Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Changing the Way I Look at Decluttering

Hello my friends! 

I've mentioned a few times lately that I've been on a mission lately -- one of epic proportions. I've been so focused on clearing STUFF from our house. I've been at it for a couple months now -- since the kitchen reno is moving a long again I haven't made as much time for it, but that's changing.

The desire to keep moving is like nothing I've experienced before. I've told you before that decluttering and purging is an incredible feeling. I swear there's nothing like it. I get an emotional high from it, honestly. For me it all comes down to feeling in control of my life -- when things are crazy or busy or stressful, it is an instant pick-me-up. 

But this time it's more than that. I declutter a lot -- typically at least a couple times a year and each time it takes me a few weeks. But I keep doing it…again…and again. We're not bringing in that much more than we get rid of. In fact I feel it's the opposite. I'm pretty on top of it when it comes to keeping up with clutter. 

No, now it's something different. It's a desire to have an easier, less stressed life. Our house is fairly well organized, but I struggle in some areas. All summer long, when we'd decide to make a trip to the pool, I'd stress because I couldn't find our bathing suits. I want to walk to the drawer they go in and find them. For me that means keeping up with laundry. And to keep up with laundry we need to get rid of some clothes -- we have way too many. 

When the kiddo needs a paper for school I'd like to walk right to the spot where I know it will be and not search the house for it. That means a dedicated spot for papers (I'm pretty good at that now) and sorting through this spot at least weekly. That I'm not good at. 

When I want to work on a project and I know I've already purchased the supplies, I want to know exactly where those items are. Not search the messy garage for them. That means not buying too much before I'm ready to tackle it and having a place to put it away. 

These are just a few of the things that I struggle with and are examples of how I want to lead an "easier" life. I'm sure many of you can identify with that. I wrote about this years ago soon after my father-in-law passed. Going through my husband's childhood home was bittersweet -- we found some items that brought back so many wonderful memories. But it was also mentally and emotionally draining. I knew then I didn't want to leave the same for our kids. Since then I've been more deliberate when it comes to decluttering, but lately I'm more focused on it than ever. 

A few weeks ago I came across this book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and the reviews are crazy: 
Crazy good for the most part. I've heard over and over and over that the book changes people's lives. Changes lives. That's a powerful book. I got it and was so excited to read, but wanted to really dedicate my time to it so I waited till I finished The Girl on the Train first. ;) Now I'm completely obsessed with it. 

I'm turning 40 in a few short weeks and I'll tell you what -- my tolerance for disorganization and extra stuff lessens with each day of my life. Part of it is just maturing and knowing stuff is not the key to a happy life. The other part of it is a general dislike of feeling overwhelmed. I am seeking a more peaceful life. That's what this book is all about. 

My major was in public relations and my minor was psych -- I've always been intrigued with how the mind works and I could eat this book up with a spoon. It's utterly fascinating. Every few sentences I'm nodding my head and thinking she's speaking directly to me. I haven't highlighted a book since college but I'm highlighting every other sentence in this one. For me, someone who loves to dissect why we do the things we do, this is pure joy. 

Speaking of joy -- the bottom line of this book is that you need to look at your items in a different way. First and foremost, do your items bring you happiness? If a pair of jeans don't fit and that makes you sad, do those jeans bring you happiness? Probably not. If an item is broken and you've been meaning to fix it for six months, does it bring you happiness? I'm guessing no. 

Also, this part I love -- she focuses on the fact that we should be going through our items and choosing what we want to keep, not deciding what we want to get rid of. That is HUGE people! I have always stood there in front of a pile and gone through the mantras of "Have I worn it lately? Have I used it in the past few months? Will I ever use it again?" Instead, I should be looking at the pile and asking myself, is there anything in this pile that makes me really happy? (Or also, is it really useful?) If not, I don't need to keep it. 

