Taking the time to reflect on what gear you really love and really need has the potential to change your life. At least that’s what Marie Kondo, author of the bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, will tell you. We asked her for some advice about how to tackle the clutter building up in our gear closets and our lives. Here’s what she had to say.
#1. Think Hard Before You Buy Something New
One of the merits of “tidying up” is that you learn how to differentiate items of true importance from those that are not. This later becomes the yardstick for deciding whether to keep or let go of things. Looking at your belongings and asking, “Does this spark joy?” will help you to identify the things that truly make you happy. Over time, this practice will affect other aspects of your life, like how you make new purchases. By learning to deeply appreciate what you have, you make fewer unnecessary purchases and upgrades.
#2. Store It Well
Large objects such as bikes or skis can be hung on walls, maximizing the storage space that you have. For outdoor gear or other tools, I think it’s important to store them in an efficient way that also sparks joy. For example, you can make it a habit to clean your shoes and bike after each use in order to maintain their condition or opt for stylish casing instead of a plain plastic bag. By keeping your belongings in good condition, you maintain a state where they will bring you happiness each time you use them.
#3. Give It Away
You don’t have to throw away items that you part with. Choose a method that you are comfortable with, such as selling to a secondhand store or donating. Letting go can become easier when you do it in a way that conveys gratitude, especially for an item that you feel guilty disposing of. It can also help to think about the benefits of letting go. Increased space, reduced maintenance or storage fees, lower stress…they’re all good reasons. There’s a surprisingly heavy burden that comes with holding on to things that are no longer of use.
#4. Don’t Feel Guilty If It Brings You Joy
I don’t equate a simple life as merely one with few possessions. What’s important is whether you have a purposeful relationship with your belongings. In other words, if your belongings spark joy, they have purpose, and you treat them accordingly. Even if you own three times as many things as the average person, if each and every one meet the criteria above, you don’t have to be concerned about reducing that number. You should be proud of the fact that you own such amazing gear.
#5. Tidying Inside Will Make You Happier Outside
You spend the time cleaning indoors in order to enhance your outdoor experience. The benefits of living in a decluttered home—a relaxed mind, improved self-image, reduced stress—ultimately influence your performance outdoors. Reevaluating whether something truly makes you happy allows you to address your current values and identify your priorities. Over time, you will find that this is reflected in the decisions you make at work, in your relationships, and other aspects of your life. When facing a decision, it will become easier to single out the option that truly makes you happy. As a result, you’ll be able to turn down insubstantial engagements and focus on more meaningful pastimes.
As translated by Karin Seino.