Memories…Time to Tackle Photos

Photos, photos,At the end of January, I finally decided to tackle photos, one of the last of the KonMari categories. I know, I know – four months prior I wrote that I was almost finished. And that’s true…I just knew that was not the right time to start. With the holidays behind me, this was the perfect time. And honestly, as far as photos go, half the battle is just figuring out where to start. In addition to my 60-plus photo albums, I had a box full of loose photos and pictures in frames that were tired and needed to be RE-tired. I cleared the dining room table so I’d have a large surface to work on and got busy.

Remove Pictures from Frames First

I knew that I’d be making changes to the photos I wanted to display so I emptied all of the frames first. I kept just a few of the better frames that I knew would coordinate well no matter where I placed them and filled a pretty good sized storage tub with the rest. Off to Goodwill they will go!

Sort Loose Photos

Next up were all of the loose photos that I had. By loose, I mean pictures that weren’t in a photo album for whatever reason. Some were the pictures that I’d just removed from the frames. Some were photos that had been given to me over the years by folks who thought I might want them.  I’d already been through them once last summer, so all I was left with was one photo storage box which didn’t seem so bad – until I started to actually lay out all of the pictures.  It’s hard to believe that what came out of the box in the image on the left resulted in the mass quantity you see in the image on the right.

Believe it or not, those photos are in piles that actually mean something! I had random categories in my head – old family photos, vacations, other people’s children, college, etc. just to give me some way to make sense of them.

Decisions, Decisions

The thing about sorting photos is that you pretty much have to touch every single one of them in order to decide what to do them. And when you start doing that – well, then this happens:

familycircus

After taking photos of photos with my phone and texting them to my daughter and family and the friends in those pictures, hours would have passed. So my advice is this – take the time and enjoy it. The whole reason we take (and keep) pictures in the first place is because we want to preserve and enjoy those memories. So enjoy the trip down memory lane. Just know that that detour, like any other, is going to cost you time.

I handled every single loose photo and discarded a lot of them – dozens. And I feel good about that. Of what was left, some were returned to the album they had originally come out of, some were set aside to be framed as part of a family collage I want to make, and the others went back into the photo box. Although, as you can see, that box is less than half as full as when I started.20170219_162010

How you decide on which photos to keep is, I believe, highly personal. Some people don’t want to keep photos where they don’t look their best. Others might want all traces of a certain memory (whether that be a person or event, good or bad) gone completely. Only you can make that decision. I kept what I wanted, closed up the box, and put it on a shelf with the photo albums.

Next Steps

Logically speaking, my photo albums should come next in this process. Full disclosure – as committed as I am to the KonMari process, Kondo and I differ mostly when it comes to photos, not only in the process but in what you should keep. If you truly KonMari your photos, you will take every single one of them out of their respective albums so that you can handle each one to determine whether it really needs to be kept or not.  Folks, I have over 60 albums. We are talking THOUSANDS of photographs. I am not doing this. Not because I don’t have the time but because I just don’t want to.  It’s not that important to me at this time to reduce the number of photo albums I have. That is not to say that sometime down the road I might not revisit this but for now, the number of photo albums doesn’t bother me near as much as the number of t-shirts we once had in this house so I’m okay with keeping them.

What I did do, however, was date them on the inside cover so that I can easily see what time period they are from, as not all of the photos have a date stamp on them. (Remember that? What a way to ruin a beautiful photo.) And I have a few albums that I am going to have to take apart because the adhesive has dried up and the pictures are falling out. I have those set aside to work on at another time. I might save them for the triple-digit heat days this summer when it is just too darn hot to leave the house!

Going Forward

Taking photos digitally whether it is with a real camera or your phone has made it so much easier to take lots and lots of pictures but not all of them need to be saved or printed. So these days when I do decide to print photos, I am much more judicious so that I don’t end up with a lot of photos that aren’t worthy of display either in a frame or an album. And I’ve become quite fond of making digital photo books using the various services that are out there. The great thing about those is that you typically only choose the best photos. And even if you choose a hard bound book, they take up a lot less space. So even if I haven’t stuck to KonMari in my old photos, I am keeping her principles in mind as I go forward with new ones.

