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the life-changing magic of tidying up – Chapter 5 Notes and Conclusion

What follows in this blog entry is my summary and thoughts on the self-help book “the life-changing magic of tidying up” by Marie Kondo.   My notes should in no way be construed as a replacement for the book and if you want to know more you are encouraged to purchase the original work and have a look for yourself.

Chapter 5 – the magic of tidying up dramatically transforms your life

Getting your house in order is a process not only of physical cleaning but of self-discovery.  By casting off excessive things you are allowed the freedom to make room in your life for what’s really important to you, to get at the nub of existence.  It also refines your ability make decisions as you repeated practice of deciding what to keep and what to be rid of.

We have trouble getting rid of things for two reasons.  The first is a misplaced attachment to the past; a desire to go back to some point in our lives that we believe we have lost.  The second is fear of the future, that we will need something we’re considering getting rid of.  This is a dangerous thing because our ownership of things is a guiding principle in our lives so by allowing our lives to be ruled by regret and fear we never manage to grow beyond those things.

It should not be said, however, that discarding things is entirely without regret.  Many of the author’s clients do end up regretting things they’ve gotten rid of, at least temporarily.  Eventually, however, they find great relief in the certainty of not having to search for something and being able to focus on the job of moving to find a solution to the problem.  The author points out too though that there are some things which are joyful and there may be pressure to get rid of them from others.  You should never get rid of that which truly brings you joy no matter what the neighbors might have to say about it.

At the heart of all this though is the idea that you should treat your house with respect.  Greet your home and thank it for sheltering you and welcoming you home.  When tidying, remember that this is not a sad event.  It’s a time of joy in which you can send off your unwanted possessions to a better life to do service for others.

To summarize extremely compactly, your home is a reflection of you. By tidying it you show it respect and in turn demonstrate respect for  yourself.  Her clients even go so far that tidying helps them lose weight and become healthier and while this might seem absurd, coming home to a tidy house just feels good.  There is a joy in looking around your home and seeing everything all in its place and just so.  Feeling good about your home and your surroundings is a vitally important thing and it would be easy to see how this positive feedback could impact your physical well-being.


Series Guide

View back-to-back on the YouTube Playlist
Chapter 1 – Why can’t I keep my house in order?
Chapter 2 – Finish discarding first
Chapter 3 – Tidying by category works like magic
Chapter 4 – Storing your things to make your life shine
Chapter 5 – The magic of tidying dramatically transforms your life

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the life-changing magic of tidying up – Chapter 4 Notes

What follows in this blog entry is my summary and thoughts on the self-help book “the life-changing magic of tidying up” by Marie Kondo.   My notes should in no way be construed as a replacement for the book and if you want to know more you are encouraged to purchase the original work and have a look for yourself.

Chapter 4 – Storing your things to make your life shine

Proper storage is all about routine.  Each day you should come home and put every item you use back in its proper place.  Unpack your bag and put all its contents in a proper spot if possible.  Show each item that you appreciate it by thanking it for its hard work and give it a rest until its ready to be used again the next morning.  This is important because in effect you are performing a sacred act in giving each article you own a special place of its own to live.

The author relates the story of her old cellphone that she had for years until it became too scratched and ugly to be used.  She used her new phone to send her old phone one final text to thank it and then found it had died a few minutes later as if it knew that its life was done and that it could finally rest.

The author admonishes us to discard first and store later.  Generally speaking, homes already have plenty of storage.  Keep storage simple and centralized.  All items of the same type should be stored together and in one central space.  If living with other people, each person should have their one designated spot.  Decorate your storage space with posters and other memorabilia to make it personal and truly yours.  By taking ownership of your storage space it will be motivation to keep things tidy.

Avoid attempts to define your storage for efficiency or flow planning.  Storage defines the flow of a home much more than flow should determine storage.  Clutter springs from the failure to put things away so making storage centralized and simple is the key.  Over time, let your home decide how storage will be organized.  For example, a drawer will naturally sort itself over time so that frequently used items are at the front and those less used are at the back.

When storing items keep it simple.  There is no need for fancy storage devices; a few boxes and bins are sufficient.  The shoe box is a perfect organizer; the lid can be used as a tray and the box itself is not only attractive but the right height for a drawer organizer.  Boxes with large print or words on them should be avoided as they constitute additional mental noise that takes away from the attractiveness of a storage area.

