If you get Shelf Awareness, you’ve seen it -- Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organising.
I'm usually up for reading any alternative work about organization or increasing productivity. But when I heard the premise -- you hold objects and determine whether they "speak to you" -- I was skeptical. But we were in a bookstore over the holidays, and my husband picked up the slim little volume, and it seemed like a sign. It turns out, I'm not the only one using Kondo's primer.
Kondo emphasizes gratitude for having had things, even if you never used them, and for "learning" what isn't for you from past purchases. She has you work through things in a predetermined order -- first clothes, then paper, then "things," sentimental objects are last. It's true that in holding each object, you begin to feel the distinction between something you like and something you don’t.
I'm still deep in the clothes area. But I discovered I really don't like thin socks. I only wear socks if it is cold, I don’t need very many pairs of thin socks Tank tops were another scorched earth area -- I had so many cheap and flimsy ones I never wore, kept out of some sort of compulsion. Does anyone really need a dozen white tank tops? And got rid of many beloved, but ill-fitting tee shirts, because I have so many that do fit well and make me feel better. Another of Kondo's suggestions is that we don’t relegate clothes to casual wear, instead acquire loungewear that we like.
Kondo also views gifts as ceremonial, a notion that has helped me abandon guilt over not keeping some things. Another thing I find appealing: there's no emphasis on giving discards to charity -- read Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion if you think charities need your cast-offs. For me, it was easier to simply let things go into a void than to another home.
Kondo refers to the vast number of bags of things she and her clients have excised and predicts it takes about six months to tidy completely. I anticipate still another couple of passes through my wardrobe, but I've been pleasantly surprised with the amount of space I've gained. For now, I'm limited only by the capacity of our trash cans. It's a good start for a fresh year.