Working through the process over the last two years, I am much more attuned to what brings me joy. It is not uncommon for me to look at an article of clothing or an accessory that I kept after the initial purge and decide just in that moment that it’s not doing it for me anymore.  I don’t agonize over those decisions as I would have before I discovered KonMari. So it is entirely possible that I will revisit the photo albums at a later date. And I apologize to anyone who came to this blog hoping to hear how I tackled those but I promise, when/if I choose to go through that process, I will detail it here.

But the point I want to make is this – don’t bully yourself into getting rid of anything, photos included, that you don’t want to. That is not the intent of the KonMari process at all. The idea is to surround yourself only with the things that mean the most to you so that you enjoy them and do not feel burdened by them. Slowly but surely, I am getting there – and you will too.

KonMari for the Classroom: The Short Version, Part 2

KMClassroomI wish I still had a classroom so I could have pictures to accompany this part, but you’ll just have to make do with your imagination. Remember, this is an abbreviated version so that you can get your classrooms going.  I will return to the full series and post it later so that if you want to do a full KonMari on your classrooms, you can. As I’ve said before, I love making order out of chaos – and I’m guessing your rooms are looking pretty chaotic about now. That’s okay; just keep referring to that vision to stay motivated. You’ll get there.

A Place for Everything

If you got rid of even one-fourth of what you started with, you should have freed up plenty of space in your storage closets and shelves.  When you start putting things away, you want it to make sense so that you’ll know exactly where to go to find things.  Kondo has two rules for storage, and I think they will work well for classrooms, too. She says, “Store all items of the same type in the same space, and don’t scatter storage space.”   I know that storage in classrooms can be limited, but if you think of each storage area as a zone which contains a particular type of item, I think you can make it work.  What follows are my personal recommendations; if you keep Kondo’s rules in mind and do what works for you, you will have storage space that functions well and keeps you organized.

Storage Closets

Since closets have doors, this is the perfect place to store the things that you do not need on a daily basis. Think of this as the “teacher only” zone. You don’t want to put in here things you want the kids to be able to access. You’ll group things that naturally go together (office supplies, art supplies, paper, etc.). Items you want easiest access to should be on the middle shelves, less necessary items on the top and bottom shelves. This is where you will store reserves of:

  • Office/desk Supplies
    • Pen, pencils, paper clips, staples, sticky-notes, etc. Shelf space in a closet is usually pretty tight, so I don’t recommend putting them into baskets or tubs, especially if they’re in boxes already.  File folders can go in this group also.  If they’re in a box, you can keep them there (unless the box is half empty or more). Store on their side so they take up less space.
  • Art Supplies (NOT paper)
    • Glue, paint, yarn, craft sticks, crayons, markers, scissors, etc.  Remember, these are only the spare/reserve items, not the ones you will use daily/weekly.  Anything that can stand on its own, should.  Anything not in a box (yarn, scissors, loose crayons, etc.) can go in shoe boxes or cheap baskets from a dollar store. This is a closet no one will see inside of – don’t spend a lot of money on cute storage.
  • Seasonal Items
    • Seasonal room decor (not posters or bulletin board items).  Again, anything that can stand on its own does not need to be in a storage container or basket.
  • Professional Books and Binders
    • Do you refer to these on a weekly basis?  If not, store them in the closet on an upper shelf since you won’t need them.
  • Paper
    • The only paper I recommend storing in the closet is paper that is in a package. Remember, this is excess paper that you won’t need regularly, so I would use the very bottom or very top shelves to store packages of extra construction, manila, notebook, and copy paper.
  • Everything Else
    • I’m not copping out here – I just can’t possibly  know what else you might be storing.  Just remember, this closet should only be for items you don’t need on a regular basis, and to which the students do not need access.  And stick with the  general rule that anything already in a box or with a flat bottom that can stand on its own does not need to be put inside another container. Save bins and baskets for loose items and those things that can’t stand on their own.

Open Shelving

I’ll be honest – I am not a fan of hanging curtains in front of this type of shelving. This is a fluid space – things are coming and going from here on a daily basis, so everything should be easily accessible, and curtains are a hindrance.  If you’ve been successful at the decluttering  you’ve done, you shouldn’t have anything to hide. Use the same standard for arranging items here – place in baskets and bins only those items that are loose or can’t stand up on their own.  Try not to overfill the shelves – a little bit of breathing room will also lend to a less cluttered feel.