It's really the process of getting to this quote: 
I think at times there's a stigma when it comes to keeping an organized, fairly clutter-free home. It's almost frowned upon sometimes, which I've never understood. There's this underlying feeling of well, she must not have kids, if she does she doesn't spend time with them, they must not live in their home…and usually none of that is the case. Some people are just organized and you know what? Everyone I know who keeps a more organized house than me is really, really happy. Their kids are happy, their marriage is good. It doesn't have to mean giving up one thing for another. It also doesn't mean being clutter-free will fix your life, but it has more power than I think we realize. 

I think those people have figured out what this book is about. (Although I've heard from many who feel they have a clutter-free home and even they say they learned from it.) 

Marie Kondo recommends taking a different approach than I'm used to. Typically I hit a room at a time -- I've always done that. But she makes an excellent point -- if you focus on one room at a time you're not seeing the whole problem. Like earlier this week I did our master closet. But she recommends taking ALL of the clothes in the house to one spot and then going through them. Obviously in most households that would be a ton of work, so she suggests breaking it down into maybe just shirts, or pants. I can see doing that. She says doing it this way also helps you to really SEE how much you have of something, and that makes perfect sense to me too. Her point is that most of us have too much stuff, and we're usually blissfully ignorant to that fact when we focus on one area at a time. 

It's true. This woman speaks to me. ;) I am thoroughly enjoying this book. Now some find it to be a little…goofy. I'm not really far in but from my understanding she recommends taking your items in your hands and talking to them…things like that. I'm not above trying it, ha! But that definitely turns some people off. Also, it is obvious from stories of her past that she has some OCD tendencies (and even admits it), so she is an extreme. But I still find myself agreeing with everything she says. It is a really interesting read. 

And you can turn it into a drinking game -- she says "tidy" a LOT. OK yeah, don't do that. 

Have you read this book? I do think it will change our life. It is definitely changing the way I look at things in our home. I don't know that I'll take it to the extreme but it helps me to focus on what we love and use. I'm on my way to a "lighter" house…for good. And let me be clear -- I don't want a perfect house. We live in our home and I will never be one to worry about occasional messes or toys or whatever. I don't want it to be perfect, I want it to be peaceful


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51 comments:

  1. Peaceful is a noble goal. My home is very "tidy" (DRINK) and I get judged a lot for it. Exactly in the manner you wrote about. I am the butt of a few jokes by my gals each and every time they come by. I still have a long way to go in that I hang on to things that do not make me happy or bring me joy. I think I will finally break down and buy this book. I've been seeing it and thinking on it for awhile. Best of luck in your noble efforts!

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    1. I have a friend whose house always looks like a pottery barn catalog no matter when you drop in. We do rib her about it here and there, but it is because we are both amazed and jealous. I honestly think that is her super power and she should start a business using it. (It does help that her hubby is a purger too.) When your girls joke about your tidyness, just laugh along knowing that they just wish they had your super power too!

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    2. I also have a friend with a home like that, always clean and spotless and everything in it's place.....my dream.....and my other friends and I all agree, we are just JEALOUS as all get out, LOL! But we didn't rib her, we complimented her! :-) A neat coincidence, I literally picked up this book from a friend who has already read it (and is busy implementing it) and then came home to see this post! Maybe it's a sign? ;-) Can't wait to get started!

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  2. I found this book to be very inspiring too. I struggle with many of the same things you mentioned, and also have less tolerance for stuff the older I get. Now that school is back in session, I need to get back to it and finish the job. Good luck with your decluttering!

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  3. I have not read that book but I've always decluttered that way and I thought that's how everyone did it. If it doesn't make you happy, get rid of it. At least, that's what I was always taught growing up.

    I think the book sounds gimmicky and I don't read gimmicky books. I read The Four Hour Work Week because all my friends told me how life changing it was. I thought it was a pointless book and wish I hadn't wasted my time. I also read Rich Dad, Poor Dad and it wasn't all that great either. Oh well, each to their own.

