Good Books to Read * October 2015

the life-changing magic of tidying up by Marie Kondo

I resisted purchasing the life-changing magic of tidying up at first because I doubted that buying yet another book about organizing and decluttering would help do anything besides add more clutter while I lined someone else’s pocket. And there is a funny moment in the book when she says that if owning her book does not give the reader a “sparkle of joy,” she would prefer the reader get rid of it.

The thing is, building a business, like the rest of life, is subject to accretion. You find that you keep adding ideas, and let the old ones pile up. This can happen digitally, or in printed form. For example, I went through a hard drive melt down earlier in the year, and I had to copy my hard drive. I am still recovering from all the duplication. In fact, Kondo doesn’t cover the hazards of digital clutter, but they are there and, having begun using her system, I think I will be braver about facing them.

Before I do, I should back up and say that I have not actually implemented her system in its purity. What I have done is just get rid of a bunch of stuff and junk (about 30 bags so far) plus some small furniture. It has already changed my life.

For whatever reason, getting rid of things is scary. Our whole society and economic system is built on acquisition, for sure. Plus we don’t want to waste or give up important memories. Our stuff and junk becomes a metaphor for how we do not live in the present, or at least for how we are not willing to enhance the present to its fullest out of respect for the past or fear of the future.

So, my plan was, as I read her book, to just go through and get rid of everything it was easy to get rid of. It is amazing to me that I have already easily rid myself of 30 plus bags and I haven’t yet approached the hard part. The hard part will be all of the photos that I have not looked at in the eight years following my divorce. I’m tempted to just throw them away, sight unseen. Maybe I will.

My plan is to do a sort of pre-implementation of her plan up until the solstice. Then, over the holiday, I will attempt to implement her plan in a step-by-step fashion. She recommends that you do the whole thing at once, which is very time-consuming. I’ve already spent close to 20 hours on the project, if not more. That’s why doing a pre-implementation is what is working for me.

The kids have said that our house is now too clean. When I look around, I no longer see piles of papers and games. The corners are free. The glass cupboards are airy. It generates a peaceful feeling, for sure. And, even though I’m only part way through the processes, I have noticed that, like Kondo says, having the courage to get rid of things you don’t need, gives you the clarity and courage to make other necessary life and business decisions.

My advice? Buy or borrow the book and start by getting rid of 30 bags of stuff and junk. See what happens.

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