I guess you could say that I’m kind of in love with self-help books lately. I’ve noticed it since I graduated college, so I guess I’m trying to make up for my lack of 24/7 learning. The thing that I find most interesting is that while in college I learned a lot about myself physically (because I studied Nutrition and Exercise Phys) but now I’m using books to learn more about myself mentally and emotionally, which is pretty darn cool (and not to mention helpful). So when I choose my word for the year this year, I knew that I wanted to make some alterations to my perspective and part of that was about wanting to simplify things down and give myself permission to be creative more often. I was recently talking with one of my friends who mentioned that she keeps a capsule wardrobe because it allows her to think less about what she is wearing so that her creativity can be used on other things. I loved that. I often have to be in a certain mindset to think creatively and having clutter and access supplies and things make it really hard to do that.

*Then enters The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up*

When this book came out, everyone and their mother read it. I saw blog post after blog post boasting reviews and videos on how to fold clothes and steps that other people were taking to get their spaces clean. I was a huge skeptic about this book to begin with because, let’s be honest, how can THIS many people like a self-help style book that revolves around cleaning your house? It just seemed a little crazy to me.So I thought I’d outsmart the system. We just started purging all of the things. We cleaned our house from top to bottom getting rid of everything that we didn’t like, didn’t use, or that was broken. We got rid of a lot of stuff. But what I didn’t realize was that while, yes we did purge, we weren’t learning how to not just keep filling up those “empty spaces”.

So now here I am, being THAT person. Writing THAT exact blog post about how this book is changing my life. #embarrassing

I think the thing that I enjoyed most about the book was how she talked about what a cluttered home meant and how it affects other parts of your life. Lately, I have been feeling less creative and I just know that it has to do with the way that my space makes me feel. She says, “A messy room equals a messy mind. Visible mess distracts us from the true source of disorder.”

Here were my main takeaways:

Tidy in one shot | Marie suggest completing the whole ordeal in less than six months. She urges us not to just buy more storage because it’s just a illusion that the clutter problem is solved.

Sort by category, not location | Marie gives an order for your tidying: clothing, books, papers, miscellaneous items, sentimental items, and finally photos. If you want a more detailed list with check boxes, check this one out.

Use “does it spark joy?” as criterion for selection | As you go through each set of items, she tells you to hold each thing in your hand and ask yourself “does this spark joy?” At first, I thought this would be SO hard for me. I typically don’t think of objects as things that bring me joy, but the more I put it into practice, the more it made sense for me. I realized quickly that the longer I had to think about the question, the more it meant that the answer was no. If it is something that doesn’t spark joy, Kondo’s advice is to thank these items for their service because they have filled a specific role in your life. Acknowledge their contribution and then send them away with gratitude.

Reduce until you find the right balance for you | Marie assures readers that you’ll know when the amount of stuff feels right for you. I’m glad she mentions this because I think many people are under the impression that this book is about minimalism but it’s really just about loving, enjoying and feeling relaxed in your space.

Designate a space for each item | After you get done discarding, make a space for each thing that does spark joy. Then when you move those things, they have a specific place to go back to. Part of this process includes some pretty specific folding tactics that I’d never seen before so I had to google them. Try this, it saves tons of room.

I’ve only just started this process, but so far I am feeling extra excited about it. I’ve gotten through my clothes and books, so papers are next. We do have a pretty good system set up for our important papers but I’m sure there are things I can get rid of (because I know that I still have middle school report cards and ACT test info…yikes). If nothing else, this book has helped me get motivated to reorganize and declutter our space. I look forward to updating everyone in about 6 months or so to let you know how it works out!