I’m a fan of Marie Kondo’s clutter clearing book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I have written about her methods in other blogs. Her simple joy filter seemed the ultimate answer to excess. You hold each object in your hands and ask if it sparks joy. If not, out it goes.
But alas, I hit a snag with her method and I suspect, my fellow pack-rats will have bumped into the same problem.
If you love stuff and have many lovely things (like any self-respecting maximalist), you might have a lot of stuff that gives you joy. I think I must have 100 scarves. Each one is a different color and pattern. Each one has a potential use with various outfits. So beautiful? Yes! Useful? Yes! Gives me joy? Yes! So instead of weeding down my bountiful scarf collection, I simply organized them. To do this, I used Marie Kondo’s method of folding things and standing them on end in a box. Now I can see them all at once.
The problem still remains. One could easily have too much stuff because if things give you joy, then they will slip right through the joy filter. So, you’ll keep them instead of donate them. This is especially true if you are a confirmed maximalist like me.
So the quest for a simple clutter-clearing solution continued. I found an answer in yet another book. Decluttering at the Speed of Life by Dana K. White, a self-confessed “slob.” Unlike Kondo, White was not born with an innate instinct for tidying. It was something she had to learn to do. It required a concerted, conscious effort and consistent practice.
This is probably the norm for most folks. It is the rare kid who keeps a tidy room without prompting. The revelation for me in White’s book (which made me laugh because it is so obvious), is that your house is a container. You only get to keep what fits comfortably within that container. And, within the container that is your house, are other containers for stuff. White points out, quite logically, that in order to have a tidy home your beloved stuff must fit comfortably in the various designated containers. If books are spilling out of the bookshelves and onto the floor, it becomes clutter. Before you race to buy an extra bookshelf you must ask yourself if there is room for another bookshelf. Because you and your family and pets must all fit comfortably into the space that is your home.
With White’s method, you might end up keeping a few things just because you have the space so be sure to use Kondo’s method as well to make sure each and every item is giving you joy.
Now we are getting somewhere. You can combine the joy filter with the real physical limitations of your existing space. This amounts to choosing your top favorite books to put on the shelf and donating those that don’t fit regardless of how much joy they give you. Make sure to leave some extra space for new books to come into your life (activating the law of attraction). Ensure the books and any artwork, vases, etc., are arranged to look pleasing to your eye. Voila! The perfect solution for any maximalist out there.
I’ve now found it much easier to tidy a particular area at a time. I might go through one bookcase and cull a few books to donate. Or I might review my wardrobe and pull out a few items that no longer give me joy. As long as there is space for my things to live comfortably, then all is well.