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  • Cheryl Libutti

"Death Cleaning" and that little decluttering book.


Just like in every other area of life, organizing has trends. Organizing itself is fairly trendy right now, and based on what I see online, more and more people are both looking to hire organizers and jumping into running an organizing business. Organizing as a profession started on both coasts of the US and is making its way inward to a town near you.

A few years ago, the little Japanese decluttering book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo hit the bestseller lists and clients frequently ask me if I've read it. Yup, I have it, I read it, and I think its pretty interesting. The biggest takeaway I got from it is the concept of giving yourself permission to discard items if they are no longer serving you, regardless of the cost you paid for the item, the sentimental reason you keep it, or the anticipatory guilt you would you feel letting it go. It's really okay.

So that was really back in 2015... what new trends are popular today?

Death Cleaning is sweeping the organizing world. Swedish Death Cleaning, in particular, is all the rage, based on the publication of this book. The idea is a great one, and a project that I've taken on with many (usually older) clients: go through all of your belongings and purge, purge, purge... get rid of the extraneous and be at peace knowing that if you died tomorrow, you are not leaving a holy mess for your spouse/kids/relatives/attorney to pick up after you are gone.

You can google Death Cleaning and find a few good articles fleshing out the idea if you are so inclined.

The point is this: I like this trend. I liked the Kondo book trend. I generally like anything that helps people focus mindfully on what they have, how they manage it, and how they feel about it. I think its incredibly thoughtful to look ahead at what tasks your loved ones will have to accomplish after you are gone. As I tell my own mother, "Every thing you get rid of is a gift to me, because its one less thing I have to deal with."

If its a fad that gets you thinking (and ACTING), I'm all for it. Even if you are not older, but are accumulating what seems to be ever-increasing amounts of STUFF, think about maybe paring some of it down. Focus on clothes one weekend; paper another weekend; craft/art/paper supplies another weekend; and personal history/memorabilia yet another weekend. As you get out decorations for Valentine's Day, Easter, Fourth of July, etc, look at your stuff and see if there are items you really don't put out anymore. If there are some that you're not in love with, donate or toss them.

You don't have to spend hours doing this... try to do 30 minutes for 30 days and see how far you get. The 30 days don't have to be sequential, but should be intentional. Join an online challenge like I mentioned in my previous post. Do it with a friend or family member and share victories. Hire someone to work with you and provide accountability.

So if you want to sound hip, the next time someone asks, "What'd you do this weekend?", you can breezily answer, "Oh, I did a little death cleaning..." and when they look at you in semi-horror, you can tell them its VERY 2018 and ON TREND to do it. Enlighten them and feel like you're the cool kid. :)


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