The KonMari Step We All Skip (And Why It’s So Important)

the-life-changing-magic-of-tidying-up

As everyone knows, the first step in the KonMari process is clothes. Dive in and tidy any shirts, pants, and other apparel that doesn’t spark joy, thanking them for what they have provided you before moving on to books, right?

Wrong.

In “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” Marie Kondo says:

Before you start getting rid of things, take the time to…visualiz[e] the ideal lifestyle you dream of….Think in concrete terms that you can vividly picture what it would be like to live in a clutter-free space.

This was the main reason I have had trouble decluttering my wardrobe (if you’re a regular reader, you know this is a constant battle for me ), as I wrote about in “Find Your Wardrobe, Find Yourself.”  For me, not picturing (and being honest about) my ideal lifestyle didn’t effect tidying books, kimono, or even memorabilia, but showed in the large and completely incohesive closet (and dresser, and coat closet, and shoe racks (multiple).

However, this doesn’t just apply to clothes. Not clearly seeing whether you would like to start holding formal dinner parties could lead to unnecessarily holding onto fine china, not to mention the cabinet to keep it in. Not being honest about whether you’re really going to take up skiing could lead to boots, poles, and skis gathering dust in the basement.

So do not skip this step. Visualize the lifestyle you want to work towards (avoiding the Fantasy Self trap that is easy to fall into with the KonMari method), get as specific as you absolutely can (I literally planned what a weekday and weekend would look like from waking up to bedtime), and write it down.

And then? Knowing what sparks joy and needs to remain in your life to reach your goals becomes a breeze.

Hugs from Hobbiton,

Veronica

What I Learned from Another Failed Project 333

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. – Henry Ford.

Back in early April, Courtney Carver of “Be More with Less” sent out another Project 333 challenge (You can read up on the challenge and its rules here.) Although I had attempted Project 333 a few times before and always given up after two or three weeks, I  decided to give it yet another go.

So, two months later, I have finally quit. Except not really. This time I stuck with the challenge long enough to learn some very good lessons about how many clothes I really need, what I need in a wardrobe (hint: Not real pants), and what I really wear on a daily basis.

In early April, this is the 33 items I pared my wardrobe down to:

IMG_0874

Thanks to a never-ending winter, I had to include everything from a down parka and mittens to tank tops and a pair of shorts to accommodate temperatures from 10F to 80F and everything in between. It actually ended up being a Project 323 because I never wore that white button-down shirt.

So two months later, this is what I’ve learned:

  • hate black clothing. On myself, that is. I love it on other people but don’t feel right or comfortable in it at all. My go-to neutrals are white and gray.
  • I don’t need fancy clothes. Or even business casual clothes. Or real pants. I wore the khakis and nicer shirts to the myriad doctor appointments I had just to make myself feel more adult, but it was totally unnecessary. I would have done better to switch those out for more t-shirts and another pair of shorts.
  • finally learned how to pull together a cohesive wardrobe that goes together.
  • I do like having about 33 items in my closet to choose from.
  • I also like putting away non-seasonal items and getting them out of my closet.

So, like I said, I quit the challenge, but have just re-done my closet with a different 33 item capsule wardrobe with the following rule changes to make Project 333 work better for me:

  • I will be changing the capsule wardrobe when the weather changes. Having one pair of shorts to wear while my parka was still taking up space once the summer arrived drove me batty.
  • I will not be counting my Converse collection towards the total. (Yes, I have a problem. No, I don’t plan on seeking help for it.)
  • I will also not be counting jewelry. I almost never wear any in the first place, but I want to be able to accessorize on the rare occasion I do wear it.

So here’s my summer capsule wardrobe that I’ll keep until it cools off in the fall:

IMG_1097.JPG

Admittedly, with these new rules the challenge is a lot easier, but it’s also much more workable for me and my situation. I’ll provide an update either if something changes or when I switch to my fall wardrobe.

And the Converse collection? Here she is, with another pair currently shipped and on their way.

99455F88-B546-4BEE-A4B9-78AA42952976.JPG

Hugs from Hobbiton,

Veronica

My Favorite Minimalism/Decluttering Books (Part One)

I thought I’d put together a list of my favorite books on minimalism and decluttering. This is named “part one” as I’m always picking up new books, so I’m sure I’ll do a “part two” in the future.

