Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Launch of My 4-Month Purge & The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up



The sun is shining, the windows are finally cracked open and my winter malaise is lifting. I'm pretty sure that means it's spring cleaning and organizing time! And I gotta say I love it. Well, sort of. I'd rather be Samantha and twinkle my nose to get it all done. But, that not being an option, I love the satisfaction of finishing up with refreshed, clean spaces...and less stuff.

I've been looking for some inspiration to kick my spring tidy into gear. Aliya from Penguin Random House (who just did an office purge in preparation for a move herself) was kind enough to send me a copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.


I've heard a lot of buzz about this book, by Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo. Let me just say up front that I think we have more stuff in North America than people do in Japan. For one thing, there is no section on toys in the book. Toys, as we North American parents know, are a MAJOR part of the problem of excess stuff in our homes. Kondo does, however, focus on books, clothing and papers, all of which are also clutter issues in my home.

Ants on the windowsill!

She talks about her own desire to keep a clean home as a teenager and the difficulties she had getting her family on board. I'm pretty sure my mom would tell you that my siblings and I had zero desire to clean up. I am now in the mom position myself - trying to get the kids involved with the cleaning and organizing and finding it near impossible. Payback is a you-know-what.

Kondo recommends focusing your efforts on "eliminating clutter thoroughly and completely within a short span of time." She believes a thorough clean-up will ensure that you don't become a repeat clutter offender. At first I confess I found her wording frightening. A short span of time? But I'm too tired to do that much work. I'm sure to become overwhelmed and discouraged. Perhaps she doesn't understand how much stuff one North American family can accumulate.

As I read on, though, I discovered that she simply meant that we should make tidying a "special event" rather than a daily chore. In other words, we need to put our houses in order and then maintain them. In fact, Kondo says it takes average of six months for her clients to rid their homes of excess stuff.

Despite a mountain-size portion of stuff in this house, I'm giving myself four months. Why the tighter schedule? That brings us to the end of summer - how great would it be to start a fresh school year feeling that our home is cleaner, more functional and all around easier to live in? I haven't finished reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up yet, but I'll be reading that and some other books as I go along for inspiration. In the meantime, I'm keeping front of mind Kondo's criterion for selecting which items to keep - Does it spark joy? If an item isn't useful and it doesn't give me pleasure, off it goes!



Baby Steps - The Kitchen Windowsill


The first step in my spring/summer purge was ridding my kitchen windowsill of various vintage dishes. That one came about suddenly and out of necessity when I woke up to find the windowsill covered with ants one day. It sort of makes it difficult to rid a space of ants if there are all sorts of things for them to crawl on. I'm aiming to keep the windowsill and the counter as clutter-free as possible. I guess this is sort of cheating, but I boxed those little dishes up for now. I'm going to put them with all the other dishes that don't have a home and tackle them together later. Kondo recommends collecting all like items in one spot before attempting to purge any category. For example, when purging clothing, ensure you collect it from all areas of the house, including front hall closets and storage bins before beginning.



My Closet - The Jeans


My closet is up next - it's not in the worst condition it's ever been in. (There were points in the past when it was so cluttered I couldn't step into it.) That will make it much easier to head straight to purging unneeded clothing. I am starting with jeans. I have held onto really old pairs of jeans like they have some sort of sentimental value. I also have a couple of never-worn pairs that I ordered off the Internet and didn't return when they turned out to be too small. I have so many pairs, but I would say I only wear about five of them. Out they must go - off to Goodwill. Then I think I'll turn to tops. Too-short tops, too-tight tops, too-long tops and tops I'm simply tired of - I've got them all taking up valuable closet space at the moment.

My Magazine Addiction


This particular clean-up has been going on all winter actually. I love magazines with a passion (but hey, I studied magazine journalism so it makes sense right?). I have been phasing out my magazine subscriptions - O, The Oprah Magazine was the last one to go - and I am starting to recycle all of the many back issues I have kept for years. I have successfully resisted the urge to browse through each and every copy before tossing them. I now read most magazines on my iPad and, while I do miss the glossy physical copies, I am happier with fewer piles of magazines around.

