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Keep calm and declutter - Q&A with "tidy" expert Marie Kondo

(130 Posts)
CariGransnet (GNHQ) Wed 09-Apr-14 12:18:30

Fed up of being surrounded by clutter? <guilty face> Too many things and not enough storage? Frustrated by constantly having to tidy up? Overwhelmed by the thought of a clear out? <oh yes!>

Help is at hand. Japan's expert declutterer and professional cleaner Marie Kondo will help you tidy up once and for all with her inspirational step-by-step method and her "once cleaned, never messy again" approach.

As Marie says, "when you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order too. As a result you can see quite clearly what you need in life and what you don't, what you should and shouldn't do."

Her book - The Life Changing Magic of Tidying - is available now and has already sold 1.5 million copies in Japan alone. And you can add your questions for her up til midday on Weds 23 April.

cardigangran Thu 10-Apr-14 17:09:01

I identify so much with so many of the comments made here. in my forties I moved home five times in 4 years and developed a loathing of packing of all sorts , and became better at deciding what to hang onto and what not: there`s nothing like packing the same ornament that you are not-really-in-love-with-but-hang-onto-because-someone-gave-it-you for the 4th time to make you think of putting it in the charity shop bag . I usually try to have one on the go - usually 2 supermarket bags one inside the other for strength hanging on the back of a door (!) and pop bits in as and when i think "Why the dickens am i giving this house room ?" i try to imagine what good the money the charity shop will do , for example to children`s hospice charity shops , and imagine someone who can`t afford to buy new presents being pleased with their charity shop bargain . Have come to the conclusion that if I have an enormous clear-out and am faced with bin bags full , the logistics of getting it out of the house to wherever is too enormous , but taking a bag into town with me when i go shopping is no big effort ! However , in case you think that all sounds a bit GoodyTwoShoes , I will add that as i get older the reasons for hanging onto things seem to multiply, for example having got rid of lots of books, i am now starting to collect them again as inspirational tools for our new business , and having got rid of bags of toys from my days as an infant teacher and given up hope of grandchilden ,i now find i AM to be a granny after all - so i will be dawdling round shops looking for kiddy things again !

rosequartz Thu 10-Apr-14 17:28:47

We seemed to wait for years to become grandparents, and it only happened when we decluttered the old cot and the (newish) carrycot and wheels!

jackiekiel Thu 10-Apr-14 18:08:30

At the age of 71, getting rid of something pleases me more than having something new. Although I love the feel of a real book, owning a Kindle has changed my life as I no longer trip over piles of paperbacks and keep the bookshelves for quality illustrated ones. To empty my under-the-sink cupboard, I'm thinking of buying a small steam cleaner which, I hope, will replace the dozens of cleaning potions.

rosequartz Thu 10-Apr-14 18:51:00

And healthier too!

spookygran Thu 10-Apr-14 21:50:23

I regularly start to declutter but my husband puts everything back. How can I get him out of this habit without grievous bodily harm being committed? "we might need it one day" is his motto, mine is "if I haven't used it in the last year ....get rid of it". Tidying is a nightmare in our house,please help me.

waltermitty Thu 10-Apr-14 22:34:08

Boy do I feel better, now I know there are so many others out there who can't let go!! I blame all those trash for cash/car booty/hidden treasure daytime TV programmes for my clutter - old telephones, clothes from the 70s, vinyl records, typewriters ... the list is endless!! One day they will be worth a lot of money and then I'll be the one laughing! And how can you throw away any photographs, soppy Valentine cards, school books and reports, or a hundred other memories? I know one day someone else will bin them - so help, what is the answer???

gillybob Thu 10-Apr-14 23:06:44

Dear Waltermitty

Get a box. It can't be too big mind you. smile

In the box you can put old pictures, valentine cards, birthday cards, whatever.

You can only have one box !

Old typewriters are OLD typewriters.
Old clothes are OLD clothes

The clue is in the OLD !

Good luck . If my 98 year old grandma can do it.... So can you. Memories are in your mind and in your heart not in old bits of junk .


seasidegranny Fri 11-Apr-14 08:24:58

Glad to read about others having trouble with the hoarding obsession of their OHs; I am not alone! There is also the realisation that so many things thrown out with gay abandon in a more careless phase would now fetch a good price as genuine retro, so how to decide what other investmentswe may have, albeit unknowingly? I must agree with Gally regarding 'fed up of': pesky things, prepositions, but I have always thought 'with' was better herehmm

Icyalittle Fri 11-Apr-14 08:52:57

Oh, I am definitely in this club. I wish, I wish I could declutter. I am of the 'that will come in useful one day / I can't bear to throw that away' persuasion. I feel so great when I manage to clear somewhere out (rarely), but also have a DH with a paper-hoarding habit, and a DD who wants us to keep all her stuff from childhood and teenage, even though she is 34 and has a bigger house than we do! I believe some of my problem stems from a Services childhood, moving every couple of years and not being allowed to keep anything when we did.

waltermitty Fri 11-Apr-14 10:23:29

Oh Gillybob, if ONLY it were that simple! Trouble is, unless I keep the stuff, I fear that my OLD mind and heart will not be up to challenge of remembering soon! I prefer "vintage" to "old" cos that adds at least one zero to the price tag!!

cikada Fri 11-Apr-14 10:43:43

I had this magnificent rule "what I have not used/worn for six months goes out". But - the big but -whenever I try to declutter and throw stuff out, without a doubt I shall look for it a fortnight later; it will be that item of clothing that just goes with those trousers/skirt, which I have not worn for a long time. Hence it now goes into the
loft for another six months, and perhaps then I shall actually really declutter or won't I?

