Organizing 101: Does this item bring me joy?

Have you noticed the organizing and decluttering trend lately?

It seems like everyone is getting tired of the overwhelm that comes from too much stuff! I compiled a few notes from three books I found helpful on the topic. I highly recommend all three of the books.

First, from the book “Tools of Titans” by Tim Ferriss: You might start by asking yourself “How am I complicit in creating the conditions I don’t want? Do I accept donations (cast-offs) from others that I don’t need or want? Do I purchase from yard sales, dollar stores, craigslist, etc things I don’t need or want? Am I a sucker for a good deal? Am I a depository for family heirlooms, moving boxes, unfinished projects, broken/mismatched furniture/items that will never be fixed or used?” If so, its time to stop all of these things at once! Also from Tools of Titans, “In the midst of overwhelm, ask is life showing me exactly what I should subtract? Is this a breakdown or a breakthrough? The obstacle is the way – use pain to find clarity.”

The second book Id like to reference is “Simplicity Parenting” by Kim John Payne: “Levels of simplification: environment, rhythm, schedules, & filtering out the adult world (news, media). Get rid of anything with broken or missing pieces. Get rid of character toys. Get rid of battery operated. The less the toys do, the more they can become in play. Books: pack away leaving only 5 favorites at a time.” This may sound extreme – I mean books? Really? Aren’t we supposed to have bookshelves upon bookshelves dedicated for our children’s books? Nope. Not if they are all just sitting there collecting dust. This book was so interesting in giving ideas on how to simplify not just possessions but also your schedule and environment.

And finally, from the superstar of organization, lets see what Marie Kondo has to say from her book “The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up”: “Your home and your space in it has a specific value. You can easily figure out how much each square foot of your home is worth by finding similar homes in your area and their price and then dividing that by your square footage. Is it worth $150 to store this box of broken toys here? Is it worth $150 to continue to have this unfinished project in this space? Is it worth $150 to have so much space dedicated to a hobby that I do not have time for? Is it worth $150 to store these boxes for my sister?”

The gist of her “KonMari” method is following these general rules:

  1. Store everything similar in ONE place (example all bags in one place. Store bags inside other bags).
  2. Store everything vertically.
  3. When deciding what to keep, ask your heart. When deciding where to store your things, ask your home.

Lets start with clothing

Ask yourself about your clothing “does this article of clothing give me pleasure?” Take every single piece of clothing out of your closet and put in a pile. Now get every piece of clothing from every other possible place (coat closet, seasonal storage, etc) add to the pile. Go through each piece of clothing and sort into piles (tops, bottoms, clothes that hang like suits & jackets, socks, underwear, bags, accessories like belts, scarves & hats, clothes for specific activities like swimsuits & uniforms, shoes). When sorting, handle each item and ask the question “does this give me pleasure?” If the answer is no, thank it for its service and let it go. For off-season clothing you can ask, “do I want to see this again? Would I want to wear this right away?” Once you’ve paired your clothing down you are ready to put the items back into your closet. You can organize your closet by category, then “rise to the right”. Start with heavy, dark, long and work your way to short & light. Example: coats, dresses, jackets, pants, skirts, tops, shorts.

Next up: Books!

Do the same thing you did with your clothing. Gather every single book in your home and put into a pile in one spot. Don’t forget cookbooks, photo albums, yearbooks, scrapbooks, etc. Get rid of any unread books immediately. If you didn’t read it when you received it, you will most likely never read it. Thank it for its service in showing you that you don’t need it and let it go. Of the books you have read, touch each one and ask “does this book spark joy?” Keep only the very few books you truly love! Only the ones that make your happy to see on your shelf are allowed to stay. This is your personal book Hall of Fame!

And moving on to papers!

Do the same as with clothing and books. Gather all papers in the home. Those currently in use, those needed for a limited amount of time, and those that must be kept indefinitely and the only three groups of papers you will need to keep. All the rest can be shredded and recycled. From the first two categories listed above go through and discard as much as you can. Keep in ONE spot those that need to be dealt with, for example a vertical organizer “needs attention” box. If its not being put into practice, then it is meaningless (old class papers/lectures – getting rid of it forces you to put it into practice). Get rid of manuals for use. Put all warranties in one single file. Infrequently used (examples insurance policies, guarantees, leases) all go in one file. Frequently used go into another. Get rid of used checkbooks.

And finally the last category is referred to a kimono (aka random clutter).

Cds, DVDs, makeup, accessories, valuables (passports, social security cards, etc), electrical equipment & appliances (cameras, cords, chargers, etc), household equipment (stationary & writing materials, office supplies, sewing kits, etc), household supplies (medicine, detergent, tissues, etc), kitchen goods/food supplies (utensils, pots, appliances, etc.), and other (spare change, figurines, holiday décor, etc.). Go through it all. Save only what brings you joy.

What about gifts?

Thank it and move on.

Cosmetics?

Get rid of them, they’ve probably gone bad.

But I might need those empty boxes someday! Bye-bye!

Unidentified cords. See ya.

Broken appliances (anything broken) have to go.

Bedding, health craze items? Outta here. Free stuff and novelty items. Out the door.

Coins, put into your wallet.

And last but not least: Sentimental items.

By handling each item and deciding which to discard, you process your past. You may decide its time to let go of it and start living in the present. Get rid of old letters and clothing already!

And Marie recommends having an evening routine of emptying you bag every night. Thank your belongings after each use (ex. “thank you for keeping me warm all day!”).

I hope this was helpful and inspiring and saved you the time of having to read all three books! What organization tips have you tried that have worked?

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