This week, I bid farewell to my perennial half-assed, unfinished and unsustainable decluttering efforts and started what I’m determined will be a massive and complete purge of our house and a total overhaul of our STUFF habits. I’m doing it right this time with the intention of never doing it again. No doubt, there are many ways to do it right. I’ve chosen the “KonMari method” detailed in that little book in the picture by Marie Kondo. The gist of her method is:
- You do as thorough a job as possible (“aiming for perfection”), all at once, over a period of about 6 months, rather than just a little a day indefinitely.
- You declutter by category rather than by area.
- You focus on what you’re keeping as part of your life rather than what you’re getting rid of.
- Beyond those things that are clearly essential, you only keep those things that “spark joy.”
This week, I tackled clothes and accessories. Using the clothing example, here’s why you do it by category instead of by area. If you say you’re going to do your bedroom closet, and you do your clothes from there, you won’t get rid of enough stuff. This is because you’re not including clothes in other closets, things put away in storage for the season, etc. You must bring all your clothes from all over the house and get them in one place. This way, you know exactly what you have—all of it. And you can be appropriately horrified by the sheer volume. This helps motivate you get rid of more stuff.
What’s easy about clothes for me is that I’m kind of fashion challenged, so I’m not that into clothes to begin with. On the other hand, since I’m not really into clothes, they are mostly functional for me. In the past, it’s been hard to get rid of things that are still functional, even if I don’t love them and they don’t look great on me. In recent years, I have been putting a bit more effort into figuring out what clothes suit me best and what I really like and feel good in. The ideas in this book are completely aligned with that process, so it was helpful for me. I was able to part with a lot of things I could not last year—things that were in good condition and really fine, but either I don’t wear them or I don’t feel good in them when I do.
There are a few lines in the clothes chapter that are over the top kooky and woo-woo, even for me. Partly it may be that the translation from Japanese isn’t perfect, but she does, in fact, suggest talking to clothes. However, if you can get past the eye-roll inducing personifications, even the advice containing them is useful. I don’t have to personally, verbally, say thank you to a sweater. But I can follow her general advice about things that are hard to get rid of even though you don’t use them: consider that buying the item and never using it taught you something about what you like and don’t like, so it has fulfilled its function very well. You can then appreciate that and happily let the item go and move on. It worked for me.
An example of this is these shoes:
I LOVE these shoes. They are as “me” as any shoes with heels can be. I was so excited when I bought them that I was willing to ignore the fact that they were just a teensy, tiny bit uncomfortable in the store. I only wore them once, because when I did, they were so painful, I walked to my car barefoot across downtown at the end of the night. I tried them on a couple more times but didn’t even make it out of the house in them. Looking at these shoes “sparks joy.” Wearing them sparks pain. Out they went. I couldn’t get rid of them during my last purge because I just loved looking at them so much, and they were practically new. This time, it was easy, because I could “thank them” for teaching me that I must NEVER EVER buy shoes again, especially heels, that are the slightest, tiniest bit uncomfortable in the store. Done. Goodbye. I hope you make your new owner happy! (See, I’m talking to them. Even after they are gone. Hmmm.)
OK, never mind that. On to the before and after pics.
This is my bedroom closet before (doors removed).
Just to prove I removed EVERYTHING as prescribed, here is the empty closet:
And the piles of everything (from the closet and dresser drawers) on the bed:
I did keep a few things that are one or two sizes too small. It’s an uphill battle ever since I hit 40, but I do hope to lose some weight over the next year. I kept only those few things that I will certainly remember and be PISSED that I no longer have in the event I get into that size again. They are in the blue box on the top shelf. (The bag is knitting supplies).
I forgot to take a before picture of the main drawer in my dresser, but it was typical—piles of too many clothes I don’t like or wear, folded and stacked so you have to pick through and often mess it up just to see what you have. I took the author’s advice on folding many things you’re used to hanging up (part of the reason for fewer items in the closet), and folding them small so they stand up and you can see the edge of every item. I love the result:
So that’s it. Half the closet, the main middle drawer you see here, the bottom drawer with lounge stuff, workout clothes, swimsuits, etc., and the skinny top drawer for undies, socks, etc. Other than a few coats in the downstairs closet, that is every stitch of clothing I own for all seasons. All are things I would be happy to wear tomorrow, weather permitting.
And it is sooooo nice being in a room that contains only things you like and use. I told G, I kind of just want to hang out in the bedroom all the time now, it feels so peaceful and spacious. Even with the drawers shut and the closet doors back on, so you can’t see the difference, it still feels different. It’s very motivating to keep the process going.
The kids’ clothes are next. As for my husband’s, I was content to leave him alone, but I am happy to report that what Kondo says about family is proving to be true in my house. Hounding your family members is ill advised from a relationship standpoint, and from a practical standpoint, you don’t have to, anyway. Decluttering is contagious. G is now on board–for clothes, anyway. We are going to clear all his stuff out of the spare closet and pare it down enough so he can use the other half of this one. And more crap can leave this house—yay!
I have a few FB buddies who are doing it, too, and the camaraderie and accountability also helps keep the momentum going. When I shared my last post, I found that many friends are right where I am–so done with clutter, and with half measures that don’t last.
Find a few friends to make it fun and keep you accountable, and just get started—it feels great!
© Camille Williams and Wake Up, Mama! 2015