Saturday, April 04, 2015

the definitive guide to de-cluttering

I went in the Boulder bookshop and bought a novel I had been looking for, and this little book on the recommended shelves caught my eye.


It was a sweet, small, attractive hardback and I picked it up to flick through and rather liked the approach it took. Then I thought – I’ve already got a de-cluttering book at home that I have never read – and I put it back on the shelf.

When I go away without Dave, he often asks if there are any jobs I’d like him to do while I am away. This last time I said – “Wouldn’t it be great to spring clean the porch?..Clear out all your stuff to the shed that shouldn’t be there, and then paint the walls.” He seemed to take it on board. I rang him on my last weekend and he said he’d been painting the porch, and my heart skipped a beat. Then he said “And now everything is back exactly where it was.”

This may be what prompted me to return to the bookshop and buy the life-changing magic of tidying up.  I devoured it on the flight home and am now in full clear-out mode.

It’s different from other similar books I have read. The author, Marie Kondo, is described on the back cover as “Japan’s preeminent guru of tidiness.” I like her very simple, straightforward approach.

Firstly, she says you should clear out your stuff by category, not by room. And you should start with clothes and work you way down her list of categories, at the bottom of which are photos, letters and mementoes, because these are the hardest, and you need to have got your de-cluttering muscles limbered up in order to tackle them. This made sense to me.

She also says you should make de-cluttering an event, not something you do a little bit every day. I liked that.

The best thing about her approach is the way you are supposed to make your decision as to whether or not to keep something. It’s not – if you haven’t used it/worn it in two years, throw it out. No. You should take each item into your hands and say to yourself “Does it bring me joy?”

This sounds a bit nutty. However, it really works with clothes, which is what I have started on…


I have mentioned my cashmere hoodie to you before. It is so scruffy I’ve taken to wearing it in bed to write, and nowhere else. I picked it up yesterday and asked if it brought me joy and the answer was no. It made me feel sad, because I had once loved it and now it was old and wrecked. So I cut off the sleeves above the elbow and it’s gone in my sewing drawer. It would make hot water bottle covers, or patches for other cashmere jumpers in the same colour of which I have three. (It’s eau de nil, but that’s not clear from the picture.)  OK, I haven’t thrown it out, but I have thrown away the bad bits, and it will be re-used for something else. Other clothes ARE now in a bag destined for Oxfam.

This does not help me with the porch, however. Marie K says strictly that you must never clear out other peoples’ stuff. I agree with her, so I am leading by example. I wonder if Dave will notice.

My guess is no.


Clothes In Books said...

Sue, I so agree with you! This book changed my life and changed how I operate. I don't suppose anyone else think my house was much less cluttered and tidier, but her principles are helping me slowly work my way through the house...

Sue Hepworth said...

Yes, Moira! I am very excited about it. And now you say it helped you, it's even more encouraging.

Ana said...

I could certainly do with this guide! Whether I have the energy to follow it through is the question. Does sound like a method that generates energy, and has done so for you. Keep inspiring me!

Sue Hepworth said...

I am just about to tackle the worst drawer in my bedroom.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting about this - flushed with success of downloading kindle reader for my laptop so I could download "But I told you ..." I bought "The life-changing magic of tidying" for kindle and consequently am planning a TIDYING EVENT tomorrow! I'll let you know how it goes - meanwhile how was the worst drawer??? Happy Easter Monday - Jen

Sue Hepworth said...

The worst drawer was a doddle!
I think I am selling so many copies of the de cluttering book, I should get commission.