Monday 6 April 2015

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying - Part 1

I recently bought and read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever* by Marie Kondo.  I'd seen mention and rave reviews of this book in multiple places online, and thought I would give it a go.

I found the book very motivating, and I really feel that it could work!  As I attempt to implement her ideas, I will document my progress and findings here.

Part One - Categories (aka Sorting My Tights)

When I was not very far through the book, I became inspired to make a start.  Marie recommends tidying via categories (such as clothes, books), rather than area (such as room, cupboard, drawer).  You can break the categories down as much as you like, the important thing is to gather together everything in that group that you own and to handle each item.

I started with a sub-category of clothes - tights.  (Yep, starting small - wouldn't want to overwhelm myself!)

Quite by accident I realised the benefit of making sure you've got every part of that category in front of you.  I'd emptied all the tights out of my underwear drawer, and out of a bag under the bed, and set about handling each item and deciding whether to keep or discard it (whilst wondering why on earth I had so many tights, as I spend 90% of my time in jeans or trousers!)

I was nearly done when I had a niggling feeling I'd missed something.  Ah, hiding under the bed was yet another bagful!  (Why, oh why, did I have so many tights?!)  Luckily I was still in the zone and rethought some of what I'd already done.  There were some tights that I'd kept that now, in light of the extras I'd found, no longer made the cut.  For example, I'd kept a pair of a certain type as it was the only one I had, although it was a bit tatty.  When I discovered two more in good condition, that pair could go.

I realised how important it was to gather a whole category together, to better enable you to make decisions regarding them.  You are better able to choose whether to keep or discard if you can see everything you have in front of you.

In addition, if I had remembered the extra bag of tights at a later time, I probably would have just shoved them back under the bed, as I'd already sorted and tidied away my tights and wouldn't want to have to go through them again and redo what I thought I'd already done.  Or I would have crammed them in with the rest of the ordered tights, just to have them in the same place, ultimately undoing all the good work I'd done and setting myself back again.

I know tights are pretty insignificant items, but these lessons also apply to the bigger things we need to sort and tidy too.  Forgetting the extra bag under the bed provided some backup to the KonMari method of sorting by categories.  It hit home that she really might be on to something here!

When I think about it now, it seems pretty obvious to sort and tidy in that way.  However, I had always sorted by area.  Even when going through clothes, I would deal with a drawer at a time, or a rail of the wardrobe.  It's quite demotivating when you've worked on a drawer, sorted through a pile of t-shirts, stored the keepers neatly back in place, to then find t-shirts in other spots.  How do they fit in?  It's in that way that tidied spots deteriorate into messy spots again.

This is why Marie Kondo says that you should only store the items away once you have handled everything in that category and made your decisions regarding discarding.  At that point you know exactly what you need to store and can neatly put them in place.  From then, there is absolutely no reason for the neat storage of that category to ever get messed up again.  Every item has a spot, and once used can be returned to it.

I still have a lot more work to do in 'Kondo-ing' my home, and will pop back to let you know how I'm getting on.

Follow 'Exploring Minimalism' with bloglovin'.

*Amazon affiliate link

Saturday 7 March 2015

Save Time and Money with One Simple Step

Minimalism is all about removing the unwanted excess from our lives, so that we have the space and time to appreciate and enjoy the good things.  This goes much further than simply physical possessions - they are not the only things which fill our lives and weigh down on us, snatching our time and energy.

One area where I find myself becoming bogged down is my email inbox.  I'm talking about my personal email here, work is a different problem!  The messages pour in from a myriad of sources, for various reasons - sites with which I've got an account sending newsletters, online shops I've bought from trying to tempt me with offers, social media websites notifying me of activity... the list goes on.  Remember when emails used to be electronic 'letters' from friends?  What percentage of your inbox influx consists of those welcome emails these days?  I'm betting it's not high!  And can you even see them for all the junk mail surrounding them?

Unless you monitor and deal with your inbox on a near-constant basis, it quickly gets out of control.  To get it back in shape takes a big chunk of time, weeding out the rubbish to get to the emails you are actually interested in.  Surely we have better things to do?

