By the time you finish reading the below books you’re either going to be terrified or incredibly optimistic about the future.
I told this to Claudia and described why and she said, “I’m going to choose to be optimistic”.
“You don’t understand,” I said. “It’s not your choice.”
The world of the future is, right now, a science fiction world. Will we go to Mars? (yes, at some point). We will create in a laboratory new life forms? (Yes, we already have but it’s going to get 1000x easier). We will be able to develop bionic-man-like abilities? (yes, give it ten years).
Will we be able to be totally immersed in a virtual reality and be able to make a living in virtual realities (yes, and it’s already happened but only going to get more immersive and more intense).
Will we live longer because of a combination of bionics, stem cells, hormones, etc. (yes). Will we be able to create with our 3D printer, brand new diseases that will wipe out anyone on the planet (yes).
The reason to read is summed up by Wayne Gretzky’s famous quote: I skate to where the puck is going, not to where the puck is.
We make abundance when we know where the puck is going. We make a living if we only go to where the puck is.
Reading gives us many different prisms into the future. We can look at global trends. Or we can look at how we can achieve personal mastery over our skills, or our emotions, or our creativity and ability to deal with complicated problems.
For myself, I try to read non-fiction that informs. Non-fiction that improves. Non-fiction that tells a story of triumph, or fiction that not only entertains but helps me to communicate better.
Below is a mixture of all of the above.
A) Tomorrowland by Steven Kotler
Here is the youtube trailer for the book:
This book is perhaps the most optimist and the most terrifying book I’ve ever read.
The future is here. Only it’s doubling every year.
So everything you can imagine that is good, will get better. Anything you can imagine that is bad, will get worse. Much worse.
Steven Kotler has been on my podcast three times. He went on again (airing soon) about his most recent book, Tomorrowland.
He tells me about cameras attached to electrodes attached to the parts of a patient’s brain that have the purpose of telling the brain (when stimulated electrically) where shapes are, what colors the shapes are, where the edges are.
When the cameras and electrodes are turned on, a blind man can see. The first bionic eye was turned on: the patient’s first sight? Steven Kotler.
I asked him, “what if the cameras were not just in front of me, but everywhere, and I used my brain to tell my eyes which cameras to look out of.”
“That’s coming,” Kotler said. And the conversation continued from there.
If you want to see where the puck is going in bionics, anti-aging, synthetic biology, virtual reality, evolution, steroids and other performance enhancers (“the history of sports is actually the history of performance enhancing drugs since the very first Olympics”), and other both equally amazing, hopeful, and terrifying things, read this book.
Since much of this book is based on the idea that prior science fiction has become current reality I asked Steven what his favorite current science fiction books. Here’s a small list:
“Altered Carbon” – by Richard K. Morgan: http://www.amazon.com/Altered-Carbon-Takeshi-Kovacs-Novels/dp/0345457684
“Ready Player One” – by Ernest Cline http://www.amazon.com/Ready-Player-One-Ernest-Cline-ebook/dp/B004J4WKUQ/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1434131577&sr=1-3&keywords=ernest+cline
“Blindsight” by Peter Watts – http://www.amazon.com/Blindsight-Peter-Watts/dp/0765319640/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1434131618&sr=1-1-fkmr1&keywords=blind+side+peter+watts
B) Bounce, by Matthew Syed
Matthew was one of the top ping pong (“table tennis”) players in the United Kingdom.
He became fascinated by “what makes a world class performer”.
I’ve always been interested in this as well. As a young kid I achieved chess master status and was always involved in studies involving what is the difference between an amateur player, a strong player (me) or a professional grandmaster.
The results are fascinating. Can we avoid the 10,000 hour rule? What are the best ways to practice? How do we learn to be world class? What is the role of talent?
The book is well written. What was most interesting to me was how little a role talent plays.
C) The Martian, by Andy Weir
This is a fiction book but I’m putting it in the category of non-fiction.
First off, some homework. Check out my podcast with the author Andy Weir. Originally he self-published this, it became a bestseller, and magic happened: a publisher picked it up and Ridley Scott made the movie.
Second, watch the movie trailer. It’s coming out this year.
Here’s the link:
It blew me away how good this is going to be.
Why did I put this in non-fiction. I’ll tell you the premise of the book. It takes place in the near future, the first ship has gone to Mars.
At some point, a storm occurs and the astronauts evacuate. One astronaut was left behind and he has to survive for four years.
How he survives is a perfect example of someone who has an idea machine on overdrive. What he does to grow plants, to travel, to communicate, is amazing and teaches the lesson that creativity of the brain is essential for crisis situations.
We may not always find ourselves stranded on Mars. But sometimes it certainly feels that way.
D) The Myth of America’s Decline
I understand that a lot of people have perfectly described how the dollar will crash, the economy will crash, capitalism has messed up, the government will collapse, etc.
But let’s not forget, the exact same arguments were used by famous economists in 1957, 1969, 1972, 1979, 1981, 1990, 2001, 2008, and ever since 2008.
