This is a continued summary of Marie Kondo's best seller: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art Of Decluttering and Organizing.
Again I strongly recommend you check out the book immediately from your library, purchase a copy, or sign up Amazon Audible 30-Day Free Trial to listen to it for free.
Here are the 8 rules of the art of tidying/discarding:
Visualize your ultimate destination. Begin by identifying your ultimate goal. Visualize the ideal lifestyle you dream of. Goals like "I want to live clutter free" or "I want to be able to put things away" are too broad. Think in concrete terms. So that you can vividly picture what it would be like to live in a clutter free space. For example, floor is clear from clutter, rooms are as tidy as hotel suite with nothing obstructing the line of sight, pink bedspread and white antique bed light...fall asleep with a feeling of unhurried spaciousness. It's important to achieve this degree of concreteness when visualize your ideal life style. Identify why you want the ideal life style you just visualized. Repeat the process of why and the answer of every item on your ideal life style list 3 to 5 times. You'll realize the whole point of both discarding and keeping things is to be happy. When you come to this simple realization, you're ready to move on to the next step: examining what you own.
Selection criteria: does it spark joy? What standard do you use to decide what to get rid of? It's easy to discard something when there is an obvious reason to do so, such as something ceases being functional, out of date, or things that related to an event that has past. It's much more difficult when there is no compelling reason. Various experts have proposed yard sticks for discarding things people have found hard to part with, such as "Discard anything you haven't used in a year". However, the moment you start focusing on how to choose what to throw away, you have veered significantly off course. Focusing solely on throwing things away can only bring unhappiness. Because we should be choosing what we want to keep not what we want to get rid of. The best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in one's hand and ask: Does this spark joy? If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it.
You may wonder about the effectiveness of such a vague criteria. Are you happy wearing clothes that don't give you pleasure? Do you feel joy when surrounded by unread books that don't touch your heart? Do you think owning accessories you'll never use will bring you happiness? The answer to these questions should be no. Now imagine yourself living in a space that contains only things that spark joy. Keep only those things that speak to your heart, then take the plunge and discard all the rest.
One category at a time. Search every place in the house. Collect everything that falls in the same category at one time. Take every last item out. Lay everything in one spot. If you have too many items in one category, you can make sub categories. Gathering every item in one place is essential to this process because it gives you an accurate grasp of what you have. By collecting things in one spot you can also compare things that are similar, makes it easier for you to decide whether you want to keep them. Another good reason to move all items in the same category is that things stored out of sight are dormant, making it much harder to decide whether they spark joy or not. By exposing them to light of day, making them alive, you'll find it's surprisingly easy to judge whether they touch your heart. Dealing with just one category within a single time frame speeds up the tidying process. Be sure gather every item in the category you're working on, don't let any slip by unnoticed.
Follow the right category order. Starting with mementos spells certain failure. To begin tidying not by room but by category does not mean you should start by any category you like. The degree of difficulty involved in selecting what to keep and what to discard differs greatly depending on the category. The process of deciding what to keep and what to discard will go much more smoothly if you begin with items that are easier to make decisions about. As you gradually work toward the harder categories, you'll be honing your decision making skills. The best sequence is this: clothes first, then books, papers, miscellaneous, and lastly mementos.
Don't let your family see. The one disaster that can rake more havoc than an earthquake to your marathon tidying is the entrance of that recycling expert who goes by the alias of "mother". (It could be "husband", or "wife" depending on your situation). Don't let your family see the heap of garbage you produce if that's all possible. It's especially recommended not to show one's parents what they are going to throw away or donate. Keeping your garbage out of sight is considerate. It also protects your family from acquire more than they need or can enjoy by retrieving items from your pile of discarding. (Let me tell you this could be what makes or breaks your tidying effort.)
Start by discarding only your own things not your family members'. "Even if I tidy, the rest of my family mess things up again". "My husband is a pack rat, how can I get him to throw things away?" If this is you, if you are mad at your family, your room maybe the cause. If you feel annoyed with your family for being untidy, you're urged to check your own space, especially your storage. The urge to point out someone else's failure to tidy is usually a sign you're neglecting to take care of your own space. If you really want your family to tidy up, there is a much easier way to go about it. To quietly work away at disposing of your own excess is actually the best way to deal with a family that doesn't tidy. When someone start tidying, it sets out a chain reaction. As if drawn into your wake, they'll begin to weed out unnecessary belongs and tidying without you have to utter a single complaint. Cleaning quietly on one's own generates another interesting change: the ability to tolerate a certain level of untidiness among your family members. Once you're satisfied with your own room, you may no longer feel the urge to dispose of things that belong to your family members. This is why you should start by discarding only your own things. You can leave the common space to the end. The first step is to confront your own stuff.
Don't make a family member your handed-me-down victim. What you don't need your family doesn't either. If you want to give something away, don't push people to take it unconditionally or pressure them by making them feel guilty, find out in advance what they like, and if you find something that fits those criteria, then and only then should you show it to them. You can also offer to give it to them on the condition that is something that they would have been willing to pay for. By "gifting" this way, you avoid making a family member your handed-me-down victim.
Make tidying a dialogue with yourself. The work of carefully considering each object you own to see if they spark joy inside you is like converse with yourself through the medium of your possessions. For this reason, it is essential to create a quiet space in which to evaluate the things in your life. Ideally, you should not even be listening to music. Listening to a TV is of course out of question. Tap the power of the atmosphere in your room rather than relying on music.The best time to start is early morning. The fresh morning air keeps your mind clear and sharp for a dialogue between you and your belongs.