Start by discarding, all at once, intensely and completely - Finish discarding first

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing - Marie Kondo 2014

Start by discarding, all at once, intensely and completely
Finish discarding first

You think you have tidied everything perfectly, but within a few days you notice that your room is becoming cluttered again. As time goes by, you collect more things, and before you know it, your space has reverted to its previous state. This rebound effect is caused by ineffective methods that tackle tidying only halfway. As I’ve already mentioned, there is just one way to escape this negative spiral—by tidying efficiently all at once, as quickly as possible, to make the perfect clutter-free environment. But how does this create the right mind-set?

When you tidy your space completely, you transform the scenery. The change is so profound that you feel as if you are living in a totally different world. This deeply affects your mind and inspires a strong aversion to reverting to your previously cluttered state. The key is to make the change so sudden that you experience a complete change of heart. The same impact can never be achieved if the process is gradual.

To achieve a sudden change like this, you need to use the most efficient method of tidying. Otherwise, before you know it, the day will be gone and you will have made no headway. The more time it takes, the more tired you feel, and the more likely you are to give up when you’re only halfway through. When things pile up again, you will be caught in a downward spiral. From my experience with private individual lessons, “quickly” means about half a year. That may seem like a long time, but it is only six months out of your entire life. Once the process is complete and you’ve experienced what it’s like to be perfectly tidy, you will have been freed forever from the mistaken assumption that you’re no good at tidying.

For the best results, I ask that you adhere faithfully to the following rule: Tidy in the right order. As we’ve seen, there are only two tasks involved—discarding and deciding where to keep things. Just two, but discarding must come first. Be sure to completely finish the first task before starting the next. Do not even think of putting your things away until you have finished the process of discarding. Failure to follow this order is one reason many people never make permanent progress. In the middle of discarding, they start thinking about where to put things. As soon as they think, “I wonder if it will fit in this drawer,” the work of discarding comes to a halt. You can think about where to put things when you’ve finished getting rid of everything you don’t need.

To summarize, the secret of success is to tidy in one shot, as quickly and completely as possible, and to start by discarding.