Handbags and the like should be stored within other bags of the same type and use.  Remember that your bags should be emptied every day so they can properly rest.

Closets should hold everything that would otherwise be on the floor.  In the top of the closet you should store off-season and large items.  The center of the closet should hold clothes, stored and sorted upright, in clear plastic boxes so you can see everything at once.  The bottom of the closet is for appliances and seasonal electronics like fans and space heaters.

Shower and bath should never be used for storing anything.  Soaps and shampoo bottles should be removed when not in use lest they become slimy.  Dry your shampoo bottle and store it in a cabinet.

In the kitchen, hang clothes and sponges out to dry properly lest they begin go smell.  If possible, dry dishes outside in the sun.  Oils, cleaners and spices, even though often used should never be left on the counter where they can be splashed with oils.

Tidying is a sacred act, so the tops of bookshelves are optimal places for sacred objects.

Clothes should be removed from packaging and have their tags off as soon as they enter the home.  Until this is done clothes aren’t really ‘owned’ and thus less likely to be worn.  Some leave tags on in the event they may have to return items or so they’ll be more valuable if you have to take them to consignment.  This is flawed thinking; if this is even a remote possibility then the clothes would be better left at the store.  Don’t stock up on things you might not ever need.


Series Guide

View back-to-back on the YouTube Playlist
Chapter 1 – Why can’t I keep my house in order?
Chapter 2 – Finish discarding first
Chapter 3 – Tidying by category works like magic
Chapter 4 – Storing your things to make your life shine
Chapter 5 – The magic of tidying dramatically transforms your life

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the life-changing magic of tidying up – Chapter 3 Notes

What follows in this blog entry is my summary and thoughts on the self-help book “the life-changing magic of tidying up” by Marie Kondo.   My notes should in no way be construed as a replacement for the book and if you want to know more you are encouraged to purchase the original work and have a look for yourself.

Chapter 3 – Tidying by category works like magic

Clothes

As previously stated, you have to get all your clothes out and pile them on the floor to gain a proper perspective.  Then sort them into subcategories: Tops, bottoms, jackets and suits, socks, underwear, bags, accessories, clothes for specific events and shoes.

For each item, do the “does it bring me joy?” test.  If it doesn’t, pitch it.  Anything you forget about after trying to get everything in one room automatically gets thrown out too.  Also, no clothing should be downgraded  to lounge-wear.  If it’s not good enough to wear out then pitch it unless it’s specifically designed to be lounge-wear.

When storing clothes, fold them. Don’t hang them unless they would be “happier” on hangers: suits, jackets.  Hang like things together with heavy items on the left (heavy = longer clothes, heavy material, dark colors) and light items on the right.

The author describes herself as a folding fanatic and the description made me think of Sheldon Cooper with his very specific folding tools and technique.  Folded items should be stored on edge so they can all be seen at once when opening the drawer.  The act of folding should be one of care and love.  Don’t ball or tie socks.  They should be folded neatly and respectfully and stood on edge.

The general theme for clothes seems to be to minimize as much as possible, fold with extreme neatness and make sure you give your clothes the proper love and attention that they deserve.  Those socks do a pretty hard job when jammed between your foot and your shoe, after all, so they deserve a break.

Books

All books should be stacked on the floor and broken into subcategories:  General, practical, visual and magazines.  Again, touch each one and decide if it’s going to bring you joy.

General traps to avoid:

  • Nobody every rereads anything.  So if you expect to reread it, forget it.
  • If it’s never been read before, pitch it.  You’ll never feel more passionately about a book then immediately after you buy it so if you’ve not read it yet, pitch it.
  • Papers not of future verifiable usefulness, pitch.  This includes class notes, pay statements, appliance manuals and just about everything that you don’t have to take immediate action on.
  • Empty boxes for items you use should be pitched.  No practical purpose ever.

For Misc items from CDs to makeup and kitchen gadgets, apply the same rules.  One category at a time and one item at a time apply the ‘joy’ test.

Don’t get attached to things just because they’re gifts.  If it’s not currently giving you joy, pitch it no matter where you got it.