  • Student Aids & Manipulatives (Hands-On Zone)
    • Choose a section of shelves to store all of the various teaching materials and manipulatives that the students use. If you teach math and/or science, you’ll likely have a variety of these items. I’ll call this the “hands-on” zone. These things need to be accessible for the students, so you don’t want them hidden in the closet.
  • Student Supplies (Supplies Zone)
    • This is where you will keep the extra paper, notebooks, folders, etc. to which the students will have access.
    • Use inexpensive stacking trays to store any letter-size paper
    • Paint coffee and soup cans to make cheap holders for pencils, rulers, markers, loose crayons. etc.
    • Construction/manila paper and other art supplies that are used frequently can also be kept here.
  • Books (Library Zone)
    • Any books that the students will use should be kept together.  Separate your classroom library – the books they’ll read for enjoyment –  from books that are related to their texts – ancillary items, consumables, etc.
    • More than likely, you are keeping all of your teacher editions on open shelves too.  That should be considered a “teacher zone”.  Keep the books that only you need apart from the books that the students need.

Continue with any other items you have that should be kept on open shelves. Follow the guideline for keeping like things together as much as possible.

Flatland

Some things won’t fit on a shelf, like posters and charts. Many classrooms have storage spaces specifically made to hold items like these.  If yours does not, you could purchase art portfolios or bulletin board storage boxes.  Want to go cheaper?  Use heavy-duty binder clips to keep posters or bulletin board display pieces together.  Hang from hooks on the inside of a closet door or in some other out of the way space in your room.  Still rolling up your bulletin board border?  Stop! It takes up too much space and is much harder to put up when it’s all curled.  Hang them from binder clips as well.

The Walls

Now that you are ready to start putting things on the walls, please remember this – less is more. Seriously. If you completely cover every inch of wall space, nothing stands out anymore.  A poster you hang for motivation or an anchor chart you display for student reference can be reduced to nothing more than visual clutter if there are too many of them. Start with the things you are required to have on display (a Word Wall, for example) and limit what else goes up to items that complement it.  Don’t mix your ELA posters and anchor charts with your math ones.

Personalize

Your vision for your classroom won’t be complete until you make it your own.  For me, this was always the most fun part – decorating and personalizing the classroom, and making it a place that the students would be happy to come to every day.  Make it bright and warm and inviting.  It should be a place that makes you happy, too.

Maintenance

Your classroom is going to be clutter-free and perfectly organized for about five minutes – then the students come in.  Maintaining all of your hard work will depend on the systems you put in place in your room, so be sure you have those procedures thought out before the students arrive.  Remember that vision you’ve been referring to?  Keep that handy.  If clutter and disorganization start to creep back, pull out that sheet and remind yourself of why you did all this hard work. Devote some time to getting things back on track.

Over 1,400 words and I still have a lot more to say on this topic!  But if you’ve stayed with me this long, you are off to a great start. Follow me on Twitter or subscribe to this blog and be among the first to know when I return to the full classroom series.  I’d love to see/hear some success stories, so please feel free to share.

Have a great school year!

Ditching the Digital Clutter 2: Files

Ditch the Digital Clutter 2 (1)Now that you’ve cleared out your e-mail and are excited by that progress (just remember to stay on top of it), we’ll move on to the files on your computer.  For most of us, digital storage, even in “the cloud”, is not unlimited; at some point, you will run out of space.  But even if you didn’t, even if you could have all the storage you needed and then some, for free, for EVER – would you really want that? The answer (I hope), is a resounding NO.  Just think about it…think back to all of the paper clutter you’ve already purged thanks to KonMari. Think about all of the paper that comes into your house on a regular basis. Now imagine throwing NONE of it away – ever.  I don’t care how neatly you might have it sorted, you do not need nor want every sheet of paper you’ve ever touched. And yet, digitize a file and somehow it becomes acceptable to keep it because it’s not taking up any space. But it is – and more importantly, having all that excess makes it difficult to find the files you actually need, when you need them.

I’m going to focus on how to purge and sort your personal computer, but these can also apply to work machines as well. Odds are your employer would prefer you not clog up precious server storage with lots of junk either. And adhering to some of these suggestions might also keep you from losing files.

