The inspiration of tidying up

With a new year comes resolutions, and even though I resolved many years ago that I wouldn’t make any more new year’s resolutions, I found myself this year drawn into setting a new direction for 2016. Essentially, this direction involves doing less, getting more sleep, and scaling back. So when a colleague loaned me a copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, I found a lot of synergy and alignment with my new direction for 2016.

If you have not heard of this book, I can give you the essence in a nutshell:

  • organize by category (e.g. all clothes first) rather than by room
  • physically empty all of the places (e.g. closets, dressers) that you wish to tidy
  • hold each item in your hand and ask yourself “Does it bring me joy?”
  • if it brings you joy, keep it
  • if it does not bring you joy, it goes out the door (Kondo often talks about “garbage bags” but really, there are so many donation sites that would be happy to take it from you)

Now, Kondo goes into many more details than this and if you really want to know about how she suggests you fold your socks, go ahead. However, the essence for me from this book wasn’t in the details, but rather in the concepts that she suggest you embrace.

Firstly, I am taken very much by her notion of joy – does something tangible bring me joy? Well I’m not by nature a joyful person, but there are things that I own that do make me smile, bring back memories or just spark my heart. I can’t say what these all have in common, but yes, things can bring me joy and I’m very happy to keep them. This notion made me look at my other possessions in a different light and even though I’m pretty good about discarding items that I no longer use, now I am even more disciplined and thoughtful about what stays and what goes.

Secondly, there is a theme of savouring throughout Kondo’s book. She recommends that, for example, at the end of the day you should empty your purse and thank each item for serving you throughout the day. She exudes gratitude (though she doesn’t use that word as far as I recall) for the things that she uses throughout the day. This also means that she treats them with respect (who else talks about the difficult job of socks??) and honour.

Finally, Kondo illustrates over and over again the importance of ritual. She has an entrance ritual when she comes home which is filled with honour, gratitude and tidiness as she replaces each item back in its proper place for the next time she needs it.

What I took away from this book was several principles of positive psychology, as well as direction to help  me live my life of “doing less” in 2016. With less clutter, Kondo says, comes more clarity. Certainly it’s my goal that reducing clutter in my work and personal life – be that things or be that tasks – will help me to focus on what is truly meaningful and essential to me and my well-being so that I can be there for others.

What’s your direction for 2016? keep-calm-and-do-less

Lisa Sansom

Lisa Sansom has her MBA from the Rotman School of Management, and over two decades of experience in teaching and training. Her years of work in the organizational development field have included projects on change management, employee engagement, leadership development, team coaching and employer of choice strategies.

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