The Perils of Piles

Perils-of-the-Pile

A pile of stuff never looks good.

I dropped a few items of clothing at Goodwill yesterday.   The corner of stuff in photo above is only a fraction of the mounds of stuff in this one of thousands of Goodwills scattered everywhere. 

Am I the only one who thinks prices at thrift stores on the high side? Is it because the amount of labor dealing with the stuff mountains so great. Not sure what percentage of unsalvagable stuff goes into landfills. I bet it's a big number. 

Unbelievable.

 

 

KonMari Method™ Vernacular

IMG_4022.PNG

Do "before" photos look better in soft focus? 😀

This is my "sanctuary" per the #KonMari vernacular.

It was constructed a year ago and has taken a year to discover how it can #SparkJoy for me. #TheTortoiseAndTheHair (#🐢🐇). In my experience, going through the Five Categories: Clothes, Books, Papers, Komono, Sentimental is the easy part :: and Category Six: #SparkJoyRefinement -- What colors? What plants? What Art? = (#🐢🐇)

How to Stay at Home While Living Like a Nomad

What would it feel like to live as a Nomad, with all of our affairs in order, knowing we are free? Maybe we are happy at home and have no interest in travel, but who doesn’t harbor a fantasy of walking away from it all on a one-way ticket around the world? How many times do we look around at our Stuff and get the sinking feeling we are not free to do as we please because it would mean dealing with the Stuff first–and that is too daunting and we run to pick up a distraction. What opportunities have we already passed up because we did not feel organized in all of our affairs? What if it took a good 30 days of focused (and I mean focused) work to deal with the Stuff and clear the path for options?  Sure, you may not get to touch in on everything, but you will be amazed at how much more clear your path will become to  you when you can actually see it! How would we feel about our lives if we could face head-on the thought of making a change, no matter how major or minor it may seem to us - move across the country, travel, have a tea party, or know where that pesky piece of paper is when we need it?

It would be a world of new possibilities and choices.

IMG_6833.JPG

When you take back your space, you take back your life.

Is there anything more thrilling than staring at a blank canvas? Is there anything more terrifying?

What about when that blank canvas is your home?

After you've sorted, and questioned, and culled. And tossed, and recycled, and donated. After bags and bags of stuff have left your life. After everything has been put in it's place, and labeled. Everything has it's space. Everything has it's place. Everything is set up. Everything is waiting for you to make the next move.

After you've taken your space back. Then it's your turn.

Organizing your home isn't the ending, it's the beginning.

"The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.” -Marie Kondo

When you take back your space, you take back your life, and after you take your life back, it's time to start living it. How do you want to live your life? What will you print on your blank canvas?

Ideas for Displaying Trinkets

So you've gone through all your stuff, sorted everything, held each piece, kept the things that spark joy, and tossed/recycled/donated/sold the rest.

What do you do with the trinkets that spark joy?

Display them of course! Displaying trinkets that spark you for you, lets you decorate your home without cluttering it. Win-Win!

You could… - use tins & things as storage on your desk or in your kitchen. - combine small light trinkets, photos & paper into hanging collages. - gather similar things together on a shelf, mantle or bookcase. - spread them in little joyful groupings throughout the house. - get some shadowbox frames and hang more than just your pictures. - get an antique letterpress tray, hang it, and put smaller trinkets in each compartment.

For more ideas, check out…Creative tips for displaying collections from decoist.com.

This IKEA hack to make a cool shadow box.

Freepeople has some great ideas for displaying sunglasses, which can be translated to other things.

And then for even more ideas, there's always pinterest.

FullSizeRender.jpg
762F1595-9326-4338-8465-44DA32F9E508.JPG

The KonMari Method deals with the parts of tidying that are actually difficult.

Quote_59_Buchwald
Quote_59_Buchwald

Marie Kondo's book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing is a brilliantly & concisely written - no extra words, no fluff, no filler - she gets straight to the point. This makes for some great quotes, and I do love a good quote, so I've gathered together some of the best and most poignant ones.

These are all from Marie Kondo's book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing."

  • “Clutter is caused by a failure to return things to where they belong. Therefore, storage should reduce the effort needed to put things away, not the effort needed to get them out.”
  • “The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”
  • “No matter how wonderful things used to be, we cannot live in the past. The joy and excitement we feel here and now are more important."
  • “The true purpose of a present is to be received.”
  • “Visible mess helps distract us from the true source of the disorder.”
  • “The process of assessing how you feel about the things you own, identifying those that have fulfilled their purpose, expressing your gratitude, and bidding them farewell, is really about examining your inner self, a rite of passage to a new life.”
  • “Imagine what it would be like to have a bookshelf filled only with books that you really love. Isn’t that image spellbinding? For someone who loves books, what greater happiness could there be?”
  • “People cannot change their habits without first changing their way of thinking.”
  • “Tidying is just a tool, not the final destination. The true goal should be to establish the lifestyle you want most once your house has been put in order.”
  • “The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.”

