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Turns Out I’ve Been Doing Tidying Wrong My Entire Life

Author: Miranda Eason

While Spring is very much associated with cleaning I think a big Autumn clear out makes more sense. Over the coming months, as the nights draw in and the weather gets colder, it’s likely we’re all going to be indoors a lot more and how much nicer would it feel to be spending that time in a calm, clutter-free environment?

With this in mind on Saturday I bought The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Japanese decluttering expert and professional cleaner Marie Kondo. By Sunday I’d read the entire book and apparently my usual tidying and decluttering MO of tidying a room, or an area of a room, is wrong.

The last time I did a big clothing clear out I started with my wardrobe, tried on the items one by one and got rid of clothes that had seen better days, no longer fitted, or hadn’t been worn for over a year, but tbh there are items that fall into some of those categories that I’ve never been able to get rid of because, well, I’m not sure really, I still kind of like them, I spent a lot on them or they might fit again one day (and I have things that are too big, as well as other things that are too small, they’re probably not all going to fit me again). Then, some time later, I moved on to the storage boxes beneath my bed, there’s one for workout clothes, one for denim and one for jumpers and t-shirts, taking a similar approach. Job done, I thought. But however many times I’ve gone through this process I still have clothes that I never ever wear and I couldn’t really understand why. Until now.

Instead of a bit-by-bit approach the KonMari Method (as MK calls it, after the nickname she was given as a child) advocates putting all of your clothes in one big pile and then sorting through it item by item (and when she says all of your clothes she means ALL of your clothes – when she goes into client’s homes anything that doesn’t make the pile gets chucked out regardless). It made me realise that when I’ve attempted to clear out my clothes in the past there have been a whole bunch of items that haven’t been considered.

I have a suitcase on top of my wardrobe that’s filled mostly with off-season clothes. There’s a basket full of clean clothes in my spare room that mostly contains clothes that don’t really suit my life right now, things that have been gifted to me by friends that are more their style than mine and, well, I’m not sure what else but it’s overflowing. There are bags underneath my bed and hanging from various doorknobs. And hanging on the back of every door in my flat there are coats and jackets some of which I rarely, if ever, wear.

The book isn’t just all about decluttering clothes, but that’s where MK recommends you begin, working your way through starting with tops, then bottoms, clothes that should be hung, socks, underwear, handbags, scarves, belts, hats etc, clothes for specific events (eg swimsuits) and, finally, shoes. The important bit comes next, deciding what to keep, as opposed to deciding what to chuck out by asking yourself, item by item, “Does this spark joy?” And so, it would seem, I’ve been asking myself the wrong questions when I’ve been deciding what to hang on to and what to let go. Once you’ve decided what you’re keeping the next thing to do is to give it a designated place and always put it back there after you’ve used it. After clothing MK recommends tackling books, papers, miscellaneous items and, finally, things with sentimental value as for most people, these things get increasingly hard to cull but your decision-making skills will improve as you work your way through all your stuff.

Towards the end of the book MK started to lose me a little bit when she suggests you start talking to your stuff and your home. Thanking your things for being in your life (yes, even the stuff you’re getting rid of and even if you didn’t actually use it) and greeting your home with a jolly, “Hello I’m home!” But, and perhaps I’ve been brainwashed by MK, I can even, sort of, see the sense in this – when you start to appreciate your things you will in turn, look after them better and they’ll (most likely) last longer. Her claim, bold as it is, that tidying your space can change your life seems possible. I can certainly imagine I’ll have more time on my hands when I’m no longer spending time each day looking for whatever it is I need that I can’t find because I don’t know where it is.

So, thank you MK, I’m feeling inspired to finally get on top of my clutter and, hopefully in the not too distant future, find myself living in a flat that is filled only with things that I love. As for how my life will change, who knows, watch this space.

Has anyone else tried the KonMari approach to tidying? How did you find it? I’d love to know, as I begin KonMari-ing my life!

Photograph Hush

Born in Yorkshire. Lives in East London. California girl at heart.

28 thoughts on “Turns Out I’ve Been Doing Tidying Wrong My Entire Life

  1. Yes! All my friends are laughing at me for not only buying but using a book about tidying up (especially as I’ve always been pretty organised) but it has been a revelation! I’ve cleared out all my clothes that aren’t in the wardrobe and rediscovered some. And actually although I was as skeptical as you about the thanking your clothes bit – it helped me to get rid of clothes I’ve never worn or that were presents without guilt. I’m definitely a convert! Now onto books!

    1. I’m so happy to hear that the advice in the book actually works Lauren! And yes, I can totally see that the thanking your clothes (or whatever) bit would help you send unwanted gifts on their way. I do find gifts, things that I’ve spent a lot of money on, or things that I associate with a particular event or person very hard to let go of, so anything that makes it easier can only be a good thing. Afterall it’s much better that they find their way to someone who needs or loves them than sitting in a cupboard in my flat!

  2. Miranda I bought this book (!) James laughed at me (and the title of the book) and I haven’t actually read it yet…..too busy (apparently). Totally inspired to do it now “Does this bring you joy” – hmmm, bit worried most things will get binned but what the hell, at least I’ll have a lot less clutter x

    1. I’m not sure I’ll have very much left at all by the end of the process Charlotte! I can’t wait to hear what you think of the book when you you do read it.

  3. Does it come in audio?? I need to brainwash Joel with this. I went to find a pair of boots in the loft last night… a place I rarely venture… and saw all the things. Actually ALL THE THINGS I thought we’d thrown away. I cried. I think I’m going to need this book… or Stelios Kiosses from The Hoarder Next Door.