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  4. Seriously - the woman is woo woo! But she changed my life as well. The best part is that it is a very quick read because she (or the translator) repeats things over and over and over. I'm not sure I will ever unpack my purse every night and hang it up empty...only to refill it the next morning. But I definitely find it easier to clean it out every night and deal with what doesn't belong on a daily basis. Best of luck!

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  5. I liked the book and it came at the right time for me. I was downsizing from a 5 BR 4.5BA house to a small apartment. It helped me tremendously. There is not one thing I have donated/sold/pitched that I regret. I agree with another commenter about the author being "woo woo" but she has struck a chord with people for sure. I adapted her "empty" purse philosophy and it works for me so far. Good luck!

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  6. I am halfway through this book, and while I'm not a true KonMari follower, I love it. I didn't take everything out and decide what to keep, I did declutter SO SO much. It did feel amazing!

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  7. OMG earlier this year I did the KonMari method and i blogged all about it. It is SOOOOO worth it. do not give up :)
    XO Ellen from Ask Away
    www.askawayblog.com

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  8. I have the book and love her method. The one thing I do struggle with, though, are the papers from my kids school years. I have so many plastic totes filled with their artwork and schoolwork. Do I ever look through it? No. But when I take them out to only keep the ones that truly make me happy, I find I just can't pitch the rest. There's something about holding them in my hands that just brings me happiness. So...back up in the rafters they go. I tried the method of taking pictures of them, but I couldn't get myself to toss them. Now I have the papers AND pictures cluttering my house!

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    1. I can so appreciate your dilemma about kid's artwork, etc. I have a 32 year old son and what I did may work for you too. Have the kids go thru things. They may have different memories associated with the item and they might not be good ones. Eventually, everything goes to your kids anyway. It was eye-opening what items I thought were important and not so to my son.

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    2. I have one file tote for each of my kids with hanging file folders in each one (a file folder for each year). I only keep what fits in the file folder. It has worked well for me. I do keep a lot of their artwork, though, separately.

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  9. I am fairly organized but intrigued by this book. If I see it at the library, I will check it out.

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  10. I also just read Marie Kondo's book and was similarly blown away. I SOOO want to get started. I love her advice to fold your clothes so they stand on end, then storing them in shoe boxes in your drawers -- no more stacked, buried, wrinkled t-shirts! Thank you for mentioning this great book!

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  11. What I want to know is what to do with the things I am getting rid of. I have a hard time knowing how much to trash, and what might be useful to a Goodwill-type organization. Old paperbacks? Recycle or donate? Stuffed animals?? Kids clothes with a medium size stain? Is it trash? So I pile it somewhere out of the way. I wish I knew what to do with it...

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    1. If the spine of a book is broken then throw it away. Keep one out of five things. Just choose the best.

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  12. I researched Marie Kondo's book about 4 months back as I was considering getting it. Some of the reviews on Amazon made me decide against it although I don't recall specifics. I have to say that when I look at my "fluff", I still love it. All my collections bring me joy and I collect lots of stuff (Chintzware dishes, teapots, cups, & saucers, vintage lace collars, straw hats decorated with flowers, watering cans, wood hangers painted with roses, old medicine bottles, stuffed Easter Bunnies dressed up lace clothing, painted chairs, vintage garden tools, vintage terra cotta pots, vintage silver pieces, vintage tablecloths, 1940's satin bed jackets, white crochet gloves, vintage prom dresses, lace anything, etc.) I try to display most of it because I want to SEE it to ENJOY it. That said, I have packed up and delivered 10-12 big boxes of items (clothing and décor) and delivered them to Goodwill. Stuff they would not be interested in (or understand), I gave away via the free recycler. I've made great strides in organizing what was left in drawers and the hall closet, placing everything in clear, stackable tubs with lids. My wardrobe closets both got total makeovers with Joy Mangano hangers as inspiration. I want to say that when I visit a girlfriend's home and she has no collections and nothing on display at all, it makes me wonder about her. When I probe, I learn that she has no interests. She has no idea what goes with what. She has no idea what to hang on the walls, if anything. She barely was able to buy the sofa and chair which ended up being something rubbery-looking that her football-watching husband wanted. She doesn't even know what she likes. When she saw my home, she begged me to help her decorate her own place. My friend's wardrobe is similar. Grey or black slacks with assorted solid color blouses. I think my point is this: The people I just described seem to be living half lives. They aren't interesting. They seem to be without imagination. They don't explore or try new things. They totally lack the Need For Stuff (unlike me). No matter how much I declutter, I will always be surrounded by Things.

