Thanks to the Netflix hit Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, nearly everyone has heard of the organization consultant and bestselling author’s philosophy for a happier, less stressful life: getting rid of anything that does not bring you joy. Through both her books and Netflix show, Kondo urges us to purge anything we do not need. She says things have the power to hold us back and that a clutter-free lifestyle helps to reduce stress, allowing us to focus on what is truly important. She is not alone in this belief. Countless studies show that clutter can make us feel anxious, overwhelmed, and even helpless. None of these feelings are ideal in recovery.
Fortunately, clutter is something we can easily control. While spending the weekend diving into a closet filled with overflowing clothes and boxes might not be your idea of a good time, the positive impact it could have on your life is certainly worth it. So, put on some gloves, grab a few trash bags, and start decluttering your life. Below are some tips to help you get started:
The thought of cleaning your home can be daunting. It can feel like a never-ending task, so start small. Kondo suggests tackling messes by categories rather than by rooms to make the process more manageable. The easiest place to start is often with clothing. Start by creating three piles: keep, donate, and trash.
Keep: Anything that you love. Anything that is in good condition and you constantly reach for. Anything you have purchased in the last six months.
Donate: Anything that you no longer love. Anything that is no longer your style or does not fit you. Anything you have not worn in the last year.
Trash: Anything with holes, rips, or stains.
Another way to determine what to keep is by asking yourself this question: If I were shopping at this very moment, would I buy this? If the answer is no, then it’s time for it to go.
After you have tackled clothing, you can move on to other categories such as electronics, general household items, books, etc. Kondo suggests leaving sentimental items last, as they are the hardest to declutter. Know that it is okay to keep some things of sentimental value, but these items should either be displayed or able to fit in a shoe box.
Find Everything a Home
The best way to maintain your newly organized home is by making sure that you have a designated spot for all your items. When everything has a place where it belongs, you avoid creating new piles of junk. It also keeps you from misplacing items and having to go out and buy another. So, look at your space and find everything a home. This way you always know that your keys are in the bowl by your front door, that your toolbox is in the cabinet in your garage, and that your electric bill is in a basket by your desk.
Tackle Your Digital World
The concept of tidying up and ridding yourself of clutter is not solely for your home. It can also be applied to your digital life. After all, most of us live attached to our phones and computers. In a way, the digital world is our second home. Why not tidy it up too?
Phone Apps: A good place to get started is with the apps on your phone. Look at them and ask yourself: does this bring me joy? Does it serve a purpose? If it doesn’t, then delete it. Be honest with yourself – Candy Crush probably hasn’t brought you joy since 2014. Get rid of it.
Social Media: Saying goodbye to a social platform can be challenging for some, but if scrolling through Instagram is causing you more harm than good, deleting the app is the right move. Maybe Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram themselves do not cause you stress, but rather the people you follow. In that case, do a purge of friends and followers. That ex-girlfriend who broke your heart whose Instagram posts you obsess over? Unfollow her. That guy from work who is always posting angry political rants on Facebook? Unfriend him. You do not need that toxic energy in your life. That account that only posts cute videos of puppies? Keep following them. Research shows that cute animal videos actually help reduce stress.
Emails: Now it is time to tackle your email account. If you are one of those people with 44,604 unopened emails, this task might sound like your biggest nightmare. But once you sort through your inbox, you will feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. You will no longer have to stare at that ever-rising number of emails and wonder if you have missed something important between all the junk emails.
There are two ways to tackle your unread emails, and it mostly depends on how many you have. If your unread emails are manageable, you can simply set some time aside to go through them and unsubscribe from anything that no longer interests you. If the number is simply way too high, then mass deleting might be the best plan of attack. This can be stressful. You might wonder if you are deleting something important, but chances are that if it was important, you would not have left the email unread among a pile of junk.
While Kondo’s question “Does this bring me joy?” can seem a bit silly – especially when you are staring at an old sweater or pair of socks – her take on home organization is a great way to approach many issues in life. From physical objects to relationships, letting go of anything or anyone who does not make you happy or help you become a better person is a good thing. So, go ahead and declutter your life ⎼ every aspect of it. Is your home environment toxic and putting your recovery at risk? Change it. Do you have friends who do not support your sobriety or could trigger you to use again? Then good riddance to them. Is your job causing you stress or making you put your recovery on the backburner? Then start looking for a new one. You know what they say: only you are in control of your own happiness. Make an effort to only surround yourself with people and things that brings you joy.