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

(131 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.

gillybob Wed 09-Apr-14 13:46:47

Hi Marie

I love tidying and am the self proclaimed Tidyness Expert in our family. During my many years of (mainly on the job) training I have come across various types of untidiness, clutter and filth and messiness and there always seems to be a common equasion.

X / Y = Z

Too little space (X)
too much stuff (Y)
Chaos (Z)

Not sure I agree with your "once cleaned never messy again" approach either as I always seem to get regular call backs from my various customers family members. smile

Gally Wed 09-Apr-14 16:27:58

I seem to be constantly trying to clear up. In the 33 years I have lived in this house, I have always had one room full of 'stuff' waiting to be moved/given a home/sold/given away but never seem to achieve the end object. As I may be moving house in the next year or so, I am methodically going through boxes and boxes of photos, receipts, letters, school reports, certificates......... most of which belonged to my in-laws, my parents, my late husband, my children and others. It takes for ever and at the end of the session, I am left with almost as much as I started with but in a considerably more orderly state. I, however, am left in a complete mess having blown my way through half a packet of Kleenex as it upsets me so much. I have even been bum up under the sink sorting out bottles of cleaning stuff, dusters, shoe polish, all of which seem to be duplicated or even triplicated, but now all beautifully organised and in neat rows. Same with the larder - all in alphabetical order and in neat rows. I just don't seem to be able to part with much; it all means something or reminds me of someone. I have far too many plates, cutlery, glassware, dishes, bowls, vases, gardening equipment, furniture and shelves full of books - the list goes on and on. As for paperwork - despite having a filing cabinet and multitudinous box files, most of it is in piled on the dining table for easy access confused. I have recently dipped my toe into eBay, without too much success - I buy more than I appear to sell wink
Short of allowing someone in to do the deed while I am anaesthetised, I don't think I will ever get to grips with decluttering.

(BTW GN. Fed up of? Doesn't sit too well with me, but correct me if I am wrongwink)

Nelliemoser Wed 09-Apr-14 16:51:31

As my OH has just brought home 12 more charity shop CDs and three books he will never listen to, but just hoard. the whole idea of never being able to de-clutter and clear out makes me feel ill.

I just want to move out, leave it all behind me and find some where I don't have to put up with this crap. The bloody boxes of unread books and CDs are spilling out onto the landing.

I am sick of it. sad angry

Ana Wed 09-Apr-14 17:06:51

Same here, Nelliemoser. We have two spare bedrooms and a double garage full of DH's rubbish/clutter, plus a dead car in the garden. We'd need a crane and several skips to get rid of it all, and my sporadic attempts to deal with my own minimal clutter seem like drops in an ever-expanding ocean...sad

Ana Wed 09-Apr-14 17:07:46

(or should that have been 'drops out of...?)

Nelliemoser Wed 09-Apr-14 17:25:23

Ana Its a s* isn't it. I know others have this problem but it is really getting me stressed and angry right now and I don't know if its just me getting it all out of proportion.

goldengirl Wed 09-Apr-14 17:35:59

I'd love to declutter my own stuff but the thought of having to do something with it puts me off! It would just be moving it from one area to make a pile in another - until I can 'go to the tip' (which I can't see myself doing), or 'taking to a charity shop' which I can't see myself doing either. Any suggestions welcome please.

mrsmopp Wed 09-Apr-14 17:40:00

Here's one I posted earlier. (The house is still a tip)

Am I the only one finding it terribly hard to declutter? I start off determined to have a good clear out, but I don't get very far. I end up going through everything then carefully putting things back where they were. For gods sake what's wrong with me that I want to hang on to everything?
Let me just add I'm not one of those extreme cases where it's impossible to even enter the house because of piles of junk, old newspapers etc. no, I'm not that bad. Yet!!

MiniMouse Wed 09-Apr-14 18:28:29

Oh it's SO good that there are others out there like me! I keep things that 'might come in useful' some time - which of course they do the day after I have finally plucked up the courage to part with them. hmm I also hung onto stuff thinking that my offspring would find it useful when they set up home, but of course most of it was unwanted! I'm trying to convince myself that the grandchildren probably won't want it either . . . . .

One trick I use (just to tidy up rather than get rid of) is to go into a room with a crate and just stick anything in it that doesn't belong in that room and then go round the house doing the same (possibly more than one crate required here!!). This serves to at least make the rooms look tidier and you feel you've achieved something. Then I plonk the crate on a bed - saves bending! - and sort stuff out. Of course, this still leaves you with the 'sorting issue', but at least all the cr** bits and pieces are only in one place!

Is it because we're from the 'make do and mend' generation, do you think? Recycling isn't new, is it??!!

