Justin Tadlock

The life-changing magic of folding clothes

Clothes folded neatly and stood upright within storage containers.

After reading Marie Kondō’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I was a bit motivated to begin my journey into a tidier and more peaceful life. At first, I made a plan to simply throw out a bag of stuff each day to get myself started. However, I quickly realized that I didn’t feel like I was making any sort of progress. Even Kondō is against incremental tidying.

I was hesitant to do a big project. I have a lot going on both personally and professionally. However, this need to tidy things has spilled its way over into all other aspects of my life, creating mental clutter.

I started binge-watching her show, Tidying Up With Marie Kondō, on Netflix. This was a nice compliment to the book. It allowed me to see firsthand people who had much more clutter than me (I honestly don’t have a lot of material possessions in comparison to many, but I suppose it’s all relative). I got to see things from more of a male perspective through the men in the show. And, Kondō’s presence on the screen has an oddly calming effect. She allows the people to apply her methods. She’s never bossy or makes anyone feel bad about the things that they like.

With renewed vigor for this looming project, I started anew. The first lesson is clothes. And, I was happy it was clothes. That’s an easy category for me. I have few qualms about tossing clothes, and it was an easy start because I didn’t have that many to work through.

Yesterday, I literally touched every item of clothing I own, including things like linens and towels.

For the most part, this was more about throwing out things that needed to be thrown out. Socks with holes. T-shirts that I hadn’t worn in a year or two. Pajamas that I’ve never worn but felt guilty about throwing away because they were gifts. A lot of things were trashed because they’d outlived their usefulness. However, I was able to give away things that still had plenty of life left in them.

The hardest part of this process for me was when I came upon an old, long-sleeved, orange shirt I used to wear. It was thicker than a normal T-shirt and made for good loungewear. I can’t remember how many times, particularly in college, where I’d come home after a long day and slip it on and all my problems would seem less significant. When I put that shirt on, it meant I was serious about doing some relaxing. The shirt had served its purpose in my life though. It was the first article of clothing that I truly felt like thanking for the gift of comfort over the years. I wanted to keep it. However, I didn’t see it being particularly useful for my life going forward.

I had a few similar items of clothing. But, I’m not one to be overly sentimental about clothes. Some bring back some good memories, but I’m mostly fine letting go.

The biggest surprise I had was how many pairs of socks I’d accumulated. I don’t know the exact number, but I’d guess it was around 60-70 pairs. Most of them were worn out and not something I’d worn in a year or two. They were just stuffed into a drawer. Seeing them all at once was a bit shocking. I’m by no means a hoarder when it comes to clothes, but that was a lot of frickin’ socks. I’m now down to about 20 pairs, most of which I got for Christmas.

I feel good about the process. Last night, I had a bit of a headache from all of the work. Today, I’ve felt much lighter.

Oh, and if you’re wondering after viewing the photo above, I don’t have a chest of drawers. Mine was stolen at some point several years ago, and I’ve never gotten a new one. Now, I’m not sure that I actually need one. :)

The next step is books. This will be a tougher category for me. But, I know there’s a number sitting on the shelves that I’ll never look at again and can go to a better home.