  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – Does it even need to be said? The granddaddy of tidying books that helped start the minimalism trend. KonMari’s method is an excellent one and her gentle, encouraging voice really comes through, even in the translation.
  • Goodbye, Things – Fumio Sasaki’s book is part memoir of his own journey to minimalism and the happiness it brought, part list of tips and tricks on decluttering. The bonus photo section is a joy to look at.
  • Everything That Remains – Another minimalism classic. The Minimalists are the fathers of American minimalism and this is my favorite book of theirs (Although the other two are also good.) They call this their “Why to” book.
  • The Life-Changing Magic of not Giving a F*ck – If it’s your calendar you need to minimize/declutter and you like a generous serving of cursing with some excellent advice, Sarah Knight’s book is for you.
  • The Joy of Less – If KonMari isn’t for you, you might enjoy Francine Jay’s STREAMLINE method.

Hope you enjoy this list! Get to reading! (And remember – if possible, get these books from your local library rather than purchasing – that’s why I didn’t include Amazon links.)

Hugs from Hobbiton,

Veronica

5 Mini-Decluttering Projects to Take on This Weekend

Although I’m a big fan of the KonMari method, sometimes ain’t nobody got time for that. Or perhaps the thought of going through ALL of your belongings all at once makes you break into a cold sweat. No worries – any small steps you take toward decluttering are better than getting overwhelmed and not doing any tidying.

Here are some small projects to either get you started or reassess your belongings this weekend.

  1.  Clear out the junk drawer. If you have multiple junk drawers, see if you can consolidate enough to empty one.
  2. Go through your jewelry box. Toss any broken items or earrings without a match (yes, even if you SWEAR you know where the other one is. Do a search. If you can’t find the other one, out it goes.)
  3. Clean out the medicine cabinet. (I actually need to do this one myself.) Since medicine expires, this should be done at least a couple times a year anyways. Dispose of non-narcotic medicines (OTC medications, antibiotics, etc.) in used cat litter or coffee grounds and set any narcotics (Vicodin, Valium, Percoset, etc.) aside for your local drugstore’s or police station’s pill reclamation day.
  4. The Closet.  Every home has one: THE closet. Empty it, vacuum and dust it, and put only what you need back in. (Depending on how cluttered and/or large the closet is, this may NOT be a small project – the first time I decluttered my office closet it took over a week. If the worst closet is too much at this time, select one that is smaller and/or less cluttered.).
  5. The Workbench. If you have a workbench or even just a lot of tools, gather them all in one place and sort through them. You might find you have 3 5/8 wrenches but no wood glue. An organized workbench will make the next project or home improvement that much more enjoyable.

Have fun this weekend!

Hugs from Hobbiton,

Veronica

 

Gifts for Minimalists

It can be difficult to find a gift for someone who is trying to declutter and reduce the number of their possessions. What do you give someone who doesn’t want “things?”

Here’s some ideas:

  1. Subscription Boxes – There are now subscription box services for nearly every interest. I would recommend one that comes with perishable items that must be used such as YumBox, which sends a box of snacks from a different country each month.
  2. Food Box Service – On a similar note, a meal subscription service such as Blue Apron may be much appreciated for busy people.
  3. Dinner Out – Either taking them out for a meal to catch up and enjoy each other’s company or a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant.
  4. Babysitting Services – For those who have children, a homemade “gift certificate” for a night of babysitting will be much appreciated.
  5. Other Services – Know someone who hates to mow their lawn? Hire a yard service for them or show up with your lawnmower every couple weeks. Housekeeping, handyman work, and other services are other ideas.
  6. Tickets – A gift card to the local cinema for a movie night or tickets to a show they want to see or museum they’ve been wanting to check out.
  7. Discarded Item Disposal – If they are in the middle of decluttering (especially an “all-at-once” KonMari-type of decluttering), offer to take away their discarded items for them. As discussed in my article a couple weeks ago, this can be one of the most difficult parts of tidying. Offer to make that dump run, drop-off trip to the thrift and/or consignment store, or even put items of value up on eBay or Craigslist for them.

I’d love to hear other ideas that you may have, so please comment below!

Hugs from Hobbiton,

Veronica

5 Free Things To Do This Weekend

I’m on Day Two of no sleep (chronic insomnia), so we’re going to keep today’s entry short and sweet.

On the weekends it’s easy to default into hitting the mall, seeing the latest movie (even if you’re not particularly interested in it), or eating at the same mediocre chain restaurant for the 50th time. (Note with the last two it’s about quality, not the fact that money is being spent.) It’s especially tempting right now with most of the Northern U.S. still in a winter weather pattern. (I’m sitting here looking out upon a snow-covered Shire as I type.)

