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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.

Sam65 Thu 25-Feb-16 17:41:24

When we moved after living in the same house I got rid of loads. However it was important to realise if anything had any value first. I sorted out slowly room by room. Valuable stuff went eBay. Stuff that could be useful to others but not charity shops went on freegle(freecycle) and other free things went to charity shops that they could sell. I also did table top sales which was very interesting and I sold the oddest things and met some lovely people.

mollyc Sun 15-Nov-15 17:20:00

I am 79 have lived in this house for 54 years so I have loads of "souvenirs" that I should sort out but when I look at them i feel that after all these years it is a shame to bin them. Some are even from my childhood. We hope to move next year so I will have to be ruthless,but after all when we pass on no-one else will want them. Wish me luck.

Tegan Thu 23-Jul-15 21:04:28

I 'lost' my digital camera a few weeks ago; it had fallen out of my handbag under the car seat. Didn't realise till I was on holiday and, annoying as it was not to be able to take photos it was the fact that I had pictures of my baby granddaughter on it that really worried me.

JoyBloggs Thu 23-Jul-15 20:56:37

Tegan Thank you... a timely reminder! Most of my photos are safely backed-up but the most recent aren't and I must do it ASAP. I agree, so easy to lose a phone and awful to lose special pics.

soontobe Wed 22-Jul-15 08:12:43

I have only had exerience of helping out one of my cousins dealing with his remaining parent's belongings. And even that was an eye opener.
It must be very hard for you, especially since you are a bit of a hoarder yourself. And you are getting so little help from your siblings.

How long have you got before you have to have everything out of your mother's house?

You seem to have taken some of the more sentimental memory stuff out already. Which is a good first step.

I think you know in your heart of hearts that a lot of the other stuff is going to have to go, in one way or another.

Gransnetters can carry on posting as you do it if that helps.

I do think that in times past, it would have been somewhat easier, as furniture carried on being used. And people just did not have so much stuff in general.

seasider Wed 22-Jul-15 07:55:16

I agree Tegan.DP lost his phone with lots of lovely pictures. We now store them on a memory stick and PC. I used to watch a programme called "The life laundry" and the lady suggested instead of storing a loved one's clothes you cut a small square from each one and made a sort of memory board. When I had to clear my mother's house I asked her two sisters to help me and we had a good few days laughing and crying at the stuff mum had hoarded. I asked them and other family members to take anything they wanted and apart from a few small momentoes the rest went to charity shops. Good luck x

Tegan Wed 22-Jul-15 00:05:02

Joy; you have copied the photos in some way I assume. I only ask cause my son showed me lots of photos of his little baby the other week that were on his phone and he said he'd downloaded them somewhere [or put them on a memory stick or whatever confused]. It's so easy to lose phones.

Davism01 Tue 21-Jul-15 23:39:29

I'm talking about EVERYTHING!!! (Except for clothes since I left them at the group he...I did keep one of her ...get ready...pants suits lol)... I've got jewelry , papers, Avon galore, furniture everything including the kitchen sink. We are about to lose the house so u do not want anything of my families to end up on the street! I try to get help from my bro and sis but no one ever feels like going through the stuff with me unless there's something of value! I feel everything and anything that belonged to my mom is valuable and I try to keep telling myself that if I depart with something it doesn't mean I love her any less but...it's so hard ! Right now u have a whole lot of stuff of hers at my house well...we are both hoarders ahhhhhhh. I suppose I could donate something's but I also thought a yardse would be nice but jeez where do you store yard sale stuff. Gosh, I got her awards she got from work, letters she wrote to her boyfriends and family, old lottery tickets(I thought if I played her numbers I might win-smh, paintings and the list goes on and there's still tons of stuff in her house

JoyBloggs Tue 21-Jul-15 21:29:42

HappyNan1 I do that... take photos of once-precious items and clothes of sentimental value, then give the things to the charity shop and it works brilliantly for me. I've been doing it for several months and the photos are all in my phone and I find I'm now really rather enjoying seeing this stuff, often unexpectedly, when I'm flicking through my pics, rather than having 'redundant' objects in the house and wondering what on earth to do with them!

It all started for me with a Victorian chamber pot which was presented to me in the pub when I was a student, on my 21st birthday... full of foaming beer! Everybody there had to have a mouthful and pass it on. (We knew how to enjoy ourselves in those days...) My friends assured me the pot had been thoroughly boiled hmm. In the course of the next 40-odd years it had been an 'ornament', a plant pot, a soap container etc, but, although it was of sentimental value, a few months ago I decided it was time for it to go to a new home. It wasn't very attractive (not one of those decorated with colourful bouquets!), and none of my children wanted it so I took a photograph of it then took it to the charity shop before I could change my mind. I smile and remember how I came by it every time I see the pic and I feel glad that it probably raised a little cash for Cancer Research as well as giving its new owner some pleasure... or maybe they even use it for its proper purpose grin.