I have, however,bought this little machine with which I could transfer all my old photographs and negatives to the computer/memory disc, it helped to get rid of a few boxes. A very emotional process though....

mrsmopp Fri 11-Apr-14 11:38:02

Been watching too much Antiques Road shows and convinced my retro stuff will 'be worth money in years to come'. Can live in hope. My MIL used to watch that programme, arms folded, and every item worth anything she would say, 'ooh I had one of them and I chucked it in the bin/gave it to a jumble sale/threw it on the fire'......etc

Grannyfran Sun 13-Apr-14 19:36:21

Take heart all. I had to de-clutter like mad when we moved quite happily from a big house to a much smaller one. In the process I found lots of my old bits of writing. Always a scribbler, but very untidy too, I had tucked them away in lots of different places! One set were letters I wrote to DH to make him laugh when he was recovering from a stroke. There were piles of them! When I put them all together they added up to 30,000 words. I had accidentally written the beginnings of a novel.
And guess what? It was published in February. It took me two years, but I turned the piles of scribbles into a book called Best Wishes, Sister B.
I de-cluttered myself into a published writer. Talk about unintended consequences!
Of course all the writing has meant that the new house is a bit cluttered now...

yogagran Sun 13-Apr-14 20:35:47

grannyfran Congratulations, that's an amazing achievement

Grannyfran Sun 13-Apr-14 21:51:12

Thanks Yogagran! It wouldn't have happened if I hadn't found a big pile of writing. Starting from scratch would have been too scary.

yogagran Sun 13-Apr-14 22:29:19

I've just destroyed several years of diaries that I kept through the 60's and early 70's. I didn't want people discovering just how exciting London was in that era! Some of the entries were written in shorthand which I could no longer read so things were very interesting then shock and embarrassed

Grannyfran Mon 14-Apr-14 21:03:14

Your Swinging London diaries sound wonderful! My sister says she has never looked back since burning her diaries. They were full of gloomy self-analysis. They served their purpose and then were binned. Very sane.

Sewsilver Tue 15-Apr-14 06:58:10

I'm shortly moving to a tiny rented house, then in to house sit for a friend then into a house half the size of this one. I thought I was doing well having reduced my stuff by a third and was feeling rather smug. Last week the removal man Mr P....... stood looking at what is left, sucked his teeth, shook his head and muttered that it wouldn't all fit in the new house.
It was a salutary lesson to realise that what to me are precious things with a history attached are to him cubic footage. I now have 10 days to clear the next third, eeek! Yoga gran, I too have destroyed old diaries. I don't think mine sound as exciting as yours but I definitely wouldn't want my children reading them.
My most exciting purchases in the last few weeks have been an incinerator and an industrial shredder. Sad but true.

Culag Tue 15-Apr-14 08:09:49

My late husband was a great photographer and I have 3 large storage boxes of family snapshots and also larger home developed and printed 'ace' shots. I thought I would sort these one winter but it was too upsetting. I can't throw them away, my son hasn't got room for them or time to sort them - I'm stuck. tbusad

Ana Tue 15-Apr-14 11:44:32

Just been reading the Amazon reviews of your book, Grannyfran. It sounds really good! tbusmile

Elegran Tue 15-Apr-14 11:52:40

I am now reading the book and it is very good.

Grannyfran Wed 16-Apr-14 08:53:58

Thanks Ana and Elegran,
I guess I should throw away the fourteen printed out early drafts now that it's a proper book! Am very attracted to the idea of an 'industrial shredder'! At work a secure shredding company used to visit with a truck and mince secure documents on site. I once asked the operator if it could manage paper clips and he said 'Paperclips? This thing would shred a gun!'
Another novel in that, somewhere!
Hope you keep enjoying Sister B.

yogagran Thu 17-Apr-14 13:52:02

I tried the "sample' on my Kindle and have now gone on to download the whole book. I'll be starting it as soon as I've finished the book I'm on at the moment

yogagran Thu 17-Apr-14 13:53:55

Does the author still benefit from Kindle purchases grannyfran

Grannyknot Thu 17-Apr-14 14:14:10

I needed a "pot luck" book to read for the Easter Weekend so '1-Click' and I have your book grannyfran smile

Re the OP and the questions. I am convinced that having more money is what contributes to having more crap stuff. When I had a lot less disposable income than I have now, I would buy e.g. one pot of face cream and when it was finished, buy another one. Now there are about 6 pots of face cream on my dressing table, all half used. Likewise cleaning stuff, I would have had one or two types now I have one for glass & mirrors, one general purpose, one for baths etc etc. And while this may not be exactly the type of clutter you mean, the area below my sink looks like a bomb zone.

So perhaps the answer to less clutter is simply having less. Or as my friend says "happiness is wanting what you have".

Sorry, no question grin just ramblings.