When I first read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the thing I liked most was the positive aspect of the KonMari process. She calls decluttering your home a “tidying festival.” The whole thing is based in gratitude. You feel gratitude for the things you’ve been blessed with, and gratitude when you release those that no longer spark joy. When your focus is on keeping the things that bring you happiness, rather than on what you get rid of, the experience is wonderful and energizing. Many of our clients said they felt “lighter” when they completed their tidying festival.
I love decluttering and getting rid of things. If I’m feeling anxious, I clean out a closet. Dropping off something at a charity makes me feel great. I’m not super attached to “things,” and letting go isn’t a struggle for me most of the time. I certainly know that’s not the case with everyone, and have seen how hard it is for some people. However, if you’re hoping to get your home tidy once and for all, decluttering has to come before organizing, and sometimes that means letting go.
If you are someone who struggles with letting things go, these ideas may help:
Focus on your ideal life. The last blog post was about setting your intention for your tidying journey. If you haven’t already done that, I recommend you do it before beginning the decluttering process. Having a picture in your mind of what you want your space to be like will help you let things go if they don’t support your vision for your future life.
Find a charity that accepts the types of things you no longer use. Releasing them when you know they’ll have a good home makes letting things go much easier for most people. We have a donation destination list on our website of some non-profits in our area. It lists their mission and what types of things they accept. We often take a car load of items our clients have released and drop them off at one of these places. I recommend getting things you’ve released out of your home as soon as possible. Trust your initial impulse to let it go.
Find a friend that might be blessed by something you’re storing but not using. A lot of the women in our church are on a messaging app called GroupMe. Just tonight I asked if anyone could use a couple bottles of paint my daughter and I had left over after painting some store windows this Christmas. The paint won’t last until next year, and someone with two sweet girls was happy to have it.
My husband might not be happy about this story - actually I just asked him if it was ok to write about it and he laughed - I guess that’s permission. Another gal from church posted an offer on GroupMe for some new “manties” she bought her husband that were the wrong size. She had already washed them, so they couldn’t be returned. My husband was the right size, so I said he’d be happy to have them. My friend brought them to church in a discreet little gift bag, but of course every woman in the church knew what was in the bag. Let’s just say that her husband and mine don’t wear the same style. My husband called them “he-kinis” and refused to wear them. I ended up donating them to a group that helps homeless folks (The Van). Probably the best part of the whole incident was the joy this brought to the women on GroupMe. I thought the comments would never end.
Express gratitude for the use you got out of an item. I recently had a client let go of some teaching materials she had been hanging on to that she knows she won’t use again. She talked about how useful they were to her and how much she appreciated them, shared some memories, then let them go.
Be grateful for the lesson you learned from something you didn’t end up using. People often feel guilt about clothing hanging in their closet that still has the price tag on it. Sometimes the lesson is that you don’t actually like the color or style of something, and won’t make the mistake of buying that type of thing again. Pass it on to someone who will use it and let go of the guilt.
Remember that almost everything you’re keeping “just in case” can be replaced. In their book Essential, the Minimalists’ Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, explain their theory:
…..if we remove the just-in-case items from our lives, we get them out of the way and free up the space they consume.
Over the last few years, the two of us let go of the vast majority of our just-in-case possessions. And during our last book tour, we made sure we didn’t pack anything just in case.
Then we tested our hypothesis: the 20/20 Rule.
Anything we get rid of that we truly need, we can replace for less than $20 in less than 20 minutes from our current location. Thus far, this hypothesis has become a theory that has held true 100% of the time. Although we’ve rarely had to replace a just-in-case item (fewer than five times for the two of us combined), we’ve never had to pay more than $20 or go more than 20 minutes out of our way to replace the item. This theory likely works 99% of the time for 99% of all items and 99% of all people—including you.
Finally, keep in mind that letting go of the things that don’t spark joy lets you focus more on the things that do. If everything is special, nothing is special. Value and take care of the things that spark joy, and let go of the rest.
Today I was fortunate enough to talk a bit about the joy of tidying up on local lifestyle show The Vine. Watch it below for a quick folding demo!
Sue Fehlberg is Arkansas’ only Certified KonMari Consultant