As I mentioned in my first post I was really interested in the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Mari Kondo. Well, the other day I had the idea that since I’m so horrible about reading and finishing paper books but I’m constantly reading stuff on my phone that maybe I should give the kindle app a try. So, I downloaded the book and went to town. I think I finished it in just over 24 hours.
One of the core principals of the KonMari method is to discard before you organize, as well as to discard anything that doesn’t bring you joy. This is a pretty revolutionary thought process for me, but I can easily see why it works. Focusing on keeping what you love is a much more positive experience than asking yourself to get rid of things that aren’t useful or functional.
The whole experience was much more positive than in the past when I’ve gone through my closets and asked what do I want to donate? Or when I turned all my hangers backwards and looked back a year later to ask, “What wasn’t worn?” I just felt horribly guilty or as it was getting close to the one-year mark I found myself trying this on to take them off the hangers and put them back, and somehow the hangers got turned around in that process. In the end I felt bad and got rid of very little.
In my previous efforts I went into it asking myself to give things up. Asking myself to get rid of things, to let go, to have less. Essentially previous efforts were framed around sacrifice. This experience was just so much more positive. Maybe the reason for this difference was as simple as focusing on joy; therefore, everything was more joyful. I’m not sure but it definitely worked for me.
In one afternoon I bagged up five garbage bags of just my clothing that I didn’t love. It felt great. My closet didn’t feel empty afterwards. I was able actually see the clothes in my closet better and the next day I saw and wore a sweater that I hadn’t seen or worn all season. Not because I didn’t like it but because I didn’t even really know that it was in my closet. The next morning, I just saw it hanging there and thought that’s cute I haven’t worn in in a while.
I don’t know about you, but my definition of what clothing brings me joy isn’t necessarily an “Oh, my god! I love this!” with a giddy giggly feeling. If I were waiting for that I would have been left with hardly anything.
My gym socks don’t inherently bring me joy. However, going to the gym does, and I can’t go to the gym without those socks. So that was enough joy to place them in the keep pile.
There were a couple other ideas that personally gave me comfort when sorting through clothing that let me get rid of more than I might have otherwise.
There was the 20/20 theory that I heard from the minimalists. The idea is that there are a lot of things that people keep “just in case”. Their assumptions that most of the “just in case” items can be replaced with less than $20 and less than 20 minutes. So, when I came across a “just in case” item that I knew didn’t bring me joy but I was still struggling to put in the donate pile I asked myself: would this take more than $20 or 20 minutes to replace? The answer was no. Suddenly it became much easier to let go.
I would also like to add a third 20 to the list. Do you think that you will make use of the object in the next 20 months? That’s just a little less than two years. That fabric pile; that thing you are going to make someday. How far away is that someday? If it’s so far in the future that you can’t think of a time in the next two years… well then, I don’t believe that someday will ever come. Consider letting it go.
Right now, I’m thinking about the cement auger from my dad’s collection of tools in the basement. He was a cement worker. It could be useful someday. It’s a useful tool. It’s expensive. However, I have no plans at all to even entertain a cement project, let alone do it myself anytime. So, come springtime when I want to be out in the garage for long enough I’m going to really look at all the tools I have inherited.
Just in Case Clothing
I also had a revelation about my “backup clothes,” you know the ones I’m talking about. The ones that are perfectly good, but you don’t pick to wear them even first or second. But for those days or times when you don’t get around to doing the laundry you again have them just in case.
Well I would have you ask yourself: what the longest time you went without doing laundry and during that time did you wear those just-in-case-clothes? In my case I didn’t. I ended up doing laundry in my pajamas or wearing slightly dirty clothing over wearing these clean just-in-case-clothes.
Seriously! It shocked me. I would rather be dirty than wear these. But for some reason I was keeping them anyway. And I had already gone through piles of clothes and decided to donate clothing that I liked far more than these back up clothes. Seriously, I discarded things that I wore far more frequently than these backup clothes.
Yet, I was still having trouble discarding them until I realized that I had chosen to be dirty over wearing them. Eventually something clicked, and I realized how ridiculous I was being and was able to set them aside for donation.
Overall, I really enjoyed the first half of the book. I have some reservations about her strategies for putting things away. However, for now I am first focusing on discarding.
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