Posted on January 04 2019
Happy New Year! This is the year of the golden pig. It signifies fortune and blessed lives for those born in the years of the same zodiac symbol. But I would like to think that we can all have a good year. I hope everyone had a very nice holiday season.
Ours was very busy with lots of opportunities to visit with friends and family. Here I am, ready to greet the new year, sitting in my office, surrounded by holiday aftermath - unused cards, bills and papers everywhere, all strewn hastily and ignored for the last little while. But now I'm ready for the cleanup. The washer and dryer are humming away and I've already taken down the tree and most of the other decorations.
This time, I didn't feel clingy about Christmas. I yearned to go back to our paired down aesthetic. Perhaps I am looking forward to a renovation free year and one which is generally a bit less chaotic. There is a new Netflix series called "Tidying Up With Marie Kondo". I just became aware of this perusing movies over the holidays. Many of my organized friends are very excited about the show.
This is the latest project by the famous bestselling author and guru of cleaning with meaning. Kondo's organizing methods and Zen philosophy have made her an international star. In the series, she introduces and implements the KonMari Method of de-cluttering thoughtfully and efficiently, in the following areas:
- KOMONO - Kitchen, Bathroom, Garage, Miscellaneous
- sentimental items
Kondo encourages all like things to be revealed, then sort by which bring you joy and which do not. I'm not sure if I wholly subscribe to it. I mean, my pots and pans do not give me joy, but I do need them for cooking everyday! To be honest, I derive more satisfaction from seeing them clean and put away after a nice meal!
Kondo is not reinventing the wheel with her philosophy. She is addressing a need and condition which have become very prevalent in our society. We simply have too much stuff. We don't need all the stuff. Do we even know what stuff we have?! The late comedian George Carlin did a beautiful act based on this very dilemma.
Here are some shocking statistics:
- There are about 300,000 items in the average American home (L.A. Times)
- 1 out of 10 rent offsite storage units (N.Y. Times)
- 25% of those with 2 car garages don't have space to park their cars (U.S. Dept. of Energy)
- British research found that the average 10 year old owns 238 toys but plays with just 12 daily (The Telegraph)
- Over the course of our lifetime, we will spend 3,680 hours or 153 days searching for misplaced items (Daily Mail)
- Americans spend more on shoes, jewellery and watches than on higher education; about $100 billion (Psychology Today)
These numbers are staggering. We have come to the point where the stuff owns us. We spend the first half of our lives acquiring, then the rest of our lives trying to purge. Am I being a bit cheeky giving you doom and gloom about having too much stuff, on a website which encourages you to shop and acquire more stuff?! It may seem like that. However, I'm encouraging you to do what I've always believed, which is to just consider what you have and what you want.
Try to implement the "one-in-one-out" rule. Allow for your possessions to breathe and have importance in your spaces. Don't let them get lost in a crowd. Understand that there is no such thing as perfection and even if there is, we won't get there in a day. Having more isn't better. Quantity isn't quality.
My personal goal for 2019 is to make sense of a few areas in our home:
- the office
- master walk-in closet
- kitchen pantry
- basement living spaces
I've set a very large goal for myself. But without some soft target dates, I wouldn't feel motivated enough to get it all done. Out of necessity, the first room I will tackle is the office. It's the smallest of our bedrooms, designated as my home based work place since we moved to this house. It's the room where we store our household documents, it's a library of reference books and magazines. It's the place where I store all my crafting materials and it's the main computer and printer area.
With ongoing theatre props work and other DIY projects, the first thing I need to do is to purchase a storage unit with a lot of shallow drawers. Yes, sometimes de-cluttering involves acquiring a piece of furniture or two. I have a tentative plan. I need to group like things together, organize then purge. My magazine collection has gotten out of control again. I have a system of keeping only the last 5 years' editions. That way, the total number remains the same and I can refer to information which is still relevant.
Although I sound like I have some solid systems already in place for keeping the office tidy and workable, I still find that the room is in chaos most of the time. I realized that when the same space needs repeated clearing out, that means the job has yet to be done right. I didn't successfully allocate everything properly. I didn't carve out logical places for everything. If it was easy to put away, then I would have done so!
I came across another set of guidelines to deal with clutter, from Sarah @ Abundantly Minimal:
1. Don't declutter for the sake of it. This is quite a trendy notion these days. Do it because you really feel it's time for you to do it. The idea is to gather thoughtfully, purge thoughtfully.
2. Don't take on too much at once - make your goals more manageable for yourselves. 3. Don't let others tell you how or what to de-clutter. Make this about you and your family. You needn't please anyone else in your process.
4. Don't be sentimental about your things. This is a tough one. Most of us hang onto things because of emotional attachments. Take this step slowly. But do be a little stern with yourselves
5. Don't let your discarded items sit in your homes too long. You may end up with purge remorse. If you've boxed it and bagged it, that means you've said good-bye to it. Drive it to the donation centres right away.
Finally, give yourselves a break. Purge with kindness. Don't berate yourselves about the task ahead. Nesting is an innate human instinct. Fighting it too hard will have more of a boomerang effect. I've given myself to the end of January to get the office looking shipshape. Let's see how things go!