Do you find it hard to focus when your environment is distracting you? I know I do.
Recently I read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, and I’ve been on a mission to follow the method and declutter our home for the past few months now. I find that living in a clean, clear and clutter free environment really helps me be more productive. I can’t think clearly when my environment is a mess – it distracts me, brings me down and I procrastinate around doing proper important stuff (like working on building my business) when I know there is a load of crap around me that needs sorting out.
My aim is to be finished by Christmas, so that when January comes I can turn all my focus and attention to other (far more juicy) goals I have lined up for 2017.
I was also prompted to embark on this mission after having my baby, due to the huge amount of stuff that suddenly seemed to be in the house, and the realisation that there would be plenty more kid-related items to come. The storage we had no longer seemed adequate. However rather than just finding more and more corners and cupboards to stow things in, I thought I’d attempt a proper declutter and see what we were left with.
If you’ve not read the book, the key principles that Kondo recommends are twofold:
- Firstly she suggests that instead of organising by room or area, you tackle disposing of things by category instead, starting with clothes and shoes (being the most bulky and least emotional belongings) then on to books, papers, miscellaneous items and ending finally with mementos and photographs; the hardest to part with.
- Her second and most crucial tip is this: to gather together all items from one category at a time, then select and keep only the items that spark joy for us when we pick them up and hold them. It sounds a little woo-woo, but to be fair, whats the point in owning stuff that doesn’t make us happy and joyful?! Obviously there are exceptions – I can’t say my toaster or my passport make me joyful, but they do the job, so obviously that kind of functional / required stuff stays too.
I have to say the process has been a MASSIVE eye-opener. The biggest realisation has been how much I had been hanging on to that I didn’t even actively choose to buy and own in the first place. Examples include:
- A big stash of sample sizes of expensive make up and toiletries that had come with cosmetic purchases that felt too fancy to just throw away, but didn’t suit my colouring or skin type.
- Unopened perfume I’d got as Christmas gifts but knew I didn’t like the smell of.
- A whole load of clothes that a friend had given me when she emigrated abroad, that I’d never worn as they weren’t really my style.
- Countless random bits of ‘free gift’ tat that I kept, thinking it would come in useful.
- And absolutely tons of paperwork that I had zero need for, but had carefully filed away in an organised fashion!
The experience of decluttering has actually been a massive relief for me. It was hard at first – my mum’s favourite saying ‘you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs’ comes to mind, especially as I stood surveying every item of clothing I owned laid out across my bedroom floor in huge piles a few months back.
But as I’ve gone on and got further along, taking bag after bag along to the charity shop or off to the tip, I’ve started to see the spaces in my home open up. I can now lay my hands on what I need without trawling through drawers of crap first.
I’ve even made a fair bit of money from selling much of the stuff I finally admitted to myself I will never use, posting items on Ebay, Gumtree and local Facebook selling groups. That’s also freed me up to treat myself to a few new items I really did want to buy and will love owning, especially now there is no nagging doubt that I might have a dozen similar things hiding away somewhere already.
And finally – I’ve not regretted a single item I’ve disposed of!
I’m looking forward to finishing the process. Kondo also reckons this is a one-time thing, that once you’re done you’re done – so that appeals too. I can see it working as I’m getting so much better at not bringing things into the home that I don’t want, or saying no to little things like gifts, flyers or freebies that actually I have no real use for.
Wish me luck in the final stretch! I’ll do a follow-up nearer the end of the year to let you know how I get on…
Have you ever tried the Konmari method? How else do you help yourself to focus and be productive? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear your experiences.