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The Quest to Tidy: Shoes and a Confession

I may not be a “girly girl” in a lot of ways. I’m not big on makeup. I don’t spend much money on my hair, either at the stylist or on products at the store. I love looking at jewelry, but usually only wear a few select pieces. I really don’t care if anyone knows the brand name of my purse or my clothes. Honestly I don’t care if I know it. I try to keep my nails nicely shaped, but don’t paint them too often. In fact… I’ve only ever had my nails done at a salon twice: once for my wedding and once to meet two of my favorite Japanese musicians before seeing them perform live. Sense a trend?

But on the things where I do get “girly”, I go all out. I own ball gowns. Not just dresses (some of those too of course), but full on wear-one-or-two-petticoats-beneath-them BALL GOWNS. When I do style my hair I usually go for curls. I love a good, bright red lipstick. I have good daily hygiene, I just also value things like sleep and hobbies, so the expensive or time-consuming “girly” sorts of things are out the window when it comes to day-to-day life.

Except shoes. High heels in particular. I love them. Send me to the store for a pair of tennis shoes and I may walk out with three pairs of clearanced heels instead. I can wear them with my ball gowns. I can wear them with my more casual skirts and dresses. I can wear them with jeans. I can wear them with shorts, even! (Yes, Sam I Am, I’ll wear them in a box, with a fox…)

high heels, wedding shoes

My incredibly awesome shoes from my wedding. I wore them the entire day they were so comfortable.

I put off KonMari tidying my shoes. I had more than I needed, but despite my love for heels I really didn’t have an absurd number of them. A couple pair of 5-6″ heels. Maybe half a dozen pair of your more standard 2″ heel, in a variety of colors. A few other oddities… probably no more than 12 or 13 in total. And then I did the hardest tidying I’ve done yet: I tossed almost all of them.

Rewind time. Continue reading

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The Quest to Tidy: Stationery, Round 2

The first things I am tidying as I once again pick up the KonMari process are the things I have already tidied. The things whose categories are already in pretty good shape, but need some re-tidying to make sure they stay that way. Clothes came first. Next up? Stationery.

I’ve talked about postcrossing and letter writing a little on this blog. I’ll be talking about it much more in the future. But for the purpose of this post… let’s just say I have a lot of stationery. I prefer letter sets over note cards, but I have both, in addition to stacks of loose envelopes, extra holiday/birthday cards, and even some old personalized post-it sized sheets.

In fact, perhaps a picture will demonstrate better.

stationery letter sets

See? Lots and lots of stationery. I’m always looking for more, but perhaps I shouldn’t look so hard for at least a little while. Continue reading

Tidying Your Digital Life: The Pros and Cons of the Process

There is no “organize” button on the computer. There is no “tidy up” menu that neatly puts all your files and folders away in a manner both logical and simple. When making the decision to clean up your digital house you have to tackle it in the same way you do your real home. Methodically.

And just like the process of organizing your physical home, organizing your digital house has its own set of pros and cons that are not always that different from the ones you experience when tackling a particularly cluttered room.

keyboard, like and dislike, thumbs up, thumbs down

CON: If you are the type of person who gets overwhelmed, be prepared to feel overwhelmed. Chances are you have kept a few small things well organized, a few more loosely organized, and the rest are in very generic folders and scattered about all over the place. You may have duplicates, triplicates, or even more of the same file. (I’m not counting back ups.) You may have vacation photos from just one trip scattered about in three different places. It’s the same thing as having your clothes in three different rooms. How are you supposed to go through them when you don’t even have them all together?

Unlike the KonMari method which tells you to save organization for last, I think you have to organize your digital clean up as you go at least to a certain degree. That doesn’t mean it has to be your end-all style of organizing, but you need a loose system. For example, I have a folder labeled “Funnies and Quotes” where I dumped all the comic panels and memes I’d saved. This kept those in one place and one place I could find easily. Once they were gathered up from all over, I furthered my organization by creating sub-folders for types of comics and memes, making it easier to always find the one I want.

In the same way the KonMari method tells you to gather all items of one category before you start going through them, use a loose organizing system of folders to gather your files. You can fine tune your organization later.

PRO: You might be feeling overwhelmed, but you can very easily break up the task of organizing your digital life into dozens of much smaller, much more achievable goals. Continue reading

The Quest to Tidy: Clothes Closet, Part 2

Clothes are the very first thing Ms. Kondo suggests one tackles in her KonMari method of tidying house. When I first started applying KonMari to my own household last summer, I started with clothes. And my goodness did we get rid of clothes… (You can read that post here.)