Interestingly enough, some of the best parts of her book aren't about tidying itself. Instead the best bits have to do with addressing the psychological hurdles we need to overcome in order to tidy. As Bourree Lam wrote in this article in The Atlantic, "...I think the reason Kondo-mania continues is because she has actually hit upon some good solutions to deal with these pervasive mental fallacies."

We all know that tidying isn't inherently difficult, it's a pretty simple process - get rid of things, and then put what's left away. But in reality it's much harder, because of these "pervasive mental fallacies" and the reason the KonMari Method works is that it deals with the bits of decluttering that are hard - the internal bits.

IMG_9007.TIF

7 articles about the KonMari Method that you might not have read yet

I love the KonMari Method of organizing because it actually works. Go through all of your possessions in one go, keep only what sparks joy in you, and discard the rest, then everything gets a spot, and your home is tidy once and for all.

But I'm not the only one who loves Marie Kondo's methods. Months ago I wrote a round up of 10 articles about Marie Kondo (perfect reading for us organization geeks) - so if you love organizing and reading about organizing, here are 7 more articles about the KonMari Method for you to enjoy.

1. "Japan’s ‘queen of clean’ promotes benefits of a tidy home" in The Globe and Mail

2. "12 Rules for Getting Your Clutter Totally Under Control" on Cosmopolitan

3. "How KonMari’s phenomenal book can help put your house in order" in Japan Times

4. "No more unwanted baggage; the golden rules of tidying up to de-clutter your home, mind and life" on Stylist.co.uk

5. "The Psychological Benefits Of 'Kondoing' Your House" from the Huffington Post

6. "KonMari Trendy New Organizing Method" on Martha Stewart's website

7. "A Therapeutic Approach to Closet Cleaning That Actually Works" from WhoWhatWear

Happy reading!!

Donating vs. Selling - getting rid of the things that don't spark joy.

BUY LESS, CHOOSE WELL. OR ELSE . . .

BUY LESS, CHOOSE WELL. OR ELSE . . .

When we're decluttering & organizing, getting rid of the things that don't spark joy isn't exactly easy, because what do you do with it?

Do you put things out with the trash? Recycle them? Pass things to friends & relatives? Donate? Sell? Just thinking about what to do is overwhelming! But you haven't actually decluttered until the unwanted objects are out of your life. (Shoving things in a closet doesn't count.)

Some things are obvious - the broken things, you recycle or toss; the things your friends love and want, you pass along to them.

But what about the rest? Donate or sell?

The case for selling: it makes back some of the money you spent buying all the things, and who doesn't appreciate an extra money in their pocket?

The case against selling: it takes a lot of time, and energy - you have to deal with listing, shipping, and lots of trips to the post office.

The case for donating: it gets everything out of the house in a couple trips, if feels good, and there might be a tax write off.

The case against donating: finding organizations to donate to can sometimes be tricky, especially for less common items.

So, which should you choose? Instead of trying to logical it out, try asking "which sparks joy?"

Would you get joy from selling your things and seeing them go to people who very much want what they're getting, acknowledging and being ok with the fact that it might take a little longer to get everything out of the house?

Or would you get more joy in donating the things you no longer want, passing them along to a charity and trusting the things find their way to people who want/need them?

Marie Kondo answered this question in an "Ask Me Anything" on reddit, she says, "I am sure there are several different ways to get rid of books, by selling them or donating them. You should figure out which way sparks joy, makes you happy. If it sparks joy to sell them one-by-one, go for it. But it takes so much time and energy, if it does not spark joy, maybe you can donate them to a library or sell to one organization."

I think it's amazing that the question "does it spark joy?" is so telling, and can be applied to so much more than just deciding what possessions to get rid of and what to keep - it can also clarify how to declutter in a way that works and feels good to you.

How do you want to live your life?

How do you want to live your life? It's a big question, but when you're organizing, it's an important one.

We all want to live in clean & organized homes - living with mess and clutter isn't pleasant, no matter where or how you live. But what "an organized home" looks like for you is probably going to be different than what an "organized home" looks like to your neighbor.

A big part of decluttering is getting rid of things that no longer 'spark joy.' And the things that no longer spark joy are different for everyone.

While strict minimalism isn't necessary by any means, the fewer things you own that don't spark joy, the easier it is to organize what's left. Most of us hang on to tons of stuff that doesn't spark joy, that we don't like, that we don't need, that we don't want - and all that stuff weights us down.

So, how do you want to live your life?

In your idea world, what would you have around you? What wouldn't you?

How to clean your messy desk, and keep it clean.

A messy desk is the enemy of productivity - I'm an artist, I know what it's like to need lots of things on your desk while you're working on your projects, but I'm also a professional organizer, and so I also know the power of a clean desk.

Messy desks are often considered a sign of a creative mind - and it's true - having lots of inspiring things around you while you work is bound to spark all sorts of new ideas! At the same time, all those new ideas can distract you from the very idea you sat down to work on.

A messy desk can be inspiring - it can also be cramped, crowded, and distracting.

With a messy desk we're always thinking about "what's the next project," "what else should we be working on."

