I have always been a messy person. A really messy person. I am easily distracted and tidying up just never seemed as important as moving on to the next project. These days though, I find myself wishing I could invite people over for a cuppa without feeling dread and shame that they’ll have to wade through piles and piles of art supplies, discarded clothes and paperwork only to end up perched on a chair they’ll have to share with a pile of overdue library books. I have to admit that I’ve always looked at the homes of tidy people and wondered a) how they manage to keep their houses tidy, and b) do they not have any hobbies? And then something happened. A part of me snapped, and I decided that I’d prefer to be tidy after all.
But how does one become tidy? No, seriously. Boyfriend has always joked that when I walk into a room, things just leap out of shelves and cupboards at me. He describes (lovingly, thank goodness!) that I can disappear into a room and when he follows me 30 seconds later, the room has gone from tidy to just-been-hit-by-a-cyclone. I have special skills when it comes to mess-making.
Being the nerdy, research-everything person that I am, I have studied how to tidy. As in, I’ve read things and watched things and taken notes (TAKEN NOTES, NOT KIDDING). And being the nerdy, research-everything person that I am, I have to admit that there are some awesome gems out there.
Research, research, research.
The first book on tidying up that I ever read was Sorted. This is an awesome little book, of excellent sensibility. But it never spoke to my emotional side. I have been through a whole stack of breakdowns and burnouts, and I don’t know about everyone else, but a side effect of my poor mental health was always the ability to hoard. And not just stuff that I’d bought, but rubbish too. The true extent of my hoarding has yet to be uncovered, but I’m working on that.
I also watched all of the Alejandra videos on Youtube. My Mum joined the club and everything, but ever the cheapskate, I just stuck to watching the free videos. Because of Alejandra, I fold my towels all fancy, and I own a flip-fold to fold my clothes. Not even ashamed. I love my hot pink flip-fold.
I tried to tidy for 10 minutes a day, but got nowhere, because the focus was just on putting stuff away, not on actually deciding whether to throw things out or not.
And then I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. This is legit the best book on decluttering and tidying out there. There’s a reason everyone went nuts for it. This book deals with the emotional attachment we all have to the random things in our lives. It’s that book that talks about whether things spark joy. And it’s awesome. However, it’s not the be all and end all book. I found that sorting every single thing in my house by category just doesn’t work for me. I have too much stuff and too many feelings attached to all these things, and even finding things to categorise together is difficult because of how bad my clutter is.
So, what do I do?
Well, like any good little nerdy, research-everything person, I pick and mix. I take the best things from every method and I combine them together to make one mega-tidying-up-thingy. I take the organisation tips from Sorted, and combine them with sparks of joy from Konmari, for 10 minutes a day, and have I mentioned that I use a flip-fold? Seriously, they cost about $15 on eBay, just get one.
But what about you?
Well, my advice is to just get started. Pick any method that suits you, and don’t listen to the haters. This is all about getting your own life on track to where you want to be. And most importantly, be kind to yourself. Not all of us have the emotional fortitude to declutter our entire life in 31 days, and not all of us have the patience to declutter across 12 months. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you, it just matters that you do it.
My house is so much tidier these days because I am taking the time to actually put things away, unless I don’t like them or appreciate them, in which case I can now get rid of them.
Ultimately, this has made life so much easier. We can just invite people over whenever we want to, without the shame and dread. We can clean the house more easily. Boyfriend is much happier. And things are not ferociously leaping out of shelves or cupboards anymore. Or if they do, I now know how to put them back again.
What about you? Have you already decluttered? Or have you never even heard the term? Or are you busy burying your head in the sand instead?