a big task in terms of both
time and emotion
I’ve just been doing a bit of decluttering today. It does feel good, as the experts in the subject say, and I try to do it every few months to see if the things I hesitated over throwing out the last time are still important enough to keep. I am still at a loss as to what to do with greeting cards (big birthdays, certain (but not all!) christmas cards, good luck cards, goodbye /‘nice working with you’ cards). Anyone got any ideas? They don’t take up that much space but they are not particularly important enough to me to keep either, as some of the people are just not part of my life anymore and probably won’t ever be again (apart from the ones who have passed on, most of the rest are just not a part of my life anymore for good or bad).
I’ve read about Marie Kondo, the most recent queen of decluttering, and I’m not quite sure what to make of her or her methods. She’s making quite a packet from this decluttering lark but personally I think people are a bit lazy if they pay someone – she in particular charges quite a bit I understand – to instruct them on what to get rid of from their homes. Or how to tidy their homes. Maybe lazy is too strong a word. That’s easy for me to say as well because I’ve always been a very tidy person, as a teenager even, but not quite as tidy as this woman who was obsessive from a much younger age.
I like most of her methods in principle, like organising your sock drawers into sections and so on (though I’m sure she’s not the first person to come up with this idea) though it’s not something I would waste my time doing. Having a sock drawer is one thing, making sure you put your socks into each section when you’re tired and you just want to fling your newly washed socks back into any drawer is another thing.
Organising for your children or a household is another thing. According to one reviewer of the book that has made her so well known, she does not cover this (but it seems she has released another version Decluttering for Kids, with a very clinical looking, tidied, child’s bedroom/playroom on the cover) but as I don’t have children or a household and just have to look after myself I won’t bother going into that too much anyway. I’d like to say though that my mother once dumped stuff of mine without my permission. Not even as a teenager but as an adult who though living away from home had left stuff in my original bedroom that was dumped. That was awful and I was furious at the time as I felt she was deciding for me what I should be done with. So it should really be a family project.
There’s also the concept of things bringing you joy. If they don’t make you feel joy, dump them she says. Can material things really bring you joy? To a certain level they can. Souvenirs of my travels and photos of my travels bring me joy in that I have fond memories of these various trips but at the same time those (fantastic) trips are in the past and I have more trips to look forward to I hope and there’s also the thought that, touch wood it never happens, if I ever had to leave in a hurry how much would I be able to save of my possessions? I’d save myself and my laptop (as I work off it and represents my livelihood) and a few smaller items and that’s it. I have already sorted most of my travel mementos (a few years ago on a similar decluttering drive) so I think my next project will be collecting my favourite photos from each trip and putting it in a separate box or album and then decide what to do with the rest. I took so many average quality photos and so many photos of the same thing (how many photos of one end of a certain building do you need unless you’re an architect, engineer or serious building-related hobbyist!!). So much money spent on developing photos (back in the day of developing photos!!) I don’t even look at that much now. As long as the memories are in my head, I don’t need that many photos. I wish I had had that much sense back then.
As for clothes, which I haven’t dealt with today (because in that sense I do agree with Marie Kondo with her ‘one area at a time’ mantra), there are clothes I have had for years I can still wear because they are in perfect nick (cos I’ve hardly worn them but whatever). I give stuff to charity shops or put them in clothes depots or, when they’re clearly unwearable (by me or anyone) I put them in the rubbish, but nothing as fancy or expensive as some of the dresses I bought for various weddings (well, they were expensive at the time relative to my usual taste and budget for buying clothes). I was planning to keep them until my nieces are old enough to wear them but that’s actually impractical as I have to hang on to them still longer so I might give them away in the meanwhile. Note to self: two-piece outfit for next wedding.
I see myself as a functional shopper (if I need jeans, I’ll spend the time looking for jeans and nothing else and if I’m just browsing I’m very disciplined about not buying stuff I don’t really need) but I like adding to my wardrobe and buying pieces that are the right colour for me, look feminine (mostly as I have a tomboyish figure but not always), look smart and are multi-functional as much as possible (and go with different styles of jeans as I just love jeans). I like to buy a couple of things on trips abroad as well.
On the other hand, I also like holding onto clothes that serve a purpose or remind me of something, like summery clothes I bought on or for my travels. Given that my country barely ever has proper summers I don’t spend too much on summer clothes so they do the job for the few days (yes, days!) of summer we get, and at the same time I get a nostalgic kick out of wearing the ones I bought on trips, as they remind me of these trips. Seriously, my summer wardrobe fills just one average size tote bag. If I moved to a country tomorrow that had a better summer climate, I’d probably still bring and wear that same tote bag of clothes. As for any of these clothes bringing me joy? Looking good and presentable is important for your self-confidence and the nostalgic kick and knowledge I’m not wasting money is also cool as I said, but I wouldn’t use the word ‘joy’.
I’m quite attached to my collection of books though I have not yet re-read a lot of them. I might in the future. I’ve given away books to charity shops or second hand bookshops but regretted it afterwards. That’s a terrible thing to say as I buy in second hand bookshops and greatly appreciate them but no, never again. That’s one area I’m not willing to declutter in.
In Japan, it seems it’s popular to get rid of something, like an electrical item, as soon as the next model of it comes out, even if the existing item still works perfectly. I often read about people in Japan furnishing their flats from things people have thrown out for the garbage truck. At least it benefits someone I suppose. That personally wouldn’t be my thing but who knows. Also, while living in Spain a few years ago, I had a very hard time finding charity shops and it was explained to me that charity shops aren’t a big thing in Spain as people generally like their clothes new and would never think of wearing clothes that a total stranger had worn before them. It might also carry the unwanted connotation of being poor in a country which is still suffering a very bad recession and has never been one of the richest countries in Europe, or beyond. It wasn’t even clothes I wanted to give away but household items I had bought during my stay, which charity shops here and in most other countries sell along with clothes. I know and have met people who pride themselves on their charity shop finds and others who wouldn’t wear something from a charity shop if their life depended on it. I myself have mixed feelings about charity shops. And I’ve worked in one myself.
Well, Marie Kondo or not, back to sorting (and hopefully not changing my mind about) what I’ve chosen to chuck out for today. Until another day….