Last month for book club we read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and let me just say, the strategies described in the book (referred to as the KonMari Method) are definitely life-changing. While I absolutely recommend reading the whole book, in a nutshell, there three simple—but not necessarily easy—steps to achieve tidiness in your home forever…
1. Discard by category, not location.
While it’s tempting to tidy by location (i.e. kitchen, bedroom, etc), apparently category-by-category is essential to doing it right. She recommends a specific order for discarding, starting with clothing and moving down the list towards items that get more and more personal, saving sentimental things (like photos and old notes) for last.
Her simple rule for deciding what to keep and what to toss? Ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?” If yes, keep it. If not, toss it. It sounds so crazy, but imagine how wonderful it would be to be surrounded by only things that bring you joy? I want that!
2. Designate a place for everything.
Very important: do not attempt to find a place for anything until you’ve finished discarding completely. This sounds like a nightmare for anyone who needs a tidy space in order to function, but apparently it’s important to do the tidy process “once and for all,” rather than little bits at a time.
This is the hardest part for me. I neaten things up every night before bed so I can wake up to a put-together space. It’s scary to think about just leaving things out until I’ve discarded all of my unwanted possessions, but at the same time, I clearly need to change what I’m doing. No matter how often I tidy up, I always end up with clutter the next day. I’ve been doing a halfway job for too long, and can absolutely see why her tedious process is needed in order to finally have a truly tidy space.
3. Put things away (where they belong!) when you’re finished with them.
Didn’t we all learn this in kindergarten? You’d think we would have this part down by now, but I think most of us don’t have specific spots for everything in our house, so we put things out of sight but not necessarily “away” where they should be.
According to the author, “The reason every item must have a designated place is because the existence of an item without a home multiplies the chances that your space will become cluttered again.” Pretty obvious—but so challenging! She goes so far as to suggest taking a few minutes to empty out your purse every night when you get home. I don’t know if I could ever get on board with that, but I could see how it would make changing bags much easier.
So, once you pick a place for something, make sure you always put it back (as soon as you’re done with it) when you’re finished using it. If everything has a place, clutter just won’t happen. It takes commitment, but I imagine over time it gets easier and easier.