Hard Drive and Cloud Storage

Even if you have all of your files on your computer, that might not be the only place you want to save them.  Computers die and with them go your files, so it is a good idea to have a back-up.  You could save to an external drive, but being a mechanical device, it is also prone to fail at some point, so your best bet is to use cloud storage.  Whether you choose to save all files to your hard drive and back up to the cloud, or save directly to the cloud is entirely up to you and likely determined by how old you are.  Digital natives (mainly millennials and younger) would likely never dream of saving to a computer; they are more likely to be cloud folks.  Digital immigrants, however, are less likely to trust something we can’t physically touch, so we tend to store in both.  The steps I will give you will work either way.

If you are using these tips to clean up a work computer, you are probably using server or cloud storage.  Either way, remember that personal files stored on work computers, servers, or cloud storage become the property of your employer and are not private. So it’s best to remove your personal items from your work computer for your own piece of mind.

Time to Purge!

As always, we are going to discard first, sort later.  For reasons I have never understood, some folks like to use their desktop screen as file storage.  Not only does this make for an incredibly cluttered desktop, but it also makes it a little hard to find anything. About the only time I put anything on the desktop is if it is a temporary file, something that I need just for that moment to attach to an e-mail or to download and print. Once I’ve used it, I move it to the trash and get it off my desktop. If you have files or photos on your desktop, trash any that you know you no longer need. Leave what is left and we’ll revisit them later in the process.

Access your file storage (whether hard drive or cloud) and set the window to list or details view instead of thumbnails or icons. This will allow you to see more of what you have at one time.  Also, we want to be able to see not just the name of the file, but the date, type, and size as well.

  • Sort by Date
    • Click on the Date Modified header to sort the list so that the oldest items are on top.
    • Ignore the folders and start with individual documents. These may be text documents, spreadsheets, PDFs, etc.
    • If you named your files well, it will be easy to tell whether or not you need to keep or delete the item.  If not, well…
      • Open each one item are unsure of
      • If you need to keep it, rename it so that you’ll know what it is
      • If not – delete!
    • Continue through the list of items until you’ve deleted all you do not need

***I am going to address photos in another post, but if you come across ones that you want to delete now, by all means – go for it!

  • Folders
    • Open each folder and follow the same procedure for individual files
    • If you empty an entire folder, delete it

If you are like me, you have files on your computer and files in the cloud. I have computer files, Google Drive files, and Dropbox files.  At the moment, there is no rhyme or reason to this, but as I am sharing these tips with you, I am also cleaning up my own mess.  So if you have multiple file locations, before you do any sorting, you’ll need to go in and follow the procedure above for deleting all of your extraneous documents.  While you are at it, if you have thumb/flash drives laying around, you’ll want to round them up as well. See what’s on each and if there are things you need to save, move them to your computer or cloud storage now for sorting.

Creating Folders and Sorting Files

Now that you’ve cleaned out all of the unnecessary files, it is time to sort them.  You wouldn’t just open a file cabinet and dump papers into the drawer, so you don’t want to do that with digital files either. How you sort your files is going to be determined by how many you have and how detailed you want to be. If you don’t have a lot of files, you might consider creating folders for each year (2016, 2015, etc.) and then just place the files into the corresponding folder.  If that is too broad and you prefer to sort by subject, you can do that instead.  Skim through your files and see which ones seem to naturally belong together.  Maybe you have a lot of recipes,  files related to a hobby, or spreadsheets for tracking expenses.  Create a folder for the group and name it (ex. Recipes), then move all of the related files to that folder.  Continue in that way until most, if not all, of your “loose” files have found a home in a folder.  If you have a few that don’t seem to fit anywhere, I think it is fine to leave them outside a folder.  You might find that later on you add files that can be grouped together to create a new folder.

And just in case you think I forgot, it’s time to go back to your desktop files.  Move them to the new folders you’ve just created. Clean desktop, sorted files…doesn’t that feel good?