Will America Decline? I don’t think anyone can predict the future.
But it’s at least worth comparing today’s arguments with the arguments of the past and how they line up against each other. It’s never been true in the past. So it forces us to think: what (if anything) is different now.
E) The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo – http://www.amazon.com/The-Life-Changing-Magic-Tidying-Decluttering/dp/1607747308
This book has already changed my life.
Claudia and I spend the winter traveling around to different AirBnB locations around the country. We realized we didn’t really need anything other than the clothes in our suitcase, and two computers and tablets.
Plus, (Douglas Adams would be proud), a towel.
So when we read this book and got home we…threw everything out (or donated). All of our books. All of our extra clothes. All of our sheets (we never have guests) all of our extra plates, spices, etc. Everything.
We threw out about 98% of our belongings.
Here’s where I describe it: https://www.facebook.com/james.altucher/posts/10152556732685636
Here’s some of the garbage:
We didn’t randomly throw things out. Some things we kept.
But Marie gives the technique, why it’s important, what the benefits are.
Now, almost six months later, I can tell you she was exactly right on what the benefits are. The change in my life has been amazing.
Marie Kondo has been a virtual mentor as well as all of the above authors.
A good friend of mine, Derek Coburn, is a master of networking. He’s organized networking groups around the country and it’s created millions of dollars in business for himself.
He even wrote a book on the topic: “Networking is Not Working” – http://www.amazon.com/Networking-Not-Working-Collecting-Connections-ebook/dp/B00K436RH8/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
which I blurbed.
But he also wrote a complete set of his notes to Marie Kondo’s book and he’s graciously let me share them with you.
Here they are:
- Start by discarding. Then organize your space, thoroughly, completely, in one go. If you adopt this approach—the KonMari Method—you’ll never revert to clutter again.
A dramatic reorganization of the home causes correspondingly dramatic changes in lifestyle and perspective. It is life transforming.
- a person’s awareness and perspective on his or her own lifestyle are far more important than any skill at sorting, storing, or whatever. Order is dependent on the extremely personal values of what a person wants to live with.
- If you use the right method and concentrate your efforts on eliminating clutter thoroughly and completely within a short span of time, you’ll see instant results that will empower you to keep your space in order ever after. The work involved can be broadly divided into two kinds: deciding whether or not to dispose of something and deciding where to put it. If you can do these two things, you can achieve perfection.
- Tidying up by location is a fatal mistake.
- The root of the problem lies in the fact that people often store the same type of item in more than one place. When we tidy each place separately, we fail to see that we’re repeating the same work in many locations and become locked into a vicious circle of tidying. To avoid this, I recommend tidying by category. For example, instead of deciding that today you’ll tidy a particular room, set goals like “clothes today, books tomorrow.
- people who can’t stay tidy can be categorized into just three types: the “can’t-throw-it-away” type, the “can’t-put-it-back” type, and the “first-two-combined” type. Looking at my clients, I further realized that 90 percent fall into the third category—the “can’t-throw-it-away, can’t-put-it-back” type—while the remaining 10 percent fall into the “can’t-put-it-back” type.Effective tidying involves only two essential actions: discarding and deciding where to store things. Of the two, discarding must come first.
- Effective tidying involves only two essential actions: discarding and deciding where to store things. Of the two, discarding must come first.
- There are two types of tidying—“daily tidying” and “special event tidying.” Daily tidying, which consists of using something and putting it back in its place, will always be part of our lives as long as we need to use clothes, books, writing materials, and so on. But the purpose of this book is to inspire you to tackle the “special event” of putting your house in order as soon as possible.
- Do not even think of putting your things away until you have finished the process of discarding.
- Before you start, visualize your destination
- “Well, when I come home from work, the floor would be clear of clutter … and my room, as tidy as a hotel suite with nothing obstructing the line of sight. I’d have a pink bedspread and a white antique-style lamp. Before going to bed, I would have a bath, burn aromatherapy oils, and listen to classical piano or violin while doing yoga and drinking herbal tea. I would fall asleep with a feeling of unhurried spaciousness.” Her description was as vivid as if she actually lived that way. It’s important to achieve this degree of concreteness when visualizing your ideal lifestyle.
- Your next step is to identify why you want to live like that.
- the moment you start focusing on how to choose what to throw away, you have actually veered significantly off course
- focusing solely on throwing things away can only bring unhappiness. Why? 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.
- Don’t just open up your closet and decide after a cursory glance that everything in it gives you a thrill. You must take each outfit in your hand. When you touch a piece of clothing, your body reacts. Its response to each item is different. Trust me and try it.
- Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest.
- Don’t start selecting and discarding by location. Don’t think “I’ll tidy the bedroom first and then move on to the living room” or “I’ll go through my drawers one by one starting from the top down.” This approach is fatal. Why? Because most people don’t bother to store similar items in the same place.
