian School polo, I do love my job, and it is a joy to work there, so I kept the shirt for our spirit day Fridays. Basically, I tried to be reasonable. After I got going, the "joy" test was very effective and I ended up making all of my decisions to keep or not to keep within about 90 minutes. I sent a crazy amount of stuff off to be donated. For those who are counting, that would be 9 large garbage bags filled to the top, along with a 3-drawer set and a huge storage container, all filled as well. I gave over half of my clothes away. 


5. Put each and every item that you keep back in a specific and intentional place. This seems simple, but it was a really important part of the book. One bonus tip she added: hang things on hangers so that they slope up and to the right. It just looks good that way. So I put my wedding dress on first, then maxi dresses, then regular dresses, followed by skirts on the end.


6. Reevaluate all you know about folding. You can see from some of my pictures how I've changed my folding habits. Here's an article with a few tutorial videos attached: http://goop.com/the-illustrated-guide-to-the-kondo-mari-method/. This is my favorite part, as I can get a good view of everything I own, and, unlike my old method of the stacked-up piles, I don't make a mess every time I want to pick one shirt off of the shelf.

Tank tops, sweaters, and t-shirts

My athletic t-shirts now all fit in one drawer! I gave 30 away in the donation pile. 

Jeans and other pants. 

So there you have it. My closet renovation. AKA, I have too much time on my hands because I'm a teacher on winter break. 

Happy tidying, everyone!