Tuesday, 14 October 2014

A 'life-changing' book giveaway!

I could always use a little help and inspiration when it comes to tidying and decluttering, neither of which are strong points of mine. When I saw The life-changing magic of tidying - a simple, effective way to banish clutter forever by Marie Kondo in our local bookshop, I thought it would be ideal for a light May half term holiday read - maybe her system would be so simple that I could truly banish clutter by the end of the holiday and return to work having changed my life. I even promised to invite the bookshop owner and her assistant round for supper if it worked, so that they could see my decluttered house.

Joking aside, I know that reading books, blogs and websites about decluttering doesn't work. You have to actually get on with it in real life, and not worry too much about having different bags for keeping/discarding, and zones, and doing it in the right order and whether you're carrying it out correctly or not. I still bought the book though. I find the Japanese philosophy of Wabi sabi inspiring, and I figured it would be interesting to get the Japanese take on decluttering.

If you think that I'm giving away the book because I implemented all the advice and no longer have any need of it, then you'd be wrong.

I did read the book (it is a quick read) and enjoyed it, but I haven't yet banished the clutter. I'm still working on that one. I've absorbed the main messages of the book though, so in the interests of letting go of stuff (there's a big section on how to declutter your books...), it's time for Marie Kondo's book to leave my house in order to benefit one of you guys, and for me to carry on tidying.

If you would like to enter The Life-changing magic giveaway, leave a comment on this blog post by Saturday 7pm (BST) and I'll pick a winner at random. I'm happy to post this book anywhere in the world.

In the meantime here are some top tips from the book:
  • One of her main arguments is to tidy in one go rather than little by little because you'll see instant results. Part of her reasoning is that tidying "is not the purpose of your life" and that you will be able to "pour your time and passion into what brings you the most joy, your mission in life" 
  • Discard rather than store. 'Nuff said. 
"To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose."
  • The biggest question to ask yourself when decluttering is "Does this spark joy?"
  • Folding clothes rather than hanging them is a more efficient way of storing them. 
  • Books on shelves are dormant, so only keep those you love and will read or refer to again.
  • Be ruthless with papers, letters, study materials and cards. Discard everything that doesn't need to be kept.
  • Pursue ultimate simplicity with storage - use drawers and boxes which you already have rather than buying anything fancy.
  • Store bags in another bag.
  • Appreciate your possessions and treat them well.
"Being surrounded by things that bring joy makes you happy,"
  • Letting go is more important than adding.
  • Designate a place for everything.
  • Store all items of the same type in the same place.
  • Send stuff off joyfully and launch it on a new journey.
There are a lot of common-sense ideas that we already know, and, counter intuitively, ideas that go against the standard decluttering advice out there (the tidying in one go rather than 15 minutes a day) which all goes to suggest that there's no one right way to do decluttering, other than to just do it. 

Where it differs from other decluttering schemes is in the Japanese anthropomorphism of your possessions and indeed, even your house. Kondo suggests folding socks rather than 'balling' them in respect for the hard work that they do on your feet, and that clothes will be happier hanging with others in the same category so that they can relax more fully. 
"Everything you own wants to be of use to you."
You know what? I like the idea of thanking my coat for keeping me warm, and greeting my home every time I return. And when it comes down to it, I'm happier following Marie's advice to have a conversation with my house so it can tell me where it would like me to tidy, than following a prescriptive, step-by-step, decluttering programme designed by someone else!

As yet, the house dialogue is still continuing here, and the bookshop owner is still waiting for her supper invitation...

Don't forget to enter the giveaway!


  1. Sounds good - any help with decluttering gladly received, although things are improving!! Thank you for the giveaway, and good luck with your own quest ..... Debx

    1. And thank you for your yogurt making advice a few blog posts ago. As if by magic an easiyo yogurt maker, as you described it, turned up in a charity shop for £2 so I bought it of course (more clutter :-) ). I followed your recipe and it makes fantastic yogurt!

  2. OOooooh, yes please! I've had 'declutter the house' as one of my New Year resolutions for, let me see now, the past 10 years? Living with a hoarder husband doesn't help much. But I have to say I love some of the wisdom you've picked out. I get SO frustrated with the 15 mins a day routine and I love the idea of asking if something brings you joy rather than old William Morris' concept that things have to be useful or beautiful - I can talk myself into putting ALL things into that category. but 'does it bring me joy' - perfect! I could declutter in an instant. Thanks for the review and pleased you found your yogurt maker...

  3. Letting go is the hardest part but do it once or twice and it does get easier. I am great believer in gratitude but thanking your coat? Not so sure.
    Rather than ball your socks and stretching them why not roll them. Place one sock on top of the other and roll them up together. Means they do not take a great deal of space but you can see the colour/style easily.

  4. I'm always looking for new ideas - I picked up 'Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui' at our local charity shop but haven't read it yet!

  5. Can I have one please? I'm so sure that my mood is better once I've had a clear out, or as the family calls it "the purge"!!!

  6. I'm getting there on the decluttering but could always do with a final inspirational push. Just decided to pass a load of stuff on to the charity shop rather than wait to do a car boot as time is actually one thing I am certainly short of and meanwhile the stuff is in the way!

  7. Well, that's going to have to be my new mantra... Keep calm and just tidy up - love it!!

  8. Just went to see The Minimalists talk in Bristol last night - very inspirational. I liked their take on not organising, just getting rid of stuff which I'm desperately trying to do before Christmas

  9. I too heard 'the Minimalists' in Bristol last night- check out their blog www.theminimalists.com I have read about this book by Kondo and I am curious especially re clothes storage! I like the idea of clearing all in one go, I am tempted to try the Minimalists 'packing party' approach but I think that would be a bit too kooky for family! Here's hoping

  10. I've been decluttering for 8 years, but with four hoarders in the house, I'm not sure I'm making much progress :-) we have stopped keeping stuff for 'the day I'll do a car boot sale' though, and have sent 40 bags to the British Heart Foundation shop in Chippenham instead, which is a great feeling, especially when I get emails telling me how much my donations have raised.

  11. As I type away I am waiting for the carpet fitter - I have spent the last few months decluttering the second bedroom which will be my hobby room/spare bedroom. It had become the dumping ground for clutter so after months and months of just closing the door I took the bull by the horns and booked the plasterer - knowing I had a certain period of time to clear the room. Phew! Well worth it I can tell you.