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7 Realistic Tips to Declutter Your Home from ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’

Declutter Your Home: 7 Realistic Tips from ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’

What is it about the New Year that makes us want to throw out, clean up, and organize our lives? Whatever the reason, let’s take some tips from Marie Kondo’s best-selling book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” (with a realistic spin) to declutter your home.

Maybe it’s putting away all of the holiday décor that makes us want to refresh our space. Or finding places to store our newly acquired stuff that leaves us with a deep desire to purge.

Did you make a resolution this year to declutter your home? If your decluttering tactics started strong only to fall flat time and again, it may be time to employ some new strategies. Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” holds several nuggets of wisdom to help make tidying a way of life. If you’ve read the book and were left feeling overwhelmed, you are normal, and may just need to tailor her tips to work for you.

Unless you are an extreme organizer, in which case you most likely don’t need this book, Kondo’s tactics will seem, um, borderline ridiculous. I consider myself an organized person and love a clean house, but Kondo is far more committed to tidiness than I will ever want to be.

That doesn’t mean you can’t take what you want from the book, make it your own, and leave the rest. While Kondo firmly states that varying from her tidying plan will only lead to sure failure (reverting back to your old ways and ending up with a cluttered existence), those of us who are a bit less neurotic about our organization can likely find a balance.

7 Tips from “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” (and some totally doable counterpoints)

1. A tidying marathon doesn’t cause rebound: Marie poo-poos those articles you read on doing a little decluttering at a time, and recommends going whole hog and doing the whole job at once. She feels that taking a do-some-everyday approach leads to never getting ahead of the clutter.

Doable idea: What if you tackled one small area at a time and got that whole (smallish) task finished to completion? You’d feel accomplished without the sinking feeling of taking on a tidying marathon.

2. Tidying is just a tool, not the final destination: Are you uncomfortable living in an ultra decluttered environment? Most of us probably are not. In her book, Kondo stresses the importance of getting to the root of your inner clutter and anxiety so you can learn to dwell happily in a tidy space.

Doable idea: Live in the level of tidiness that feels right to you. How much does it suck to feel like your home has to be as completely flawless as your friend with the perfect-at-all-times house? Can you live up to these standards? Probably, yes. Will you feel fulfilled and happy doing so? If the answer is no, shoot for what makes you feel at home.

3. Putting things away creates the illusion that the clutter problem has been solved: Marie feels that if you are sticking items away somewhere, you will eventually have another mess you need to clear out.

Doable idea: For someone with slightly above average storage skills, this doesn’t sound all that bad. Isn’t having a storage room/closet/cupboard for this very purpose? To store the stuff you don’t use every day? Hit that baby up with a good purging once a year and be thankful you have it the rest of the time.

4. Tidying up by location is a fatal mistake: Fatal? Yikes! Kondo admits she is ashamed that it took her three whole years to realize this huge error in judgement. Rather than tackle one area at a time, she advocates decluttering by category – books, clothes, dishes, etc. This is because we tend to store the same items in a variety of places in our home and we all tend to have way too much stuff.

Doable idea: I actually like this idea of sorting by category. After having recently moved, I can definitely cop to the having waaaay too much stuff deal. Still, do you really want all of your books in one place? It may be easier to handle and make more sense to sort by category per area (see #1).

5. Don’t change the method to suit your personality: Oops. That is exactly what this whole article is about. Marie says if you stick to her method, you can’t go wrong with decluttering and will be a lifelong tidy person. Sounds great, but after a month of folding our clothes into little sausage shaped logs (which does make for a lot more storage space, actually), we couldn’t keep up the maintenance and reverted back to the regular way.

Doable idea: If it stresses you out, takes up too much of your time or doesn’t fit into your lifestyle, you are going to hate it and probably won’t do it. Read the book. It’s short and sweet. You are sure to come away with tidbits that do work for you. One I love is to not let your family see items you are throwing away. Old stuff no one needs does not need to make its way back into anyone’s closet.

6. Clearly define separate storage spaces for each family member: Enough said. Love this!

Doable idea: The pitfall? You know there are going to be things (probably lots of them) that fall into the “everyone” category. Adding a communal storage area is inevitable when dealing with family stuff.

7. Empty your bag every day: Seriously? I should clean out my purse every day? Don’t know about you, but cleaning out my purse is an event all its own. One I try to avoid until absolutely necessary and certainly do not have time for every day.

Doable idea: Unless you have loads of time on your hands or a seriously empty purse or backpack, clear that thing out on your commute or while waiting to pick up the kids.

Which approach do you see in your future? Marie’s all or nothing clear out, or a gentler approach to declutter your home?

Have you read the book? Those of you who stick to Marie’s method, we’d love to hear from you. Chime in with a comment.

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