I find that I lose even more time when I've received a code for money off or free delivery at an online shop - I often can't resist having a look to see if I can take advantage of the saving, and end up trawling the products for something I 'need'.  Buying something, just to save some money... hmmm something's wrong there!  Even though I am trying to reduce clutter and unnecessary items, I still find myself being tempted by this sort of thing - well, the companies wouldn't bother with it if it didn't work!

The answer to all this is ridiculously simple - unsubscribe.  Ruthlessly!

Be honest with yourself - do you really need to receive these emails?  The newsletters, do you read them?  The offers, do you use them?  (Or if you do, should you?)  The social media notfications, can you wait until you log onto the respective account to find out what activity has happened?  Is it that urgent that you need an email telling you about it?  If the emails aren't adding any value to your life, opt out!

I think 'fear of missing out' is a big factor stopping us from taking such a simple step as clicking the unsubscribe button.  I used to get daily emails from deal-of-the-day websites with the latest offers, which I rarely used.  Even though I hadn't purchased one for quite some time, I struggled to bring myself to opt out of their emails in case the perfect deal came along!  As it happens, I often didn't get round to reading the emails while the offer was still running, as they were lost in the mire of my ever-filling inbox.  The only thing I was getting from this subscription was more emails to delete.

Eventually I unsubscribed and I haven't missed them for a second.  It's a case of out of sight, out of mind.  I'm trying to be ruthless with the other emails I receive - if in doubt, unsubscribe.  When registering with new sites, make sure you opt out of receiving emails too.  If you find that you are missing any of them, it's easy to opt back in... but I doubt you will.

  • Maintaining your inbox is easier and less time-consuming as there are fewer emails coming in.
  • Less time is wasted rummaging around on website for things you don't need, just to take advantage of an offer.
  • Less money is spent buying things you don't need, just to take advantage of an offer.
  • You are free from yet another task waiting to be tackled, which lightens the load on your mind and helps ease any stress you are feeling.

So, give it a go - unsubscribe and spend the time (and probably money) you'll save doing something fun!

Monday 1 December 2014

The Lure of Storage

I’ll admit that on many occasions I have been convinced that storage would be the answer to all my problems.  Well, maybe not all my problems, but those that relate to the mess and chaos in my home.  If only I had more storage everything would be organised, tidy, ordered – things would be so much simpler.  A place for everything, and everything in its place.

It seems surprising, but it really didn't occur to me that removing some of the excess might be a better solution.  When struggling to maintain some order over all those possessions, how can adding more items help?  Drawer units, cupboards, chests, boxes, crates… whatever form the storage takes, it is using up valuable space in our homes.  It also becomes something else to maintain.

In my experience having more storage doesn't very often solve the problem either.  It starts off well – contents neatly positioned and tidy.  Then, over time, those neat ordered contents seem to breed and throw a messy old party in there!  (Tell me it’s not just me!)  I've found that no matter how much storage I have, I manage to fill it to bursting anyway.  We spread to fill (and overflow!) the space we have.

I'm not saying that we don’t need storage, but that we should get to the crux of the problem before running out for more.  If we donate, throw out, or sell some of the items that we don’t even use, then we might find that we've got more than enough storage already and that it’s a lot easier to keep things organised.

I still believe that you should have a place for everything, and everything in its place.  However, that’s a lot simpler to maintain if you have less clutter and junk to find a place for.  Before defaulting to ‘more storage’, I try to think it through first.  What am I trying to store?  Do I use it?  Do I need it?  Is there another option?

There is no reason not to keep hold of the things you love, use, enjoy.  The important thing is making space for them by removing those items you don’t.

Thursday 30 October 2014

Decluttering - Making a Start

'Decluttering' is quite the buzz word at the moment and it's something I've been trying to do for a while.

What's the problem?

It seems that a lot of us are feeling bogged down by all the possessions we have crowding our homes.  Surfaces covered, drawers and cupboards stuffed full.  Finding anything becomes increasingly difficult and more frustrating.  Then there are the items in the depths of those drawers and cupboards that haven't seen the light of day in quite some time - a lot of them completely forgotten about.  It begs the question, why do we even have them?

Think how much space and effort is expended storing these possessions, maintaining them, tidying and organising them (when we do eventually tackle those messy storage spots).

What's the solution?

Only one thing for it - a good old clear out!