    1. Oh dear God that is hilarious! You poor thing! I’m so sorry you’ve been duped all this time but you’ve really made me giggle on this Monday morning. (Which, btw, sucks more than usual as I’m on day 6 of child with chicken pox AND CONCURRENT STOMACH BUG. A whole load of nope right there.)

    2. Oh dear! Our loft is, well…awful. I can’t see it so I’m not worrying about it! Until we have to move…(then we might actually need a skip!)

      My Dad is a terrible hoarder. So much so that my Mum makes secret trips to the dump when he’s not in. My sister jokes that he will turn into Mr Trebus (A Life of Grime)…whose story is so sad it’s actually not a joke at all 🙁

      1. My dad has moved (nearly) everything from our four bedroom family home into a two bedroom flat. I can’t even imagine. I’m going to buy him the book for his birthday.

        1. There is no way my Dad would entertain moving. Too much stuff! Ha. And I’m afraid he would scoff at the book!

          Actually he’d probably thank me very politely, wonder why on earth I’d bought it and then put it on the side with all the other books he’s collected over the years! xx

    3. It says on Amazon that it comes in MP3 CD format Amanda, but it’s way more expensive than the actual book. I can’t believe that everything you thought had been thrown away was in the loft all the time. I would have cried too.

  4. Miranda! I always love reading your posts (I love everyone’s posts to be fair but your’s always make me laugh). I have what seems to be a completely different lifestyle and routine to you but everything you write about seems to come at the right time!!! I loved your post about overhauling your sense of style (ages ago I know) and I haven’t quite got around to it yet but this will give me a kick up the bum to look through my clothes and get a move on with that mood board! Might even buy this strange tidying book-my husband will be pleased!!

    1. Aw thank you so much for your lovely comment Vanessa! Is it really bad that I’m thinking that when I’ve KonMari’d my flat I can treat myself to some lovely new things to plug the (inevitable) gaps?!

  5. I JUST bought this! Excited about its ‘life changing’ possibilities. I’m just hoping to know where to find my passport to be honest…:) will look forward to future updates!

  6. after reading this (incredibly well timed!) post i have decided to go and purchase this book. I had a sudden urge yesterday to have a huge clear out of our flat and throw away everything that we don’t need/wear, after a day i have managed to do one wardrobe after i discovered the 6 large vacuum packed bags we shoved in there when we moved in 3 years ago which held clothes from about 15 years ago and had forgotten about…..3 charity bags, 2 bin bags and a huge pile for ebay later i was deflated at the thought of having to do the rest of our bedroom let alone the rest of our home but i am once again inspired to read the book and continue….i’m hoping it will be done by Christmas time…my husband is a complete hoarder so i don’t see this being an easy task

    1. Good luck Lucy! Christmas seems like a realistic deadline, I don’t see the KonMari Method being something that can be rushed, and I reckon each bit will need at least a full day to do. But worth it, I hope!

  7. My spare bedroom currently looks like an obstacle course made up of piles of clothes at the moment. I don’t know why I just can’t bear to get rid of them. My Gran always had too much stuff (mostly clothes – I wonder wear I get it from!) and it did actually turn into hoarding. I helped my parents clear out her house before she died and after that experience the thought of ending up like that terrifies me. What is it about girls and clothes..?

    1. Haha, my spare bedroom is in a similar state Claire. Some clothes really are hard to get rid of aren’t they? But I think the “Does this spark joy?” question will actually make it easier to get rid of some things that I’ve held on to for ages, as well as the thinking that some things have played the part they were meant to in my life and now they need to go and spark joy in someone else’s life! It’s not just girls, I have lots of boy friends who have ridiculous amounts of trainers, some of which they’ve never even worn, but they just can’t part with them!

  8. I read this early this morning and it struck a chord, motivated me and really made me focus on a plan to de clutter, starting today, no more delays or excuses. Now late afternoon I have one small drawer of old gym gear dumped on the floor and a half a dozen new tops from JL due to be delivered later this week….think I’ve gone wrong somewhere!

  9. After my little was born I binned 95% of the clothes. Some of it unworn, some very expensive, a lot of it should have went to the charity shop or on eBay but I knew that if I didn’t take it to the dump that day, it would still be hanging around months later.

    I’ve started to reintroduce things but o try to only buy things I really love (like a Bella Freud knit) or need (a wear anywhere black shift dress).

    It makes getting dressed soooo much easier and I like not being overwhelmed by fabric every time I open my wardrobe door!

    Need to tackle my makeup, lotions and potions next…

    1. That is so inspiring to read Lynsey, I love the thought of an easier getting dressed process (and owning a Bella Freud knit!). I have things hanging around that I’ve been meaning to put on eBay for ages (I find the whole process quite overwhelming and so can only ever do a couple of things at a time, then I need a very long break!). Once I’ve Kondoed my clothes I’m planning on doing one big charity shop drop off for anything that’s in good nick but no longer brings me joy. And then slowly adding new items to fill the gaps. I have a pretty pared down collection of lotions, potions and make-up, but I reckon I can go further…!

  10. Oh my God this book is amazing! I used it when we moved earlier in the year to downsize from a big house to a little one. We roughly, halved our possessions. And it worked SO well. I even fold my socks now… No joke. My husband thinks I’m mad, but my things seem to be WAY more enjoyable now. I even went out and spent £50 on a super fancy rose drawer/wardrobe fresheners to remind me that only beautiful things that bring me joy live in my wardrobe and undies drawers.

    Massive raving fan of the MK method, as you can tell.

    1. Love hearing how effective the MK method is in practice Naomi. Tbh I was a bit confused about the socks and tights folding method – I need a diagram!

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