How to spark joy and free up your mind by decluttering your space (Part 1)

The Slice: After being inspired by other people’s attempts to declutter and starting the new year fresh, I tried to tackle my own space by using the Marie Kondo method and acquire the “Art of Tidying.”

The Challenge: Organize my closet by deciding whether or not each piece of my clothing sparks enough joy for me to keep and keep tidy.

Difficulty Level: 3-green-apple

Am I a hoarder?

Sometimes I wonder if I have too much stuff. Then I’ll watch an episode of “Hoarding: Buried Alive” on TLC and feel much better about myself. I can do better though. I know I am not a minimalist, but I can appreciate the sentiment.

Throughout the last couple of years, I’ve read many articles online on how a cluttered space equals a cluttered mind, especially if you are trying to stay focused on a project. I know that whenever I start on a project, I can never seem to get started unless my desk is organized and relatively clear of clutter. Reading all of these articles didn’t inspire me to get rid of all of my stuff, though. What ended up resonating with me (as well as many others) was when I read about the “KonMari” method. A year after reading “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” as well as the accompanying illustrated book “Spark Joy,” I was finally ready to give it a shot.

Clothes First

According to Marie Kondo, people often make the mistake of decluttering space by space. Instead, she recommends decluttering by categories, starting off with clothing (including accessories). I have a relatively large closet as well as 2 dressers, mostly filled with clothes.

closet before photo

Not terrible, but could be better.

Yes, I might have a purse problem.

Those don’t even include the ones I have hanging on my coat hanger. I could not capture the entirety of my clothes in one shot, so just imagine another section of hanging clothes (and more purses). I also have all of my drawers in my dressers crammed completely full of t-shirts, jeans, sweats, camisoles, work pants, skirts, underwear, socks, summer wear, winter wear, and so on.

Not Enough Joy?

To find a way of letting go, Marie Kondo recommends that I hold onto each piece of clothing, search my soul, and ask myself if this particular item sparked any joy. If it didn’t, I should get rid of it.

Easier said than done. My own logic and rational thought often won over how I felt over a particular piece of clothing.

“I only paid $10 for that puffy vest and I haven’t even gotten a chance to wear it.”

“Yes, I have quite a few pairs of jeans, but some of these are my ‘fat jeans’ for when I don’t want to squeeze myself into skinny ones.”

“Do I need 2 brown purses? Yes, one holds more stuff than the other.”

In the end, I spent an entire weekend making these decisions and I was able to fill 4 garbage bags of clothing I could donate. If I had only kept what actually made me feel real joy, I wouldn’t be left with anything practical to wear. There are many pieces in my closet that serve as plain functional pieces. No joy about it.

The Art of Folding Clothing into Perfect Rectangles

My key takeaway so far and what I found to be very useful was how to fold clothing properly so they are space efficient. You can practically fold any piece of clothing into perfect rectangles and then file them away in drawers. It actually becomes easier to see all of your clothes this way, rather than having things buried at the bottom, where you forget you have them.

folded t-shirts

T-Shirts all filed away.

efficiently folded jeans, pants, and shorts

Jeans, casual pants, and shorts

By folding all of my clothes this way, I was able to clear out 2 drawers and have some of my other drawers not be so crammed so they are easier to close. Now I can definitely find some joy in that.

What’s Next?

In Part 2, I will continue with this challenge and tackle the next 2 categories, books and paperwork. This will probably be easier than clothes, although since most of my books spark some joy in my life, I don’t know if I will make much of a dent. There are definitely some old school books I can finally get rid of though! Part 3 will probably be harder. The “miscellany” category includes many things and I know I have a tendency to keep “mementos.”

Angela Teng is YDA’s mind contributor. She may have binge-watched “Hoarders” more than she really should.

4 thoughts on “How to spark joy and free up your mind by decluttering your space (Part 1)

  1. Dora Jiang says:

    Look very interesting & challenging of course!
    I am wondering for how long you will keep your space as tidy/clean as what you did in this post, because for me the hardest part is not cleaning up/decluttering my room, it is maintaining the neatness makes me feel like I am a spoiled child or a loser:(.
    Do you have any suggestions?

    Like

    • Angela says:

      Marie Kondo suggests spending a few minutes a day tidying up your space after you have everything where they should be. So when you come home and change, take a few minutes to put away your clothes or put it in the laundry. The goal is to create that habit. If you keep that up, you won’t have to worry about doing a huge cleanup.

      Also, to avoid filling your closet again, set a simple rule. When you buy a piece of clothing and bring it home, you must discard another piece of clothing from your closet. I have a donation bag. Once it fills, I donate the entire bag.

      Like

  2. Dani Schmulevich says:

    I read Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and also set out to clear my space of all things that brought me little to no joy. My state of mind is directly influenced by the clutter on my desk and the amount of clothes on my bedroom floor, so its nice to have some tips to keep things in order!

    Like

  3. thedailycrusadesite says:

    I read Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and also set out to clear my space of all things that brought me little to no joy. My state of mind is directly influenced by the clutter on my desk and the amount of clothes on my bedroom floor, so its nice to have some tips to keep things in order! – Dani S.

    Like

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