Backing Up Your Files

All of this work is for naught if you don’t have your files backed up in some way. If you’re main storage is already on the cloud, then congratulations – you are done here!  But if you just did all of this work to the files that exist only on your computer, then you have a few more steps to go – but they are more than worth it.  There are many free cloud storage options available, and you may already have access through your e-mail provider or operating system.  Most can also be integrated with your computer so that they are accessible as a drive, which makes saving and retrieving files a breeze. Do some research to determine the best cloud storage provider for your needs.  Then set up your account and sync it with your computer. Once that is done, you should easily be able to move or back-up all of the files from your computer to your cloud storage.  Not only will your files be spared from damage to or loss of your computer, but you will have access to those files anytime, anywhere, from any device.  The digital natives in your life will be very impressed!

Maintenance

As with your e-mail, you have to stay on top of this if you don’t want to be drowning in loose files again.

  • Place items on your desktop TEMPORARILY – ideally, for no more than 24 hours. After you’ve done what you need to with the file, trash it.
  • If you have an item you must save, be thoughtful about which folder you put it in so that you can find it easily later.
    • If the file was created by someone else, be careful that you don’t change the file extension as that and render the file useless
    • If you created the file, give it a name that makes sense (moms_applepie)
  • Go back through your files at least once a year and see if you need to purge again. It will be much easier to do going forward now that you’ve done the hard part.

E-mail…check!  Computer and cloud files…check!  What’s next?  Digital photos…

 

KonMari in Action

978-1-60774-730-7Marie Kondo is everywhere these days.  In the last few weeks she has been on The Ellen Degeneres Show and Rachael Ray.  There have been articles on Parade.com – Sunday With: Marie Kondo and an interview with Good Housekeeping.  There was even a Mother’s Day quiz on Elle Decor – “Who said it – Marie Kondo or Your Mom?”  But probably the most anticipated event for her loyal followers, was “Tidy up with KonMari” a two-part series that aired on NHK World.  We finally got to see her in action as she assisted two different women in New York to KonMari their homes.  The books are great, but nothing beats actually getting to watch her work her magic with real people (except maybe having her come and work on MY home!)  Don’t miss out – the videos are only available to watch until May 23!

The Women

Gina lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two children. Marie walks through the house with her and sees items piled on every horizontal surface and spilling out of every drawer, closet, and cabinet.  I had my doubts.  And yet, the before and after is remarkable. Emily is single, but planning to move her boyfriend in with her.  She didn’t have as much clutter; it was mostly relegated to one room, but it was a room that was unusable because of the clutter.  And it contained the hard stuff – the sentimental items.  Yes, there were tears.  You really need to watch these episodes for your yourself to appreciate what KonMari does, but here are my take-aways:

Start with the End in Mind

Marie asks each of the women what their ideal life will be like after they’ve finished tidying.  That helps to set your goal and keep you motivated.  So draw a picture, make a list, or put up a photo that helps you to envision what your space – and your life – will look like when you are finished.

Gather and Sort Works!

Whether it is clothing, papers, or bathroom supplies, each and every time she brings categories to a central location and sorts them.  When you see like items all laid out in one place, you get a true sense of what you have and it makes it easier to discard those that you don’t need or want.  It is a lot of work, but you’ll see that it is the most efficient way.

Don’t Buy Storage Items

You probably already own all the bins, dividers, and boxes you will need.  And most items actually end up going into drawers and cabinets where space has been freed up.  Use what you have as you go.  I also noticed that some spaces ended up being temporary storage until they were complete.  Once you’ve finished discarding and your entire space has been KonMari-ed, then you can see if you need to buy something that you don’t already have.

Decisions, Decisions!

As you are going through this process, you are making a lot of decisions.  But remember this – you are deciding what to KEEP, not what to discard.  That initial shift in thinking is tough, but it really does improve your sensitivity to what holds value for you.  And Kondo says, if you really can’t decide, that is probably a sign that you should let the item go.

No Judgment

Marie does not make any judgments about what the women decide to keep.  She guides them when they seem to struggle and she is quiet as they work through the emotions. So if she’s not going to judge, you shouldn’t either!  If something sparks joy and you want to keep it, then keep it without guilt and move on.

It Can be Done

I was thoroughly impressed by the fact that both women were able to complete this in two weeks.  Yes, they did a little bit with KonMari at their side, but the bulk of the process was done during the two weeks that she was gone.  Granted, these were small New York apartments, but I’m not sure it’s about the size.  The women were committed and focused; you have to be ready and you have to want it.