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  13. Funny because I am halfway through that book right now! Since we finished our basement earlier this year I have been on a decluttering rampage. 40 bags from the basement, 15 from the garage, 10 from the guest room, and I'm still going. Although I think she has some great ideas and great points, I just can't do it all by category like she suggests. Room by room works soooo much better for me. And I think the whole empty purse thing is going overboard. I love having a clean and organized home, but a family of 5 is bound to have some clutter laying around, and I'm okay with that, too. All in moderation.....

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  14. I have purchased the book, but haven't delved into it just yet. I am an organized person by nature. I don't like a lot of clutter. However, that does not mean I live in a very sterile house...I do have lots of things that we do love and use. However, we do have a basement filled with things, organized mind you, but a lot of what I wonder if we truly need. I am a very giving person by nature as well, and thinking about some people not having the money/resources for things and having plenty makes it easier to go through things and give to others who to them it is the best gift!! The two things I do struggle with are photos...both prints and digital and our girls artwork school papers. Trying to find a solution.

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  15. Meant to add on a side note. I have always kept a "tidy" home...the downside is that girlfriends who visit feel a bit uncomfortable sometimes as they are comparing it to their home. I am not one to judge. But, I do find that when I do visit them they are always apologizing about the state of their home to me. No need. Different families, different schedules, different needs...this is where I could get on my soap box about accepting others AND there homes as they are. At the end of the day, we all just want to feel loved, needed and supported!!!

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  16. So true, I have always felt a bit embarrassed by how clean and organized I am. I was secretly wondering if others thought I must be completely OCD. Like she says it makes me happy, relaxed and it works.

    Keep going. I know you have it this time.

    I'm going to order the book from amazon. Thanks for sharing.

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  17. PS Yes, I have always been told the you have no kids thing. Ha, I have 3 baby grandchildren and 12 nieces and nephews. Whew.

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  18. PSS My family and I are in the process of moving my mom in with my sister and her family and it has been a struggle. I realize that she could never buy just one of something and it's really been hard for her to let go. She won't budge and move to the new house. She is sitting in the midst of piles to sell. We are all trying so hard.

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    1. I have been through this with 4 parents (mine and spouse). There is no one answer or solution. We are still going through stuff that was left after they died. I just want you to know that you have to be firm and sometimes may have to be less than honest. We got rid of things by saying they were going to a storage area. I know that sounds awful but it worked. Out of sight, out of mind. If you need the money by selling items, consider that most "collectibles" (think a room of Beanie Babies and mustard pots and souvenir spoons), are not worth the trouble. Prayers to you and your family.

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  19. Your closing sentence summed it up best!!!

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  20. Nice info and post, thanks for sharing. Goodluck

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  21. I agree, it's life changing! While it is a big job to bring every item of one catagory together in the same space, I discovered I often shift things around vs removing it from my house. Even in catagories like books where I KNEW I wasn't removing one single title, I found duplicate titles that where purchased because we couldn't find our first copy! For those that love organizing the benefits are immediate. But I've learned the lessons continue in unexpected ways. After the clothes chapter where the only thing left in our closets are what we like and actually wear-there's less clothes on the floor or even in the hamper because what's left you want clean, in the closet and ready to wear!

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  22. I have never been a big clothes person. If I am not wearing it, it goes. My best friend loves it because she gets those clothes. But for my girls, I sometimes go overboard because I shop area church consignment sales. Mainly for my oldest because the youngest gets her clothes. I have tried each year to slim things down but I realized this year that it brings me happiness. I don't know why, but it does! I struggle with keeping organized. I am always decluttering but there are 4 people in our house. I can not control my husbands book hoarding or my 8 year old's shopkins obsession ( grandparents do the buying). It is hard when not everyone is on board in the house.