- You start by deciding that you are going to organize and put away your clothes. The next step is to search every room of the house. Bring every piece of clothing you find to the same place, and spread them out on the floor. Then pick up each outfit and see if it sparks joy. Those and only those are the ones to keep. Follow this procedure for every category. If you have too many clothes, you can make subcategories such as tops, bottoms, socks, and so on, and examine your clothes, one subcategory at a time.
- Gathering every item in one place is essential to this process because it gives you an accurate grasp of how much you have.
- My advice to begin tidying not by room but by category does not mean that you should start with any category you like. The degree of difficulty involved in selecting what to keep and what to discard differs greatly depending on the category. People who get stuck halfway usually do so because they start with the things that are hardest to make decisions about. Things that bring back memories, such as photos, are not the place for beginners to start.
- People have trouble discarding things that they could still use (functional value), that contain helpful information (informational value), and that have sentimental ties (emotional value). When these things are hard to obtain or replace (rarity), they become even harder to part with.
- The best sequence is this: clothes first, then books, papers, komono (miscellany), and lastly, mementos.
- “Don’t let your family see what’s here. If at all possible, take the bags out yourself. There’s no need to let your family know the details of what you throw out or donate.”
- The urge to point out someone else’s failure to tidy is usually a sign that you are neglecting to take care of your own space. This is why you should begin by discarding only your own things. You can leave the communal spaces to the end. The first step is to confront your own stuff.
- In fact, that particular article of clothing has already completed its role in your life, and you are free to say, “Thank you for giving me joy when I bought you,” or “Thank you for teaching me what doesn’t suit me,” and let it go.
- Not every person you meet in life will become a close friend or lover. Some you will find hard to get along with or impossible to like. But these people, too, teach you the precious lesson of who you do like, so that you will appreciate those special people even more.
- I recommend dividing further into the following subcategories to increase efficiency: Tops (shirts, sweaters, etc.) Bottoms (pants, skirts, etc.) Clothes that should be hung (jackets, coats, suits, etc.) Socks Underwear Bags (handbags, messenger bags, etc.) Accessories (scarves, belts, hats, etc.) Clothes for specific events (swimsuits, kimonos, uniforms, etc.) Shoes
- What things will bring you joy if you keep them as part of your life? Pick them as if you were identifying items you loved from a showcase in your favorite store.
- At this point, I usually say, “Let’s start with off-season clothes.” I have a good reason for choosing off-season clothing for their first foray into this tidying gala. It’s the easiest category for tuning in to one’s intuition concerning what feels good.
- There’s one question I recommend asking when you select off-season clothes. “Do I want to see this outfit again next time it’s in season?” Or, to rephrase it, “Would I want to wear this right away if the temperature suddenly changed?”
- By neatly folding your clothes, you can solve almost every problem related to storage.
- The act of folding is far more than making clothes compact for storage. It is an act of caring, an expression of love and appreciation for the way these clothes support your lifestyle. Therefore, when we fold, we should put our heart into it, thanking our clothes for protecting our bodies.
- The key is to store things standing up rather than laid flat.
- As you move toward the right side of the closet, the length of the clothing grows shorter, the material thinner, and the color lighter. By category, coats would be on the far left, followed by dresses, jackets, pants, skirts, and blouses.
- In addition, organize the clothes within each category from heavy to light.
- shoebox is the perfect size for a stocking divider. This method is a win-win solution. It allows you to see how many stockings you have at a single glance, protects your stockings from damage, and keeps them smooth and unwrinkled so that they are easier to put on. And it makes your stockings much happier, too.
- Eliminate the need to store off-season clothes
- There were some years when I didn’t manage to unpack my summer clothes until July, and I would realize that in the meantime I had bought clothes similar to those I already owned. Often as soon as I got out my summer clothes, the weather would suddenly turn cold again.
- The trick is not to overcategorize. Divide your clothes roughly into “cotton-like” and “wool-like” materials when you put them in the drawer. Categorizing by season—summer, winter, fall-and-spring—or by activity, such as work and leisure, should be avoided because it is too vague.
- Open the drawer and run your hands over the contents. Let them know you care and look forward to wearing them when they are next in season. This kind of “communication” helps your clothes stay vibrant and keeps your relationship with them alive longer.
- “Please start by removing every book from your shelves and putting them all on the floor.”
- To truly decide whether you want to keep something or to dispose of it, you must take your things out of hibernation.
- ask my clients to divide them into four broad categories: General (books you read for pleasure) Practical (references, cookbooks, etc.) Visual (photograph collections, etc.) Magazines
- The criterion is, of course, whether or not it gives you a thrill of pleasure when you touch it. Remember, I said when you touch it. Make sure you don’t start reading it. Reading clouds your judgment.
- Imagine what it would be like to have a bookshelf filled only with books that you really love.
- So when deciding which books to keep, forget about whether you think you’ll read it again or whether you’ve mastered what’s inside. Instead, take each book in your hand and decide whether it moves you or not. Keep only those books that will make you happy just to see them on your shelves, the ones that you really love.
