Don’t scatter storage spaces - 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

Don’t scatter storage spaces
Storing your things to make your life shine

For the reasons described above, my storage method is extremely simple. I have only two rules: store all items of the same type in the same place and don’t scatter storage space.

There are only two ways of categorizing belongings: by type of item and by person. This is easy to grasp if you consider someone who lives alone as opposed to someone who lives with family. If you live alone or have a room of your own, storage is very simple—just designate one place for storing each type of item. You can keep categories to a minimum by following those used for sorting. Start with clothes, then books, then documents, komono, and finally mementos. If you are sorting your things in this order, you can store each category in its own designated spot as soon as you have chosen what to keep.

You can even categorize more loosely than that. Instead of dividing your things by detailed type, use broad similarities in material, such as “cloth-like,” “paper-like,” and “things that are electrical,” as your criteria and choose one place for each of these. This is much easier than trying to visualize where you might use an object or the frequency with which you use it. With my method, you will be able to categorize your things more accurately.

If you have already been selecting what to keep on the basis of what speaks to your heart, then you will understand what I mean because you have already collected items by category, spread them out in one spot, and held them in your hand to make your decision. The work you have been doing has actually honed your ability to sense what belongs together and to choose appropriate places for storing them.

If you live with your family, first clearly define separate storage spaces for each family member. This is essential. For example, you can designate separate closets for you, your husband, and your children, and store whatever belongs to each person in his or her respective closet. That’s all you need to do. The important point here is to designate only one place per person if at all possible. In other words, storage should be focused in one spot. If storage places are spread around, the entire house will become cluttered in no time. To concentrate the belongings of each person in one spot is the most effective way for keeping storage tidy.

I once had a client who asked me to help her child be tidy. Her daughter was three years old. When I visited her house, I found that her daughter’s things were stored in three different places: clothes in the bedroom, toys in the living room, and books in the Japanese tatami room. Following the basic principles of sorting and storing, we gathered everything in the tatami room. From that time on, her daughter began to choose her own clothes to wear and put away her things where they belonged. Although I was the one who had given the instructions, I was surprised. Even a three-year-old can tidy!

Having your own space makes you happy. Once you feel that it belongs to you personally, you want to keep it tidy. If it is hard to give everyone his or her own room, you can still give each person his or her own storage space. Of the many people I’ve met who are not good at tidying, most had parents who cleaned their rooms for them or they never had a space that they felt was their very own. These people often store their clothes in their children’s dresser and their books in their partner’s bookcase. But not having a space you can call your own is dangerous. Everyone needs a sanctuary.

I realize that when you begin tidying, there is a real temptation to start with spaces or things that belong to the entire household, such as the living room, soaps and medicines, or various appliances and household supplies. But please leave those for later. First, start by sorting only your own things. Choose what you want to keep and store it in your very own space. By doing so, you will learn the basics of how to put your house in order. Just as with choosing which belongings to keep, following the right order is crucial.