I have been writing about the Japanese writer, Marie Kondo‘s approach to tidying up your life. Then I got an email from a reader.
I’m so pleased you blogged about it. I genuinely feel like it is changing my life. Yesterday, I did all my clothes and toiletries, shoes, all the kids’ stuff, kitchen cleaning drawer, bathroom cabinets, and sorted out my handbags with a tray to empty all the contents of my bag each day. Initially, it seemed so silly reading about her emptying her bag, but it is actually amazing, as it means you only take with you what you need for each day, and you end up tidying stuff away, even if you accumulated contents during the day. My bags and notebooks and laptop never owned a ‘space’ of their own before, so I would pile them on the floor, and sometimes it would stack up over the weeks.
I include this excert as the writer refers to the handbag question, an aspect of Kondo which I have also found most helpful. Kondo recounts how she puts everything from her bag into a ‘designated place” each evening, before she does anything else. It only takes five minutes. “Keeping your space tidy becomes second nature” she argues. “The essence of effective storage is this: designate a spot for every last thing you own”.
Marie Kondo suggests that you unpack your bag deliberately, each day on your return from work. You put all your regular things onto a tray or into a special place.
I tried it. I cleared out a drawer near to the front door. For five weeks, I have emptied my handbag and put the following items back into that drawer:
- work pass
- small make up bag
- little pencil-case (1 pen, 1 pencil)
- phone charger
- travel sized shampoo and conditioner
- ear plugs
- ear phones
- asthma inhaler
Extraneous items are scrutinised eg today’s paper, tissues, bus tickets, leaflets, travel details – and go straight in the bin or are actioned. I hang up the empty bag and get on with my evening.
In the morning I open the drawer and take out what I need for the coming day. Every day I need keys, purse and phone. But I do not need every item, every day – for example I wash my hair every other day, in the gym, so I don’t need the shampoo and conditioner on a Tuesday or Thursday. If I will be in my office I won’t need the phone charger.
This small change in my life (as part of a more comprehensive Kondoing) has proved very effective and life changing. I have stopped losing my keys/phone/purse/work pass etc. I have stopped panicking a few minutes before my bus arrives as I madly search for my inhaler, ear plugs or padlock. I don’t need to ask my husband or daughter if they have seen my purse, keys, phone etc. I don’t forget the things that I might need today – such as sunglasses or umbrella. I am no longer just carrying everything around on my back in case I might need it. I have taken a significant piece of stress out of my life. And my loved ones don’t have to search high and low with me.
I have seen “organiser bags”, and hand bag inserts which claim to do “organise” things for you. The first seems to be a handbag with lots of zippers and special sections for a pen, glasses, credit cards, keys. You search for items to fit into the spaces! The insert is the same idea, but rather than one ugly black bag, the company assume you have several bags and change them frequently. You pull out the insert with the phone, pen, cards, books etc in it, and put into a fresh bag.
So what is the problem?
- You can’t see what you have got so you just cart it around whether you need it or not.
- It is an “organsation” aid that encourages hoarding. It won’t be long before you have business cards and receipts hiding in those pouches.
I have no idea how men manage this. They don’t appear to have handbags which appear to be an inherently female thing.