As an entrepreneur, it’s important to keep my workspace clean and clear of distractions so I can focus on the task at hand. Since I work from home, this naturally extends to my house overall. As such, one of my personal goals for this year is to make our home more welcoming for our family and guests (see Looking Forward, Making Plans). An important part of this is decluttering and organizing. Our children have grown into young adults, but we still have many remnants of their childhoods throughout the house. The bedrooms, in particular, are a bit out of control from a combination of my sentimentality and my kids’ tolerance of disorder. Very soon an international exchange student will be coming to live with us so there is now more urgency in transforming my son’s bedroom into a comfortable retreat for our guest. My son’s room contains many clothes, books, and toys that he hasn’t yet parted with. It often feels like he has just gone out for an evening rather than away to university. Nice illusion, but it is not very practical!
I was inspired to begin our epic journey to a tidy house last year when we renovated our kitchen. Everything on the main floor needed to be boxed up and moved into the living room while the remainder of the space was ripped down to the studs and rebuilt. It was a great opportunity to re-evaluate all the stuff packed into the cupboards, books on the shelves, paper files on my desk and knick-knacks scattered around. Then I stumbled across a book by Marie Kondo called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing”. In her Konmari method, Kondo talks about gathering all like belongings, starting with clothes, then holding each in turn to see if they “spark joy”. For objects that no longer have a place in our lives going forward, Kondo recommends thanking the object before letting it go. To her, tidying is not just storage tricks, but also a way of changing your life. Your belongings should reflect your vision of your ideal life. Decluttering your home and office can help to declutter your mind, letting go of the past and focusing on the items that represent your desired future. Also, when you discard items first, the remaining objects are much easier to organize and keep organized.
After reading Kondo’s book, I attacked my own clothes with new enthusiasm, pulling everything out of my closet and drawers to pile it on the bed. If you have never done this, you likely will be amazed at the volume of things you own. This provides the motivation to pass along the things that you rarely wear to a new home through Goodwill or Variety Village or your favorite charity. Once I reduced the pile of clothes to those items that both looked good on me and brought me joy, I moved onto the Konmari method of folding. She recommends folding clothes into small rectangles and placing them vertically in the drawers. I thought for sure this wouldn’t work, but I have become a convert. I love seeing everything in the drawers at a single glance. And they actually stay in place! I get a warm feeling every time I reach into a drawer or easily pull something out of my closet. Strange but true!
I’ve shared this book with others on a similar journey of tidying, and their successes bring me added enthusiasm to continue decluttering throughout the house. Apparently I am not the only convert – Marie Kondo now has a show called Tidying Up on Netflix! So as the New Year begins, I can no longer put off dealing with the anarchy of my son’s room. Over the holidays, I coaxed (aka coerced) my son to go through his dresser drawers, which resulted in a large garbage bag full of clothing donations. I then took over the next phase: Recycling & shredding papers. Discovering missing towels. Finding windfalls of lucky red envelopes buried in his papers. It was a voyage of discovery! Looking through the bookshelves and toy collections sparked joy and memories of a lovely childhood we shared. Now I’m looking forward to his next weekend back home to see his shock and amazement at the change in his room – and hopefully another trip to drop off donations. That way his old belongings will bring joy to another family and we can spread the joy of a home-away-from-home to our new international student!
Do you have any secret messes cluttering up your closets or bedroom or basement? What are your problem spots? What new possibilities can you realize with the space cleared by decluttering and organizing? Have you considered going on a tidying journey. You may find this sparks unexpected joy and opportunity in your life!