I'm in the middle of a huge decluttering effort which is proving very hard work as I am a reformed hoarder, but I'm very excited at the prospect of not being surrounded by things which have no future, either in my soon-to-be decluttered home or with my family. Eventually I plan to get all the photos printed and have an album of my ex-treasures!

Davism01 I quite understand how you feel about your mum's things. My mum died last year. She was a lovely lady, much loved and I have many of her and my father's possessions now in my house and I find it much harder letting their things go than my own. I intend to keep certain special items, but others that are not wanted by family members will be photographed and taken to the charity shop. I feel that way I will enjoy the memory of the items and the fact that my parents' possessions are being appreciated by their new owner as well as helping a good cause. I feel sure my parents would give full approval to this solution. Whatever you decide to do, Davism01, I wish you luck, it is so difficult. sad

Sorry, I have rambled on a bit, but this is a subject close to my heart at the moment!

merlotgran Tue 21-Jul-15 20:17:41

I'm in the middle of a de-cluttering nightmare. Still making endless trips to the recycling centre with the last of Mum's stuff that we were storing in the building that we are converting for us to live in. We fell into the trap of chucking loads of our own stuff in there as well (out of sight, out of mind) BIG mistake.

Books, furniture and nick-nacks have gone to EMMAUS so now I can see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel but there will also be her antique china to sell at auction....more organising for moi!! We've also had to make a start on our own place. Every time I think I'm making progress I realise I'm just moving stuff from one room to another hmm

Because we're downsizing again at least I know our own kids will not have to go through this nightmare when we shuffle off.

Anne58 Tue 21-Jul-15 20:00:04

You may remember (or not) that I posted last week about tackling the clutter in "the office". There are still 2 piles of papers that must be shredded or burnt!

Well, after adding the mis-filed shoes and bags blush to the bin bag full (now overflowing) in the spare room, I am setting myself a smallish goal for tomorrow, as I have a day off.

I am going to sort the bottom of the built in wardrobe/cupboard in our bedroom.

Hopefully that will provide some space for the boots and shoes, once they are sorted. If this works, then it should mean that I can actually access the cupboard in the spare room, check the state of the contents (we have the occasional mould/mildew problem in there) and IF all is looking ok, I can move on to re-locating all of my smart business suits (ranging from a size 8 to a size 14, and the actual quantity of them is into double figures confused ) to that cupboard, which should in turn mean that we are not using the banisters and those over door hanger things as clothes storage.

There is a plan, truly!

HappyNan1 Tue 21-Jul-15 19:36:03

I read something once that suggested you take a photo of things you once loved but now have no space for and with clothes that are special to you but really not much use to anyone else, cut out a small square of the material and just keep that. I did it with a maternity dress I made for myself, I loved that dress but doubt very much if anyone else would have wanted it. Just a suggestion that might be helpful smile

Stansgran Tue 21-Jul-15 17:57:13

We have just had a wedding anniversary and I took the opportunity to weed out the box of cards I've kept. Any which I remembered in a soppy way I kept but as it's recycling day today I had a good purge. So much paper comes into the house that it's a job in itself to keep on top of it. I also took my monthly bag to oxfam and started another. I am awaiting hip and knee operations so don't get to the shops much for new clothes and I'm a bit frightened of throwing things out in case I won't be able to buy fresh. I've started another quilt to use up scraps and as I'm doing a quite difficult one and the scrap one is very easy it gives me a break. I do have boxes of materials which worry me a bit. I also thought my DGC would be here this summer and they love making things so stuff bought for them to do has gone to a friend's GD .

annsixty Tue 21-Jul-15 17:01:17

I recently started a purge on DH's own storage space. I had kept firmly out until he developed his memory problems and now he doesn't even notice. We had over50 years of accumulated bills,receipts etc. Guarantees for white goods long gone and bank statements going back decades. A whole file of house purchases from1960 but only 4 as we stay put.It was interesting but it all went, we had a bonfire which burnt for a few hours. Birthday cards, c*******s cards all went. Now if only I can persuade him to tackle his old clothes ,which he would definitely notice as they are all he will wear. The older and beiger the better.

soontobe Tue 21-Jul-15 16:47:03

Are you talking of small items Davism01, or larger items?

