Spark joy

Happy New Year everyone. This is belated because I’ve been laid up with the lurgy for several days. Pretty much had every type of cold and flu symptom in succession since the end of December. You’d think I’d have lost loads of weight but that’s the sneaky thing about lurgies, you have to eat all the leftover Christmas goodies just to survive.

Now I don’t know about you but my house goes to wrack and ruin when I’m ill. My darling family are pretty good at doing what they’re told but if I can’t muster the energy to tell them then all hope is lost. They knew I was starting to recover when I started complaining about the state of things. Now I’m better (still have the cold and a blistered scabby nose that makes me look like I have herpes but this is a huge improvement) I’ve set about restoring order.

I tend to have two big cleans/clear outs a year. Usually just before or around Christmas and again in the summer, somewhere around my daughter’s birthday in June. I think it’s always a good idea to get rid of the worn out, broken and expired items cluttering up your home/life before a new influx of stuff.

This year that plan all went to pot because I was working throughout the Christmas break and was then struck with ALL THE GERMS. I was too poorly to even much care about de-Christmassing the house so my husband mostly did it. God knows what state I’m going to find in those boxes in the loft come December.

So it’s all been left a bit late. But better late than never! And turns out a lot of people have clear outs in the New Year. People make resolutions about finally sorting out the spare room/kitchen pantry/sex dungeon. It’s totally a thing. And this year more so than ever before it’s a Japanese thing. 2019 was all fresh and new and shiny and Netflix kicked it off with releasing the new show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.

I first became aware of Marie Kondo in 2016 (click here) when I’d heard about her bestselling book The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up via another blog I follow. She’s written a bunch of tidying books (including a manga illustrated edition!) which have collectively sold millions and have been translated into several different languages.

In a nutshell Marie is a teeny tiny Japanese woman who has created her own technique entitled the “KonMari Method”. Kon as in Kondo and Mari as in Marie, geddit?

Small but deadly… when it comes to your clutter.

To me it’s simply common sense. But you do have to be fairly non-sentimental. And you do have to want to do the work. And it is work. Anyone who tells you it isn’t is lying. That isn’t to say it can’t be enjoyable at times but it’s a “this is feeling oh so satisfying” kind of fun not a “we’re in Disneyland!” kind of fun. It’s a roll-your-sleeves-up and get stuck in vibe. I personally don’t enjoy cleaning or tidying but I do like to live in a clean and tidy house. If I need something I like to be able to put my hand on it immediately and not have to search high and low.

So bearing this in mind I did initially scoff at the premise of this TV show. These people need to be told how to tidy? For real?? But I was sick and sofa bound so I pressed play to watch the first episode. Fast forward a few hours and I had watched the entire series for the exception of one episode about a widow as frankly I was puffy and snotty enough without upsetting myself further.

Each instalment featured a different couple or family struggling to cope with their own unique, but relatable, circumstances. And every episode saw Marie serenely float in to tell them via an interpreter that they needed to get organised. And how to fold. She is obsessed with folding all clothing items into neat little rectangles. This may be something I adopt. But then again it may not.

Marie’s big thing is saying thank you. She likes to greet the house when she arrives, thanking it for the warmth and shelter it provides for its inhabitants. She likes to thank each item of clothing as she folds it. So. Much. Folding. She believes in thanking every discarded item for the use it has given. It is a very quiet, mindful attitude to have. Much less brutal than mine so I can see how some people equate her way of tidying as meditative or therapeutic.

She also says you should only keep things that keep you moving forward in your life and spark joy within yourself. I love this thinking although perhaps I am slightly more practical. My hair dryer doesn’t spark joy but I wouldn’t necessarily want to be without it.

Saw this pic on Twitter and laughed.

I found it to be intriguing viewing. Mostly because I am always interested in how people live their lives and it’s good to think about another way to do things (like the folding). I can imagine that for some it could be life changing stuff.

Essentially I follow the RuthKim technique. Ruth for Ruthless and Kim for… Kim.

Tip 1: Designate a time. Whether it’s an hour each evening until the job is done. Or a weekend. Or every weekend for a month. Allot some time specifically for the task. You’re more likely to get it done if it’s made it into your diary like any other event. If you take the “I’ll do it as and when” approach it’ll probably never happen. Make sure you’ve allowed yourself enough time to get the job done. If you have an hour then pick the room or cupboard that requires the least effort, if you have an afternoon or a whole day then tackle that kitchen or garage. Be realistic.

2. OK, so you’ve set time aside. Time to get stuff done! I prefer to do things systematically and for me this means going from room to room. If you run around trying to do a bit here and a bit there you’ll exhaust yourself and you won’t get the reward of completing something in its entirety.

3. Make a list. I love a list! List all the rooms/tasks and tick them off one by one as you go through it. This is especially helpful if you’re doing this over a course of days or weeks when it’s easy to run out of steam. It’ll clearly show you that you are achieving your goal piece by piece and there’s a finish line in sight.

4. Be ruthless. This sounds scary but it’s what my husband calls me when I’m in clear-out mode. Keep things that have genuine sentimental value or a positive use. But be really honest with yourself about what you need to keep. You also need to be realistic about your circumstances. If you don’t have a lot of storage space (loft, basement, garage, cupboards) then you have to really ask yourself if you want to be tripping over this item forever more. Do you really need it?

5. Buy a shredder. Shred all unnecessary paperwork, receipts, junk mail etc and recycle. Only keep what’s needed and file it.

6. Put every article of clothing you own on your bed and sort through. Knickers with shot elastic? Gone! Random odd socks? Gone! Those trousers two sizes too small that you’d hoped to slim into? Gone! If you have a cavernous walk-in closet that leads to Narnia then by all means keep every item you’ve ever bought for posterity but if you don’t chances are you have clothes you don’t wear or need. Get rid!

7. Items that are broken can be thrown away or recycled. Anything that can be saved give to friends/family, charity shops etc. In the case of furniture many charities will collect. You’ll feel good that someone else may benefit from what you didn’t want or need and no landfill guilt!

And that really is about it. Happy New Year.

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Liz says:

    I told my tops that way in my drawers. I have been doing this for a few years and it helps to see my tops much better. Surprisingly, when I first done this, I had space for more tops. Lol But I was good. I resisted.

    I am already in order when it comes to filing and shredding what I don’t need.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am still undecided about the folding thing… hmm maybe.


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