In January of 2015 I had a fresh leather bound notebook to record the usual New Year list of promises to myself. Get organized! Lose weight! Don’t just sit in front of the tv at night! My life revolved around work, attempts to keep the house presentable, and staring mindlessly at the TV.
We two adults live with two cats in a smallish townhouse. G travels four days a week so he’s not around to make a mess, yet our house was always in disarray. Every closet in the house was jammed full of clothes, and our sheets wouldn’t fit in the linen closet because lampshades and the 2005 Super Bowl seat cushions took priority.
Every Saturday I ‘cleaned’ from early morning until about 2 pm, then I went shopping for several hours. Sundays I did laundry and finished the cleaning, got groceries, and paid bills. By 7 pm on Sunday evenings I was whipped, ready for bed, and I’d really done nothing but ‘clean’ and ‘gather’ for two days. There was no time for anything fun or recreational.
I bought clothes by the trunk full. If I found something I liked, I’d buy every colour. I had enough work clothes to wear something different every day for six months (not that all of them fit, or were even in style).
For four years we had been looking for a bigger house. When we found ones we liked (and there weren’t that many), I’d proclaim, “there isn’t enough storage space!” And G would nod in agreement.
I was absolutely drowning in laundry to be sorted, washed, dried, folded, pressed then put away; in papers on counters and shoved in boxes in closets or on the floor; in craft projects that couldn’t be worked on because there were no clear spaces to work.
In March we had a trip out to the west coast and I had eight-hours of flying time to kill. G loaded Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up on my Kindle and told me that I would like it. I’m stubborn and hate taking his advice, but I had nothing else to do so read the book. The rest, as they say, is history.
I had laughed at the title. How can tidying up change your life? I was skeptical and dead set against getting rid of my clothes, but I was also more than a bit disgusted with myself for my shopping habit. Nine months later, the change in my life is dramatic … really, truly and completely. I cannot state strongly enough the impact Marie Kondo’s methods have had on my life, and not just in terms of having a clean home. Quite honestly, I’m amazed at how much things have changed. (Here’s a link to my original post after I started this process.)
I do laundry more frequently because we have fewer garments, but it takes less time to deal with 8 pairs of socks than it does 30. And seriously, the folding thing is genius. I don’t press my t-shirts anymore because when folded properly, they come out of the drawer looking good.
Putting away is easy:
Laundry is easier because I can put everything away as soon as a load is done. There aren’t stacks of clothes on the dresser, the chest, the dining room table. Our kitchen buffet is clear of papers, and when I need something, I can find it. There aren’t stacks of magazines under the coffee table or on chairs.
Cleaning is fast:
If you don’t have to waste time putting things away, cleaning becomes simply removing dirt. That’s easy to do in an hour or two. I remember when I was a kid and we had company coming. Mom would have the kids shove things anywhere so the place looked tidy. There would be newspapers and used popcorn bowls in the washing machine, and shoes in the dryer. Washing the floor didn’t take time, putting away did.
Shopping holds little appeal:
At the time I perfected my closet, I consciously took note of general categories that were discarded (cropped pants, prints that focused on the bust, button-down tops) so as not to make the same purchasing mistakes again. While I enjoy looking at what’s new in the shops, I no longer need to buy things to feel satisfaction. Shopping just doesn’t spark much joy any more. Last weekend we went to the outlet mall and I bought nothing. (GaK! Who have I become?!)
Organized closets and drawers bring a smile to my face:
This alone has stopped several purchases. My closet is happy to have ‘breathing room’. My hangers are thrilled that they aren’t rubbing shoulders with their neighbours. My socks are happiest all cuddled and stacked together in one box. And our kitchen cabinets? They make me break into song!
Our bank balance is increasing!
Our savings account is growing because I’ve cut back on buying everything – ‘clearance’ stuff (never to be eaten) at the grocery store, home accessories, makeup and toiletries, and of course clothes. My discretionary spending has dropped by about 40%.
We don’t need to move:
One day we will move, but that will be precipitated by a job change or retirement, not a desire for a 14 x 20 storage room in the basement. In retrospect, some of the houses we saw previously that we wrote off as ‘too small’ would probably have been perfect.
Time previously spent ‘cleaning’ is available for other pursuits:
I’m absolutely invigorated by the time and space available to me to sew, write, read, garden, even work out. It had been decades since I worked on a project in the evening. How wonderful it is to ‘find’ that time again.
Focusing opens up a new world:
Because I’m no longer anxious about undone chores at home, I can focus on other activities. These days, it’s sewing. When I work on a sewing project, the result is more successful if I fully focus on the task at hand. I have learned the joy of deep contentment when I am single-minded in whatever I’m working on. Mindfulness.
Life changed with that one book. That’s not to say that everything is perfect. I did not magically lose weight, and there are still days when I get nothing accomplished. I probably still have too much stuff in the dining room cabinets, and there are boxes of photos to be sorted, organized and discarded. But this new approach to my belongings, is the biggest transformation I have made to my thinking in my adult life.