Mementos

These have the toughest emotional attachment, so they’re hardest to part with but the same test should apply.  Don’t send your old college stuff back to mom and dad and make the mess their problem.  Unless it gives you current joy then pitch it.  It’s not going to somehow become more important in five more years.

Photos get the individual joy test.  Every single picture, one by one, should be assessed and anything failing the test goes in the bin.

In general, the theme seems to be to pound home the same basic strategy.  The author indicates that you’ll know you’re done intuitively when things just “click” for you and you find you have the correct amount of stuff to fit your own desires and lifestyle.


Series Guide

View back-to-back on the YouTube Playlist
Chapter 1 – Why can’t I keep my house in order?
Chapter 2 – Finish discarding first
Chapter 3 – Tidying by category works like magic
Chapter 4 – Storing your things to make your life shine
Chapter 5 – The magic of tidying dramatically transforms your life

4 Comments

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the life-changing magic of tidying up – Chapter 2 Notes

What follows in this blog entry is my summary and thoughts on the self-help book “the life-changing magic of tidying up” by Marie Kondo.   My notes should in no way be construed as a replacement for the book and if you want to know more you are encouraged to purchase the original work and have a look for yourself.

Chapter 2 – Finish Discarding First

Tidying consists of two parts: Discarding and then deciding where things go.  Typically, this process takes about six months to complete in the author’s experience.  This change must be sudden and profound if it is to take root.

Discarding should be done in a particular order:

  1. Visualize your end goal.  What is it that you want in the end.  If you have difficulty, consult magazines or other publications.
  2. Decide why you want this; what will change about your life if you meet this goal?
  3. Choose what to keep, not what to discard.  If an item doesn’t bring you joy then get rid of it.  This should be done in this order: clothes, books, papers, misc and finally mementos.

There are a few key traps to avoid when discarding:

  • Don’t keep things because they might be useful later
  • Don’t tidy room by room.  Choose items by category and gather them together in one place so you can see the entire scope of what you’re dealing with.  Once you see all your clothes in one place it will be easier to decide what to be rid of, for example.
  • Tidy items with a sentimental attachment last as this will take the most discipline.  This discipline can only be built after making your way through the other categories.
  • Don’t let others in your family see what you’re getting rid of.  If they do, they may guilt you into keeping items or take them for themselves which simply transfers the untidiness to someone else.
  • If you find yourself in conflict with your family or housemates about tidiness, then don’t attempt to tidy for them but instead lead by example.  Seeing your tidy environment will cause them to naturally tidy for themselves.
  • Don’t attempt to give away items to family members or use them as storage for your unwanted items.  Likely if you don’t need it then they don’t either.
  • Don’t find fault with other’s level of tidiness.  Likely if you see fault in others it’s because your own life is not tidy enough.
  • Don’t play music or have the TV on when tidying.  Your environment should be calm and undistracting and you should tidy in the morning if possible.

Finally, when you have reached the end and are discarding items with sentimental attachment, consider why that item was previously important to you.  Has it fulfilled that role?  Did it teach you what it was supposed to, even if the lesson was that you don’t like that particular style of clothing or type of cereal?  If so, free it to be useful to someone else.


Series Guide

View back-to-back on the YouTube Playlist
Chapter 1 – Why can’t I keep my house in order?
Chapter 2 – Finish discarding first
Chapter 3 – Tidying by category works like magic
Chapter 4 – Storing your things to make your life shine
Chapter 5 – The magic of tidying dramatically transforms your life

4 Comments

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the life-changing magic of tidying up – Intro and Chapter 1 notes

What follows in this blog entry is my summary and thoughts on the self-help book “the life-changing magic of tidying up” by Marie Kondo.   My notes should in no way be construed as a replacement for the book and if you want to know more you are encouraged to purchase the original work and have a look for yourself.

Introduction

Introduces the Konmari method, which is essentially to discard all that is unnecessary and tidy up in one fell swoop.  She states that her training course has a 3-month waiting list and that she has no repeat customers.  It also includes several rather puzzling and amusing testimonials from clients:

“Your course taught me to see what I really need and what I don’t.  So I got a divorce.”

“Someone I have been wanting to get in touch with recently contacted me.”

