Recently I read and reviewed a book entitled, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo on my blog . I had a love/kind-of-annoyed relationship with this book. But I must say it changed the way I look at my house and my belongings. I truly want to carry out Kondo’s plan for organizing my house, but can’t yet bring myself to do it.
There was one concept, though, which I’ve begun to apply to my house and I’m surprised at how much peace it brings my day. It’s simple and requires very little effort or time. Perhaps I zeroed in on it because it focused on how words can distract and stress us. She was talking about the manufacturer labels on the ends and sides of storage boxes, containers, etc. We think we’ve stored things neatly, but the busy labels assault us every day in a barrage of words.
The mere presence of words attract our attention, even unconsciously. Perhaps some more than others. My oldest son is so addicted to words that his fourth grade teacher was forced to remove all books from his desk so that he could pay attention to her teaching. She said she’d never had a student who couldn’t control his reading habit. (This habit paid off though as this same child is graduating this year as a National Merit Finalist and plans to pursue a career in writing.)
I immediately peeled the old manufacturer’s labels off bins and boxes in closets and on shelves. I smiled with satisfaction at the bulk containers I already utilize and realized that their presence does indeed “spark joy” as Kondo preaches.
But then I took it a step further. When I open my medicine cabinet I’m accosted by words, but it wouldn’t be possible to remove all these labels from every little bottle and tube. So instead, I turned them to face forward so at least I was looking at only a few words on the front of the label in a tidy line as opposed to a plethora of ingredients and directions.
I know this seems a bit anal, but I have to say that when I open the cabinet now, I feel much better. I’ve begun trying to apply this concept to the shelves in the kitchen and pantry, but because I’m not that kind of mother, I can’t ask everyone else to do the same. Still, it gives me this little tiny I’m-in-control thrill to adjust the labels each time I return a jar to the shelf.
Writing about this is somewhat embarrassing. I feel I risk making every one who reads it either – plagued with this silly obsession themselves or worried that I’m in danger of going off the deep end and being carted off to an asylum after I flip out at the 7-11 and try to arrange all their shelves for them.
But no matter, I share this little intentional habit I developed fearlessly because Kondo has sold millions of copies of her book which is full of much crazier habits than this and look at her – a celebrity, obsessive compulsive but rich and happy. There must be something in the power of an organized shelf that resonates with all of us.
Challenge: Remove labels when possible and turn items on shelves to face label-out.
What is living intentionally?
Remember when you were a kid and you broke something or took something that wasn’t yours or said something you shouldn’t have said? When your mother pinned you down on it, your knee-jerk reply was, “I didn’t mean to do it!”
If you want to learn more about living intentionally, you can buy my book by the same title. It's full of challanges, in fact, I counted them and there are 270 challenges in all! Click here to get your own copy!