The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing, written by the Japanese home-organization consultant Marie Kondo, is my latest venture into finding the perfect way to get and stay organized.
I love that what she calls tidying up is really tossing your stuff in one fell swoop - in three to six months. Warrior style: Dramatic and quick. No ongoing battle with your clutter. She advises going through your stuff by category and in order - first clothing, then books, papers, komono or miscellaneous items, and finally sentimental items and photos. It is not so much deciding what to get rid of, but knowing what you want to keep. What brings you joy. By the time you have picked up and touched your every possession and kept only those that 'spark joy' you will have successfully cleared your home of items that have outlived their purpose and you will be living only with those items that you cherish.
Once tidied to the hilt, lessons follow on how to handle what is left: on folding your clothes, storing your handbags, streamlining your bath products, keeping kitchen counters clear, and designating a spot for every possession.
She advocates pulling them all from the shelves, table tops, chairs, bedsides and counters and piling them all in the floor. If you have a large library, you can sort them into categories if you like - pleasure, practical, pictorial. Once the books are all in one place, pick up each one individually. Wait for that "thrill of pleasure when you touch a book" and if it doesn't come, the book doesn't get to stay.
As to books that are hanging about because you are going to read them again, she says that most likely you won't. And the books you have bought and intend to read? Well, here is her take on those:
It is not uncommon for people to purchase a book and then buy another one not long after, before they have read the first one. Unread books accumulate. The problem with books that we intend to read sometime is that they are far harder to part with than ones we have already read.
Ah! The blessing and the curse for book lovers.
Ms. Kondo also suggests we talk to our things. At the end of the day, we should thank our shoes for protecting and supporting our feet, our coat for keeping us warm, our purse for allowing us to carry our daily items. I am not sure I would go that far, but I can appreciate her point.
The text is a translation so the writing seems a little choppy in places and quite often repetitious. And the word for letters and envelopes - stationEry - is consistently spelled stationAry. That irritated me.
I was also surprised at the author's claims that clients have thrown out in one day hundreds of books and 45 bags of stuff. I always think of Japanese living spaces as being crowded and compact and am amazed that there would be that much to throw away.
Tidying Up is a small book and quickly read and you might just glean a few tips for your own struggles with Stuff. Just be sure to thank it for its enlightenment and give it away when you finish reading it.