Dec 2, 2015

the Japanese art of decluttering, how it works in real life

Three million copies of this little book have sold. Three million!

Marie Kondo shares her Japanese perspective on the art of decluttering. Its a simple concept and a simple book. Perhaps that's what makes it so appealing.

Here's her pitch: a messy home or office leads to a messy mind and messy work.

Get rid of everything you do not love. Declutter your life! And do it all in one day. Do not try to tidy up bit by bit.

There's a lot of truth to this. I always feel better after getting rid of stuff I don't need. I love this concept of decluttering your whole life too in one fell swoop, but in real life, this won't work for me.

I simply cannot go through my house and get rid of everything I do not love. For example, I do not love the 10 or 12 boxes of my daughter's books that we are keeping for her. But I can't throw them away either. As a parent, I feel an obligation to keep them for a certain period of time until she has a home of her own that is large enough to take them.

Here's another example. We once went on a safari to Africa. We bought lightweight cotton khaki clothes for the hot Africa sun. I do not love those clothes. Not even a little bit. But, there might come a day when I need them again and they were not cheap. So they sit in a drawer.

These are practical decisions. They're also economical and emotional decisions

Decluttering the Closet

That said though, I have been slowly decluttering small areas of my home, studio and work area. I know this goes against the "do it all in one day" thing... but this is how it works in real life. At least for me.

Here's one whole shelf cleaned up. The clutter is gone. Cleaned up. Dealt with!

Decluttering the Desk

I am also on a mission to try to go paperless at my desk.

Here's a stack of business cards. These cards just pile up and end up in stacks in drawers. Hard to make the time to organize them.

I've upgraded to a new app (we used to call these things "software") called Evernote.

This is an amazing tool that clips web pages and articles, holds my files and lots of other cool tools for my research. Plus it syncs across all my devices instantly. So if I am sitting on my couch at night with my tablet, and read something interesting, I can clip it and it'll appear on my desktop or phone.

With my Evernote upgrade, now there's a function to take a photo of a business card and Evernote actually READS the card and stores all the info for you. You don't have to enter all that data anymore! It also keeps the photo of the card associated with the contact so if I've written notes on the card I can still see them. This technology has been around for a while, but the beauty of this is the integration of the business cards with all my other notes and files!
Beautiful way to declutter the desk!

Decluttering the Studio

For months I've been working to declutter my studio. There was a complete remodel, which helped a lot. But it feels a bit like my studio went from this...

to this!

I love the art of decluttering. It feels good. And I plan to continue, my way... bit by bit... cuz that's how it works in real life.


  1. I read this book over the summer. Like you, there are many things that resonate and some that won't work for me. Several friends have mentioned Evernote but I haven't tried it yet. Does it keep the info in this app or put contacts in your address book? It would be nice to have things link across all my devices. Currently my laptop is in for repairs and I'm having troubles.

  2. Okay you convinced me. I will try Evernote. My husband just asked me if I going to finish the book and tidy up yesterday, but like you, I have to go at it in stages. And then it always evolves back into clutter. I am trying to keep the areas I've tackled clean. We will see. Great topic Teresa!

  3. Love your post! I totally agree that I cannot get rid of everything that I do not love...I too have "kids' belongings" that will stay here awhile, as well as those practical items that aren't used too often but are still handy to have. I usually try to keep clutter to a minimum. Every now and then I have to "CLUTTER BUST" an area, like my dresser or a closet.

  4. Your studio looks wonderful. Right now I'm trying to rid my self of all of the art media that I don't love doing. It was so important to find out what other media I could learn when I stopped working, so of course I tried them all. Turns out that sewing, glass pet mosaics, some drawing and Lino printing blocks is really all I enjoy doing. Ok, so I didn't really need to try out all the other things, since I was already doing those. I decided that I could do one of 2 things, go through and donate, donate, donate, or take what I want out of the studio, and close the door and never open it up again. My hubby didn't think the second choice would work for him.