Monday, February 16, 2015

Tidying -- New Definition

I will be the first to say that I am an odd duck.  A bit eccentric, a bit set in my ways, a little quirky and I pretty much live by the concept of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". 

However, one of my quirks is driving me crazy. I am completely incapable to doing something like read or craft if I have something hanging over me that needs to be done.  Generally, as long as I am doing SOMETHING -- like a load of laundry -- I can justify reading or doing a bit of stitching but when I notice that things have gotten out of control then I am done -- I have to do something about it before I can enjoy the fun stuff.

So, I have been reading a lot of "minimalist" blogs which, in essence, really don't say much.  It is mostly "throw everything away", "only have 33 pieces of clothing" (yeah, right), "you can't organize clutter" -- all of which are correct statements -- well, except for the 33 pieces of clothing.  However, none of them tell you HOW to do it! There are no tips, no hints, no guidelines, NO PICTURES -- nothing.

I happened across a book the other day titled "The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying" by Marie Kondo.  I bought the book for my e-reader completely expecting to read the same ol', same ol'.  I was wrong.  Marie Kondo is Japanese and the book is infused with Japanese ideas of life style.  A lot of what she has to say is calming and promotes a peaceful way of living.  It sound wonderful.  A lot of it, however, borders on guilt! Like, how can you mistreat your socks!  Well, this is right up my alley because if there is something that needs to be felt guilty about I am the person to take care of that.  I am the most guilt ridden person on the planet.  I digress

The thing that I noticed right off was that her definition of "tidying" is different than mine.  Her idea of "tidying" is going through everything, tossing, donating, whatever then finding a place for everything and keeping it there.  When I was a kid, that is how I cleaned my room -- I would go off on binges, throw things out, rearrange my bookselves, re-do the closet but to me that was cleaning.  Tidying, to me, means making sure all the stray dishes are picked up before going to bed, hanging the towels up, putting the laundry in the hamper -- you know -- straightening up.  As Kondo talked about "tidying", I remember how great it used to feel when I would go on one of my binges and "re-do" the linen closet or the pantry.  It felt good.  So, even though Kondo suggests doing all the cleaning out -- of the whole  house -- at one time, by category not taking an area at a time. I decided to tackle "places" and see what happened.

Let me just say that my husband loves drawers.  We have lots of drawers in this house which is good, we should be organized.  However, not so much.  The drawers are just a convenient place to stick stuff randomly with no plan.  So, I started with my nightstand.  There are three drawers.  I cleaned them out and organized what stayed.  I am happy with the way that turned out. 

I then turned my attention to the closet.  We have a very large closet -- it could be a bedroom and we have three chests of drawers in there as well as hanging space.  I have one side -- haha -- the small side and Hubs has the other.  I find that my side of the closet is always a mess.  Now, granted, my side houses other things besides my clothes -- like blankets and pillows and other stuff but it shouldn't be the mess it is.  I have a really bad tendency to drop things on the floor.  Why?  Well, it is because, in spite of having all this space, my clothes are hard to put away because I am in the habit of hanging everything and even though I have culled a lot of clothes, the hanging space gets really crunched.  Kondo says, in her book, that most clothing should be folded and most people think it should be hung.  She also said that clothes, once folded, should be stored standing up, pieces next to each other rather than stacked on top of each other.  She says that when you stack the clothes one top of each other they act as a press, insuring wrinkles.  However, if you stack them next to each other it avoids wrinkles.  I was very doubtful until I started folding the clothes and stacking them next to each other. I was amazed that you could actually stack them like that! Plus, you can see each piece without having to sift through the stack messing it up when what you want is on the bottom. Time will tell if there are less wrinkles.

So far I have worked through half of one dresser in the closet.  I have filled two bags of donation items and one bag of trash.  My socks are organized -- oh yes, never ball your socks up -- it ruins the elastic in the top -- Kondo rule.  My jeans are all folded and standing up and I have more room in the drawer.  I have started folding t-shirts and blouses.  Yes, you can fold a blouse small enough to stand up.  I will let you know about the wrinkles tomorrow!

Even though I am not following Kondo's advice exactly, I am having a good time "tidying".  My mom used to call it a "clean out" but whatever you want to call it -- it feels good.  I am finding it rewarding to tackle one area and actually completing it rather than running all over doing things hit and miss.  Kondo says to tackle things by catagory beginning with clothing (photos and sentimental things last) but I am accomplishing what I need to accomplish by doing it an area at a time.  I think you have to be flexible to get the job done. 

So,  that is what I have done today.  I have learned to fold all my clothes, stand them up, throw things away and discover that I really have a lot more storage space than I thought -- it just all depends on how you arrange it.

Now I have to figure out what to do with my vintage handkerchief collection -- keep it, sell it, toss it -- such decisions.