My husband and I grew up not vacationing out of town during the long Holy Weekend. When we started our own family we continued this tradition. For the last 28 years we were probably out vacationing only twice, and because of time constraints in those years. All the other holy weeks were spent at home and we just love the peace and quiet in the metropolis. Somehow, the peaceful sight of EDSA, Commonwealth and Katipunan car-less is almost comparable to the clear blue skies and calm waves of the sea. 🙂
On top of the religious rituals we participate in, we also have a tradition of cleaning up our closets. The activity is quite tiring and challenging for someone with asthma like me but it has served as an “audit mechanism” for our clothes. It has helped me with my mild case of “kalutit” (pack rat). Yes, I love keeping some of my favorite pieces and most of the time, they help in our costume parties. We always have themed parties for Christmas and sometimes birthdays, and I absolutely take pride in not spending but still coming in gear during these parties.
As the years passed I have also accumulated a lot of clothes, and like most girls I sometimes dream of having a really big closet like the boudoir of some divas but the more rational part of me says, “Keep it small in order to avoid accumulating too much.” My closet space has become my limit that whenever I plan to buy something, all I have to do is imagine my crowded cabinets, and then the decision-making becomes easier.
I find it ironic that sometimes as I rush to get dressed in the morning I say to myself, “I don’t have anything to wear!” while I look at my numerous pieces of clothing piled on top of each other, some are crumpled even those with hangers because there are no spaces in between them anymore.
I have tried various methods of decluttering.
- The “pre-departure area.” Because I find it hard to let go of some clothes even if I don’t wear them anymore, I have used my upper cabinets, the ones that cannot be reached without a ladder, as my storage space for them. I don’t know if this is tantamount to prolonging the agony of goodbye.
- I have also read up on this and although I admire the minimalists and I see the value in simplifying decision-making by having very few functional choices, I think I won’t be happy doing that.
- Buy one-take one out. I tried this but became painful that I stopped
- No duplicate purchases. Don’t buy something if you already have a similar item with the same function. I must admit that sometimes I do get “haunted” by a piece that I really liked but didn’t buy.
- Avoid sale! Sounds counterintuitive, right? This is where I’m quite successful at. As I have I have read, written and talked about the emotional impact and behavioral biases present in sale events, I know I am better off avoiding them. There’s anchoring, scarcity mindset, lack of self-control, the price we really pay for free, ego depletion, the pain of paying, etc. Okay, I must confess, I’m not your typical female who enjoys shopping and doing the groceries, so my success at avoiding sale is not purely rational. 🙂
- Treat your closet as prime real estate property. Before buying anything, ask yourself, “Does this piece deserve the precious space in my closet?” If it is on sale and the price is so tempting, your follow-up question is, “Will I buy this piece if it were not on sale?” If the answer is no, then it doesn’t deserve to occupy your prime piece of real estate called closet space.
Discovering the KonMari Method
Recently, I discovered this book entitled “The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up (the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing)” by the tidying empress and best-selling author Marie Kondo. And lo and behold, I was hooked!
I told my husband Marvin to read and watch videos about KonMari. It really helps when the “messenger” is pleasant looking as it wasn’t hard to convince him to add Marie Kondo to his long reading and video list. Marie is a young, cute Japanese girl married, with two daughters. She speaks Japanese in her numerous videos that include guestings in top rated shows not just in Japan but all over the world.
When I tried to find out more about her, I was pleasantly surprised to encounter an article entitled Marie Kondo and her husband use spread sheet to keep the love alive. We do have something in common! We both use spread sheets in enhancing our marriage! While Marvin and I talk about asset allocation on various occasions including our wedding anniversary (click There is romance in Asset Allocation), Marie said in the article, “We put the elements of the home life we want to achieve on a shared Google spreadsheet. When one of us completes a task, we mark it as done, and the other one may leave a message saying ‘Thank you,’ or something like that. It’s all very systematic.”
Before our scheduled closet cleaning, Marvin even gave our three sons a short presentation on the method so they could apply it in their respective annual closet cleaning.
The main attraction of the KonMari method to me is the shift in perspective. While the usual methods focus on “getting rid” of things/clutter, I find her focus on “what sparks joy” refreshing. Here are the steps involved:
- Gather all your things belonging to the same category (e.g. clothes) in one place. Do not do it by place but by category. (Categories include clothes, books, paper, komono or miscellany, and sentimental items)
- Hold each piece and ask yourself, “Does it spark joy?”
- Keep only those that spark joy and say your proper goodbye and arigato (thank you) to the rest.
- Then arrange them in your cabinets using her signature KonMari way of folding and putting things together.
I can’t help but compare the KonMari shift in perspective to the change in perspective offered by Pay yourself first that I always talk about. From “depriving oneself” to actually “prioritizing oneself, specifically one’s future self” when you save and invest.
This change in mindset makes a whole lot of difference – from negative to positive.
The same is true with the KonMari method – from “what can I get rid of” to “what sparks joy.” There’s a focus on the positive – i.e surrounding yourself only with items that spark joy. It eliminates the guilt that can be associated with the act of discarding. I love the added step of saying your proper goodbye and saying thanks for the service rendered by your belonging. It’s lighter in the heart. No need for “pre-departure area.”
There’s so much more I want to tell you about KonMari. After days of implementing this during the Holy Week, I still have a long way to go.
Honestly, I’m a bit intimidated imagining what I have to go through to complete doing this for the entire house. But I’m both challenged and excited. The four men in my life are quite supportive. Just moments ago, people from Child Hope Philippines Foundation came to pick up 11 big bags of clothes that we donated and they were very appreciative, adding more “feel good” to this whole exercise. (By the way, reminder to those donating after clean up, please do not include your baser (trash) in the bags for donation. I read an article that talks about the sorry state of some evacuation centers because the donations dumped on them usually contain unusable items with moths and other insects that cause them allergies, irritations and more problems. 🙁 )
Hey, guess what? Even Marie Kondo herself “showed support” by liking my Instagram posts about my Holy Week activity. 🙂
I will continue the discussion next week. I have found interesting parallelisms between tidying and investing. In fact, I will interview a KonMari expert in the Philippines, Christine “Tin” Dychiao of the ManilaFashionObserver.com in her “KonMari-ed” home on Wednesday via FQ Live! at around 2pm. If you have questions, send them in now so we can discuss them in next week’s article and during the interview with Tin. It will be fun.
Cheers to High FQ that sparks joy!
- Watch FQ Live! on April 11, 2018 Wednesday at around 2pm as I interview KonMari expert in the Philippines Christine “Tin” Dychiao. Go to FQ Mom Facebook page. Send your questions now so I can ask her during the live interview and also tackle them in the part 2 of this article.
2. Want to know your FQ Score? Take it today. Click link to take the test. http://rebrand.ly/FQTest
Rose Fres Fausto is a speaker and author of bestselling books Raising Pinoy Boys and The Retelling of The Richest Man in Babylon (English and Filipino versions). Click this link to read samples – Books of FQ Mom. She is a Behavioral Economist, Certified Gallup Strengths Coach and the grand prize winner of the first Sinag Financial Literacy Digital Journalism Awards. Follow her on Facebook & YouTube as FQ Mom, and Twitter & Instagram as theFQMom.