A Quick Decluttering Practice

I promise, I’m going to get to a practical tool for decluttering in this post. But first I’d like to continue to talk a little more about “slack.”

I really see it as “resilience” – the ability to avoid some shocks (such as paying the phone bill on time so that you avoid the shock of disconnection) and the resources to weather other shocks (new ball joint in the car! Ack!). By being conscious of the slack, or lack of it, in life, you can both deliberately cultivate it and at the same time you can celebrate the slack you already have. It’s kind of a bonus gratitude practice.

One of the very nice areas of slack that Natasha and I have is our apartment. We are in a second-floor corner apartment in an area of Madison with a less-than-optimal reputation, which means we get a nicely re-modeled one-bedroom with a pool, an exercise room, business center, large grassy courtyard, highway access with minimal need, bus route & bike trail accessibility…all for a rent that often makes my Chicago, Seattle, or L.A. friends choke on their coffee. I’ve learned to just not mention my rent to my San Francisco friends.

It’s some really nice built-in slack that we put into our lives before we even knew the concept. It means that we can weather the lean times that come with self-employment and also means that other things (like travel) become more affordable.

There is a trade-off, though. Space. We are in a one-bedroom, and it also is our workplace. Which means that it can easily get a bit cluttered. We don’t have spare rooms, and every piece of furniture is begrudged and optimized. It’s a good opportunity to practice minimalism, and it means that we are always looking for new ways to increase the effectiveness of our space.

Cuz “space-slack”? We ain’t got much…

Enter KonMari

While surfing pictures of amazingly organized spaces on Pinterest (hey, we all have our peculiar pleasures, don’t judge!) I came across an interested claim: “The inventor of the KonMari Method claims that not one of her clients has ever lapsed!”

That’s a pretty strong claim. I looked deeper, and while the entire method takes up a whole book, Marie Kondo has at least one part that is pretty simple:

  1. Pick a category (“clothes”, “books”, “dishes”)
  2. Empty it all out on the floor.
  3. Pick up each item. Does it give you a “spark of joy”? Then keep it. If not – it goes.

That’s it. Simple enough, right? I decided to try it out with my books – while I do love a wall full of books, it will have to wait until I have a room to devote to “Library”; in a tiny apartment my book collection (and Natasha’s) was starting to really get in the way.

It was surprisingly easy. In fact, I realized that it was ridiculously easy – I know exactly what books make me smile, and which ones made me go “meh”. And by looking at it with that viewpoint, it meant that I ended up with:

  • One, maybe two less bookshelves taking up space
  • Three bookshelves in which every title brings me joy
  • The added closeness of mingling books with my partner – reveling in similarities (we didn’t need two copies of the Dragonbone Chair, right?) and celebrating differences (“No, these Winnie the Pooh books stay, Gray!”)

Then there was the bigger bonus: taking the bookses boxes to Frugal Muse and getting $50 in store credit for them. What does that mean? It meant I was able to purchase an art book that I hadn’t been able to justify to myself guilt-free. It means I still have credit there when there are other books that I want to buy…such as Marie Kondo’s book.

And our apartment is just that bit more spacious – creating a bit more slack in an area that originally needed a bit of a tradeoff.

Not sure yet about the rest of KonMari Method. But this one trick? I’m a fan.

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