The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying

Magic of tidying question

Yesterday, on the blog, I was reflecting on time away and one of the things that struck me was my response to big son’s question, “What do you miss about home Mum?” I can honestly say that I struggled to come up with anything. Away with my family in Cornwall, I had all that I needed and actually felt myself craving a simpler existence on my return home. We need so little to be happy day to day and yet we surround ourselves with so much stuff and this can keep us from enjoying and connecting with the more important people and things.

Over the past few years, I have had regular bursts of decluttering. The house is clearer for sure and much of the emotional baggage released, thanks to several powerful sessions with decluttering coach and personal organiser Helen Sanderson and now, the more I get rid of, the more I want to release. And yet, keeping clear and tidy seems to be an ongoing challenge for me and for many. I am aware of the benefits and could share several examples of unexplained good fortune and matters resolved that I am convinced were prompted (energetically) by decluttering. There is power in the stuff we surround ourselves with and it’s not always good. In letting to, we make space for something better.

You know that hung-over feeling you get when you have not slept enough? It’s not just me, is it?

I have often felt this after a too late night or a series of nights where I have been to bed a little later than usual (which is already rather late). But last month, I had been feeling a different kind of lethargy in the mornings. The feeling followed what should have been enough sleep for most people and was more than my usual allocation of hours. It was an almost overwhelming feeling of exhaustion that I eventually put down to the energy in my home being stuck.

A few weekends ago, after big boy’s morning music concert, I came home and slept three hours solid on the couch. When I woke, I was ready for action and embarked on something I had been meaning to delve into for some time: Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying. I listened to the audio book as I emptied out the entire contents of my wardrobe onto my bed. I consider my wardrobe to already be fairly minimal, but there is always room for improvement and I was able to let go of a handful of items in a short space of time. With KonMari (as she likes to be called)’s method, the focus is on what to keep, rather than what to let go of. This a truly successful method that I have also employed when making big shifts in the past. When a space is emptied out and you are faced with a huge pile of items, it can be far easier to put back only the things you really want to live with than wondering what on earth to let go of. The KonMari method goes one further, requiring that you to ask of each item, “Does it spark joy?” If yes, it can stay; if not, it must (with very few exceptions) go. This, I believe, is the most important part of her method. Having cleared and cleaned a space, it seems only natural to invite back only the things you are sure you want to live with… the things that make you feel happy. If uncertain, release. On so many occasions, holding items in my hand and asking if they sparked joy, I received flashes of sadness, guilt and other feelings prompted by the items or memories associated with them… why on earth was I holding onto such stuff? Yet we all do it, this unconscious behaviour that can greatly impact our lives. When I clear a room – or even a drawer – and leave only the things that spark joy, I feel such a sense of calm and relief (or release). It is as though that space has been put right again.

This letting go feels good on so many different levels. I am not just talking now of letting go of the stuff itself, but of the negative associations, of the shoulds that affect how we behave, doing things that are not always best for us. What is the use in holding onto a gift you do not use or love purely because someone gifted it to you? In releasing, give thanks in your mind to the person and the object and let it go. There is such freedom there. This does not mean giving the item to someone else who does not necessarily want it… this just creates clutter for others. Instead give to charity and someone may choose to bring this item into their lives.

I had a clear sense, through this book of how an item can have fulfilled a purpose even if it has never been used or worn and understanding this makes things to much easier to release. And this does not just apply to things... it applies to money, relationships, etc. In letting go, we make space, both physical and energetic and show, with this faith in release, that we trust the Universe to step in and provide for us whatever we need or is meant for us.

So often, (and not only in decluttering), this question, “Does it spark joy?” could be used to help making decisions.

I could go on… so much I have been reading and learning of late points to simplifying and letting to; to making space and getting your house in order to free yourself up for greater purpose, success, clarity. If you feel the pull, as I did, to get your house in order, I would recommend the KonMari method. I was sceptical about her special folding method, but one month on, even my boys’ clothing drawers are tidier than they have ever been. I am a convert!

Oh, and one last tip… if you do try her method, consider downloading the Kindle or audio version rather than ordering the paperback for less physical clutter!

If you have used this, or any other decluttering or tidying method, please leave a comment below and let me know what worked best for you.

p.s. If you decide to make a purchase through my links, Amazon will pay me a small commission for it. This doesn’t cost you anything additional and I only every recommend books or items I have tried, tested and personally believe in.


  1. says

    I have been in a similar decluttering mode for a few days Julia. Always been a fan of it – but it’s odd how you sometimes just get a burst of energy to let go of stuff. And it feels like an easy decision, when you’ve at other times oscillated around something’s worth to you for a while! Just gave a good friend a pair of earrings that had been a gift I’d never liked. We both improved our day! Enjoy the space. X

    • Julia Elmore says

      Yes, YES, that burst of energy when you just need to purge is amazing, isn’t it? Also feels like gaining momentum sometimes. I let go of a few things and then I am seized by this urgent desire to just let go of more. Lovely news about the earrings. x

  2. says

    Great post. De-cluttering or ‘clearing’ like this can be highly addictive. I find I usually know when I need to do it: often at times when I’m making way for something new. I’ve had a challenge recently. My parents have moved house and as a result of their downsizing have often arrived on my door step with “a few things you might like”. It’s been really hard to stay firm and only accept things that bring me joy and bring good memories when I see them, not that ‘might come in handy’! This is part of the trick too – once you have cleared, only letting stuff back in that is really going to benefit your life.

    • Julia Elmore says

      Yes, you are so right about only letting back stuff that will really benefit your life Alice. Easy just to slip back into clutter otherwise. I am impressed by your approach with the “gifts” from your parents. I also agree with what you say about the addictive nature of clearing as I have experienced this a lot lately. Even just writing this now has sparked a desire to remove a few more things from my closet. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting. x

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