I Decided to Have a Go At “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” and Now I Feel Fucking Great!
The last three months of 2018 I was basically just a big ball of stress due to an overly hectic work travel schedule. This was wonderfully followed by a Christmas holiday where I was struck low by a particularly nasty virus. As someone who struggles with depression and anxiety this means I’ve been stuck in survival mode since early October. Self-care and taking time to decompress when I could became paramount, and it meant many things I care about fell by the wayside, including this blog. Talking about how I cope in those situations is a whole other post I promise to write sometime.
As 2019 rolled round and I started to feel better physically I could see stress about to return with a vengeance as I faced down more busy times at work, with a 36 hour round trip to Strasbourg scheduled as soon as I was back. And at home, there was an imminent kitchen refurb which I was excited about but felt completely unprepared for. Thankfully, my work allows us to reclaim annual leave days lost to sickness and I was able to get a week of holiday time back. I decided to use it immediately to get myself back on an even keel.
Over Christmas I’d seen the incessant adverts for Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix, and like many my reaction was “a show about tidying? What a crock of shit!” But one day when I was bored, I succumbed and, while the family in the first episode was SUPER ANNOYING (the dad was a total wanker), I was hooked. Who could resist such a tiny, sweet, adorable Japanese lady who wants to spread joy!?! For some reason it tapped into something that made me feel unusually motivated. So, in an attempt to get myself sorted out before the kitchen refurb started, I decided to devote my week off to go all in on tidying my flat.
I’m not saying I was a complete convert to every aspect of Kondo’s Kon Mari method, but there’s real merit to the structure of and motivation behind the methodology. I won’t explain all it involves, as there’s been plenty written about it already, but I will say I tried saying thank you to everything I was getting rid of, but there was a lot of stuff and life is too fucking short….
In the method clothes are the first thing to be tackled, so on the Sunday afternoon I decided to get started. One of the most important parts of it is getting everything out so you’re confronted with all that you own, and holy crap was I surprised by how much there was. I’ve got a king-size bed and it was completely covered with piles that were about 3 feet deep. I thought it was going to take me a whole day to get through it, but the sorting actually took not much more than an hour. Things were flying fast into piles of ‘keep’, ‘charity shop’, ‘recycle’ and ‘sell’. The next stage is putting everything away, with anything going into drawers to be folded using a particular technique that is both space efficient and makes everything more accessible. I’d definitely say the folding is one of the most important parts to adhere to. I love how my drawers look so much now that I occasionally pull them out just to have a peek in when I’m passing by!
In the end I went from clothes filling 2 large chests of drawers, 3 wardrobes and two large under-bed drawers to spaciously hung in 1 and a half wardrobes and folded in 1 chest of drawers (with room to spare). I’d actually set my summer clothes aside to go away in an underbed drawer in the spare room and ended up having plenty of space for them in my every day storage. After the success of the clearing out my clothing I moved on to DVDs and Books, my overstuffed living room sideboard and then the rest of the house. Once I got started, I found it increasingly easy to let go of things I’d been holding on to for far too long.
So, here’s how much I got rid of:
Charity shop: 8 black bags of clothes and shoes, 1 big bag of DVDs, 2 bags of books and 4 bags of misc. household stuff.
Recycled: 3 big bags of paper and card board, a pine chest of drawers, 1 bag of glass
Binned: about 6 bags of rubbish
Sold: 15 dresses, 1 pair of boots, an exercise bike and roller skate plates
Bartered: A Wii console and Rock Band paraphernalia
I’d say I nearly halved the stuff I had in my house. And, while I wasn’t a hoarder by any means, I can’t tell you how freeing it is to have so much more space and know that everything I own has its place. I’ve still got a bit more to do once my kitchen is finished, including sorting my sentimental items (particularly photos), but I’m mostly there. After my experience here are a few bits of wisdom I learned during the process:
You need to go all in with it. Make sure you’ve freed up time to work through the whole process in as short a period as possible. It will be more fulfilling, and less stressful because:
Everything is going to get a whole lot worse before it gets better. Sometimes I would look around a room and feel helpless as I took in the carnage, but seeing how much crap you have is the best motivation to get rid of what you don’t need. Definitely set a whole day aside for sorting through and putting away your clothes (plus time for drinking wine to recover after…)
Invest in some drawer organisers. Particularly useful for large drawers, they really helped with making the most of the space and having a place for everything. I bought a bunch from IKEA and I think I’ll be back from more!
Also be prepared with plenty of bags for getting rid of stuff. My aim was to make sure as much stuff as possible would be reused or recycled. Picking a place to donate stuff too and knowing where your nearest recycling centre is ahead of time will also help ease the clear out process.
If in doubt, just dump it. Particularly in the beginning I went back and forward about whether to keep things. Eventually I realised that unless I had that immediate feeling of ‘I should keep this’, I should just let it go.
More than anything, I think I can say this might be the most positive thing I have ever done for my mental health. The head space I’ve gained (in addition to the physical!) as well as the sense of achievement has been profound. This may not be for everyone, and it’s important to keep your expectations in check, but if you think it might help you, I heartily recommend giving it a go. If nothing else I’ve made over £350 from selling stuff!