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    1. I completely agree with this. I shop the consignment sales for my girls and go overboard... but I love it. It makes me happy and I can't explain it. My Mom makes fun of me for how much they have, but they wear almost everything (some things I love, but they just won't wear). And when they are done with it, I either sell it back at the sale or donate it.

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  23. Very helpful...if it weren't so late I'd get a start on my mess!

    Jane

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  24. Everything you wrote about in this post echoes exactly how I feel. I hadn't heard about this particular book, but it sounds like something I definitely need to read. I find clutter and disorder stifling and often feel like it is closing in on me. I am constantly getting rid of stuff and have become very mindful of what comes in. Our oldest just moved out and he was a major creator of disasters around the house. My own realization about the impact of clutter came to me years ago and I know that clutter is an outward manifestation of inward turmoil. This is just what I needed to move forward. I look forward to standing in front of my closet and having something to wear that I know I love instead of looking at a ton of clothes I like, but won't wear, because they don't fit right or no longer speak to me:)

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  25. I'm reading this book now too! I have always loved organizing, and have been fairly good at staying on top of things...until 4 kids and homeschooling! Even though I purge all the time, there is always more stuff! :) I am so thankful for your blog! We live in the central Indiana area as well, and are in the midst of a very DIY kitchen remodel. I'm dying to see how you make your open shelves! We gained much inspiration from your island to be able to build our own, and we're just about to finish up with range hood, open shelves, backsplash, and lighting...

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  26. I just did a post on this book as well. So far I have just tackled clothes and paper...what a difference. I hate organizing, I hate cleaning but once I got "setup" with my closet it has remained "tidy" for almost two months now. Im moving on to the next phase the end of September

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  27. I have always been an organized person. I LOVE organizing. I absolutely hate clutter. I like to de-clutter one room at a time. My way isn't for everyone because it does takes a long time. I take just about everything out of the room (except for large furniture), deep clean the room and then go through every single thing as I put it back in the room. I refuse to put anything back unless I go through it and ask myself if I really need it. The process takes me longer (the first round might take a couple weeks), but it feels great knowing the room is both clean and de-cluttered. I check it off the list and move on to the next room. And after it takes you that long to go through everything, you won't want to bring any new stuff in. :) Since I bring less stuff in now days, it's really easy the next time I go to clean/de-clutter. It takes a couple hours, not days.

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  28. I did read that book, and use it. The best part was the closet. When I open my closet now, I have less than half of what I had before the purge, but I love what I have.

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  29. YES! I was in a major hoard mode of home decor and just "stuff". It was organized but I realized I didn't really love or need extra stuff. HELLO...the store is a block away if I really need a red candle for one month out of the year :) Just yesterday, I bought four new towells in two pretty colors for my husband and I. They will replace ALL the ones we currently have (which are a lot an in shades that don't make me happy anymore). Four. That is all we NEED. That problem solved...NEXT.

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  30. I am from united state. I have been married for about 3 years and a half. My husband kicked me and my daughter out after 2 years of marriage. We were separated for about a year with not contact. I have prayed so hard for my husband to seek to love me again like he always do, for him to resist temptation and to love me like he is called to do. he left me for another woman i even saw there post on social median how they are loving each other, i cry all day and night i love my husband and i want him back in my life, i search the internet until i meet with a spell caster call doctor ebolo, he assure me that if i can do what he will instruct me that in 48 hours my husband will come back begging me to forgive him, wish i did what he said i should, i am glad to let every body know that my husband and i are living like never before i show love and respect to me i love you he say all day. thanks to doctor ebolo, if you think you need his help contact him on email ebolospelltemple@gmail.com

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  31. I really like this and I like the way you are thinking. I am the same way and less clutter and less "stuff" tends to make me happier, in a small space it's harder but I am learning on ways to do that even in a small home. One step at a time, I see the point of working on one space but I can also see how that might overwhelm someone or even myself if I put everything into one block.

