After typing my post yesterday, I felt a little defeated. Looking around my tiny apartment, I was amazed to see all the stuff I accumulated. Of course, in comparison to most families, it’s still minor, but it depressed me. The last couple years I have been purging and cleaning my stuff on a regular basis, but still, it seems like a enormous pile of .. stuff.
A blog I read a lot came to the rescue with an article about books that one should pack for a holiday. Since I felt I needed the holiday right now, I browsed idly through the books. Among others, he recommended the book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo, a Japanese decluttering and organizing expert. Hmm. I remembered a friend of mine brought the book up in a chat a while ago. I dismissed it because I thought I already was the queen of decluttering.
GETTING RID OF STUFF
Finding a second recommendation in the article, I found it at bol.com as an e-book. So I bought it, downloaded it to my phone and started reading. I could use some expert advice, I thought. And I must say, it gave me just the push I needed to part with things I kept for the wrong reasons. For example because it fits quite nicely in my current place, but has no value in the new apartment. In other cases because I held on to the past for far too long: I’ve torn a couple photo albums apart which I never looked at (I have all those pictures digitally anyway) and it felt as SUCH A RELIEF to let go and stop dragging those from place to place.
Other things I just felt bad about tossing because environmental consequences and such. But I never used it. So it better go or it will go when I do 🙁 The enthusiasm and sweet but ruthless vision of Marie helped me over the edge to get rid of all those things blocking my way, and it feels so so so GOOD! In her book, she uses the word “throwing away” all the time, but of course you can (read: should) regift, repurpose, recycle and upcycle.
FOLD FOLD FOLD!
So at first, I was only interested in looking for ways to diminish my stuff. But here it comes. Marie has a certain vision about piling clothing. She feels that piling t-shirts and tops puts pressure on the clothes at the bottom, which of course, is true, gravity and all. And not only that, it’s her philosophy that it might also hurt the feelings of the items in the bottom. Just as stretching fabric, piling books or tossing your favorite bag in a corner, it’s all not done. And I get that. In a certain way, that’s a very sweet and kind way to interact with your environment.
So. I was reading and she was talking about folding up your clothes and store them in drawers. Only the blazers, certain dressers and sweaters go on hangers. The rest gets folded in neat bundles and placed in a shoebox – for example – and then in a drawer. I only tried this because I actually hang almost all my clothes (I have a small IKEA cabinet) and I have a pile of t-shirts and tops at the bottom. But you know how it goes. You pile ’em up, it looks quite okay. But then you try to wriggle one of the shirts out of the pile and hooo there it goes. So annoying.
This frustration made me try the folding thing. I looked it up on the internets and started folding, folding, folding. I found two old shoeboxes and started fitting. And to my amazement, it looked quite good! So I grabbed some washi tape to hide the hideous boxes (hey, isn’t washi tape Japanese too?) and was even more pleased. Wow. This could go right into our new closets! And look how many shirts actually fit in a box! And it’s so easy to spot them now. Just wow. Who would have thought it would work so well? Well, obviously, Marie and her 2 million fans. But I wasn’t on board yet.. slowpoke!
SOCK BALLS ARE NO-NO
Ok. Since that worked, I’ll try the sock fold as well. Marie has scolded me in her book for making balls of my socks. Socks do not like this, she states – socks have to hold your foot the entire day, get crushed in a washing machine and then stretched into a ball.. how would you feel!? – plus you are ruining the elastic within them. Point taken. So I fold. And fold. And hey! Cute little boxes of socks. That is adorable. Ok. You adorable Japanese girl. You’ve won me over.
I just saw an article in which she also folds pants and jeans in these neat bundles. And dressed, if the fabric allows. She also argues it’s better for clothing to be handled and touched and so keep them fresh and full of energy. Wow.
Coincidentally, we now have a big build in closet full of drawers in our new place. Perfect of all this shoebox-storage-folding-clothes action. Rick’s also excited, because if we use this for his shirts, it’s easier to spot the print, and find the one he needs instead of running through piles of t-shirts. So. When I’m there, I’ll take some pictures.
So. Give it a try. You don’t need the book to reap the rewards, but it’s a fun read. I bought the e-book for a mere 8 euros. And Youtube has plenty of material on the folding techniques
You might feel like an idiot at first, but trust me, you will have your a-hah moment! And best of all, finally it’s easy to find something when you wake up and stare groggily into your closet. Next to those techniques, Marie shares some very insightful experiences to banish the clutter, and I’m sure that they’ll stick with you. Also, it looks like heaps of work, but sorting out piles of clothing is seriously much more work than making those cute bundles which will stay in place.
Some people think she’s a little off, because she has a very different worldview than many of us do. Don’t be discouraged, rather be endeared by this creature and her ideas. It’s actually very much in line with Japanese ideas as feng shui and wabi sabi. So if you are familiar with those, her views aren’t so strange. She argues that the energy and attention you give your belongings, is reflected back onto you and your life. That’s precious right?
On the other hand, you don’t have to believe all that to reap the benefits. So just try a drawer and see if you like it. Oh. And declutter your home as maniac. That’s beneficial too. Honestly. Read her book to get you started. And no, I don’t have any shares in this 😉 It has been working so well that I even got Rick enthousiastic!