While waiting for a flight out of PDX Ashton came across a book that caught his eye: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.
A few things you have to understand about Ashton:
He is practical and enjoys a minimalistic lifestyle, especially when it comes to belongings. After we moved in together I found my clothing selection thinning. To him there was no point in having a white and black rain jacket as “they both do the same thing,” and “ten different bathing suits?… Why?!”
He gets easily distracted. I will find him reorganizing the office or cleaning off the kitchen table before getting to work on something.
When he gets excited, he gets REALLY excited. Picture a kid running around Disneyland for the first time. His eyebrows raise, his eyes become the size of dinner plates, he gets a huge smile on his face, and has trouble telling me what he’s excited about because he’s out of breath.
Seconds after turning the book over and reading the back, he was in full Disneyland mode. “Brianne! This book sounds awesome! It talks about decluttering your life and how it helps to not only organize your belongings but clean up your mental space as well so that you can focus better! That’s me!! She’s describing me!! I’m getting it.”
And without even hearing what I had to say, he was high-tailing it to the check out and practically reading it before we sat down at our gate.
I got a total of about 10 minutes peace and quiet on that flight because every few seconds he’d go, “Ohhhh!! Bri! Listen to this,” or, “Bri! This is the solution to our problems.”
Problems? I wasn’t aware that we had any.
A few days after getting home, he brought up the book again saying that he thought we should try the method for tidying given by the author, Marie. His obsession wasn’t going away so I decided to have him explain the concept to me.
Essentially, the main goal is to only be surrounded by things that you love or that spark joy, and get rid of everything else. Of course there are necessities that you need, like pots and pans which may not spark joy for some, but the point is minimize down to the amount you actually use.
Marie splits belongings into five categories:
Clothing (includes shoes, bags, accessories)
Miscellaneous (includes everything from CDs to make-up, electrical equipment to kitchen supplies)
Mementos (includes pictures, figurines, other sentimental items)
She emphasizes the importance of sorting by category instead of by room. This allows you to focus on one thing at a time and get an accurate picture of how much you have in that category. Once you have everything in one pile, then begins the process of picking up each item, one-by-one, and determining if it brings you joy.
She goes into detail on how to part with things like gifts you feel obligated to keep or clothing you spent a lot of money on but never actually wore. She promises that if you simplify and organize your home with her method you’ll never have to do it again. It will clear your clutter and help bring about a more calm, motivated mindset as you will no longer have those subconscious distractions.
Seeing how much this meant to Ashton and knowing how impactful a more clear, productive mindset would benefit our busy schedules, I agreed to give it a shot. The results were beyond anything I would have expected.
During the process we felt shocked, embarrassed, and overwhelmed by how much stuff we had and never used. It now takes me half the time to decide what I’m going to wear each day because I got rid of three quarters of my clothes and only kept the ones that I love. Walking through the house now puts a smile on our faces as all the things that actually bring us joy stand out because they aren’t hidden by stuff we don’t like.
The biggest impact it had was helping us be more productive. We no longer spend time tidying and decluttering our workspace and don’t have any distractions while getting things done. Everything is more calm and clear.
I never thought I’d be saying this, but Ashton was right.