- Books to keep Those that belong in the hall of fame
- The most difficult ones are those that give you moderate pleasure—those with words and phrases that moved your heart and that you might want to read again. These are the hardest to discard.
- I finally decided to rip the relevant page out of the book. Pasting pages into a notebook was also a pain, so I simplified the process by slipping them into a file instead. This only took five minutes per book and I managed to get rid of forty books and keep the words that I liked.
- I had a sudden flash of realization. I had never once looked at the file I created. All that effort had just been to ease my own conscience.
- The moment you first encounter a particular book is the right time to read it. To avoid missing that moment, I recommend that you keep your collection small.
- Papers: recommend you dispose of anything that does not fall into one of three categories: currently in use, needed for a limited period of time, or must be kept indefinitely.
- Letters from friends and lovers can be left for when you tackle sentimental items.
- Once you’ve gone through those papers that don’t evoke any pleasure, what should you do with the ones that you’ve decided to keep? My filing method is extremely simple. I divide them into two categories: papers to be saved and papers that need to be dealt with.
- Make sure that you keep all such papers in one spot only. Never let them spread to other parts of the house.
- As for papers that must be saved, these I subdivide according to the frequency of use. Again, the way I divide them is not complicated. I organize them into infrequently used papers and more frequently used papers. Infrequently used papers include insurance policies, guarantees, and leases.
- Papers are organized into only three categories: needs attention, should be saved (contractual documents), and should be saved (others). The point is to keep all papers in one category in the same container or folder and to purposely refrain from subdividing them any further by content. In other words, you only need three containers or folders.
- Don’t forget that the “needs attention” box ought to be empty. If there are papers in it, be aware that this means you have left things undone in your life that require your attention. Although I have never managed to completely empty my “needs attention” box, this is the goal to which we should aspire.
- It’s paradoxical, but I believe that precisely because we hang on to such materials, we fail to put what we learn into practice (seminar notes)
- Getting back to warranties: the filing method I recommend is to put them all in a single clear file, without separating them into categories. Warranties are only used once a year if at all. What point is there in carefully sorting and separating them when the odds that they will be needed are so low? Moreover, if you’ve filed them in a file folder, you’ll have to flip through the pages to find the right warranty. In that case, it’s just as easy to keep them all in one file, pull out the entire stack, and search through it.
- this becomes an excellent opportunity to check the expiration dates of your other warranties.
- Once you’ve checked to see whether the numbers on your cards (holiday, thank you, etc.) have won anything in the lottery, you can part with the cards with gratitude for conveying to you the consideration of the sender.
- Many items within the home are treated in the same way. They are placed, stored, and accumulate “just because,” without our giving them much thought. I call this category komono, a Japanese term that the dictionary defines variously as “small articles; miscellaneous items; accessories; gadgets or small tools, parts, or attachments; an insignificant person; small fry.” It’s
- The basic order for sorting komono is as follows: 1. CDs, DVDs 2. Skin care products 3. Makeup 4. Accessories 5. Valuables (passports, credit cards, etc.) 6. Electrical equipment and appliances (digital cameras, electric cords, anything that seems vaguely “electric”) 7. Household equipment (stationary and writing materials, sewing kits, etc.) 8. Household supplies (expendables like medicine, detergents, tissues, etc.) 9. Kitchen goods/food supplies (spatulas, pots, blenders, etc.) 10. Other (spare change, figurines, etc.) (If you have many items related to a particular interest or hobby, such as ski equipment or tea ceremony articles, treat these as a single subcategory.) I recommend this particular order because it is easier if you start with more personal items and clearly defined content first.
- A plate received as a wedding favor that still sits in its box on top of the china cabinet. A key holder you received as a souvenir from a friend that now lies in your drawer. A set of peculiar-smelling incense presented to you by your colleagues on your birthday. What do these items all have in common? They were gifts. Someone important to you used precious time to pick them out and buy them for you. They are an expression of love and consideration. You can’t just throw them away, right? But let’s consider this more carefully. Most of these gifts remain unopened or have been used only once. Admit it. They simply don’t suit your taste. The true purpose of a present is to be received. Presents are not “things” but a means for conveying someone’s feelings. When viewed from this perspective, you don’t need to feel guilty for parting with a gift. Just thank it for the joy it gave you when you first received it. Of course, it would be ideal if you could use it with joy. But surely the person who gave it to you doesn’t want you to use it out of a sense of obligation, or to put it away without using it, only to feel guilty every time you see it. When you discard or donate it, you do so for the sake of the giver, too.
- you see a cord and wonder what on earth it’s for, chances are you’ll never use it again. Mysterious cords will always remain just that—a mystery.
- If you, too, have broken appliances, see this as an opportunity to contact your local recycler and get rid of them.
- You will never use spare buttons. In most cases, when a button falls off, it’s a sign that the particular shirt or blouse has been well worn and loved and has now reached the end of its life. For coats and jackets that you want to keep for a long time, I recommend sewing spare buttons to the lining when you first buy them.
