Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The End
Okay, it’s been a bit since I last reviewed a section of Marie Kondo’s Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and there’s good reason for that: I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Section 3 of the book is where it just gets all kind of crazy weird.
Get all your stuff where you can see it. This is a pretty basic one. You should always pull everything out of a space when you’re reorganizing it. It gives you an idea of the volume of stuff you really have and it also gives a chance to start the space as a blank canvas, so to speak.
Get real about your books. Kondo also asks the reader to think realistically about their book collections. This has been a point of difference between me and my husband. While he likes to keep books he loved, I feel like I’m probably never going to take the time to read them again, so why bother? I usually only buy books that I can reference over and over.
Don’t downgrade your clothes. Your old shirt is getting ratty, but you really liked that shirt. Kondo says don’t make it loungewear for at home. I agree. Just because you’re hanging at home does not me you need to wear clothes that are falling apart. Let it go. It’s okay.
The real problem is that we have far more than we need or want. I agree with her here. I often marvel at how small family homes were 50 years ago and yet, they weren’t cluttered full of stuff. It seems no matter how big of a house people have nowadays, most will fill it full of stuff. There’s something psychological there.
The best way to store bags is inside of other bags. She’s talking about handbags here. So…imagine yourself getting ready to go out and you just need a small bag. You have to open one bag after another like a nesting doll to get to the one you’re looking for. Then, when you come back home, you’re going to have to replace them all. It’s kind of a pain and human nature would dictate that most people would leave those bags just sitting there for a while before getting around to nesting them back into place (I know I would).
This entire passage from page 126 (of the large print edition) floored me:
“I hate filing papers! I never use multiple files or write labels. This system perhaps works better in an office setting, where many people use the same documents, but there is absolutely no need to use such a detailed filing system in the home.
My basic principle for sorting papers is to throw them all away.”
There’s a flag on the play. Say what? Please America, I know you’re obsessed with this book, but please for the love of all that is holy, do not read this part of it! Yes, lots of papers should probably be discarded, BUT lots of papers should NOT be discarded or need to stay around for a while. You need to figure out a system for yourself, based on the types of papers that come into your home. You need a way to decide for yourself what information needs to be kept and in what form it needs to be kept.
For myself, I check documents for contact info that needs to be entered into my Google contacts or on my desktop Rolodex (that’s right, I have an old school Rolodex and it’s awesome). Then I check for date specific information and make sure that makes it onto the calendar. Then I check for action specific information and write it on my daily notes (I keep daily and weekly notes. It’s a thing.). Do I need to contact someone? Do I need to purchase something? All those things go on the list. Then, is the actual paper itself important to keep and if so, where does it get filed.
My personal filing system at home has a freaking ton of papers: from insurance claims that go back a year (because every so often, one of them pops up out of the blue) to tax documents, to ID and school documents, to legal documents, business documents, items about the purchase of our home, medical records, etc. It’s a lot of papers and I honestly hate keeping them, BUT they’re all critical if an issue suddenly rears it’s head and you need them: not a just a copy, but the original. I have one of those over my kid’s medical records just this week. To just say that all papers should be thrown away is beyond negligent in my opinion and it can ruin you in the right circumstances.
The Flat-Out Crazy
Your socks have feelings. You read that right. Your socks…..have feelings. Kondo says that you need to set your socks nicely in the drawer because they’re tired from working and need to rest. At first blush, this might seem like a lighthearted somethingerother, but it’s not. It’s kind of a central belief: Velveteen Rabbit writ large.
Kondo says to say hello when you get home and thank all your items for doing their job. She says that when you put your off season clothes in storage, to bring them out every once in a while to see the sunlight. It all reminds me of Gwyneth Paltrow talking to water…because if your water is happy, it will make you happy. Spoiler alert: I thought that was nuts too.
There’s something to be said for keeping a positive attitude and appreciating the things around you. It’s great for your outlook. But this is so far beyond.
“Everything you own wants to be of use to you. Even if you throw it away or burn it, it will only leave behind the energy of wanting to be of service. Freed from its physical form, it will move about your world as energy, letting other things know that you are a special person, and come back to you as the thing that will be of most use to who you are now, the thing that will bring you the most happiness. A piece of clothing might come back as a new and beautiful outfit, or it may reappear as information or a new connection. I promise you: whatever you let go will come back in exactly the same amount, but only when it feels the desire to return to you.”
Decluttering can give you diarrhea. If I were to come up with a list of words I would not expect in a book about decluttering, one of those words would most definitely be “diarrhea”. But Kondo claims that it’s quite normal for your body to start expelling toxins that have built up over the years. Then she shares a lovely story about a client who suffered intestinal trouble after decluttering. I’m sure the client is thrilled for the shout out.
In the end, there is some really sound advice, but nothing I felt was new or earth shattering. Perhaps the lesson here is that it’s okay to let things go with full abandon and life will still carry on. All will still be well with the world.
That being said, have you read it, will you read it and what are your thoughts?