In 2018, I read Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. You have probably heard of this book, the “KonMari Method,” and/or even seen the Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. In the beginning of the book, Kondo explains how she was once someone who loved storage.
An avid fan of home and lifestyle magazines since kindergarten, I would read a feature on how to put things away and have to try out each suggestion immediately…When I finally came to my senses, I saw that my room still wasn’t tidy even though it was full of magazine racks, bookshelves, drawer dividers, and other storage units of every kind. ‘Why does my room still feel cluttered when I’ve worked so hard to organize and store things away?” I wondered. Filled with despair, I looked at the contents of each storage unit and had a flash of revelation. I didn’t need most of the things that were in them! Although I thought that I had been tidying, in fact I had merely been wasting my time shoving stuff out of sight concealing the things I didn’t need under a lid. Putting things away creates the illusion that the clutter problem has been solved. But sooner or later, all the storage units are full, the room once again overflows with things, and some new and ‘easy’ storage method become necessary, creating a negative spiral. This is why tidying must start with discarding. We need to exercise self-control and resist storing our belongings until we have finished identifying what we really want and need to keep.
The paragraph above from Kondo's book refers generally to bins and other storage containers people can buy and use in their houses. However, Americans do more than just squirrel away things on their property–they rent storage units to house their things they don’t need access to regularly. In fact, according to StorageCafe.com, here are some highlights related to storage units in the US at the end of 2022.
Self storage has grown to more than 1.8 billion square feet of space in 2023. Over the span of the last 5 years, 260.4 million square feet of storage space was built – that's equivalent to 14.8% of the total inventory.
In 2022 alone, almost 41.5 million rentable square feet were finalized, an area that would cover the whole of Central Park. New supply in 2022 represents 2.5% of the existing inventory.
In 2023, roughly 52.6M sq. ft. of new self storage space are planned to be completed across the U.S. That represents a 26.6% increase compared to 2022 deliveries.
A fifth of Americans (21%) use self storage currently, with a further 15% intending to rent some in the future.
The average self storage street rate for a 10'x10' storage unit is $122/month, down 4.7% year-over-year.
The annual cost on average for a 10’ x 10’ storage unit is nearly $1500/year as of 2022. That’s a lot of money to hold onto things you will likely forget about anyway.
Without going into too much detail, the KonMari Method is different from other methods of organizing in several ways. The two I found most important were that you needed to sort items by category, not by location, and Kondo’s process used for deciding what to keep and what to discard. Sorting by category means you don’t clean your closet and then go to your spare room at another time even though you also have clothes in your spare room. Rather, you take all of your clothes regardless of where they are in the house and sort through the clothes.
Next, to determine if the items are worth keeping or not, you need to physically touch everything being sorted and ask yourself, “Does this give me joy?” If the answer is yes, it’s a keeper. If the answer is no, it’s a goner. This is not a question of, “Who gave this to me?” or “How much did it cost to buy it in the first place?” or “Does this have sentimental value?” or “Does this still fit?” The question is, “Does this give me joy?” If I’m being honest, so many of the things I had did not give me joy. They made me feel guilty. “So-and-so got this for me and even though I love that person, I don’t really like this” or “I spent a lot of money on this thing and I haven’t used it in years.” When I sorted through my things with the mindset of, “Does this give me joy,” it was easier for me to let go of things that felt more like an albatross weighing me down than a balloon lifting me up.
In fact, I got rid of so much stuff that I called 2018, the year I read the book, “The Year of the Purge.” It felt great! Not only did I release myself from years of things I hung onto that were not giving me joy, I felt joyful about letting go. What’s more, my mindset about keeping things expanded to my mindset of consuming. I bought less since during the shopping process I asked myself, “Will owning this give me joy?” What I realized was the joy I tend to feel buying something is temporary and the lack of joy I feel owning something I don’t really use was not worth it. Thus, I bought less.
Here I am, at the start of 2024 and a dear friend of mine asked me what my intention was for the year. This is the second year she’s done this. Though I would not have otherwise had an answer, when she asked me on New Year’s Eve 2023, I thought about it and said, “inner peace.” As a result, I really did refer back to the pursuit of inner peace throughout 2023 and it made for a better year. For 2024, my intention is “joy” and I cannot think of joy without thinking of the KonMari Method. While in 2018, I used the KonMari Method to tidy up and organize my things, I’d like to use this year to think about how I can tidy up and organize my life, my emotions, my thoughts, and my relationship with myself and others. How many thoughts, emotions, and relationships do I have that do not give me joy and how can I let go of those that don’t while keeping those that do? This is my intention this year and that gives me joy!
P.S. A friend of mine shared a great post that I’m passing on to you as the Catch of the Week. “Be a Lamp Not a Mirror,” reminded me that energy can be contagious and I need to not only protect myself against negative energy, but be a source of positive energy for others.
P.P.S. Please remember to...
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