Next Steps


Although my 4-Month Purge is in the early stages, I'm confident I'll be able to stay on track - I have you to keep me accountable. I'll be reporting back again when I have some progress to show you. I'm snapping pics on my cellphone as I go. I figure hauling out the DSLR could be a deterrent to getting things done. I have several areas that I will need to focus on in my home - the dining room table, the fruit cellar, a couple of closets in the basement, the laundry room, the garage, my bedroom closet, my office and, the biggest hurdle of all, our basement storage room. I'll also be attempting to unclutter my email in-boxes and my computer and portable hard drives as well. I think that will be an important step in removing "mental clutter."

Could your home do with a spring purge?

18 comments:

  1. Good job on the start of your purging Jo, maybe you can lend me that book when your done with it I need to start purging my own closet especially the jewelry, the family said I was always like Aunt Rutsie that way

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    1. You can definitely borrow the book, although I'm not sure you need it. Your house is so neat. :)

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  2. i would like to read more about your progress and how you are doing it. I too purchased the book, I haven't finished reading it yet tho.

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    1. I am looking forward to sharing updates Lori. Thanks. I would like to read the book as I go, so that I have more time to absorb it.

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  3. I was reading about this author last week and discussed the "does it bring you joy" with my sister when we were talking about decluttering! My goal is to surround myself with things I love as much as possible. Also, to get rid of toys. We have so much and when I tell the kids their Thomas track sets are going to eBay, suddenly they decide they want to play with them, even though they haven't played with the train sets since they were little! It's ridiculous because we have so much and it takes up too much space. I read about clutter being a fire hazard too. For decluttering I mostly follow the FlyLady system, like setting the timer for a short period of time to clean or find items to get rid of. It's worked very well but I am forever stunned at the amount of crap we have. I still have a whole spare room full of stuff to sort!

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    1. Oh my gosh, I know! We try to clean up the basement and suddenly the kids are all into their toys. So funny. I'll have to gradually toss them when the kids are at school! I just wrote an article about seniors and hoarding and it definitely can become a fire hazard. I have talked to the kids about keeping bedroom floors clear for a fire exit plan. I like to work in short bursts too to keep energy up. But I need these four months of focus to get things into gear! :)

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  4. Good luck in your journey! Decluttering is MUCH easier said than done I think... I am far too sentimental for my own good personally :)

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    1. Thank you! So true - there are so many emotional elements that come into play when trying to declutter. That's really the hard part, huh?

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  5. Good for you. I started working on this myself. Started boxing things for a local auction, and have made a few trips to the thrift. Every box and bag out feels good. Need to read that book also. :)

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    1. That's right Pam. Every box or bag makes me feel good too! Now I need to focus on many more of them! ;)

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  6. You will feel so much better when you are done with this project. Now that I am done with school I can focus on the rest of my life which has been mostly on hold for two years. Yesterday I made 3 trips to Goodwill to donate stuff that I no longer wanted. The donations ranged from furniture to house accessories and clothes that are now way too big. By the end of the day I felt so good about unloading the stuff. I am not a hoarder, but I was still amazed at how much I had to give away.

    I will definitely get a copy of the book.

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    1. I am looking forward to the finish line! Good for you on three trips to Goodwill! Sounds like you are well on track. You must feel lighter! I get it...even if we're not hoarders many of us have SO MUCH STUFF! The book is a good little helper. :)

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  7. Good luck!! It will be fun to follow along with you on this one!

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    1. Thanks Taby! Your support is much needed. :)

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  8. Good luck with this - my house definitely needs a declutter. I find it tricky I have to say I'm someone who has emotional attachments to things and find it easier to donate a thing here and gift a thing there rather than in one foul swoop?! Does that make sense?! Not heard of that author but am now extremely interested. My sister is currently VERY in to cleansing through getting rid of stuff. May the force be with you ;0) J9 x

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    1. I'm like you - I find it hard. But I don't think we can keep this house clean and organized without getting rid of maybe 25 % of this stuff! Thanks for the kind wishes. I'll need them. :) Jo

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  9. I've been seeing this book all over IG for months now and seen some of the purging piles, oh, my!!! Good luck, I am always giving stuff away, I still have way too much! I think paper items could be my worst clutter!!

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    1. Thanks Jill! I have definite paper issues too. ;) Books are great for inspiration, but I feel that you have to be ready to purge - I think I have flipped a switch and I want to make it happen! :)

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