This is the fifth post in my series on tidying my home with the help of the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The fourth category author Marie Kondo has us tidy is “miscellaneous.” After finishing clothes, books, and papers this category is essentially everything else that doesn’t have sentimental value, because tidying mementos comes at the very end. For me the miscellaneous category included:
- linens and towels
- toiletries and medications
- stationary and gift-wrapping supplies
- cords and electronics
- craft and sewing supplies
- napkins and candles
- CDs and DVDs
- decorative objects
- desk drawers
- everything in the garage
- everything in the kitchen
- dog toys and supplies
- all the accumulated boxes and bowls of “this-and-that” that collect around the house
- loose change
- cleaning supplies and rags
- old cell phones and laptops (yes we had these sitting around)
This category took the longest. The trick is to do all of each sub-category at once. Have you ever put all the pens you own into one pile, for example? That’s the only way to tidy properly. You will see that you have hundreds of pens but there will only be a handful that you actually enjoy using. The rest go. Do not tidy all the pens in one room, and then later all the pens in another room, followed by all the pens in your desk. Do all the pens at the same time.
And cords? Goodness we had so many cords clogging up drawers that we don’t need, didn’t know what they are for, or were for electronics that we no longer even own. Loose change? Kondo’s rule is that all coins go into your wallet. My wallet was very heavy for a few days while I worked on spending the change and just giving it away.
By tidying the kitchen and discarding what we don’t use that still remained in the cabinets, I was able to get almost everything off of my counters. My counters are no longer storage zones. Having emptier counters makes the small kitchen feel about 50% bigger and the space is much easier to clean. I thought I would need a cabinet in my dining room for some special occasion dishes we use less often–such as cocktail glasses and a gravy boat–but by discarding items such as a deviled-egg plate I have used once in ten years and an outdated filtered pitcher, I was able to move all the special occasion stuff to the cabinet above the refrigerator. And the rest of my cabinets finally have some breathing room which makes putting away groceries and clean dishes faster and less irritating.
We already had our modest DVD collection in a small binder. We discarded the cases and covers years ago and just have the disks. So, I really didn’t have anything to discard as far as DVDs go. CDs are a different story. Like DVDs, we discarded the cases years ago and have them in binders. Three binders. I would guess we had about 200 CDs. We haven’t bought a CD in at least five years, however, so this is all music that we “used” to listen to. In theory we still like this music, but it is actually so inconvenient to listen to any of it because we have a wireless Sonos system that we just play music on now. But what to do with all those CDs?
I thought my husband would balk at the idea of discarding our CDs, but as soon as I asked him about it he said to get rid of the CDs. I was surprised! “Well, maybe I’ll just make a list in Google Docs of all these albums so we can look up ideas for stuff to listen to… music that we used to listen to,” I suggested. His better idea was to just add the albums to our “My Library” in Google Play. There is no charge to do this, it is just a way for Google Play subscribers to save and organize albums. If we own any music that we can’t find on Google Play, we will either keep the CD or make a digital copy before discarding it.
In full disclosure, towards the end of tidying “miscellaneous” I was tired, irritated, and just DONE with this whole thing. By the time you reach the end of this phase you are hauling boxes of sheer junk out of dusty garage and basement corners and cursing yourself for ever accumulating so much unnecessary stuff in the first place. All the dust and dirt demands to be cleaned up as well, so I ended up cleaning corners and nooks I’ve never touched in the five years we’ve lived here. I was grumpy and tired of tidying. I would emerge from the basement or garage only to find all my normal household tasks–meals, dishes, laundry, picking up toys, bathing kids, putting kids to bed–still waiting for me with no regard to the fact I had been tidying for hours in the far reaches of our house. I liken the end of miscellaneous to the transition phase of labor–it’s the worst, most painful part but you can’t quit (obviously, because a baby is coming) and your only consolation is that the whole ordeal is almost over and you are a rock star for doing it! My clean and perfect house will be my newborn baby.
Now that I am done with the first four categories to tidy, about 1/4 of my garage is just full of stuff to discard. That’s a topic that is deserving of its own post: what to actually do with all the stuff you identify to discard.
All along, anytime I’ve some across something with sentimental value, I’ve put it aside to tidy last. And that is the final tidying frontier I am about to embark on. Wish me luck!