So, here are some (indoor) ideas for those of us in places where it’s too cold to do much outside, but there’s not enough snow to ski, snowshoe, etc.

  1. Embrace the Hygge: If you can still stomach it after all these months, instead of fighting the weather, put on your softest pajamas or sweats, make some tea or hot cocoa, and curl up with a good book. (I’m over this myself, but hey – if you can do it, go for it!
  2. Host a Movie or Game Night: (Also quite hygge!) Being stuck inside at home is a lot more fun with company – host a horror (or your favorite genre – perhaps chick flicks and wine is more to your tastes) movie marathon or a poker night with some good friends.
  3. Explore a New Trail: This one is outdoors, but a lot of us are wanting for fresh air, so if you can, bundle up and find a trail you haven’t explored before. Or perhaps drive out to a different neighborhood and walk around – you’ll be surprised at what you notice when you walk rather than drive.
  4. Spa Day: Get some friends together and have a home spa day – manicures, facials, and good conversation with some wine. Only fluffy bathrobes allowed!
  5. Plan your Summer Vacation:  Start putting your next vacation together – the dates, the location, what activities you want to do. This will give you something to look forward to. Bonus points for making a mini-vision board of it to look at until spring comes!

Hope this helps my fellow Northerners still in the throes of winter.

Hugs from Hobbiton,

Veronica

The Right Amount of Things to Own

Yesterday Dr. MinimalistHobbit was inspired to sort through his bike jerseys. (Following KonMari’s observation that the best way to get others in the household to tidy is to tidy your own belongings.) After a while, he looked up from his pile of clothes and sighed, “I like all of these jerseys,” giving me a look of expectation for some words of wisdom or criticism with the “correct” number of jerseys he should keep.

30709305_591748617851053_5433213391277654016_o

“Then keep all of them” was my quick answer, and so is my belief. I agree with the Minimalists and KonMari (and a lot of other minimalists I follow) that there is no magic number of items to own because we all live such different lifestyles and have different tastes. Dr. MinimalistHobbit owns around 40-50 t-shirts, but they all spark joy for him and he also wears t-shirts every day all year round, even when it’s -30F outside. I own a bookcase full of Pop figures because they make me smile when I turn around from my computer for a quick break from staring at my computer screen.

Conversely, I own almost no “real” pants because I work from home and live in yoga pants and Dr. MinimalistHobbit owns precisely one suit because he only wears a suit 2-3 times a year. Neither of these would probably work for someone who works in a business formal office all week.

So do not worry about the actual number of items you keep as long as you, to use the old William Morris quote, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

Hugs from Hobbiton,

Veronica

Nine Categories to Declutter for Spring

Although Hobbiton, like most of the Northeast, is locked into a winter weather pattern, in most other parts of the Northern Hemisphere Spring has sprung and with it, Spring cleaning and decluttering.

Here are some categories to declutter while preparing for Spring:

1.) Garden implements – Do you really need three hoes and two rakes to get the yard back in order? Probably not,

2.) Dresses and skirts – Although shorts season may be a while off, while you’re exchanging your warm pants for cute dresses and skirts, make sure to consider each one before automatically adding them back in your closet.

3.) Cleaning supplies – Since it’s cleaning season, what better time to go through all your cleaning supplies? Throw out anything you no longer use, anything past its prime, and any extra rags (you probably don’t need ten unless you’re running a cleaning business).

4.) Sweaters – Just as it’s a good idea to sort dresses and skirts as you dust them off for the season, declutter any sweaters that got stained, developed holes or pills, no longer fit, or that you just didn’t wear this past winter before putting them away.

5.) Cars – No, I don’t mean declutter how many cars you own (if this is a thing you need to do, you’re probably not my intended audience, and I commend your opulence). Both clutter and dirt can build up over the winter. Spring is a great time to clear out the car and give it a thorough cleaning!

6.) The coat closet/entryway/mudroom –  A hard, long winter can leave your coat closet, entryway, and/or mudroom looking like a war zone, especially if you have children. Check the winter coats to see if they’re good for another winter, toss any mittens without a match, and donate any winter items that have been (or will be by next winter) outgrown. Bonus points for emptying everything out for a thorough dusting and mopping!

7.) Papers – With tax season just ending it’s a great time to go through your papers. Remember to toss 2010 tax papers! (In general – consult with your accountant of course.)

