A Place for Everything

It’s a compulsion. I stare at a grocery store shelf, sizing up boxes and containers and packaging. I pick a section. Attention. My hands quickly grasp one item after another to align and straighten them into neat rows. I’m the colonel of this regiment of retail soldiers. Conditioning. That’s what it was called when I was paid to bring order to wayward toiletries and canned goods and cleaning products.

I’m no longer on payroll, but it’s reflexive. I condition while I wait for someone else to make a purchasing decision, carts trundling nearby and cashiers ringing up orders in the distance. A few bottles here, a couple of boxes there, all set. The organizational habit does not carry over to my home. With two terriers, a tabby cat, two adults working full-time, daily activities plus low vision missing the dirty details, well, there’s always something that needs a scrub.

Things will motivate me on to clean, a social visit, a noticed mess, a moon phase. I listened to the audiobook of Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. She’s a megastar in her native Japan, quickly rising in celebrity here in the States. Her KonMari mantra: figure out which items in your home bring you joy, discard everything else.  Simple enough. I’m not buying into the discussions she has with inanimate objects, but I agree with her general premise.

Living with low vision encourages me to whittle my possessions to what I need. If tidying up is in the genes, my DNA is in conflict. One parent harbors a penchant for collecting a hoard of things, more sentimental about stuff. The other parent tends to pare down and discards objects without remorse, living in the moment.

Marie Kondo's book cover. The book title is scripted in red at the bottom of the cover against a cloudy but blue skyMy way: I pile my clutter. The piles grow slowly or in bursts. I hate it. Piles aren’t  efficient. I lose things and waste time searching. Kondo says:

“Never pile things…If you stack things you end up with what seems like inexhaustible storage space. Things can be stacked forever and endlessly on top which makes it hard to notice the increase in volume. In contrast, when things are stored vertically, any increase takes up spaces and you will eventually run out of storage area.”

With low vision, routines are king. I admire straightforward systems worthy of the Real Simple magazines I used to read which featured uncluttered, spring-breezy lifestyles page after page. Easy to like, hard to duplicate. With the KonMari Method, I can realize, if an item doesn’t bring me joy, I can let it go. If I decide to keep something, I need to find a permanent place for it. The next time I shop, I’ll still straighten a few Items. Habits, like John McLean,  die hard.

What do you think of the KonMari Method? Have you read Marie Kondo’s book? Do you stay organized or are you a clutterbug? Is it hard for you to get rid of things? Tell me about it.

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8 Comments Add yours

  1. Trisha says:

    I’ve never heard of the KonMari Method before. Like you, I’m compulsive about straightening stores shelves and such but that compulsive tendency doesn’t carry over to all areas of my home. I do love getting rid of stuff and I love clutter-free areas. My biggest problem seems to be the mail. It just keeps coming!

    1. I remember how pleased I was to be able to unsubscribe myself from direct mail campaigns years ago. It wasn’t permanent though, maybe a five year term. Should look into that again because we get nonsense in Mayberry mail, too.

  2. Casee says:

    I have a strict rule about “stuff” that I have. If I haven’t used it in six months and it is *not* a seasonal item like snowshoes or the like, it gets donated or sold. I find this forces me to make hard decisions about the things I acquire. I do keep my photo albums though. I am fortunate enough to not struggle with getting rid of things. It can be a problem for some people but letting go of stuff has never been a problem for me. I have watched people struggle with hoarding and it scared me enough that I didn’t want to be that type of person. I used to have a rule to get rid of one thing a month just to train myself to not become attached to things. I had to give that up as my income isn’t what it used to be but it is good practice.

    I have heard good things about the book and have added it to my ever growing reading list.

    1. That is a great system Casee. It sounds like you’re committed and consistent. Let me know what you think of the book when it reaches the top of your To Be Read pile.

  3. My dream home would overlook the sea, be full of light and free of clutter, with just a few tasteful paintings and ornaments. Instead I live in a Victorian terrace, overlooking a park full of trees and I sometimes think my home is an archive of my life. And I wouldn’t really change a thing. The old mantra of having in your house only things that are beautiful or useful seems to me to lack warmth. I hope that the clutter in my house not only gives me joy but also pleases friends and family who enjoy its familiarity. The grandchildren search for their photographs and paintings and notice if anything is missing. They do provide more clutter but I could not throw them away. It is a dilemma. I envy the Japanese their style but it isnt for me. But, yes, Susan those piles are a mystery. Do they breed in the night? Where does all that paper come from!

    1. There are some Victorian houses in Mayberry. I will have to choose one near trees and refer to it as the twin of yours when I walk the terriers. I like the idea as a house’s contents as the archive of one’s life, many possibilities there.
      The papers go forth and multiply when left unattended, that’s my theory!

  4. OCD or as some like to refer to as anal retentiveness has been my lifesaver with low vision. I’d surely lose my mind if I wasn’t organized although it does tend to drive other people nuts but hey, at least I know where things are all the time lol. Marie Kondo sounds like my kind but my biggest problem like your first reader said is mail, I just wish if I had to continue to recieve it that it could be sent online so I could just push delete.

    1. Just push delete, a refrain for digital decluttering courtesy of Stephanae! Love it.

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