When I picked up the process of KonMari once again this summer, I began with clothes. My husband’s wardrobe hasn’t changed too drastically, so I left his alone, but mine had seen at least one more big thrift store sale as well as new purchases this spring before going on international vacation. It needed going through.

clothes on bedI will admit that this is all I bagged up to donate. Just 25 items. But it was so much easier going through my closet this time around. Not to mention I was also pulling from an already heavily reduced inventory. I couldn’t really expect to pull 100 or more items. There are a few pieces I almost pulled for the donation pile this time, but I’m not quite ready to let go and if I still don’t touch them for another six months it won’t be so difficult.

Doing this a second time I was able to more easily tell my feelings about the clothes I had. The skirts that were a little too short, the shirts that didn’t quite stretch long enough, the dresses that were worn less now that I had others I liked better to wear… all were so much easier to thank for once being mine and let go.

Yes, I do still thank things out loud, both when I keep them and when I let them go, as I go through the KonMari process. For some, this part of the method is more metaphorical. They use it to simply be conscious of their decisions and the reasoning behind them. For me I take it a bit more literally. It works for me. I talk to the objects in my house frequently, so why would I not talk to them when figuring out whether or not they will remain a part of my household?

I would like to be able to keep up the process of going through my clothes about once a year. It would keep my closet from getting out of hand, and also keep me aware of whether or not the things I’m keeping are actually being used. Not to mention, it just feels good to open your closet and see only things you love to wear.

The Quest to Tidy: Having a Plan, Sort of

“No matter how messy your house may be, tidying deals with physical objects. No matter how much stuff you may own, the amount is always finite. If you can identify the things that bring you joy and decide where to keep them, the job of tidying must inevitably come to an end. The more you do it, the closer you get to a house full of joy. Therefore, nothing could be more wasteful than to give up in the middle.”
– Marie Kondo, “Spark Joy”

The KonMari method is very particular on the order in which you are supposed to go through your house as you tidy up. Me? I am not so particular. Honestly, if I can manage to use the KonMari method to break up the giant task of tidying, I’m calling it a win.

And yet KonMari has definitely taught me a few of things that I am employing as I tackle this project at my personal, slow pace.

  1. Thank everything. Be grateful. This is one of the things that is a bit too ‘silly’ for some, but I thank every item (often out loud) as I tidy ever since reading her first book. Sometimes it’s a thank you because the item is so wonderful I can’t part with it. Sometimes it is a thank you because the item taught me something about myself/my habits/my style and I am ready to move on from it. Sometimes it is a thank you even though I have no desire to hold onto the item because perhaps it was a gift or something else similar.
  2. Don’t tidy by room! (My personal exception being when you have company coming and you are doing a quick once-over.) If you’re going to tidy clothes, put them all in one spot before you start. If you are going to tidy jewelry, put it all in one spot before you start. Same with dishes, toiletries, books, instruction manuals… anything! Do all of one category at one time. It really does help put perspective on what you have and what you can let go.
  3. Tidying really is slowly changing my mindset. It isn’t just ‘throwing stuff out’. It’s creating, one tiny step at a time, a personal space where I feel happy and content. A space where I don’t have things that make me feel burdened or responsible. The more I clear away, the more clearly I can see for myself what is more important. Just because I have memories tied to nearly everything does not mean I need to keep everything. I’m still “over keeping”, I’m sure, but I’m evaluating my reasons for doing so more and more.

KonMari doesn’t work for me in the same way it does for the people in her books, but that’s okay. That doesn’t make me a failure nor does it make her process a failure. And one day, if I don’t give up, this finite project will have an end. Now, on toward tidying!

Tidying Your Digital Life: The Initial Assessment

The bathroom is scrubbed. The kitchen is spotless. The curtains are freshly washed. The couch cushions are arranged just so. But what kind of mess is your digital life in?

digital life, digital woman

I didn’t want to talk about this side of tidying until I’d managed to make it a steady habit. I’m good at announcing projects and effectively shooting myself in the foot when doing so because then I never get anywhere. With this one though, I’ve been steadily making headway for about a year now, so clearly I’m not about to give it up.

You might be following my series “The Quest to Tidy” which is all about my adventure in trying to use some of Marie Kondo’s tactics (dubbed the KonMari method) to tidy up my household once and for all. It’s been an on-again, off-again project since late last spring and while my house is not yet perfectly organized, her words inspired another project for me to work on. Digital tidying.

Take just a moment and evaluate your digital situation.

Here’s just a smidge of where mine started: Continue reading

Putting My ‘Tidying’ Hat Back On

Has it really been 10 months since I went on a tidying hiatus and 8 months since I had a small post about the whole process? My goodness! Time to dust off the tidying hat and get back on the train.