We’re on hold here at my house.  Ready to get back at it after the garage sale, then some home repairs took priority.  But my KonMari journey is far from over…stay tuned!

Progress – Finally!

20160503_203104Whether it’s losing weight, tackling your inbox, or KonMari-ing your home, we are all motivated by making progress.  Numbers on the scale get smaller, the list of emails grows shorter, clutter is reduced – and we feel compelled to keep on.  I believe this is why Kondo is so adamant that you take on your tidying festival in one fell swoop.  She knows that when you don’t see progress it is easy to just throw in the towel and assume this is just how it’s going to be.  I thought I was making progress, cruising right along through this KonMari Method – until I wasn’t.  We had a couple of missteps (see my post The Weight to refresh your memory) that pretty much ground progress to a halt – until now.

Sending the Clutter on its Way

Even though I had taken some items to be donated earlier on in the process (remember all the boxes of kitchen stuff?), there were many items that we came across that we decided to save for a garage sale. After being plagued by one rainy weekend after another, we finally got a break – sort of. Expecting a rainy Friday but a sunny Saturday, we decided to take a chance – and held it on a Thursday.  Best decision ever.  Who knew that Thursday is actually the prime garage sale day?  We barely had the stuff out of the tubs and bags before customers started showing up.  And you can imagine how long it takes to lay out several HUNDRED t-shirts?  But it was worth it.  With one customer after another I was sending the clutter on its way, letting go of items without remorse or regret, and feeling positively giddy – joyful. Yes, the money is definitely nice, but the almost physical feeling of being unfettered as each piece left the garage is even better. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves…(click an image to enlarge)

We still have a few tubs of books to go to Half Price Books and lots of EMPTY tubs to use as needed.  We even sold some at the garage sale! But I now feel like I can tackle the rest of the items in the house with a clearer focus – and they will be the hardest. Collectibles, sentimental items, and photos – in sixty albums.  Mull on that for a minute.

It’s Always Something

So, I can’t leave this post without telling you about the crib.  When we moved from our rental house (22 years ago), we moved our little girl into a toddler bed and out of her crib.  We took the crib apart and stored it in the house. At first it was tucked under a bed, but the longer we stayed here and accumulated more stuff, we sent it over to the storage unit we had to rent.  And there it stayed until we emptied that unit a couple of months ago. There was a baggie of springs and bolts that my husband diligently kept up with so we could use the crib again for a grandchild some day.  But in the spirit of tidying up and letting go, we decided that the crib could go too. We couldn’t sell it on day one of the garage sale because we couldn’t locate the baggie of bolts, but on day two – success!  But not really. As he gathered up the pieces to set out he realized something – we did not have the metal rods that the moving side of the crib slid up and down.  They weren’t left in the storage unit, we were certain of that, because the more we thought about it, we couldn’t remember EVER having seen them. It is entirely possible this crib which we moved from our old house, to our new house, to the storage unit, and back to the house had been missing pieces for twenty-two years. My husband made sure we had the springs and bolts; sadly, we had nothing to attach them to. Sometimes, you just have to laugh.

Sometimes Life Gets in the Way

So, you’ve read the book (or both!), you’re motivated, your tidying festival is underway – and then you have to halt or pause or just take a break.  In a perfect world, everyone and everything in your life would understand that you must KonMari NOW.  You have a goal, and Kondo says that you must do this all at once.  But this is reality and sometimes those outside forces just will not cooperate.  I firmly believe that trying to fight those forces will only lead to frustration and may cause you to give up altogether – or to rebound.  So here are a few tips to help keep you on track, even if life is trying to force you off the rails.

Celebrate Small Accomplishments Along the Way

If you know there is no way you are going to complete your tidying marathon in six months, break it into smaller, easily attainable goals to help you stay motivated. Set a deadline for completing one category (or subcategory) in its entirety.  When that task is complete, take an after picture, post/tweet/Instagram it, share with friends, or just check it off your to-do list. Mark the occasion in some small way so that you will feel that sense of accomplishment and know that you are one step closer to reaching clutter-free nirvana.

