There’s a saying “clear home, clear mind” and many of us will realise this is true. How often have you “needed” to tidy your desk just so that you can start work? Or how about a thorough house tidy before going on holiday?
The tidying is just a distraction from the real problem in our minds that is making us anxious and we end up procrastinating and failing to deal with the prime issue.
Having a tidy home, therefore, cannot only bring a sense of calm to your surroundings but can also bring calm to your mind.
Since I first started “decluttering“, I have felt this calmness but I’ve been a bit lax of late. I’ve had a few days off work this week and since there is nothing to do but walk and sit in the house, I’ve turned to doing a bit of tidying and decluttering in order to help me focus on my priorities better. There have been a few areas that I’ve been looking at over the last few months thinking that I really must get around to doing something with them and I’ve finally had chance.
In her book, The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo argues that tidying has two streams: the everyday ‘put it away when finished with’ type tidying, and ‘event tidying’, that is done once properly and should never need to be done again.
In fact, her work has shown that most people struggle with clutter because they struggle with that first task of putting things away again when finished with them. Don’t know about you, but I can absolutely relate to this bad habit. Too often, things are left at a kind of halfway house and they aren’t always that far away from where they should be. Why is it so difficult to move them that last two feet?
Even if you don’t want to do the big ‘event tidying’, Marie Kondo has some useful advice for building habits around tidying and decluttering, and here are a few of my favourites for maintaining the clear home, clear mind feeling.
5 Clear the Clutter Tips From Marie Kondo
Always remove your bottles from the shower
Whilst it can be tempting to display your favourite luxury brands around the bath and shower (some are so pretty), it’s a breeding ground for bacteria. By removing them, the space is always tidy and the bottles are always clean. I always remove them as soon as I leave the shower, giving them a wipe with a towel and then leaving them on the bath mat whilst I dry myself. Before I leave the bathroom, they’ve been placed back in the cupboard.
Another added benefit is that it’s so much easier to clean. For this reason I also put away all my moisturisers and deodorants, and instead store them in a basket under the sink where they can easily be retrieved for use. I draw the line at hand soap though – that stays out as it is in constant use.
Empty Your Bag At The End Of The Day
How often do you find yourself searching through your bag trying to find your keys or some other item that seems to be lost in a sea of stuff that you don’t even remember putting in there? The trick is to empty your bag when you return home and get rid of all the stuff that isn’t needed anymore. Kondo also says to empty everything out even if you are going to use it the next day. That’s up to you but the essence of the tip is to ensure you always know what is in there and you don’t end up carrying junk and duplicate items around. (She also says it gives your bag a chance to rest…).
I’m usually pretty good at this and at least do it once a week. Occasionally I will have used a bag on a weekend trip that ends up making itself comfortable in the living room out of convenience. It usually has chargers and jewellery in it. Then it accumulates all sorts of other things that have been “tidied” for putting back in their proper home “later”, which we all know isn’t the same day.
Gather Like Items Together
When we moved house, I made it a mission to gather together everything that was of a similar theme or use. That way, as I unpacked, I could see exactly what space I needed as I started to put it on shelves and cupboards. Turns out we had about 5 extension cables because we’d bought new when we couldn’t find one.
This is a symptom of leaving things in places where they might get used, rather than having a go-to place where you know something is when you need to use it. If you don’t know you already have three, it’s easy to fall into the trap of buying again.
In the main, this has worked quite well, but things tend to gather in little gangs once you put something down and before you know it there’s a whole heap of stuff that should be somewhere else.
During my recent decluttering, I’ve found that I had nail varnish in several different places, including the aforementioned weekend bag, pens in drawers, bags, and on shelves, and generally things that should be all together have moved away from the main group. However, at least I could identify where they should have been, because of applying the next tip.
Give Everything A Home
Things that don’t have their own identifiable space end up cluttering tables, counters and floors. That home also has to be a good one where your stuff can be comfortable not crammed in. Once you get to the point that you don’t have space for something, that is the point at which you need to make a decision; do you buy another place to store it or start to get rid of the excess?
Also worth considering, that if you have to remove several things before you can get to the item, then that is also a time to start thinking about whether you need to reduce your belongings, as it’s going to be time consuming to put them away and they will be left in a more convenient, but more clutter-some, place.
Keep Everything Off The Floor
I love seeing a clear floor. It even fills me with some joy knowing that the space under my bed is clear (apart from one, pesky, spouse-owned box). Keeping everything on shelves or in cupboards just makes everything seem that little less untidy and when you don’t have as many things on the floor it makes it much easier to hoover it. No-one wants to spend half of the hoovering time moving things around.
These are just some of the everyday rules that Kondo talks about. Of course, there are lots of other great tips on how to start your big “tidying event” but getting good habits started can be a great help. A 15 minute tidy, as in “put everything back where it belongs”, is a great habit to add to your habit tracker, or perhaps even an empty the bag task. Conversely, keeping track of all the times that you didn’t put things away can be a good place to start as you learn to identify your blockers.
I’ll leave you with this one last quote from Marie Kondo that will help you to employ some of these tips “People cannot change their habits without first changing their way of thinking.”
Have you read the book? What were your favourite take-aways? Have you had a big “tidying event” or are you planning one? Share in the comments below.
If you liked this post, let me know by hitting the like button, sharing on your favourite social site or signing up to receive an alert about the next post by clicking here.
Until next time, remember, if the excess baggage is weighing you down, you can always leave it in lost luggage.