At the beginning of this year, I embarked on the project 'Less 365'.  The idea is to try to get rid of one item every day for a year.  The way I approached this was to print out a 2014 calendar and cross out a day for every item I remove from my home - whether it be to give it to charity or to throw it away (depending on what it is and its condition).  I have decluttered clothes, books, CDs, DVDs, amongst a lot of other random bits and bobs.  I didn't wear, read, listen to, or watch them any more, so it was a great feeling to know they were no longer taking up valuable space in my home.

Rather than remove an item a day, I have clear-out sessions where I tend to purge multiple objects - that means I can cross quite a few days off the calendar in one hit.  This helps to tide me over on the days (or months, ahem) I don't declutter.  Sometimes I'm ahead of the date and other times I'm behind it, but I will make sure that by the time 31st December arrives I have crossed every day off the calendar!

The calendar could be considered unnecessary, but I enjoy marking the dates off (because I like that kind of thing!) and it's a record showing that I'm achieving what I set out to do.  It also helps focus me to have a goal of a certain number of items that need to be removed.  Without that, I'm not sure I would have stayed disciplined and kept on purging.  However, it's down to what works for you individually - there are no rules!

Some argue that this method of getting rid of one thing a day isn't enough.  New articles are brought into our homes on a regular basis, and we need to do more than this.  My view is that it is a good way to start off.  Something achievable.  The new possessions would have come home with me anyway, but I'll still end up with 365 less things in my house than I would have had.

Stopping the influx of items into our home is a topic for another day, but for now here are my tips on making a start on tackling the clutter currently taking up space in our homes:


  • Attempt to declutter an item a day, but don't be constrained by that - you can purge as much as you like!  Or if you'd rather set a lower goal, maybe aim for 30 items in 2 or 3 months - pick an amount you feel comfortable with.
  • If you are feeling daunted, start small.  Clearing out just one drawer is achievable and will make you feel as though you are making progress.  Experiencing how much simpler it is to use that drawer afterwards will spur you on to tackle the next spot.
  • Have a box or bag in an allocated place to fill with items for charity.  Next time you know you'll be passing a charity shop, grab it and take it with you.
  • Don't be too hard on yourself - every item you remove is progress!  Work at your own pace, there are no deadlines.

This is just skimming the surface when it comes to decluttering.  It is just the start, and only applies to physical possessions.  In future posts I hope to look into the other aspects that are cluttering our lives, our minds, and our time.

Wednesday 22 October 2014

How it Began

It all started with clothes.  A wardrobe bursting at the seams, drawers overflowing, and yet that same thought every morning, "I have nothing to wear!"

I began researching capsule wardrobes online, how to have fewer clothes but more outfit options, how to get rid of the excess to leave items I'll actually wear.  Reading about minimising in this area naturally led to articles and posts on minimalism in general.

I'd always thought that 'Minimalism' was a style of interior design, consisting of very bare rooms with the odd lone item here and there. It turns out it can be a way of life, and not necessarily one consisting of cold empty rooms!

I've felt for a long time that the modern world is far too busy and hectic.  Everybody rushing around, trying to fit too much into too little time, feeling stressed and harassed.  For what end?  Do we really need to be doing the things we're frantically trying to get done?  Could we all just calm down, slow down, and take things a little easier?

From what I understand of minimalism, it's all about simplifying and getting rid of the clutter in our lives.  This clutter isn't just the abundance of possessions that we have, but can be the demands on our time, the emails in our inbox, the worries going around in our head... the list goes on.

Minimalism is getting rid of the excess so that we have time and space to enjoy and appreciate the important things in life.

I plan to explore minimalism (see what I did there?!) and see whether I can adopt some of the principles and ideas into my life, with the aim of living more simply and more contentedly.  I will in no way take minimalism to the extreme - I've read of people paring their belongings down to just 100 items - ain't gonna happen!  All respect and admiration to them, but it wouldn't make me happy.  I would like to obtain a balance that works for me, and I will share how successful (or not!) I am on this blog, along with any lessons I learn along the way.  I hope you will read along and perhaps get some inspiration and tips which could help you make some positive changes in your lives too.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin or enter your email in the sidebar to receive my posts straight to your inbox.


Nothing I've put here is new - in fact it seems I'm quite late to the party!  Some of the blogs which have opened my eyes to minimalism are:

Project 333
Into Mind
Becoming Minimalist