- A cell phone screen cleaner that came with a soda bottle, a ball pen engraved with your school’s name, a paper fan you got at an event, a set of plastic cups won at a fair, glasses bearing a beer company’s logo, Post-its stamped with a pharmaceutical company’s name, a folder with just five sheets of blotting paper, a promotional calendar (still in its tube), a pocket calendar (unused even six months into the year). None of these are going to bring you any pleasure. Discard or recycle them without any qualms.
- Whenever my clients come across loose change during tidying, I make sure it goes straight into their wallets—never into a piggybank. Unlike the other categories, you don’t need to gather coins from every part of the house. Instead, just pop them into your wallet whenever you stumble on them. If you put them in a piggybank, you are simply transferring the place where they will be ignored.
- Your parents’ home is not a haven for mementos
- No matter how wonderful things used to be, we cannot live in the past. The joy and excitement we feel here and now are more important. So, once again, the way to decide what to keep is to pick up each item and ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?” Let
- People never retrieve the boxes they send “home.” Once sent, they will never again be opened.
- That’s right. By handling each sentimental item and deciding what to discard, you process your past. If you just stow these things away in a drawer or cardboard box, before you realize it, your past will become a weight that holds you back and keeps you from living in the here and now. To put your things in order means to put your past in order, too. It’s like resetting your life and settling your accounts so that you can take the next step forward.
- There is only one way to sort photos, and you should keep in mind that it takes a little time. The correct method is to remove all your photos from their albums and look at them one by one. Those who protest that this is far too much work are people who have never truly sorted photos. Photographs exist only to show a specific event or time. For this reason, they must be looked at one by one. When you do this, you will be surprised at how clearly you can tell the difference between those that touch your heart and those that don’t. As always, only keep the ones that inspire joy.
- With this method, you will keep only about five per day of a special trip, but this will be so representative of that time that they bring back the rest vividly. Really important things are not that great in number. Unexciting photos of scenery that you can’t even place belong in the garbage. The meaning of a photo lies in the excitement and joy you feel when taking it. In many cases, the prints developed afterward have already outlived their purpose.
- If you, too, are leaving this task for when you grow old, don’t wait. Do it now. You will enjoy the photos far more when you are old if they are already in an album than if you have to move and sort through a heavy boxful of them.
- As for toilet paper, the record stock so far is eighty rolls. “I have loose bowels you see … I run out very quickly,” was the client’s excuse. But even if she used one roll a day, she had at least a three months’ supply. I’m not sure she could have used up one roll a day even if she spent all day wiping her bottom, and by that time her bottom would have been rubbed raw. It made me wonder whether I should be giving her skin cream rather than lessons in cleaning.
- For people who stockpile, I don’t think there is any amount that would make them feel secure. The more they have, the more they worry about running out and the more anxious they become. Even though they still have two left, they will go out and buy five more.
- I highly recommend that you get rid of excess stock all at once. Give it away to friends who need it, recycle it, or take it to a donation shop. You may think this is a waste of money, but reducing your stock and relieving yourself of the burden of excess is the quickest and most effective way to put your things in order.
- As you reduce your belongings through the process of tidying, you will come to a point where you suddenly know how much is just right for you. You will feel it as clearly as if something has clicked inside your head and said, “Ah! This is just the amount I need to live comfortably. This is all I need to be happy. I don’t need anything more.” The satisfaction that envelops your whole being at that point is palpable. I call this the “just-right click point.”
- The fact that you possess a surplus of things that you can’t bring yourself to discard doesn’t mean you are taking good care of them. In fact, it is quite the opposite. By paring down to the volume that you can properly handle, you revitalize your relationship with your belongings.
- Believe what your heart tells you when you ask, “Does this spark joy?” If you act on that intuition, you will be amazed at how things will begin to connect in your life and at the dramatic changes that follow.
- Day to day: My next task is to empty the contents of my handbag on the rug and put each item away in its place. First I remove all the receipts. Then I put my wallet in its designated box in a drawer under my bed with a word of gratitude. I place my train pass and my business card holder beside it. I put my wristwatch in a pink antique case in the same drawer and place my necklace and earrings on the accessory tray beside it. Before closing the drawer, I say, “Thanks for all you did for me today.” Next, I return to the entrance and put away the books and notebooks I carried around all day (I have converted a shelf of my shoe cupboard into a bookshelf). From the shelf below it I take out my “receipt pouch” and put my receipts in it. Then I put my digital camera that I use for work in the space beside it, which is reserved for electrical things. Papers that I’ve finished with go in the recycle bin beneath the kitchen range. In the kitchen, I make a pot of tea while checking the mail, disposing of the letters I’ve finished with. I return to my bedroom, put my empty handbag in a bag, and put it on the top shelf of the closet, saying, “You did well. Have a good rest.” From the time I get in the door to the moment I close the closet, a total of only five minutes has passed. Now I can go back to the kitchen, pour myself a cup of tea, and relax.
