the life-changing magic of tidying up *

Clean Hands, Clean Heart

That’s an old saying that I used to think my parents made up to get me to clean my room. What it means is that our external state is reflective of our internal state. It’s a variation on Psalm 24:3-4  Who may go up the mountain of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart. He who has not lifted up his soul to what is not true, and has not made false promises. (NLV)

My parents were telling me “Clean up your room and you’ll feel better.” They were right – though I would never admit it to them.


How many times have you looked around your room or home or office, shocked and dismayed at the clutter, and said, “Enough! I have to clean this mess up!” Then, one day or over the weekend, you do it. Ruthlessly purge, diligently clean and prudently organize your space. Neat and tidy. Feels great, doesn’t it?

Now, how long before you relapse into a cluttered state? A month? Six months? A year?

The Big Move

As a yo-yo declutterer, I looked forward to the move from my apartment into a condo – my own home – six years ago. This was THE opportunity to purge and get a fresh start. Two years later, my condo was cluttered, too. So I did the weekend whirlwind and solved the problem. For a few months.

Surely there’s a better way to clean up, once and for all, isn’t there?

The KonMari Method

Enter Marie Kondo, a Japanese cleaning consultant who developed a passion for tidying and organizing when she was five years old.  As a teen, she began to study various tidying methods and ideas, trying them out at home, perfecting her system. She ultimately developed her own system, the KonMari Method – guaranteed to help you clean and declutter and organize your space – once and for all. She has worked with hundreds of people and claims that no one has ever back-slidden.

Marie Kondo’s book – titled “the life-changing magic of tidying up” – explains the philosophy, based on her experience, and the differences that make her unique Method successful. Summed up: “Start by discarding. Then organize your space, thoroughly, completely, in one go.”

But first – Ms. Kondo recommends that you sit down and really think about the kind of home you want to have; to visualize it, in detail. Then go deeper; why do you want what you have pictured? How will you feel? What will living there do for you? She shares, with other decluttering experts, the concept that having a tidy organized home will distress, energize and motivate you to have a more satisfying life. As yo-yo declutter, I am longing to discover whether this is, indeed, true.

The KonMari Method breaks down the process, by category, in a specific order:

  • Clothes first – by category: tops, bottoms, clothes that should be hung, socks/hosiery, under garments, handbags, accessories, clothes for specific events (swim suit, pyjamas), shoes.
  • Books
  • Papers
  • Miscellany and, finally
  • Objects of sentimental value

The key is putting EVERYTHING from each category in a big pile on the floor. From every room, closet, dresser, storage room, car. If an item is overlooked in this initial foray, it goes in the discard pile (dirty laundry excepted).

You must pick up – touch, hold, consider – every single item. Keep it only if it ‘sparks joy’. If not, then discard it.

Once you have your ‘keepers’ it’s important to store them correctly. The KonMari Method prefers vertical storage for virtually everything.

Folders Showing Organizing Documents Filing And Paperwork

Here’s an excellent and thorough blogpost describing the Method:  And here are plenty of visuals so you can see it:

The Vera Version (of The KonMari Method)

My plan is twofold: First, over the next couple of weekends, I will declutter the old-fashioned way – go room by room, cupboard by cupboard, drawer by drawer, and throw out everything I know is garbage. Or pack it up to donate or give it away. Second, I will do the radical KonMari blitz.

The truth is, I just don’t have enough free floor space to do it – right – now.


About verawrites

Progress not perfection - that's my goal. Live and learn - that's my motto. I like to share bits of wisdom and glimmers of insight gleaned on my life journey of 50+ years. My hope is to encourage, perhaps inspire, fellow journeyers. Each of us has something to share. Let's be generous, gracious and compassionate with one another. I am blessed to be a blessing... so are you!
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6 Responses to the life-changing magic of tidying up *

  1. bethbyrnes says:

    I go through my house in bouts by room. I have a lot, lot, lot of stuff. Mostly because I inherited a lot from my grandmother and she and I both value the same kinds of things: old! I just cannot part with any of it.

    But, one thing I cannot bear to have around is garbage, like papers or plastic or anything superfluous. That I get rid of right away.

    I also don’t like any drawer or closet to be messy, so all of them are pretty organized. The problem though is, everything is full to the brim. I have a lot of everything. It may be a psychological prop.

    But I cannot work when there is a mess around, so that helps.

    I am going to check out your link. Even a neatnik can learn new tricks.

    Oh, and I was not allowed to play, growing up, until all my chores were done and my room was perfect. This is now just the way I like it too. 🙂


    • verawrites says:

      We are all products of our upbringing to a certain extent. My grandmother kept all sorts of things ‘just in case’ – and we lived with her for my first 11 years in Canada. In Marie Kondo’s book, she points out 2 reasons for poeple to hold onto stuff – clinging to the past or fear of the future. I suffer from both maladies 😦

      I recognize that my home is a reflection of my inner state – even my ‘going around the mountain again’ approach to tidying. I will purge to a point, then straighten up and rearrange my stuff. I feel good about it. But deep down, I know I haven’t gone far enough. I will clean out a drawer, but still end up with elastic bands and twist ties in 3 different spots in my home!

      Anyway, for me, it’s a process that will have repercussions beyond the obvious. Wait til you read my next piece about my new tote bag 🙂


      • bethbyrnes says:

        I think my acquisitiveness and my retentiveness is part of my personality at a deep level. I seem to accumulate and it is all rather good stuff, too. I loved the period in which my grandparents and great-grandparents lived and so having their furniture and accessories as my decor, makes me feel closer to them and as if I am living in that Edwardian time.

        I really related to Downton Abbey, this year. The way they live is approximately the way my grandparents lived but as gentry, not nobility, of course. I love the whole thing, including all the English rules, LOL!

        Can’t wait until your post about the tote bag. I love tote bags!!! Hee hee. 😀


      • verawrites says:

        I envy you that Brit background 🙂 I love Downton Abbey too – but my people would be more like Daisy’s father-in-law. They bought the best they could afford, but there was little worth hanging onto – yet they did, because wastefulness was anathema to them. I’m trying to find my own way – keeping the best of my family’s values but reducing meaningless clutter and choosing quality over quantity. Sigh… it’s a process 🙂


      • bethbyrnes says:

        I have that same challenge and somehow have to cultivate a regard for these things in Anna and her new sibling-to-be. No one else cares about them.


      • verawrites says:

        It’s a challenge, being a good role model and encouraging the next generation of our family members. It’s a special calling, to those of us who are not parents, to whom these young people – like your Anna, and my cousin’s daughters – as they seek connection with adults other than their parents. You are fortunate, Beth, because you have the education, experience and sensitivity to be a good role model, as well as a good character.


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