This may sound a little crazy, but I spent a beautiful weekend in August decluttering and I loved it. It was truly transformative.
When I declared to my wife last Friday night that I was on a mission to declutter our entire house and wanted to do it immediately, my wife stood there in complete disbelief, then looked up into the heavens and said, “thank you.” I’m surprised she didn’t want to check my temperature.
It all started about a week ago coming back from a long business trip. I’m always looking for the next great personal development book, and I was compelled to pick up this tiny book on decluttering and organizing. The book is “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo.
You can find it here:
As a personal development coach, I’m constantly talking about the importance of removing mental, physical and emotional clutter as a key strategy to living life to the fullest.
I’ve done well in that regard (for the most part) but have never fully mastered physical clutter. No matter how many times I’ve cleaned and reorganized my office and my home, clutter inevitably creeps back in. Until now.
Life is too short to be always cleaning and re-cleaning. Organizing, and re-organizing. At 47, I want to be getting the most out of life, not spending every Saturday cleaning and removing clutter until 3 pm. Agreed?
Here are 5 key lessons I learned from Marie that changed my approaches to tidying and organizing forever:
(1) Clean by category, not by room.
I’ve always cleaned room by room, so this was a real shift for me.
This change in strategy was very helpful in two ways. By finding all the books in the house and decluttering at one time, it gave me total clarity on the books I loved and wanted to keep, and those I wanted to discard. Incredibly helpful. Second, it created a system where I now keep all of one item (books) in one location and not in various rooms, which I know will stop the creeping of future clutter.
(2) Have one central place you keep each item.
After I found one central location for each item, all I needed to do was return it to its rightful place. Awesome. No more mental gymnastics to figure out where an item should go. I know that this will SIGNIFICANTLY cut down the amount of time I need to pick up around the house in the weeks and months to come.
(3) Let go of items you no longer love.
As I was cleaning by category, I laid ALL of one item on my bed for review. Let’s take clothing, for example. I picked up each piece of clothing and asked myself a central question. “Does this piece of clothing give me joy?” If not, it was placed into a pile to give away or discard.
That activity was SO liberating. I got rid of clothing items I stopped wearing years ago, and it felt great. I now walk into my closet and am surrounded by only clothing items I enjoy wearing.
The energy in my closet has completely transformed. There are fewer clothes and there’s a lot more room to move around and everything feels lighter.
(4) Discard first, store later
The premise behind this is to eliminate everything you no longer love before you store it somewhere. It made re-organing so much faster and easier.
(5) Unread books: “sometimes” means “never.”
I love to read books, but I’m guilty as charged on this one. I have piles of books that I’ll read “sometime.”
I took all of those books that I had an intention of reading “some time” and asked myself, “Do I REALLY want to read this?” If the answer was no, I placed it on the discard pile.
Then I took a look at all the books gathering dust on my shelf, and asked myself, “Has this book served me completely or will I read it again because I love it?” That led many other books hitting the discard pile.
The result? I have free spaces on my bookshelf, and I’ve reconnected with a few books that I’m excited about re-reading.
Here’s what you can expect if you pick up Marie’s book and implement her strategies:
(1) Increased physical order in your home (or office) which will lead to a more peaceful mind. Order brings calm;
(2) You’ll spend a lot less time cleaning, so you can devote more time to doing the things you love;
(3) Increased clarity and focus. When your physical space is clean, clear and organized, you think more clearly and make better decisions;
(4) Improved mood and well-being. You’ll look at each aspect of your physical space, and will feel in control of it. The more you feel in control, the better you feel; and,
(5) Improved energy. Physical space has an energy. Clutter, as we all know, has a heavy energy, and by utilizing these strategies and removing items you no longer love, the energy in your home will feel lighter and brighter. It just does.