Find Like-Minded Individuals to Share With

I was going to say “find a support group”, but this isn’t an illness!  (Although some friends and family might disagree…)  But seriously, having folks with whom to share your victories and your frustrations can have a huge impact on your success.  First of all, they understand the process and know how challenging it can be.  In addition, your fellow KonMari devotees can offer helpful suggestions when you need them.  The Facebook group I belong to has been there to offer encouragement, answer a question, and let me vent. The best part?  You never have to explain, “Well, I read this book about tidying by a Japanese woman…”  We all get it!

Know When to Fold ‘Em

I’m not talking clothes here.  You know you best.  And you know your family and household best as well.  So if you know that starting the next category or subcategory would not be prudent at this time, then don’t. And don’t feel pressured by the book; I know that sounds crazy, but Kondo is so inspirational, that you can almost feel like you are letting her down if you stray from her guidelines.  But here’s the thing – she wants everyone to be successful, so if you know that the only way you’ll be ready to continue is if you take a short break now, then so be it.

This Isn’t Basketball – NO Rebounding

Just because you are taking a break, it doesn’t mean you forget all you have learned and accomplished so far.  Kondo warns that rebounding (going back to all that clutter) is inevitable if you try to do this a little at a time. I understand her point and I even agree; it is very easy to revert if you are not seeing results. But I have to say that my closet, drawers, and kitchen cabinets are still in the same great shape now as they were when I completed those areas months ago. The impact of getting rid of so much stuff still resonates with me. To avoid a rebound it’s vital to maintain the areas that you’ve already completed.  Pick a date to resume the process, and take your break with a clear conscience.

I wish I had been able to KonMari my whole house in six months; I probably would have made it if we hadn’t made the decision to empty the attic and storage unit in the middle of the process.  But at least I’ll know that no stone has been left unturned; everything we own is clearly visible.  And soon there will be much less of it to see.

Komono – Just Because

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

buttons2Does anyone else out there have a grandmother who had an old coffee can full of spare buttons?  I’m betting a lot of you are nodding your head.  Now, how many of you have your own stash of spare buttons?  Still nodding I bet, and that’s okay because I am too.  But when was the last time you ever actually used one of those buttons?  Can’t remember?  Me either…and I’m guessing that’s because the answer is NEVER.  How about the spare piece of yarn (thread, fiber?) that comes with some woven items?  I’ve got those too, but honey, if I’m not sewing on a button, I’m darn sure not going to repair a pull in a sweater!  So why do we keep these things?   Typically, the answer is “just because”.  Because why?

The buttons, the items in the junk drawer, the innumerable pens you picked up at the last convention you attended – all of these are a part of what Kondo refers to as komono – miscellaneous items that don’t fit neatly into any of the other categories.  And komono is everywhere.  Just sitting here at my desk I see that I have three pairs of scissors (all the same size), half a dozen flash drives (no idea what, if anything, is on them), and Sharpies in an array of colors.  I can easily get rid of the flash drives – they probably contain old work info and I’ve been retired almost a year now – and two pairs of scissors can go too (besides, there are two more pairs in the kitchen!)  None of these items spark joy, and I no longer need the flash drives, but scissors do come in handy. Those Sharpies bring me joy, however, so they are staying!

That’s the thing about the miscellaneous stuff – some items you just have to keep because they serve a distinct purpose; you can’t be running out to buy a new pair of scissors every time you ditch an old pair for not bringing you joy.  But do I need six pairs? Probably not. To me komono is one of the more challenging categories because it encompasses so much, and it is in every room of the house. How many times have you cleaned out your junk drawer only to have it fill up again?  Folks, there’s a reason it is called a JUNK drawer – and you probably do not need ninety percent of what it contains.  I can sort of envision the whole KonMari process as cleaning out the junk drawer.  If you tackle that drawer once and for all and never put anything back into it that doesn’t belong there, you will never have to clean it out again.  The same goes for tidying the KonMari way; if you do this massive tidying one time, you should never have to do it again. That’s the goal, though it will be a while before I can test that theory.

So, I’m moving on to komono and junk drawers and who knows what I’ll find. The key is going to be to keep only those items that serve a purpose or spark joy. I’m sure there are probably a lot of items that were kept “just because” – but that’s how you end up with a can full of buttons…or ten tubs of t-shirts.