So lets try a fast & enlightening experiment: working at a completely clear desk.

In 15 minutes, and five steps, let's completely clean your messy desk.

Step 1: Get a box - a sturdy bankers box with a lid is excellent, but any box, or bag, or container will do.

Step 2: Set your timer for 12 minutes. No time for dilly-dallying we want this done!

Step 3: Clear all of the items off the surface of your desk. For now, just put everything in your box. Get the stuff contained and out-of-sight!

Step 4: Put some elbow grease into it and clean the surface of your desk. Make it shine.

Step 5: Only allow your essentials back onto your beautifully clear desk. Can you limit yourself to 3 essentials?

Ok, I just cleared my desk.

Here's what’s left: 1 laptop, 1 clipboard, 1 pen.

Those are the only essentials I need for working on my current project (writing this blog post).

Now that you've cleaned off your messy desk, how does it feel? Spacious? Empty? Do you like it? Or hate it? Do you feel focused? Does it spark joy?

Once you're done with work for the day, take that box of stuff and pick out only what sparks joy. For every item that sparks joy, find a permanent home for it. Now toss or recycle the rest.

Important: From now on, if you want to keep the messy desk at bay - when you finish a project, or when you finish using a tool - put it away! everything should have a home where it lives when it's not in use. 

That will help keep your desk nice an clear - perfect for focusing on the projects you want to be focusing on.

The Intensity of Cleaning Up & Clearing Out

We spend huge amounts of our lives surrounded by "stuff." Piles of possessions. Mountains of things: things we bought, things we were given, things we don't even remember how we came to be in possession of.

And we spend so much time with these things of ours, that at some point we stop seeing them. We stop seeing the piles of clutter as piles of clutter - they just become part of a daily landscape.

We know the piles are there, and that they are clutter, and that we should probably do something about them, but that never quite happens.

And at some point, the clutter becomes comfortable - familiar. We get attached to our piles of possessions, so that when we do decide to tackle our piles - thoroughly and completely, once and for all - it's a very intense experience.

It turns out that many of us, don't have lots of experience detaching ourselves from our possessions - that's why it's so important to have support when you do a major clean out. Where that support specifically comes from doesn't matter quite as much as making sure you have it.

Support can come from friends or family members, an online community, a book, or even a professional organizer - we just need someone to help us get all the way to the end.

Cleaning up, clearing out, and taking an honest look at everything we own is an extremely intense process - it's why we work so hard to avoid it.

But the feeling of being free, unencumbered by our possessions is completely worth the struggles we go through to get there.

The Importance of Having Support While You Declutter

At it's worst, decluttering can be a completely overwhelming and paralyzing experience. But what if it didn't HAVE to be that way?

What if decluttering didn't HAVE to be painful & awful & annoying & boring?

But how could decluttering be anything else? With plenty of support and cheerleading.

Support can come from many places, but the important things that all decluttering support includes are:

1. cheerleading - all of us need cheerleading at some point when we're decluttering, so having someone to give us a little pep talk can give us the encouragement we need to keep going.

2. accountability - sometimes we need someone to stop us from just shoving all our piles under the bed, or in the closet, so having someone to help us keep ourselves accountable in a way that works for us, helps keep us from quitting halfway.

3. clear headedness - decluttering can be an intense process, bringing up all sorts of emotional gunk, so sometimes we need someone to keep a clear head while we mourn the single sock that used to make up one half of our favorite pair of socks.

Cheerleading. Accountability. Clear Headedness. The decluttering support system trifecta.

Where exactly your support comes from, is best determined by you. You could call on your friends, your family, an online community, a book, a method, or even a professional organizer (like me!) - but so long as your support system provides cheerleading, accountably, and clear headedness, you should be good to go.

What do you want your home to feel like?

"Life, is for most of us one long postponement." -Henry Miller

If you close your eyes, and imagine coming home, walking up to your front door, unlocking the lock, opening the door, and stepping inside, what does your entrance-way look like? How does it feel? What do you wish the entrance to your home looked like?

If you were to actually walk into your house right now, what would it look like? What would it feel like?

One final question, what do you wish it felt like when you walked in the door? Imagine it felt peaceful, or inviting, or comfortable. Imagine walking in the door and not feeling overwhelmed by all the stuff, the mess, the clutter, the filled to the brim-ness of it.

"…what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life."Marie Kondo, "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up"

No one wants to feel overwhelmed when they come home. But more often than not, we do, and it sucks.

Clutter and overwhelm, unfortunately go hand in hand. When we're overwhelmed, we're less likely to organize, which leads to clutter, which feeds the overwhelm, which leads to more clutter piling up. And pretty soon, there's so much clutter that you have no idea where to start.

Clutter isn't usually the root cause of overwhelm, but certainly doesn't help things, and eventually it becomes a source of overwhelm in and of itself.

Having said that, what if we eliminate clutter, so that it can no longer be a source of overwhelm? And if you could walk into your home and not feel overwhelmed by clutter, what lengths would you go to, to keep it that way?