Friday, January 29, 2016

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying

If there was a "most used" verb over the last few months, 
it would be "purging." 
Perhaps its hormonal crazy nesting kicking into insane overdrive. 
Or perhaps it's due to one damn book. 

I gushed about this book when recapping books
But I can't really put into words how much this book has changed our household
Maybe you've seen the pattern in my "Mama's Day Off" posts, 
where I'm dedicating massive chunks of my time to purging our house. 

All the moms on snapchat are all about the netflix, 
and I'm over here celebrating about the number of trash bags I've created. 

Here I am to spout off some of my favorite things I've learned. 


"If it doesn't speak joy, get rid of it. 
If you struggle with an item, 
ask why you got it and what you wanted it to mean. 
If it has lived it's purpose, 
acknowledge its contribution and then discard.

This is my way of summarizing the whole book. 
And it REALLY hit home with me. 
I see so many clutter "rules" like "have you worn it in the past year?" etc. 
and I can justify myself through many of those. 
But when I grab a shirt and ask: 
"am I EXCITED to wear this?" 
It's an eye-opener. 

Also, the concept of an item's PURPOSE means a lot to me. 
I bought many shoes as a bridesmaid in weddings. 
I have held on to them, because MAYBE I will wear them again 
but their true purpose was to serve in a wedding. 
Their purpose is complete. 


"Tidy a little at a time and you'll tidy forever. 
Tidying is a special event, not a daily chore."

When I first read this, 
I thought : "This women CLEARLY doesn't have children." 
Because children = tidying forever. 
But that's not actually true. 
The less shit out, the less to tidy. 
As I've purged and tossed so much in our house, 
I find that I DO spend less time picking up, 
if only because there is less. 
Also, toy rotation = clutch. 


"Storage is not a solution." 

The author dedicated an entire chapter to this concept, 
I am a sucker for a cool storage solution. 
The Container Store is my dream. 
One of the things I love about our tiny town house is that it has ample hidden storage
 (under stairs, dozens of closets, etc) 
but the truth is that storage is still clutter 
and clutter causes stress. 
I open our storage areas and I don't feel joy. 
I feel oppressed by the amount of crap we have. 
Under the basement stairs are boxes upon boxes of "memories," 
things that I'll never see and touch and appreciate 
because they have been stored away in a heap. 
During my last Mama's Day Off, I went through those memories. 
It was tough, 
but I feel so much better having one single box filled with nothing but smiles. 


"Sort by category, not location. 
Excess is caused by ignorance of how much we have. 
Clothes especially. 
Empty every closet and every drawer and evaluate it all together." 

I had no idea how true this was until I did it. 
We don't see how much "stuff" we have because it's dispersed. 
But when I pile it all together, it's a revelation. 
Example: office supplies! 
Do we need 10,000 pens scattered across the house? 
Same for clothes. 
When everything is pulled out, even out-of-season and wrong sizes, 
it's just astounding the piles. 


"Gifts : purpose is to be received, not hoarded

I particularly struggle with this. 
I HATE discarding gift. 
Hell, I don't like to throw out cards!
But if the item serves no purpose 
and brings me no day-to-day happiness, 
then it needs to go. 
It's purpose to be received has been fulfilled. 


Practice Advice:

On top of these great concepts, 
I also loved the practical advice from the author. 
Concrete steps are hard to come by in these type of books. 

She lists the order of cleansing. 
As I mentioned above, she suggests it be all at once 
but short of taking a week off work and sending Aaron to the grandparents, 
that wasn't happening. 
Instead, I tackled category-by-category. 

1. Clothes

2. Books (including cookbooks)

3. Papers
(I filled THREE trash bags of shredded papers from our filing cabinet. 
Including bank statements from accounts I closed a decade ago
I have paper hoarding problems.)

4. Miscellaneous
a) CDs & DVDs - who still owns these?   
b) Skin care products   
c) Makeup   
d) Accessories   
e) Valuables   
f) Electrical equipment  
g) Household equipment   
h) Household supplies  
i) Kitchen goods   
j) Other   

5. and then Mementos


You may be asking, 
"Ok, how has this actually changed your life?" 

(Or you may be thinking: "Crazy psycho
but let's pretend it's the first). 

A few ways this has changed my daily life: 

1. Less time spent cleaning up. 
The more I've gotten rid of, 
the less stuff is out-of-place. 

2. Rediscovered happy things, 
and incorporated into our daily lifestyle. 
Example: when going through memory boxes, 
I found tons of pictures being stored in the bulky frame. 
So I removed the picture, sealed it in an airtight bag, 
and suddenly I have a ton of new frames to use. 
I filled them with my favorite pictures (mostly of Aaron) that make me smile, 
and have added to our fireplace mantle and our window sills. 
I love the additional photos that always make me smile. 

3. Relief from clutter. 
I'm not saying the clutter is completely gone, 
but I feel better seeing open closets 
and sparse shelves, 
containing only things we need

4. Easier access to things I use constantly. 
My travel makeup bags are a great example of this. 
I used to have a huge rubbermaid tote filled with all sorts of travel necessities, 
anything from hanging clothing bags 
to European adapters. 
I eliminated over half the box 
(we aren't going to Europe anytime soon) 
and paired down my travel makeup bags to one small box. 
Now when I go to grab one, 
I'm not sorting through piles and piles of stuff to find the perfect one. 


Overall, my parting thoughts on this topic: 
to some, a minimalist lifestyle comes easy. 
My mother-in-law for example, has zero problems maintaining this lifestyle. 
But other people - myself included - struggle with it. 
We are prone to hoarding for a number of reasons, 
sentimental reasons, 
future use reasons, 
So to some, this post is silly and the book is common sense. 
To me, it was pretty damn cool. 

1 comment:

  1. I do a thrift store run about once a month and it makes me think of you. And it makes me weirdly happy. #imalosertoo

    Also, I want to do this (practice what I read in this book) in September, when I'm not working anymore, and the kids are in school. I am so excited about it already.