Tuesday, May 12, 2015

KonMari method

I read Marie Kondo's book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up last week. It was a short read, 126 pages total, and I finished it in two train commutes. The book is a New York Times #1 best seller, and Marie's consulting business has a three month waiting list in Japan.

The basic principle is discard first, and only after you've completely decluttered, do you organize things. Instead of going room by room as suggested by many organizing experts, Marie sets out categories and has you tackle them one at a time.

The KonMari method is more about changing your relationship to 'Stuff' first rather than figuring out the optimal storage for things. Before you even begin, you're asked to visualize your destination and explore the reasons behind it.

For me, I need a tidy house so I can have a CLEAN house. Right now my cleaning typically consists of a frantic 2-4 hour sprint before people come over (see: this Thursday evening...) I've never much cared for cleaning, but I dislike it even more because there's too much stuff in the way. I neglect vacuuming because my clothes are on the floor. I neglect dusting because there's too much Stuff on the tables. And so on. I've flirted with the idea and desire to have a cleaning service, but the funds never seem to work out and the poor woman would have the same problem I do anyways.

I have a bunch of Stuff. I think because I didn't have quite as much Stuff when I was younger, so having Stuff now was a sign of my successes. Most of the Stuff didn't make me happy for a long period of time though. The first category in the KonMari method is clothes - this is getting tackled on Sunday. I counted the hangers in my closet a while ago and came up with 276. But - this is just tops and dresses. And not even all my tops. There are sweaters on shelves. There are t-shirts in a drawer. And so on. Plus, I think there were even a few things in the wash. I couldn't even begin to tell you a fraction of the things in the closet off the top of my head. I hate putting laundry away.

I need a tidy house so my Stuff stops stressing me out. Not just the cleaning, but the finding. I can't count the number of times I've rummaged through a drawer looking for something, or misplaced a book or a piece of paper, or ran between the upstairs and downstairs looking for a particular pair of yoga pants that I swore I had just washed. I have multiple jars of salsa open in the fridge and who knows how many odd things tossed my pantry - my snacks are all out on the counter because things go into the pantry and don't come out. Sometimes I think I'm being frugal or responsible by saving half a lemon for next time I need it, only to buy two more while the poor half lemon disintegrates in the back of the fridge. Two moves ago, I managed to recycle about a thousand pages of class notes from grad school, only to agonize about tossing the empty binders because what about when I needed another empty binder? Ultimately I couldn't bring myself to pack, move, and unpack an entire box of empty binders. That was in 2011, and thinking about it now I'm pretty sure I haven't found a need to buy a new binder yet.

I've tried cleaning schedules, but they never seem to work - likely because of the Stuff. I've organized my bathroom counters, but they're still messy and dirty. I clean the fridge and pantry, but it doesn't last. So I'm hoping over the next several months (she says it can take up to 6 depending on how much time you have) I'll finally work past this repetitive cycle.

So. Sunday. Clothes. I've enlisted a friend, I've scheduled the donation pickup for Monday morning for all the Stuff I'm getting rid of. I'll pull everything out of the closet, out of the drawers, and then one by one though over 300 items (maybe closer to 400?) to ask myself if this item really makes me happy. If it does, it goes in the keep pile. If not, I'm supposed to thank it for everything it's done for me and send it on its way.