3 Overlooked Secrets to Japanese Decluttering
These surprising ideas from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up will make you rethink reorganizing.
Illustration: Christopher Corr/Ikon Images/Getty Images
1. Dump the Past
Most people are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of what they actually own. At this point, I usually say, "Let's start with off-season clothes." I have a good reason for choosing off-season clothing for their first foray into this tidying gala. It's the easiest category for tuning in to one's intuition concerning what feels good.
If they start with clothes they are currently using, clients are more likely to think, "It doesn't spark joy, but I just wore it yesterday," or "If I don't have any clothes left to wear, what am I going to do?" This makes it harder for them to make an objective decision. Because off-season clothes are not imminently necessary, it is much easier to apply the simple criterion of whether they bring you joy. There's one question I recommend asking when you select off-season clothes. "Do I want to see this outfit again next time it's in season?" Or, to rephrase, "Would I want to wear this right away if the temperature suddenly changed?"
2. Go Up...in Energy
Let me introduce a secret to maintaining the neatness of closets that you work hard to organize. Arrange your clothes so that they rise to the right. Take a moment to draw one arrow rising toward the right and then another descending to the right. You can do this on paper or just trace them in the air. Did you notice that when you draw an arrow rising to the right it makes you feel lighter? Lines that slope up to the right make people feel comfortable. By using this principle when you organize your closet, you can make the contents look far more exciting.
To do so, hang heavy items on the left side of the closet and light items on the right. Heavy items include those with length, those made from heavier material and those that are dark in color. As you move toward the right side of the closet, the length of the clothing grows shorter, the material thinner and the color lighter. By category, coats would be on the far left, followed by dresses, jackets, pants, skirts and blouses.
3. Work by Category
In the majority of households, items that fall into the same category are stored in two or more places scattered around the house. Say, for example, you start with the bedroom closet. After you have finished sorting and discarding everything in it, you are bound to come across clothes you kept in a different closet or a coat draped over a living room chair. You will then have to repeat the whole process of choosing and storing, wasting time and effort, and you cannot make an accurate assessment of what you want to keep and discard under such conditions. Repetition and wasted effort can kill motivation, and therefore must be avoided.
This excerpt was taken from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Copyright ©2014 by Marie Kondo. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.