There’s nothing like a new year to inspire us to de-clutter our homes, but one woman in Japan has created a movement that is active year round, and has spawned books, blogs and coming soon, a Netflix series. Take a peek here:
KonMari, founded by Marie Kondo (learn more here) advocates transforming your life by tidying your space once and for all. How? By going through every item you own and asking yourself “Does this bring joy?” From this simple premise has come a New York Times best-seller “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” and hordes of followers all over the world.
Hold on there
Not everyone is ready for this leap. Items have associations and memories, and for some of us, letting go can hurt. A Yale study found for some of us, parts of our brains react the same way to the anticipated loss of valued possessions as they do to the idea of quitting an addiction…and that’s where shows like “Hoarders” come from.
You don’t have to evaluate every single item. According to Sara Getzkin, a professional organizer, you can take it slow:
1. Don’t try to tackle too much at once. Getzkin tells her clients, “Let’s carve out three hours and see what we get done. Then you are going to rest and not even think about this.” Very few people can sustain focus for more than three hours and stopping before you get stuck means you can start again tomorrow feeling positive .
2. To start, Getzkin, recommends preparing three bags or boxes and labeling them Keep, Toss, and Sell/Donate. You might add a fourth box for things that need repairing, mending or dry cleaning, but don’t add more options than that. Put away what’s in your Keep pile at the end of the day and throw out what’s in your Toss pile. (We’ll tell you how to use online resources to sell or donate next week.)
3. Decide what you really use and consider what storage space is available. Be relentless in your decision-making and follow through.
4. Find local options to sell stuff in good condition or donate to a worthy cause.
Books: Some libraries will accept books in good condition; for a nationwide list of ten places where your books will do some good in the world, check here.
Clothes and accessories: You can find options here for everything from that designer gown to that 50-year-old Rolling Stones T-shirt. Some consignment shops will take on your designer duds, shoes or purses, as well; check Google to see what shops are in your vicinity. Make sure you understand their policies and payouts.
Furniture, Tools and Clothing: Most cities have a Goodwill or Salvation Army that will pick up certain items for donation (always call and check their policies) but another national organization to consider is Pickupplease.org, which specifically helps veterans. Learn more here.
- Medications and medical apparatus: Don’t flush expired medications: learn if your local drugstore has a ‘take back program;” some police stations offer disposal bins for opioids. If all else fails, the FDA advises taking the pills out of the containers and mixing them with coffee grounds or vegetable peelings; then use a marker to black out the label – or scratch it out – before you put the container in the garbage.
- Nostalgic objects In Psychology Today, Jim Davies, Ph.D. suggests photographing some of those keepsakes you’ve had for years. “I take a picture, and save it in a folder called ‘nostalgia.’ Once I have this picture, I feel better about giving or throwing away the object, because part of why I wanted to save it was because I didn’t want to forget.”
- Old gadgets Jim Davies in Psychology Today refers to the “endowment effect”: he explains that “When we own something, we value it more than we would have been willing to pay for it when we didn’t have it.” In his decluttering, he asks himself if he would be willing to pay what a gadget is worth – say, $20 for his old point-and-shoot. If the answer is no, he sells or donates it.
- Paperwork: Ask your lawyer and accountant what you need to keep forever vs what you need for a limited amount of time. Some paperwork can be scanned and saved on your hard drive.
Have a decluttering tip to share? Add it in the comments below.
Photo: Ashim d’Silva for Unsplash.