Tegan Tue 21-Jul-15 16:40:38

I have my mums purse mext to me on my desk; not a nice purse [plastic and a bit scruffy]. It needs to go, but somehow never gets as far as the bin sad so I know what you mean. I guess if you've got a lot of items it's a case of getting a container, keeping one of things and charity shop'ing the rest in the knowledge that they will do some good to someone. Is there a family member who would go through them with you? I find that it's only someone close to me that I'll listen to when it comes to things like this.

Davism01 Tue 21-Jul-15 16:16:13

Please please help I don't know what to do with the things my mother had since she has passed on. These items of hers are the hardest things to let go of. Please please help

Stansgran Sun 12-Apr-15 12:39:46

I think the numbers idea might be the right one.thank you. There are hundreds of cards from DH and DDs and now DGC s. DD1 stopped sending cards some years ago so I kept the last one and brought it out every year and I think this is the way to go. It's just laziness as well for me. Out of sight in a cupboard out of mind.

soontobe Sat 11-Apr-15 08:40:57

Stansgran.If you want to prune them, could you sort of have a card party? Sort them out while all the family members are present. And you can all reminisce while they help you leave go of some of the cards?
That may be a rubbish idea, but the only one I can come up with!

soontobe Sat 11-Apr-15 08:36:16

It sounds to me that you have the ability to keep going on this. And there are plenty of gransnetters to help you through.

soontobe Sat 11-Apr-15 08:33:51

I am glad that you found my advice helpful.

I started this thread a few weeks ago.
www.gransnet.com/forums/house_and_home/a1214421-Help-me-to-throw-out

Half way through I realised that, as regards times I find most difficult, [really silly items actually] keeping a set number works for me. I keep too many "functional" items, which then spill into being a problem in themselves.

lnzd Sat 11-Apr-15 00:39:21

oops, *Stansgran, sorry for the misspell!

lnzd Sat 11-Apr-15 00:38:35

Stansgram, I am finding online checklists to be a good starting point for me. I used one last night to purge any unnecessary cleaning products, and found it immensely helpful...not as the end-all but instead as a starting framework from which I customized as needed.

I didn't get my cleaning supply checklist from them, but Real Simple has a bunch of checklists, which is nice: www.realsimple.com/checklist Might this one help with what you are talking about? www.realsimple.com/beauty-fashion/clothing/wardrobe-basics/wardrobe-basics-checklist

I also know someone who has a number limit on what they have, such as no more than 5 scarves, 5 pairs of gloves, etc. The number may be different for you (3? 10?), but I mention it because that is something that worked for her.

I am going to try the number method myself, if I end up with an excessive amount of scarves that "bring me joy".

Good luck!

lnzd Sat 11-Apr-15 00:17:18

Thanks for the encouragement, soontobe.

Unfortunately I don't have anyone who could help at this point. Nearly all of my friends have moved out of the city in the past two years, and the ones that are left I'm not close enough to to ask this favor of.

I do know a professional who has helped me in the past (many years ago when I was married), but I am currently under-employed and scraping to get basic expenses met.

I tried to get the audio or e-version of her book through the library; I'm on the waiting list for both now. To hold me over I borrowed the audio version of "The Hoarder in You", which I found a bit depressing, but she does have questions to help you decide when to keep toss; there are too many question though.

Because it seems Marie Kondo doesn't address necessities too much (when if they don't bring you joy, but you still have to have them), I came up with this simplified combination of their methods to help:

1) Does this item bring me joy?
yes - keep
no - next question

2) Is it functional in the way that I would need to replace it if it were gone (ex: garlic press, work outfits)?
yes - keep
no - next question

3) Does it improve the quality of my life in a meaningful way (ex: art supplies, sports equipment)?
yes - keep
no - toss.

I have taken your suggestion and started switching categories to help. It does help! Instead of handling the cooking utensils that were upsetting me so much, I did the category "cleaning supplies". I got a list online of the most basic cleaning supplies that every home ought to have, and kept only those items + their duplicates, if there were any.

This made a huge difference, thank you!

Maggiemaybe Fri 10-Apr-15 15:25:17

I'm the same with cards, Stansgran, and with oh, so many other things I can't bear to part with. I was seriously musing that if I invested in a scanner, I could just scan in all the paper stuff - souvenirs, programmes, letters, invitations, DC's school reports and drawings - so that I still had it if I ever wanted to look at it, only not filling up plastic storage boxes. I'm not just sure though.... hmm