Extreme decluttering

Cleaning consultant and author Marie Kondo has sold over two million copies of her book, The life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing.  She has a three month waiting list for her services and never has repeat clients; when they use her reliable methods, they only have to do it once.  And as soon as people uncover the joy and shift in mindset that living clutter free allows, they typically develop a strong desire to maintain their more minimalist lifestyle.  Tidying is just a tool in moving forward in the rest of your life, but once you begin to use the tool “you are resetting your life”, explains Konda. medium_2541710549

Her book is a fun read and is full of valuable tips and detailed guidance for anyone wanting to try the KonMari Method of simplifying. To gleen the full benefits of her wisdom, I recommend reading the book. But for those who are just curious about  what some of her significant methods are, here is my understanding of the four big ones:

* Do your simplifying all at once.  Attempting to declutter a little at a time just doesn’t work well for most people; you won’t see any immediate results when doing it little by little, and therefore you won’t gain any momentum  Besides, it could take you a lifetime. Think of simplifying as an exciting event, and tackle it all at once. Yup, when you’re ready, jump in and go. When you do it this way, you’ll be feeling the magic in no time. You’ll want to keep going.

*Go through items by category, not by rooms.  You should only have to go through each category once. So when you’re sorting clothes, for example, collect all of your clothes from the house before going through them. Kondo recommends sorting in the following order: clothing, books, papers, miscellany, then sentimental items (pictures, etc).

*Instead of thinking about what you want to get rid of, first decide which things you really want to keep.  Do you need it? Does it bring you joy? If you can’t answer yes to either of those questions, then it goes.

* Discard first, and store afterwards. In other words, don’t try to figure out where you want to keep things until after you’ve discarded all things that you aren’t going to keep.

The magic of tidying dramatically transforms your life,  promises Marie Konda.  And a whole lot of people are discovering that she’s right.

Where can all that stuff go?

For anyone who is doing more than just your average spring cleaning, and needs places to put all the stuff they may be clearing out of their homes, I have shared a few links below to help the process.   In addition to yard sales, and Craigslist, you may be looking to donate some of your things. Goodwill and  Big Brother organizations are just two of many good options. Unwanted stuff needn’t go in a landfill. There are plenty of people and organizations that may be able to put it to good use. Knowing that makes it easier for some people to let their clutter go. Just be careful not to let the donation period drag on for years!

 

http://www.bbbs.org/site/c.9iILI3NGKhK6F/b.5962335/k.BE16/Home.htm

http://moving.about.com/od/packingtipsandtricks/a/donating_stuff.htm

http://www.missminimalist.com/2011/04/where-to-donate-your-stuff-101-places-your-clutter-can-do-good/

 

 

Simplify: a discipline alternative

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We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. Aristotle

Discipline is just choosing between what you want now and what you want most. anonymous

I recently had a revelation. I simplify because I lack discipline. It’s one of those facts that you’ve known all along but comes into focus one day. For me, simplifying takes the place of discipline, and then leads to happiness.

Looking back, I’ve never really been disciplined.  I can blame that on my temperament, my upbringing, or anything else I can come up with, but it just never came naturally to me.   I remember starting on a strict diet when I was a teen, and how my parents did not have to worry that it would get out of control.  My diet lasted three days. I got consistent exercise only in the fall, because that is when I played a sport. If I didn’t show up, there would be consequences, people mad at me. I required structure, demands, few choices.

Fortunately for our daughters, they seem to take after their father.  I’ve never had to remind them to do their homework, eat their veggies or get some exercise.  They dedicated themselves to rigorous ballet classes and AP courses. And they studied their way through freshman year of college.  I remember sitting through a preprofessional ballet class with one of my daughters when she was contemplating switching to a more serious and structured dance school. I thought the class seemed dreadful, confining, boring. When the long ninety minutes was over, we left and I thought well, that takes care of that. I thought of the time and money we would save by not ever coming back. Her response was just the opposite. “I have to have this”, she said, longing in her eyes.

I don’t like stagnation and I know that to move forward, to fulfill my goals, to be happy, demands commitment.  So I do some things that seem to require discipline and focus, like practicing yoga, for instance.  And simplifying in ways that make sense to me.  But I don’t do these things because I am disciplined.   I find discipline only because I do them.

Without simplifying, I don’t stand a chance. I know that if I have too many things in my own way- on my agenda, in my head, on my plate, I will never make it to that yoga class. I won’t sit down and write if I am distracted by all the things I have to do afterwards or did before that. If I am tripping over things on the way to my desk, I may never make it into the chair. Eliminating all that I can, except what matters the most to me, is how I actually stay consistent with those things that matter.  Like most people, when I’m overwhelmed or tired, I am at my weakest. So my method of finding- or rather replacing- discipline is to remove the things that I can which keep me from what I want most.  If I am clogged and cluttered with the extraneous, I can’t see the path I know I want to be on, let alone move forward on it.

I simplify my diet by organizing my pantry and fridge. I streamline my wardrobe by only keeping what I like. I unriddle my exercise routine by committing ahead of time to a workout or scheduled yoga class.  I focus on what I want by eliminating from my agenda that which I don’t, as far as it is in my control. And only then, when I have pared down as much as I am able to, will I make the choices that give my life a forward momentum. One good choice leads to the next, and good things happen. Dreams come true.

Simple things that I love

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Mason jars have made a comeback, partly due to the resurgence of canning.  These jars have been around forever, yet have become a new shabby chic trend. Now they are wedding centerpieces, candle holders, Christmas gifts filled with muffin mix or soup or crafts. I love them, not just because they are BPA-free and dishwasher safe, but because they are clear and unfussy. I am a sucker for anything polished- rustic, so I am on board for this trend. They are the “where have you been all my life?” containers, and I am in love. They match any decor and can be bought inexpensively, by the case. They come in many sizes, and are easily replaced, given away, and stored. I use them to hold grains, and to make chocolate and vanilla chia pudding. I fill them with a breakfast mix that can be stored in the fridge the night before, shaken, and eaten or brought on the go in the morning. Mostly, I just love how simple they look and feel.

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I’m not real big on accessories, especially if they are big, cumbersome or complicated. But I am a fan of the Infinity scarf.  I find most scarves to be too long for me, and I struggle with how to tie them so they don’t take me over. But I like the idea of using a simple piece to add a splash of color to a basic black or white blouse. So when the infinity scarf was born, I embraced the trend. They fall obediently over a t-shirt and can be easily and prettily tucked into a jacket.  When it comes to accessorizing, my love goes to infinity.

Lists. Nothing trendy here, just pen and paper. I am not sure I could ever give up my lists. I have them going all the time- grocery lists, to do lists, to write lists, books I want to read lists, and then there is the never changing list, such as whose birthday is when. I like to have sticky notes readily available to jot things down on, then add them to my lists. Songs, items, things I want to google, podcasts I want to hear, authors I want to be.  I recently started keeping my lists in a small binder. I’ve divided it into “to do” “to write” and “to buy”.  I love knowing all my lists are in one place, and can be torn out, added to, or rewritten. A new blog post or essay idea? Ran out of yogurt? Came across the name of a book I must read? I simply must list it.

Olive oil.  I’ve liked cooking with olive oil for as long as I’ve been cooking. I also love drizzling it over avocado and tomato salads. But I have a new use for olive oil which has  reignited my appreciation for it. Hair. Yup, I recently learned, thanks to chef Giada De Laurentiis, that this oil is great for the hair. I guess it’s not surprising that Giada would get her beauty products from the kitchen. But after years of trying many products on my sometimes unruly, curly hair, I never would have thought of this one on my own. Thanks, Giada. I love it.