Don’t underestimate the “noise” of written information - 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 underestimate the “noise” of written information
Storing your things to make your life shine

Advanced students generally demand an even higher level of comfort in their space once they have successfully resolved the issues of excessive belongings and storage. At first glance, the homes of some of my clients are so uncluttered that they do not even appear to need my assistance.

One such client was a woman in her thirties who lived with her husband and their six-year-old daughter. She had no qualms about discarding, and at our first lesson she got rid of two hundred books and thirty-two bags of garbage. She was primarily a homemaker and spent her time taking care of the house, hosting teas for other mothers with children twice a month, and holding regular flower-arranging classes in her home. She had frequent visitors and was quite conscious about keeping her home tidy so that she would not feel embarrassed to receive surprise guests. She lived in a two-bedroom home with a combined dining room and kitchen, and their belongings fit neatly into the built-in closets and two head-height wire racks. The plain wood floors were bare and always well polished. Her friends wondered how she could be tidier than she already was, but she still seemed discontent.

“We don’t have a lot of things, but somehow I just don’t feel settled. I feel like there’s one more step I need to take.”

When I visited her house, it was tidy, but just as she had said, something didn’t feel quite right. The first thing I do at times like this is open the doors of all the storage areas. When I opened the main closet, I found what I had been expecting. Labels proclaiming “Great Storage Solutions!” were stuck to the clear plastic drawers, packages of room deodorizers were emblazoned with “Freshens Air Instantly!” and the cardboard boxes announced “Iyo Oranges.” Everywhere I looked, words, words, and more words leaped out at me. Here was the last “step” my client was seeking. A deluge of information whenever you open a closet door makes a room feel “noisy.” Particularly if the words are in your own language, they jump into your line of vision, and your brain treats them as information to be sorted. This creates commotion in your mind.

In the case of my client, every time she wanted to choose her clothes, she was assailed by such messages as “Iyo Oranges” and “Freshens Air Instantly!” almost as if someone were muttering constantly in her ear. Strangely, just closing the cupboard doors does not conceal the flood of information. The words become static that fills the air. From my own experience, the storage spaces of homes that feel “noisy” even though they look very neat on the surface usually are overflowing with unnecessary information. The neater the house and the more sparse its furnishings, the louder this information feels. So start by removing the product seals from your storage containers. This is absolutely essential, just as you remove the tags from new clothes to welcome them as your personal belongings. Tear the printed film off packages that you don’t want to see, such as deodorizers and detergents. Spaces that are out of sight are still part of your house. By eliminating excess visual information that doesn’t inspire joy, you can make your space much more peaceful and comfortable. The difference this makes is so amazing it would be a waste not to try it.