A little over a year ago I read Marie Kondo’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing”. It completely changed how I look at tidying and keeping house. I have not, however, ‘completed’ her course in getting my own house in order. After making great progress last year, I hit burn out in addition to simply too many other things going on in my life that demanded attention. (That’s only partially an excuse. It’s also at least somewhat true.) You can click on the “Quest to Tidy” link to the right, listed under “Recurring Segments,” if you want to catch up on all of the posts written so far.

woman with hat reading a book

How I imagine I’ll spend time when my life is tidied up…

To get myself back in the mindset for this summer project (and probably fall and winter too…) I have been rereading Marie Kondo’s first book as well as starting in on her second: “Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up”.

“So, let me ask you point-blank: Are you committed to completing the once-in-a-lifetime special event of tidying up?”
– Marie Kondo, “Spark Joy”

Probably not quite as committed as she’d like me to be were I one of her clients, and I already know from reading her first book that there are a few things she does I simply will not do (such as pare my book collection down to a single shelf or two of favorites), but I saw the progress I made last year and I know that if I’m a little bit hard on myself and don’t completely give up, I can certainly make a lot more.

Expect many more posts to come (including a spin-off mini-series on organizing your digital life, something Marie Kondo also inspired me to do), but for now I’ll leave you with this very important quote from the brilliant lady herself. It’s good to think on before you roll up your sleeves and take on the seemingly-giant task of tidying.

“The responsibility for mess and clutter lies 100 percent with the individual. Things do not multiply of their own accord, but only if you buy them or receive them from someone else. Clutter accumulates when you fail to return objects to their designated place. If a room becomes cluttered “before you know it,” it is entirely your own doing. In other words, tidying up means confronting yourself. 

In contrast, dirt does accumulate of its own accord. It is a law of nature that dust and dirt pile up. Therefore, cleaning means confronting nature.”
– Marie Kondo, “Spark Joy”

 

*Image taken from Pixabay, creative commons license, user Pezibear

The Quest to Tidy: When Friends Tidy Too

I’m not quite ready to dive back into this project, but I’m getting close. I’m starting to feel the urge to drag out more boxes and search more cabinets and get more done. Taking a creative break has been a beautiful thing… both for creative pursuits and for keeping me from getting completely burnt out on this project.

I’ve been sharing this project with friends and family outside of the blog too. I’ve told them the bits that I’ve liked and didn’t like, and encouraged them to read the book and see if any bit of it might apply to them, helping them create a tidier household. It’s not so much about the mess, but the peace that comes when the mess is gone.

One of my friends recently read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and tore into her own apartment with gusto. When she finished going through her books, she had four boxes of things to give away. One went with her to work, to let her clients pick through them. The other three came home with me. Continue reading

Tidying Hiatus

No. I am not quitting. I’ve gotten too far in this project! (And I love seeing the changes around my house.) But I am taking a break. I’ve been thinking about it for the last week or two and decided it was time.

I’m trading in stuffing donation bags for letter writing, reorganizing cabinets for writing poetry and reading, and digging through boxes of odds and ends for scrapbooking. I’m taking a break to get creative again, something I’ve been neglecting while I tidy.

I’m not sure exactly how long I will take off, most likely somewhere between 1-2 months, but I will be back and hopefully with a bang as I finish off the house project to end all projects! (Okay, not really, but it feels like it at this point.)

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Let’s break out the glitter and craft paper for a few weeks. I’ll be back to tidying before the holidays. And in the meantime, keep an eye out, I’ll still be posting other things!

The Quest to Tidy (Week Eleven): My Favorite Sorting Project Yet

This week I tackled a small project to get back into the swing of things.

It’s no secret to anyone who knows me that I *love* snail mail. I have 3 pen pals. When I’m really lucky I get the surprise note in the mail from other friends. (And yes, I absolutely reread letters I have received!)

I’m also a postcrosser, which means I send and receive post cards to and from all over the world. Postcrossing is always a surprise. I never know who is going to write, what they are going to say, or what sort of card they will choose to send. (I share some of my favorites from time to time on the blog.)

What this boils down to is I have a lot of stationery and I love collecting more when I can! It was time to tidy up the messy pile strewn about in three places through the house.

 

Note Cards and DogMy sweet pup, Maggie, decided she was going to be extremely helpful in this task. Here she is posing with a few of my note cards. I tend to prefer letter-style stationery, so I only have a few note cards, though I found at least a couple more sets after taking this picture. Continue reading