Discard first, store later - Storing your things to make your life shine

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

Discard first, store later
Storing your things to make your life shine

The participants of my courses are all very surprised when I show them the before-and-after pictures of my clients’ places. The most common response is “The room looks so bare!” It’s true. In many cases, my clients choose to leave nothing on the floor and nothing to obstruct the line of vision. Even the bookcases have disappeared. But this doesn’t mean they have cast off all their books. Rather, the bookcases are now in the closet or cupboard. Putting bookcases in the cupboard is one of my standard storage practices. If your closet is already filled to bursting, you may think that your bookcase would never fit. In fact, 99 percent of my readers probably feel this way. But there is actually plenty of room.

The amount of storage space you have in your room is actually just right. I can’t count how many times people have complained to me that they don’t have enough room, but I have yet to see a house that lacked sufficient storage. The real problem is that we have far more than we need or want. Once you learn to choose your belongings properly, you will be left only with the amount that fits perfectly in the space you currently own. This is the true magic of tidying. It may seem incredible, but my method of keeping only what sparks joy in the heart is really that precise. This is why you must begin by discarding. Once you have done that, it’s easy to decide where things should go because your possessions will have been reduced to a third or even a quarter of what you started out with. Conversely, no matter how hard you tidy and no matter how effective the storage method, if you start storing before you have eliminated excess, you will rebound. I know because I’ve been there myself.

Yes, me. Even though I am warning you not to become a storage expert, even though I urge you to forget about storing until you have reduced your possessions, not long ago, 90 percent of my thoughts were focused solely on storage. I began thinking seriously about this issue from the time I was five, so this part of my career lasted even longer than my passion for discarding, which I only discovered as a teenager. During that period, I spent most of my time with a book or magazine in one hand trying out every kind of storage method and making every possible mistake.

Whether it was my own room, my siblings’ rooms, or even my school, I spent my days examining what was in the drawers and cupboards and moving things a few millimeters at a time, trying to find the perfect arrangement. “What would happen if I moved this box over there?” “What would happen if I took out this divider?” No matter where I was, I would close my eyes and rearrange the contents of a cupboard or room in my mind as if they were pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Having spent my youth steeped in this topic, I fell under the illusion that storage was some form of intellectual contest, the object of which was to see how much I could fit into a storage space by rational organization. If there were a gap between two pieces of furniture, I would squeeze in a storage unit and stack it with things, gloating triumphantly when the space was filled. Somewhere along the way, I had begun to see my things and even my house as an adversary that I had to beat, and I was constantly in fighting mode.