Tidy in the right order: Discard items first, then decide where to keep things.
Wondering what to keep? Kondo maintains a pretty high standard: Does touching the object ‘spark joy’? If not, get rid of it. Kondo’s approach sounds harsh, but consider her reasons: “Are you happy wearing clothes that don’t give you pleasure? Do you feel joy when surrounded by piles of unread books that don’t touch your heart? Do you think that owning accessories you know you’ll never use will bring you happiness?” she ponders. (Spoiler alert for hoarders: The correct answer is “no.”) Instead, Kondo says, “Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.”
Tidy like objects at once, rather than cleaning room by room. This helps to thoroughly sort through entire categories of items, and helps you understand your total inventory.
Follow this order for organizing: “Start with clothes, then move on to books, papers, komono (miscellany) and finally things with sentimental value. . . . By starting with the easy things first and leaving the hardest for last, you can gradually hone your decision-making skills so that by the end [with the hard stuff], it seems simple.”
Don’t believe the mantra that you should do a little bit at a time. Do it all at once, in a mad fit of cleaning. (And don’t listen to music while purging, which Kondo says can alter your inner dialogue).
Do remember Kondo’s broader philosophy, influenced by Japanese culture, about the active relationship between people and objects, which is explained throughout her book. Remember, says Kondo: “Tidying ought to be the act of restoring balance among people, their possessions, and the house they live in.”
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