In 2014 so far, the Hub and I have been obsessed with two things: the television series Breaking Bad and trying to sell our flat and buy a house. At least we have been successful in one endeavor – we have finally finished the series. The second one has eluded us.
But what do these two things have in common? Apart from the role they play in our nefarious plan to set up a meth lab? Not much, apart from the fact that the latter has inspired me to partake on a massive de-cluttering, and the conclusion of the former has now given me the time. With the Breaking-Bad-shaped hole in our life, I can now take my possessions in hand and figure out what is essential and what is not. And because the flat isn't selling, the clearing out at least gives me something I can physically do, while nothing else is happening.
I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo to get inspired. Don't be fooled by the somewhat strange name – it's a gem of a book about how to clear away your crap for good. She claims – unlike the diet industry that locks people in for life – that her clients never return. And although I have only just started on her prescriptive process, I can see why. For three reasons.
The first is that she recommends sorting through your stuff in a unique way: you don't go drawer by drawer or room by room, but by the type of object. So when you are clearing books, you collect them from every corner of the house and go through them methodically. Although initially this seems strange, I can see the madness now that I have begun. You would not believe where things lurk in your home undiscovered!
The second is a strategy to do the clear out only once, and fix the problem for good. She says not to take over 6 months with your de-cluttering binge or you will not feel the effects of a large shift in your environment, and perhaps more importantly, your attitude toward your possessions. Which brings me to the third reason to devour this book in just a few sittings: it helps you to focus on the things you want to keep, instead of what to throw away. You take each object in your hands and ask yourself if it elicits joy. What a question! What does that even mean? Well, I can tell you, it's a totally different question as to the usual de-cluttering ones: is it something useful? Do you love it? I have found that there are even things that I love that I am actually ready to let go of. (And just to clarify, not the Hub – he is already starting to worry I may throw him away by accident, such is the speed of the clearing I have already completed!)
What I love most about Kondo's process is how it helps you focus on what you want to surround yourself with. Because if you can practice asking yourself that question in regard to objects, then it's easier to do it with bigger things in life.
I will tell you about the clothes folding another time (it's revolutionary!). In the meantime, new T.V. series recommendations are very welcome. Otherwise we may end up with no possessions at all. At least moving – if it ever happens – will be easier.