- The point in deciding specific places to keep things is to designate a spot for every thing.
- Once you learn to choose your belongings properly, you will be left only with the amount that fits perfectly in the space you currently own.
- Storage: I have only two rules: store all items of the same type in the same place and don’t scatter storage space.
- If you live with your family, first clearly define separate storage spaces for each family member. This is essential. For example, you can designate separate closets for you, your husband, and your children, and store whatever belongs to each person in his or her respective closet.
- If storage places are spread around, the entire house will become cluttered in no time. To concentrate the belongings of each person in one spot is the most effective way for keeping storage tidy.
- Her daughter was three years old. When I visited her house, I found that her daughter’s things were stored in three different places: clothes in the bedroom, toys in the living room, and books in the Japanese tatami room. Following the basic principles of sorting and storing, we gathered everything in the tatami room. From that time on, her daughter began to choose her own clothes to wear and put away her things where they belonged. Although I was the one who had given the instructions, I was surprised. Even a three-year-old can tidy!
- I realize that when you begin tidying, there is a real temptation to start with spaces or things that belong to the entire household, such as the living room, soaps and medicines, or various appliances and household supplies. But please leave those for later. First, start by sorting only your own things. Choose what you want to keep and store it in your very own space. By doing so, you will learn the basics of how to put your house in order. Just as with choosing which belongings to keep, following the right order is crucial.
- Clutter is caused by a failure to return things to where they belong. Therefore, storage should reduce the effort needed to put things away, not the effort needed to get them out.
- Clutter has only two possible causes: too much effort is required to put things away or it is unclear where things belong.
- You can solve your storage problems with things you already have in the house. The most common item I use is an empty shoebox. I have tried all kinds of storage products, but have never found any other that is free and still surpasses the shoebox. It gets above average marks for all five of my criteria: size, material, durability, ease of use, and attractiveness. These well-balanced attributes and its versatility are its greatest merits. Shoes come in boxes with cute designs as well. I frequently ask my clients, “Do you have any shoeboxes?” when I visit their homes. Shoeboxes have infinite uses. I commonly use them to store socks and stockings in drawers. Shoebox height is perfect for standing up rolled stockings. In the washroom, they can be used to store bottles of shampoo, conditioner, etc., and they’re also perfect for holding detergents and other household cleaning items. In the kitchen, they can be used to stock foodstuffs as well as garbage bags, cloths, and so on. I also use them to hold cake pans, pie plates, and other cooking items that get less frequent use. The box can then be stored on an upper shelf. For some reason, many people seem to store their baking pans in plastic bags, but they are much easier to use when stored in a shoebox. This extremely easy solution is very popular with my clients. I am always pleased when they tell me that they bake more often since reorganizing.
- The lid of a shoebox is shallow and can be used like a tray. It can be placed in the cupboard to hold your cooking oils and spices, keeping the base of the cupboard clean. Unlike many shelf liners, these lids don’t slip and are much easier to replace. If you keep cooking utensils such as your ladle and spatula in the kitchen drawers, you can use the shoebox lid to hold them. This keeps the utensils from rolling about noisily in the drawer every time you open and close it, and because it acts as a divider, you can use the remaining space more effectively.
- Those that I use most frequently include the plastic cases that hold business cards and those that come with portable music players made by Apple. In fact, the boxes that contain many Apple products are the right size and design for storage, so if you have any, I recommend using them as dividers in your drawers. They are perfect for storing writing tools. Another standard item is extra plastic food containers, which can be used to store small items in the kitchen.
- Rather than buying something to make do for now, wait until you have completed the entire process and then take your time looking for storage items that you really like.
- Hand bags/purses: I decided to place one bag inside another just for the time being. This, in fact, turned out to be the perfect solution. By storing bags inside each other, I halved the amount of storage space needed, and I could keep track of their contents by letting the straps dangle outside. The key is to put the same type of bags together. Sets should consist of handbags made from similar material, such as stiff leather or thickly woven cloth, or of purses for special occasions, such as weddings and funerals. Dividing by material and/or by type of use means that you only need to take out one set whenever you need a handbag. This is much easier. Keep in mind, however, that you should not store too many handbags in one. My rule of thumb is to keep no more than two in any one bag and to make sure that I store them so that I won’t forget what’s inside. In the case of knapsacks, which fold up surprisingly small, I recommend storing them all inside a single knapsack. To summarize, the best way to store purses, handbags, and other bags is to make sets according to the material, size, and frequency of use and to store them one inside the other, like nested boxes. All straps and handles should be left in plain view. If the handbag used for storage came in a bag, you can store the set in that. Line up these sets in your closet or wardrobe where you can see them. I stand them on the top shelf. The process of storing bags inside another bag, of finding the right combinations, is a lot of fun, much like making a jigsaw puzzle. When you find just the right pair, where the outer and inner bags fit so well together that they support one another, it is like witnessing a meeting that was destined to be.