8.) Air –  This one may sound like I’ve smoked a bit too much pipeweed, but after being closed up all winter, air quality and humidity indoors absolutely plummet. Open up the house for a thorough airing as soon as you can. My personal limit is 50F for opening the windows, but your mileage may very.

9.) Yard/Garden – Once the snow melts, a lot of broken branches, literal garbage, and even lost items can be revealed. A quick run-through with gloves and a garbage bag can improve the look before you can even garden.

Hope this list helps you do some seasonal decluttering and cleaning!

Hugs from Hobbiton,

Veronica

Book Review: The 100 Thing Challenge

I’ve always been fascinated with extreme minimalism, so when I had the opportunity to pick up David Bruno’s The 100 Thing Challenge for under $4, I grabbed it right away.

The Good: Bruno spends a lot of time detailing the thought process that led to him doing the challenge and how he prepared for it for an entire year ahead of time. (Hint: As discussed in my previous post, discarding items is no easy feat, and he needed to get his down to 100.)  I also liked that he included specific lists of what his 95-100 items were at various points – although everyone’s lifestyles and requirements are different, they help to provide a jumping-off point.

The Bad: One of the positive attributes of the book also leads to one of its detriments: I felt there wasn’t enough focus given to the actual challenge and the lifestyle changes and difficulties it created.  Now in all fairness one of the points Bruno makes is that his life didn’t change much, but I would still have liked to have seen this section fleshed out.

In Summary: Although not one of my favorites, it is a quick easy read and may inspire you to do your own extreme (however you define this – as Bruno says in the book, his number was 100, others may have a different one) minimalism challenge.

The extreme minimalism video series that I like best is by one of my favorite Youtubers,  The Bad Minimalist. Check it out – they not only go through what they keep, they address a lot of the underlying emotions that can come out during a challenge like this. Watch the entire playlist below:

Hugs from Hobbiton,

Veronica

Sell/Donate/Toss – Actually Getting Your Decluttered Items Out the Door

In my experience, I have found that while it’s easy for me to declutter, figuring out what to do with the items I’ve decided to let go of is difficult. It’s especially hard when the items have enough value that you’d like to get some money for them.  It would be so nice if there were a magic button you could push at the end of a big tidying spree that would magically take all the items away!

So, let’s break down the three general options and when each is most appropriate:

Sell –  I personally prefer eBay for this option. Living in a small town, there’s no Craigslist and few local buyers. I especially appreciate how eBay has the buyer pay shipping costs and you can purchase and print out the shipping label at home – no trip to the post office needed. However, it’s a lot of work and not an option for larger pieces such as furniture.

I also used Phobio.com to trade in my old iMac. Although the initial online “paperwork” to get an estimate and shipping to them (they send you a pre-paid box – super easy even with my 27″ iMac) was great, I have not received my estimated payout yet, so cannot fully give them a glowing reference yet.

Some people may also consider holding a tag/yard/garage sale for all of their items large and small all at once. In general, the large amount of time and labor involved is not worth the small amount of money you’ll make. (In per hour terms, well under minimum wage.)

My rule of thumb is I only sell single items, and only those I’ll get at least $50 for. Otherwise it’s not worth my time and I will just donate.

Donate – Another good option, although some places can be very picky about what they will accept. I am very lucky that the local animal shelter holds an annual tag sale to raise money and are happy to accept anything reasonable year round for it.

Some ideas:

Clothes: These are actually very difficult as the “fast fashion” industry has created a global glut of clothing and many places won’t accept them. Definitely ask first before dropping off at the thrift store. There are charities that accept prom dresses and business/interview clothes for those less fortunate. Here’s a great article on options: https://www.moneycrashers.com/where-donate-clothes-charity/

Books: Libraries and hospitals.

Toys: Preschools and children’s hospitals.

Baby Items: Women’s shelters

Unused Toiletries: Shelters

Old (Ragged) Blankets, Bedding, and Towels: Animal shelters (Used for bedding.)

Cellphones: Wipe the data and send to a soldier or domestic abuse survivor: https://www.whistleout.com/CellPhones/Guides/Donate-your-old-cell-phone-to-a-good-cause

Toss – This is obviously the last resort, but some things (like old CRT televisions, BELIEVE ME I HAVE TRIED) just can’t be sold or even donated. Recycle what you can (sometimes breaking down items into components will help with this – I was able to recycle most of an old humidifier this way), and bring the rest to the dump to make sure it is disposed of properly as some things (like refrigerators and other things with freon) have to be disposed of properly.

Hope this helps in your decluttering journey!

Hugs from Hobbiton,

Veronica