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

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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

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

 

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.

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“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

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

Decluttering the Guilt around Gifts

I received an interesting comment on one of my Instagram posts from a follower last week stating that her biggest roadblock in minimizing her possessions was gifts. It is a difficult dilemma, and one I struggle with myself, in particular items from my partner since we live together and it’d be hard for him to not see what I’m discarding.

It is easy to say, “it’s the thought that counts” and “It’s the giving of the gift that matters,” when it comes to decluttering gifts, but in practice…not so much.

The first step to addressing the issue is to dig into the reason you’re having trouble decluttering the item. I find that with gifts it usually falls into one of the following categories:

  1. Concern that the gift-giver will notice its disappearance. If the giver is only an occasional visitor, I can assure you that they won’t notice. However, to set your mind at ease I suggest doing a trial run. Put the item away in storage and if its absence isn’t noticed in X (I’ll let you set this number) amount of visits, you can discard confidently.
  2. Attachment due to the giver’s passing.  This is a much more sensitive issue. I would recommend gathering all the gifts, letters, photos, and other sentimental items from that person (almost like a mini-KonMari category). Once you’ve done this, it’ll be easier to pick out the items that mean the most to you and best represent that person and your relationship with them.
  3. Items from exes. In almost all cases, discard. KonMari likes to say that holding on to old relationships doesn’t leave room for new ones. And really, do you want to have items around that remind you of that person?

And as a final note:

Regifting.  It might be tempting to recycle gifts no longer wanted by regifting them. I personally think that the trouble involved – making sure it’s given to someone who doesn’t know that it was a gift to you, having to explain a lack of gift receipt, etc., makes it not worth it. I would simply discard or donate like any other item.

I hope this helps with what is a very difficult category of items to declutter. Definitely add any of your tips below!

Hugs from Hobbiton,

Veronica

 

Find Your Wardrobe, Find Yourself

In my decluttering journey until recently I’ve had one category that I really had trouble with: clothes. I tried KonMari-ing (Now four times for that category – I haven’t made it all the way through Komono yet, usually using the Minimalism Game for the random items.)  . I tried Project 333. Multiple times. (Never made it past two or three weeks.)

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All of this was very frustrating in my minimalism journey – why could I toss an old photo more easily than an old t-shirt? I did make progress, lots of it, but was still left way over the “click point” Marie Kondo talks about. I could still feel I had way more clothes than was right for me.

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So what was going on? It certainly wasn’t an aversion to tidying. I was having no issues in any of the other categories.  It wasn’t until Courtney Carver suggested writing a letter to your clothes (or any possession you’re having trouble with) that I figured it out:

Clothing is how I determined “who I was” and by maintaining a large variety I was able to avoid having to sit down and really think about who I am and where I want to go, instead taking on various “personas.”

KonMari talks about envisioning your “ideal life” before starting her method but that never quite clicked with me. It’s only recently that I finally determined a vision for myself, and just like that another 10 grocery bags of clothes were out the door. (Admittedly with just a few new purchases that I love.)

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So if like me you have trouble with decluttering clothes give the following a try:

  • Do a Project 333 – This is great to test whether your concern is having “enough” clothes to wear. It’ll teach you how few items you really need. If you are unable to complete it – think about why.  For me, I’d get bored and start sneaking more items in, but that was because I would always try to do a monochrome wardrobe (the stereotypical minimalist aesthetic), which not just bored me but meant I had chosen the wardrobe based on color rather than whether I liked the actual pieces.
  • Ask Yourself “What am I getting out of this?” – For me, it was the ability to adopt different personas and avoid doing the digging to figure out what I really actually liked.
  • Pay Attention and Make a List – Can’t stand capris? Get rid of the four in your drawer. Love big bulky sweaters but only own thin, form-fitting ones? Time to trade out those five you don’t like for a couple you love. For me I realized that I owned four zip-up hoodies although I only like pullover ones and way too many tank tops for someone who really doesn’t like them, yet I had zero of the pretty, flowy peasant-type blouses I always coveted.
  • Finally, Envision the True You – This will help make it clear what pieces should be in your closet. In my case, this meant buying more clothes, but 10 bags went out and I bought about two, so a huge net loss and my closet it the better for it.

Here’s to a closet full (but not too full) of only clothes you absolutely love and speak truth to who you are..

Hugs from Hobbiton,

Veronica

Decluttering Your Fantasy Self

I know I’m a bit late to the party, but wanted to write about decluttering ones fantasy self. (Yes, everyone did this in October. I call it being fashionably late.)

Credit goes to The Messy Minimalist, whose video was the first on the subject that I saw. I’ve linked it along with a couple other good ones on the topic below. (These are all excellent channels, by the way, so definitely give them a follow!)

So what is your “fantasy self?” This is the self that you attain to be but just realistically isn’t you. For example, part of Fantasy Hobbit is that she mails out handwritten notes sealed with a sticker or hand-stamped ink on the back of the envelope. Note: I have sent maybe two of these in my life. Both to my Abuela Julia.

The tricky thing about fantasy selves is that the related items usually pass the “Spark Joy” test of the KonMari method, so if this is what you used to declutter, you probably still have a lot of unnecessary and unused belongings laying around.

These items can be difficult to let go because it can also feeling like letting go of a dream. However, I believe a healthier and more positive way to look at it is as a step towards accepting and loving your true self.

Here’s what I decluttered and more importantly, what fantasy aspects of myself I let go of:

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Fantasy Hobbit wears an apron when she cooks and cleans to avoid ruining yet another shirt. Nope. She also takes vitamins every day. The expiration dates on these would say negative on that one as well.

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Fantasy Hobbit gifts beautifully wrapped presents to those she loves. Nope. Online shopping with gift wrap options is where it’s at for me, folks. As mentioned earlier, she also sends out letters and cards to keep in touch in a more personal way. NOPE.

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More stationary, and finally, Fantasy Hobbit is a huge comic book and graphic novel fan. I may be a bad geek for this, but I’ve tried and tried and just can’t geek that way.

Here are the videos I mentioned earlier. I highly recommend watching them if you’re having trouble letting your fantasy self go. So, what are YOU holding on to?