A few months ago fellow blogger Stephanie mentioned she had read a book on tidiness – The Life Changing Magic of Tidying. Then Anna Catt, a work colleague, offered me her copy to read.
What did I learn?
I learnt a great deal. I knew some of the theories, but what are thoughts without action? If you find her arguments persuasive you may be compelled to do something. To throw away everything in your home that does not bring you joy. Not necessarily throw away – take your bin bags to the charity shop where I am sure they will be able to turn it into cash to help people in dire need.
- Get your mind-set right. Decide why you want to have a tidy home (my reasons are set out below)
- You are going to tidy completely but once only – you need to dedicate some serious time to this until it is completed
- You are aiming for perfection so that the new, ideal space motivates you to live differently. Your home will become a beautiful sanctuary
- Approach your possessions by category not by room (ie clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous items, sentimental items)
- Handle each item thinking about its meaning to you. Things that you bought but never wore taught you something about what you enjoy wearing. Be thankful for that.
- Decide what you want to keep by what you love – select those things that bring you joy
- Discard everything else by putting it into the right place eg charity shop, dustbin, but don’t pass them on to others as you will burden them with your unwanted stuff (with few exceptions)
- Once you are left with a pile of eg clothes that you absolutely love then store them so you can see at a glance what you have and be sure you will enjoy wearing them and looking after them
- Careful folding into rectangular shapes and arranging vertically in drawers allows you to see what you have. Avoid stacking as you forget what is at the bottom and it gets crushed
- Once everything you own has its own space always return it to this space once you have used it
I was challenged by the notion that one starts with clothes, moving towards ever more emotionally-charged, highly valuable and irreplaceable areas like family heirlooms, letters and photographs. The idea being that clothes are instantly replaceable but things like photographs are not. Yet it was a logic that escaped me. My clothes are emotionally charged, and while they are replaceable I guess I have more invested in them than many things. My family photos are nice but I have hundreds that are similar, and I could scan the ones I love if I could be bothered. I have sold “heirloom” items in the past as I have needed the money more than the sentiment. But clothes have lots of meaning for me, not just the ones I made but also some of those I bought. The book assumes that clothes are less important than books. Also I have the category “fabrics, notions, patterns, and as yet unmade clothes, and craft items, and tools”. I think this would be a separate category for me. So if I am to adopt this approach I may change the order a little.
The other problem area is that my home is shared with my dear husband who has not signed up to this approach. We do have individual areas but we also have shared space. “My” large cutting table is also his “food prep area”. This is economical but not conducive to happiness as we both want to use it, especially at the weekend. Her advice on communal space is to start on personal space and make it perfect. Then it is likely that others in the house will follow suit.
Most questions you may have about tidying are answered in this easy to read volume. I would recommend it as an interesting read. But can I implement it? I thought about this question for quite a long time. Then, on Wednesday I grabbed a pair of red gloves before I left home. They were both for the left hand. Why would someone keep two left gloves? I felt like a total idiot.
Here are my reasons for tackling my home
- I would like a serene and clutter free environment
- I enjoy having a clear line of sight
- I would like my lovely home to look beautiful all the time
- I would like to know that my home is clean and tidy all the time
- I feel burdened by having too much stuff to worry about
- I know I have lots of things that I am no longer aware of that are just taking up space
- I would rather someone else could enjoy them – if they go to the charity shop then they are being recycled and a donation is also made
- I have trouble shutting some of my drawers
- I can’t always find things quickly
- I forget what I already have and sometimes buy the same thing again
- I find it hard to discard gifts and valuable items
- I sometimes think I will get round to something in the future but I haven’t yet (eg knitting two jumpers)
- I bump into furniture as our home is small and we have a lot of stuff
- Many of our storage “solutions” are not well used
- Things are not classified very effectively
- I don’t want to live like this
I am thinking about making this fundamental change and will let you know how I get on.