- There are some things you need on a daily basis, such as your wallet, your bus or train pass, and your date book. Many people see no point in taking these things out when they come home because they will use them again the next day, but this is a mistake. The purpose of a purse or messenger bag is to carry your things for you when you’re away from home. You fill your bag with the things you need, such as documents, your cell phone, and your wallet, and it carries them all without complaint, even if it is filled to bursting.
- If you do not make a habit of unpacking your bag, you are also quite likely to leave something inside when you decide to use another bag, and before you know it, you will have forgotten what you have in each one. Unable to find a pen or lip balm, you will wind up buying a new one. The most common items found in my clients’ handbags when we tidy up their rooms are tissues, coins, crumpled receipts, and used chewing gum wadded in its wrapper. There is a real danger that important items like accessories, memo pads, or documents may become mixed up with these.
- So, empty your bag every day. This is not as bothersome as it sounds. You just need to make a place for the things inside it. Find a box and place your train pass, company ID, and other important items vertically inside it. Then put the box just like that into a drawer or cupboard. Any box will do, but if you can’t find the right size, a shoebox will work fine. Or you can make a space in one corner of a drawer, without using a box at all. Appearance is important, so if you’re using a box, don’t hesitate to look for one that you really like. One of the best places to keep this box is on top of the set of drawers you use for storage, and it is more convenient if that is close to where you keep your bag.
- The basic method for effective use of a closet is as follows. First, as a general rule, off-season items should be stored in the cupboard above the closet. This includes seasonal ornaments, skiwear, and hiking or other seasonal sportswear and goods. This is also the best spot for large mementos that will not fit in a bookcase, such as a wedding album or photo albums. But don’t put them in cardboard boxes. Instead, stand them up toward the front of the cupboard as you would books in a bookcase. Otherwise, you are unlikely to ever see them again.
- Regular clothes should be stored in the closet. If you use clear plastic cases to store them, I strongly recommend the drawer rather than the box type. The instant clothes are put away in a box, they become a pain to remove, and in most cases, people never bother to take them out even when they are back in season. And, of course, fold and stand the clothes on edge in the drawer.
- Where do you store your oil, salt, pepper, soy sauce, and other seasonings? Many people keep them right beside the stove because they want them close at hand for the sake of convenience. If you are one of these people, I hope you will rescue them right now. For one thing, a counter is for preparing food, not for storing things.
- Make the top shelf of the bookcase your personal shrine
- One theme underlying my method of tidying is transforming the home into a sacred space, a power spot filled with pure energy. A comfortable environment, a space that feels good to be in, a place where you can relax—these are the traits that make a home a power spot.
- The most common item to be left in the package is stockings. When you remove them, take out the stiff liner, too. You won’t need that at home. Stockings take up 25 percent less room once they are out of the package and folded up.
- Clothes that still have their price tag on have not yet been made our own and therefore they don’t quite “belong.” Overpowered by the aura of our “legitimate” clothes, they are less noticeable. It is only natural that we overlook and eventually even forget them as we look through our wardrobe. Some people worry that if they remove the tags their value will drop if they ever take them to a recycle shop, but that is a contradiction. If you are going to buy clothes, choose them with the intention of welcoming them into your home and caring for them. When you buy them, remove the tags immediately. In order for your clothes to make the transition from store products to personal possessions, you need to perform the ritual of cutting the “umbilical cord” that links them to the shop.
- At their core, the things we really like do not change over time. Putting your house in order is a great way to discover what they are.
- After getting rid of almost five hundred books she had been intending to read someday, she found that she received new information daily. And when she discarded her huge stack of business cards, the people that she had been wanting to meet started calling her and she was able to meet them quite naturally. Whereas before she had been into spirituality, when the course concluded she said contentedly, “Tidying has far more effect than feng shui or power stones and other spiritual goods.” Since then, she has leaped headlong into a new life, quitting her job and finding a publisher for her book.
- The lives of those who tidy thoroughly and completely, in a single shot, are without exception dramatically altered.
- One of the magical effects of tidying is confidence in your decision-making capacity. Tidying means taking each item in your hand, asking yourself whether it sparks joy, and deciding on this basis whether or not to keep it. By repeating this process hundreds and thousands of times, we naturally hone our decision-making skills. People who lack confidence in their judgment lack confidence in themselves.
- But when we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.
- During the selection process, if you come across something that does not spark joy but that you just can’t bring yourself to throw away, stop a moment and ask yourself, “Am I having trouble getting rid of this because of an attachment to the past or because of a fear for the future?” Ask this for every one of these items. As you do so, you’ll begin to see a pattern in your ownership of things, a pattern that falls into one of three categories: attachment to the past, desire for stability in the future, or a combination of both. It’s important to understand your ownership pattern because it is an expression of the values that guide your life. The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life. Attachment to the past and fears concerning the future not only govern the way you select the things you own but also represent the criteria by which you make choices in every aspect of your life, including your relationships with people and your job.