    It sounds like an interesting read though :) and my favorite quote from your post "I don't want to have a perfect home, I want it to be peaceful. That really hits home.

    Thanks for sharing, and making me feel I am not the only one who feels this way :)

    Lauren Baxter | Lovely Decor
    xx

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  32. I have slowly downsized from a house to a townhouse and a condo and now I bought a smaller condo (650 sq. ft.) so no choice but to get rid of stuff. I can't believe how much I had that I didn't need and it took 4 months to sell, donate, throw out and gift and it felt great and I also got rid of things that had negative emotions attached to them. Don't underestimate the power a possession has to be associated with a time, person or event in your life and the power it has on you isn't understood until you give it away. Feels so good to create a new present moment in time. I even shredded pictures because some of those also were powerful traps to my past.

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  33. I borrowed the book from the library but was so motivated by the time I was done I ordered the book so I could highlight sections. I have done my clothes, but not my partners, although I would love to toss some of his old shirts. I moved into my parents home and all their stuff plus mine...big job ahead with lots of memories, but I'm motivated. And I don't think the author is "woohoo" as some had implied. I think it's her culture. Not miNe but then some people talk to their dogs, computers and the tv!

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  34. Love love love this book! I have sent a copy to my sister and she called it life changing! I'm always decluttering and next week when the kids are back to school, I'm going to start the Kon Mari method in my home.

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    1. I also have read this book. I am 30 years old and a cleaning addicted. I wake up, drink my coffee, wipe the floor and then go to work. When I am back, I clean the dust... this is every day. After reading this book, I understand that it's more healthy to have a little bit messy home instead of having a clean home, but to be always tired. So, the last sentence in the post is the most important one. Let's have peace, free time to spend with friends, and more time to relax.

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  35. I've also purchase this book and am halfway through it. Loving it so far and so excited to start on my decluttering journey. It's a tidying up revolution!

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  36. I heard about this book and started researching it. I guess I should read it because my bedroom does look an episode of Hoarder's. lol

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  37. The book is sitting right next to me on my coffeetable. I've not read the whole book but did proceed with a few of her ideas. While I think a few of her ideas are a bit much, the ones I put into action are wonderful. I did my drawers and all my summer tops are folded and stacked. My drawers looks amazing. It is awesome. ,i can see everything when I open the drawer ANd it so meat and tidy and easy to maintain. I did my walkin closet and my, my...it feels,so good.

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  38. I thought the Marie Kondo book was excellent too. The only part I didn't get at all was emptying your purse every evening when you come home if you're going to use it again the next day. That made no sense at all, but otherwise it's very useful advice.

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  39. I read somewhere that we spend the first 40 years collecting things then the next 40 trying to get rid of them. I can understand that!

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    1. This is so true. I cringe when I think about all the things I wasted money on when I was younger. If only I had saved that $ or spent it on experiences instead.

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  40. I love the KonMari method. I have been applying it to my life in-general. Made a huge difference in actually having time to enjoy things I love. http://www.peonyandgrahams.com/2015/08/the-simple-chic-life-principle.html

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  41. I love the KonMari method too. I am also a fairly organized person but the switch from "removing stuff" to "deciding to keep" was HUGE for me as well.

    I have still more spaces to work on this fall but so far the changes I have made already have stuck.

    Everytime I read bout this book I am inspired to start back up again. Kidlets start school tomorrow so this was perfect time. :)

    http://www.jannybean.ca/2015/03/our-house-the-life-changing-magic-of-tidying-up-clothing/

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  42. I read something about this book a couple weeks ago and was already interested in reading it. Now I'm even more interested. I have such a hard time with the fact that I'm not organized and my house isn't clean most of the time. All the clutter and mess is a big stress trigger for me and I feel like a failure for not being able to keep up. Thanks for reminding me that I need this book!

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