This blog is based on one that I read recently from a US blog site Sightings Over 60 which is always an interesting read.
The Netflix show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” has become a phenomenon. Kondo has been around for a while. Her book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up was released in 2014 and climbed the bestseller lists. She followed that book with Spark Joy, which tells us, according to the New York Times, that “you can own as much or as little as you like, as long as every possession brings you true joy.”
To be honest, I have not read her books, nor have I seen her show, but having had the opportunity to declutter when moving to a new house, one thing I do know is that decluttering is not a one-time event; it’s an ongoing process.
If you are retired and the kids have left home it is highly likely that you no longer need all that stuff filling up the garage, loft and wardrobes. Yet decluttering can be a big job with one rule of thumb suggesting that you allow an eight-hour day of decluttering for each year you’ve lived in your house! But unless you want a bad back and sore knees, you probably shouldn’t try to do it all at once.
So, here are some steps you can take to declutter … with a nod to Marie Kondo for making cleaning up cool.
- Warn your children. If the children have left home, invite them to look through your house and take what they want. Then insist that they remove any and all of their own materials – the boxes of old school items, the stuffed animals, trophies from sports tournaments, souvenirs from holidays, etc..
- Have a heart-to-heart with your spouse. Most relationships, it seems, consist of one hoarder and one simplifier. To avoid working at cross purposes, you need to sit down and talk things through – so one person isn’t throwing something away while the other is retrieving things out of the bin. The hoarder must realise that many things — VHS tapes, a record player, old sports equipment — are outdated or can be easily replaced. The simplifier must admit that some things have sentimental value and can’t be replaced. So, let’s not be like the dysfunctional politicians. We need to realise that there can be emotional issues involved in the process … and be ready to compromise
- Sort one space at a time. It’s easy to get bogged down if you do a little of this, and a little of that. So start small. Clean out a wardrobe, then a bathroom, then one of the kid’s bedrooms. The hardest jobs will be your own bedroom, the loft, and the kitchen.
- Touch something once; make a decision. As you go through your old clothes, old books, or old furniture, for each item decide whether you need to keep it or get rid of it. The key to making progress is to make the decision. If you need one suit, then decide which one to keep and get rid of the others. Try not to hmm and ah, change your mind, or postpone the decision – or that one day per year could turn out to be two or three days per year. Or, the decluttering may never get done.
- Make five piles. Keep. Sell. Gift. Recycle. Bin. Decide what you want to keep and put that in one pile. The rest goes into one of the other four piles. But try to decide right away – you can give it to someone; you can sell it, recycle it or throw it away. But don’t waste too much time deciding – just choose a pile. If you make a “mistake” and throw away something that maybe you could sell or give to charity – be realistic, you probably wouldn’t have sold it for much money anyway, and the charity wouldn’t have either.
- Take pictures. The hardest decision are the emotional ones. But if you can’t bear to get rid of something you need to get rid of, then take a picture. The special dress? Put it on, take a picture, then give it away. The shelf of trophies, the wonderful old oriental rug that will never fit into your new place – take a picture and keep it with you always. Then make sure to send copies of those photos to your kids.
- Books. Marie Kondo has caught some flak for suggesting we keep no more than 30 books in our homes. My own opinion is that books are like albums and CDs, or tapes and DVDs. Keep them around, if they bring you “joy.” But it’s not the books themselves that are important. It’s what’s inside — the information, the characters, the stories and those are all readily available from the library or the internet.
- Hire a professional. For most people, decluttering is a do-it-yourself project – and they would have it no other way – perhaps with some help from kids or a best friend. But sometimes the job might just be too big; or you’re too overwhelmed by the prospect. There are professionals who will help you.
So, here’s to many ‘happy hours’ decluttering … or at least planning to.