Monday, 6 April 2015

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying - Part 1

I recently bought and read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever* by Marie Kondo.  I'd seen mention and rave reviews of this book in multiple places online, and thought I would give it a go.

I found the book very motivating, and I really feel that it could work!  As I attempt to implement her ideas, I will document my progress and findings here.

Part One - Categories (aka Sorting My Tights)

When I was not very far through the book, I became inspired to make a start.  Marie recommends tidying via categories (such as clothes, books), rather than area (such as room, cupboard, drawer).  You can break the categories down as much as you like, the important thing is to gather together everything in that group that you own and to handle each item.

I started with a sub-category of clothes - tights.  (Yep, starting small - wouldn't want to overwhelm myself!)

Quite by accident I realised the benefit of making sure you've got every part of that category in front of you.  I'd emptied all the tights out of my underwear drawer, and out of a bag under the bed, and set about handling each item and deciding whether to keep or discard it (whilst wondering why on earth I had so many tights, as I spend 90% of my time in jeans or trousers!)

I was nearly done when I had a niggling feeling I'd missed something.  Ah, hiding under the bed was yet another bagful!  (Why, oh why, did I have so many tights?!)  Luckily I was still in the zone and rethought some of what I'd already done.  There were some tights that I'd kept that now, in light of the extras I'd found, no longer made the cut.  For example, I'd kept a pair of a certain type as it was the only one I had, although it was a bit tatty.  When I discovered two more in good condition, that pair could go.

I realised how important it was to gather a whole category together, to better enable you to make decisions regarding them.  You are better able to choose whether to keep or discard if you can see everything you have in front of you.

In addition, if I had remembered the extra bag of tights at a later time, I probably would have just shoved them back under the bed, as I'd already sorted and tidied away my tights and wouldn't want to have to go through them again and redo what I thought I'd already done.  Or I would have crammed them in with the rest of the ordered tights, just to have them in the same place, ultimately undoing all the good work I'd done and setting myself back again.

I know tights are pretty insignificant items, but these lessons also apply to the bigger things we need to sort and tidy too.  Forgetting the extra bag under the bed provided some backup to the KonMari method of sorting by categories.  It hit home that she really might be on to something here!

When I think about it now, it seems pretty obvious to sort and tidy in that way.  However, I had always sorted by area.  Even when going through clothes, I would deal with a drawer at a time, or a rail of the wardrobe.  It's quite demotivating when you've worked on a drawer, sorted through a pile of t-shirts, stored the keepers neatly back in place, to then find t-shirts in other spots.  How do they fit in?  It's in that way that tidied spots deteriorate into messy spots again.

This is why Marie Kondo says that you should only store the items away once you have handled everything in that category and made your decisions regarding discarding.  At that point you know exactly what you need to store and can neatly put them in place.  From then, there is absolutely no reason for the neat storage of that category to ever get messed up again.  Every item has a spot, and once used can be returned to it.

I still have a lot more work to do in 'Kondo-ing' my home, and will pop back to let you know how I'm getting on.

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Saturday, 7 March 2015

Save Time and Money with One Simple Step

Minimalism is all about removing the unwanted excess from our lives, so that we have the space and time to appreciate and enjoy the good things.  This goes much further than simply physical possessions - they are not the only things which fill our lives and weigh down on us, snatching our time and energy.

One area where I find myself becoming bogged down is my email inbox.  I'm talking about my personal email here, work is a different problem!  The messages pour in from a myriad of sources, for various reasons - sites with which I've got an account sending newsletters, online shops I've bought from trying to tempt me with offers, social media websites notifying me of activity... the list goes on.  Remember when emails used to be electronic 'letters' from friends?  What percentage of your inbox influx consists of those welcome emails these days?  I'm betting it's not high!  And can you even see them for all the junk mail surrounding them?

Unless you monitor and deal with your inbox on a near-constant basis, it quickly gets out of control.  To get it back in shape takes a big chunk of time, weeding out the rubbish to get to the emails you are actually interested in.  Surely we have better things to do?

I find that I lose even more time when I've received a code for money off or free delivery at an online shop - I often can't resist having a look to see if I can take advantage of the saving, and end up trawling the products for something I 'need'.  Buying something, just to save some money... hmmm something's wrong there!  Even though I am trying to reduce clutter and unnecessary items, I still find myself being tempted by this sort of thing - well, the companies wouldn't bother with it if it didn't work!

The answer to all this is ridiculously simple - unsubscribe.  Ruthlessly!

Be honest with yourself - do you really need to receive these emails?  The newsletters, do you read them?  The offers, do you use them?  (Or if you do, should you?)  The social media notfications, can you wait until you log onto the respective account to find out what activity has happened?  Is it that urgent that you need an email telling you about it?  If the emails aren't adding any value to your life, opt out!

I think 'fear of missing out' is a big factor stopping us from taking such a simple step as clicking the unsubscribe button.  I used to get daily emails from deal-of-the-day websites with the latest offers, which I rarely used.  Even though I hadn't purchased one for quite some time, I struggled to bring myself to opt out of their emails in case the perfect deal came along!  As it happens, I often didn't get round to reading the emails while the offer was still running, as they were lost in the mire of my ever-filling inbox.  The only thing I was getting from this subscription was more emails to delete.

Eventually I unsubscribed and I haven't missed them for a second.  It's a case of out of sight, out of mind.  I'm trying to be ruthless with the other emails I receive - if in doubt, unsubscribe.  When registering with new sites, make sure you opt out of receiving emails too.  If you find that you are missing any of them, it's easy to opt back in... but I doubt you will.

  • Maintaining your inbox is easier and less time-consuming as there are fewer emails coming in.
  • Less time is wasted rummaging around on website for things you don't need, just to take advantage of an offer.
  • Less money is spent buying things you don't need, just to take advantage of an offer.
  • You are free from yet another task waiting to be tackled, which lightens the load on your mind and helps ease any stress you are feeling.

So, give it a go - unsubscribe and spend the time (and probably money) you'll save doing something fun!