- The best way to find out what we really need is to get rid of what we don’t.
- When my clients relate the experience of getting rid of something they shouldn’t have, they all sound extremely cheerful. Most of them laugh and say, “For a moment I thought I was in trouble, but then I realized it wasn’t life threatening.” This attitude does not stem from an optimistic personality nor does it mean they have become careless in their response to missing something. Rather, it shows that by selecting what to discard, they have changed their mind-set.
- The fact that they do not need to search is actually an invaluable stress reliever. One of the reasons clutter eats away at us is because we have to search for something just to find out whether it’s even there, and many times, no matter how much we search, we cannot seem to find what we are looking for. When we have reduced the amount we own and store our documents all in the same place, we can tell at a glance whether we have it or not. If it’s gone, we can shift gears immediately and start thinking about what to do.
- Life becomes far easier once you know that things will still work out even if you are lacking something. There is another reason that my clients never complain about discarding things—and this is the most significant. Because they have continued to identify and dispense with things that they don’t need, they no longer abdicate responsibility for decision making to other people. When a problem arises, they don’t look for some external cause or person to blame. They now make their own decisions and are aware that considering what action to take in any situation is what really matters. Selecting and discarding one’s possessions is a continuous process of making decisions based on one’s own values. Discarding hones one’s decision-making skills. Isn’t it a waste to squander the opportunity to develop this capacity by saving things?
- I believe that tidying is a celebration, a special send-off for those things that will be departing from the house, and therefore I dress accordingly
- Just as you would greet your family or your pet, say, “Hello! I’m home,” to your house when you return. If you forget when you walk in the door, then later, when you remember, say, “Thank you for giving me shelter.” If you feel shy or embarrassed to say these things out loud, it is fine to say them silently in your mind. If you do this repeatedly, you will start to feel your house respond when you come home. You will sense its pleasure passing through like a gentle breeze. Then you will gradually be able to feel where it would like you to tidy and where it would like you to put things. Carry on a dialogue with your home while tidying. I know this sounds totally impractical and fantastic, but if you ignore this step, you will find that the job goes less smoothly. In essence, tidying ought to be the act of restoring balance among people, their possessions, and the house they live in.
- It’s a very strange phenomenon, but when we reduce what we own and essentially “detox” our house, it has a detox effect on our bodies as well.
- When we discard everything in one go, which sometimes means disposing of forty garbage bags of stuff in one day, our bodies may respond in a way that resembles a short fast. We may get a bout of diarrhea or break out in pimples. There is nothing wrong with this. Our bodies are just getting rid of toxins that have built up over the years, and they will be back to normal, or in fact in even better shape, within a day or two. One of my clients cleared out a closet and shed that she had neglected for ten years. Immediately after, she had a strong bout of diarrhea after which she felt much lighter. I know it sounds like false advertising to claim that you can lose weight by tidying or that it will make your skin clearer, but it is not necessarily untrue. Unfortunately, I can’t show you before-and-after pictures of my clients, but I have witnessed with my own eyes how their appearance changes when their rooms are tidied. Their figures are more streamlined, their skin is more radiant, and their eyes shine brighter.
- when our space is completely clean, we don’t have to worry about tidying, so we are free to focus on the next issue that is important in our lives.
- But I think the main reason tidying has this effect is because through this process people come to know contentment. After tidying, many clients tell me that their worldly desires have decreased. Whereas in the past, no matter how many clothes they had, they were never satisfied and always wanted something new to wear, once they selected and kept only those things that they really loved, they felt that they had everything they needed.
- We amass material things for the same reason that we eat—to satisfy a craving. Buying on impulse and eating and drinking to excess are attempts to alleviate stress. From observing my clients, I have noticed that when they part with excess clothing, their tummies tend to slim down, when they discard books and documents, their minds tend to become clearer, when they reduce the number of cosmetics and tidy up the area around the sink and bath, their complexion tends to become clear and their skin smooth. Although I have no scientific basis for this theory, it is very interesting to see that the part of the body responding corresponds closely to the area that is put in order. Isn’t it wonderful that tidying your house can also enhance your beauty and contribute to a healthier, trimmer body?
- when I fold and stand clothes on edge in the drawer, I arrange them by color to form a gradation from dark to light. The proper order is to place clothes that are lighter in color at the front of the drawer and gradually progress to darker colors at the back. I don’t know whether or not this increases good fortune, but when clothes are arranged in a gradation of color, it feels great to look at them whenever you open the drawer. For some reason, having lighter clothes at the front seems to have a calming effect. If you organize your living environment so that it feels comfortable and so that every day you feel energized and happy, wouldn’t you say that your good fortune has increased?
- I can think of no greater happiness in life than to be surrounded only by the things I love. How about you? All you need to do is to get rid of anything that doesn’t touch your heart. There is no simpler way to contentment. What else could this be called but “the magic of tidying”?