“I finally succeeded in losing ten pounds”

It’s not entirely clear to me at this juncture what those things have directly to do with tidying up but perhaps that will all become evident later.

Chapter 1 – Why can’t I keep my house in order?

On first reading, I will say that the text is surprisingly non-linear and seems rather disheveled and repetitious.  I will attempt to organize my notes in a more coherent manner but cannot guarantee that they won’t suffer from the same issues due to the influences of the text.

Conventional wisdom about maintaining a tidy space is wrong and in many ways unhelpful.  It indicates on some level that tidying is a natural thing that everyone should just magically do but really it must be studied methodically.

Most texts warn against the problem of rebound, that if you attempt to tidy everything at once, you’ll be so tired of tidying by the end that you’ll relapse immediately due to a sort of tidying fatigue.  Kondo argues, however, that this is a fallacy and that you must tidy all at once so that you see immediate and undeniable results and therefore maintain motivation to stay tidy.  To quote from the text:

“Tidying brings visible results.  Tidying never lies.  The ultimate secret of success is this: If you tidy up in one shot, rather than little by little, you can dramatically change your mind-set.  A change so profound that it touches your emotions will irresistibly affect your way of thinking and your lifestyle habits.”

Common methods of tidying are actually traps and illusions and must be avoided.  For example, adding storage and organizers only allows you to hide clutter rather than actually resolving the root problem.  Often too, would-be organizers are told to tidy one item or one room a day but this is quickly defeated when we acquire more quickly than we dispose of them and often don’t keep with the program long enough to actually finish.

Finally, the author admonishes that we should not attempt to personalize the methods she will teach us based on any perception we might have about our own personalities or quirks.  People tend to be either unable to throw out things they don’t need or unable to put things back after they use them or a combination of both.  These are really the only two categories of behaviors that need to be addressed regardless of individual personality.


Series Guide

View back-to-back on the YouTube Playlist
Chapter 1 – Why can’t I keep my house in order?
Chapter 2 – Finish discarding first
Chapter 3 – Tidying by category works like magic
Chapter 4 – Storing your things to make your life shine
Chapter 5 – The magic of tidying dramatically transforms your life

4 Comments

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Book Reviews: James Maxey – Bad Wizard

I received this book free in exchange for a review but despite that kindness I give my candid opinions below.

It’s been 10 years since Dorothy has returned from Oz. She’s now an investigative reporter for a Kansas newspaper and her primary target is none other than the Wizard who himself has successfully returned and is now the Secretary of War. I’ll not be spoiling anything if I reveal that they don’t stay in Kansas very long in this one.

Firstly I can’t say enough good things about this author. I get offered a lot of books and many of them… well, let’s’ just say our relationships just don’t work out. Maxey, on the other hand, had me hooked from the first chapter of the Dragon Apocalypse series that he sent me when it first came out a couple of years ago. His writing is twisted in that delightful way that makes you want to know what oddness he’s going to aspire to next and makes you sigh sadly when the last page is turned. If not for the pile of free books on my bookshelf, Maxey is the author I’d look to first if forced to actually buy my literature.

On the positive side, Bad Wizard is a delightful continuance of the Oz series and, for the most part, retains much of the flavor of the original book series. It’s obvious Maxey has done his research as he delves deeply into the original oeuvre of written Oz and ignores the cinematic adaptions. The book is filled with all the old favorites as well as many of the less known personages from the original series. To all this traditional Ozishness, Maxey also applies a subtle layer of mild steampunk. Our favorite munchkins can now look to the skies to behold a fleet of dirigibles. It’s a very complimentary mix of images.

The only negative I can really propose is that while Maxey has retained much of the original flavor of Oz, he has burnished off to some extent the kid-friendliness of the original. As an adult I find this a positive development but it does give me some small pause in recommending it to my kids until they’re teenagers.

In summary, as always seems to be the case, Maxey has nailed it. Once started this one was hard to put down and I found myself reading it while standing at the stove or brushing my teeth. It quietly grabs your attention and keeps it mercilessly hostage as Maxey’s work tends to do. If you’re a fan of the Oz milieu, then this is a must have. Those outside that demographic are encouraged to get a copy of the original Wizard of Oz (available as a free Kindle download) and read that first. It’s about a two hour investment and well worth it as background and education.

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