The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

★★★☆☆

Review:

There is a gentle hint of psychosis running through this charming, easy read about how to eliminate the unnecessary stuff in your life, and where to put the stuff you care about. I’m going to try some of the methods described here.

★★★☆☆
Links Finished More from this year
Buy this book ~Jan 18, 2015 Books read in 2015

Highlights

Tidy in the right order. As we’ve seen, there are only two tasks involved—discarding and deciding where to keep things. Just two, but discarding must come first. Be sure to completely finish the first task before starting the next.
You can think about where to put things when you’ve finished getting rid of everything you don’t need.
It’s easy to get rid of things when there is an obvious reason for doing so. It’s much more difficult when there is no compelling reason. Various experts have proposed yardsticks for discarding things people find hard to part with. These include such rules as “discard anything you haven’t used for a year,” and “if you can’t decide, pack those items away in a box and look at them again six months later.” However, the moment you start focusing on how to choose what to throw away, you have actually veered significantly off course. In this state, it is extremely risky to continue tidying.
The process of deciding what to keep and what to discard will go much more smoothly if you begin with items that are easier to make decisions about. As you gradually work toward the harder categories, you will be honing your decision-making skills. Clothes are the easiest because their rarity value is extremely low. Photographs and letters, on the other hand, not only have a high sentimental value but also are one of a kind; therefore, they should be left until last.
I can understand why people might be attracted to hanging their clothes. It seems like far less work. However, I strongly recommend folding as the main storage method. But it’s a pain to fold clothes and put them away in the drawer. It’s much easier to pop them on a hanger and stick them in the closet. If that’s what you’re thinking, then you haven’t discovered the true impact of folding. Hanging just can’t compete with folding for saving space. Although it depends somewhat on the thickness of the clothes in question, you can fit from twenty to forty pieces of folded clothing in the same amount of space required to hang ten.
By neatly folding your clothes, you can solve almost every problem related to storage. But that is not the only effect of folding. The real benefit is that you must handle each piece of clothing.
The first step is to visualize what the inside of your drawer will look like when you finish. The goal should be to organize the contents so that you can see where every item is at a glance, just as you can see the spines of the books on your bookshelves. The key is to store things standing up rather than laid flat. Some people mimic store displays, folding each piece of clothing into a large square and then arranging them one on top of the other in layers. This is great for temporary sales displays in stores, but not what we should be aiming for at home, where our relationship with these clothes is long term.
Have you ever had the experience where you thought what you were doing was a good thing but later learned that it had hurt someone? At the time, you were totally unconcerned, oblivious to the other person’s feelings. This is somewhat similar to the way many of us treat our socks.
By eliminating excess visual information that doesn’t inspire joy, you can make your space much more peaceful and comfortable. The difference this makes is so amazing it would be a waste not to try it.
The first thing I do when I visit a client’s home is to greet their house. I kneel formally on the floor in the center of the house and address the house in my mind. After giving a brief self-introduction, including my name, address, and occupation, I ask for help in creating a space where the family can enjoy a happier life. Then I bow. It is a silent ritual that only takes about two minutes, but it does elicit some strange looks from my clients.
When we discard everything in one go, which sometimes means disposing of forty garbage bags of stuff in one day, our bodies may respond in a way that resembles a short fast. We may get a bout of diarrhea or break out in pimples. There is nothing wrong with this. Our bodies are just getting rid of toxins that have built up over the years, and they will be back to normal, or in fact in even better shape, within a day or two. One of my clients cleared out a closet and shed that she had neglected for ten years. Immediately after, she had a strong bout of diarrhea after which she felt much lighter.
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