Tegan Wed 09-Apr-14 18:28:37

I've just [in the past few days] thrown away a pice of paper with a name written on it that I now need to know; this is what happens every time I throw anything away. I now have to go through pages of gossip on another forum because I know I mentioned the name on there. My cunning plan is to tidy the house up as best I can and then move into a caravan in the garden.

glassortwo Wed 09-Apr-14 19:24:47

Well I hate clearing out paperwork, but I had lost a hospital letter for DH and as the appointment is Friday I was pushed into looking. I have three tidy drawers but didnt find it, then picked up a handbag I dont use very often and there it was hmm...after DH had phoned the hospital to find out the time. Who puts letters in handbags!!!!!

annemac101 Wed 09-Apr-14 19:28:04

I'm hoping to move this year and I have been de cluttering for months. I throw out as much as I can from a cupboard then go back a few weeks later and tackle it agin. I have sorted my children's old school jitters and memories into separate folders for them as I know that one day they will want to show their children. I now have lots of toys for my grandchildren and when I move to a smaller house I'll have no place to put them and there will be more clutter.

rosequartz Wed 09-Apr-14 19:54:29

I will allow 'fed up of' as she is perhaps not a native English speaker (and I may make a grammatical error myself in this post).

We cleared out our attic completely when we had extra insulation installed.
We vowed not to put anything else back up there - so why oh why is it more full than ever?

Much of it belongs to DD2 who will have to make a decision about what to keep at some point. A lot of it is from my MIL'S house (and she was a Hoarder!).
Toys may come in useful for DC. Shall we need the cot, pram or pushchair again? (For a GC I hasten to add.)

Books, books and more books. Or will they all have kindles or some futuristic device?

I should be interested to know if Marie is single and carefree or has a large family who think of DPs as handy storage agents.

Stansgran Wed 09-Apr-14 19:55:16

I buy cleaners and stain removers and household goods in the hope they will magic some order and cleanliness into my life. I've bought a packet of yellow dot stickers which I add to each cleaner I use. By August 1st if they haven't got a sticker on them then they are out. (Started in January) also I read that if all your clothes are on hangers one way round,as you wear them put them back the other way round and then cull the ones at the end of the season that haven't been turned round. I am going to try that. I think that may have been Marie Kondos idea? How do you shed things which have happy memoriesMarie? Handbag my daughter gave me a scarf from my mother,a birthday card from my father? They will mean nothing to others and go into the skip when the house goes.

rosequartz Wed 09-Apr-14 19:56:50

Ps some of my china is sitting in the window of the local charity shop - I feel very wistful when I see it and am tempted to buy it back.

petra Wed 09-Apr-14 20:40:53

I think there must be something wrong with me. I can't relate to any of the stuff above. I HATE clutter with a deep and utter loathing. Why do people keep more than 6 plates/cups/ same with cutlery. Unless you do a lot of entertaining. I would never have more than 6 people at the table, that's enough for it to be enjoyable for me.
Same with clothes. One double wardrobe and two chest of drawers. I have a rule with clothes, something comes in, something goes out.
I never thought that I could give up books. Then kindle came along, and I have bit by bit given them away.
There is only one book that will never go: An Evil Cradling by Brian Keenan.

rosequartz Wed 09-Apr-14 20:51:32

Having sent two boxes of crockery/china to the charity shop I am now counting up how many dinner plates I have left, hoping there will be enough for a family gathering at the weekend. (I suppose I could have bought disposable but am doing a hot meal.)

Ana Wed 09-Apr-14 21:02:37

There's nothing wrong with you, petra (at least, not to my mind!) - but it's obvious you don't have an OH of a hoarding nature!

inishowen Wed 09-Apr-14 22:32:00

I love decluttering, but DH is a book and paper hoarder. He has his own study but still leaves piles of papers on the coffee table and in the kitchen. It drives me mad. I can't tidy it up as I'm accused of hiding important things! What can i do?

Tegan Wed 09-Apr-14 23:10:10

MiniMouse; that is a brilliant idea [the crate one]. Itend to just move thigs to another position in the room and they stay there till I move them to another position. What do you mean by a crate, though, cause I keep seeing lovely wooden crates in National Trust shops but they're not for sale. I have got one of those stair baskets in which you put things that are to go upstairs but it isn't there for that reason; it's to hide a threadbare patch in the carpet blush.

MiniMouse Wed 09-Apr-14 23:46:14

Tegan - Ha Ha, love the stair basket idea! Yes, I shuffled stuff around from one part of the room to another as well!! I'm also terrible at just putting stuff straight into the crate/box without re-reading it!

The crates I use are the collapsible ones that you can get in the DIY stores or Wilko etc. I bought several before we moved here, so I could pack some things myself and they could be folded away until they were needed again - the house here needed a lot of work done, so I knew I'd need to shift things around again!

In my head I'm such a tidy person . . . . .

mrsmopp Thu 10-Apr-14 15:05:23

Reminds me of the times we have cleared out the loft, shoved it all in the garage. Few months later, decide to clear out the garage. What to do with this lot? Oh, shove it in the loft for now.

Galen Thu 10-Apr-14 15:06:56

Why bother? It only gets cluttered again!hmm

soop Thu 10-Apr-14 15:43:40

Galen that made me chuckle. grin