On the flight from Copenhagen to Chicago, I read Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. I couldn't sleep at all during the flight so I plowed through the entire thing - and I'm so glad I did.
I started my sabbatical by cleaning out my apartment but after reading this book, it seems as though I had only just dusted my shelves. Lady Marie is hilarious in the way she goes about talking about one's home and belongings, so for the pure joy of reading someone else's thoughts about belongings, this book is a must read.
"But when she pulled open her sock drawer, I could not suppress a gasp. It was full of potato-like lumps that rolled about. She had folded back the tops to form balls and tied her stockings tightly in the middle.[...] I pointed to the balled-up socks. 'Look at them carefully. This should be a time for them to rest. Do you really think they can get any rest like that?'"
Excerpt From: Marie Kondo. “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”
Beyond the great representation of your belongings having a life of their own, Kondo does a great job of allowing you to follow through with her advice and thought process by encouraging you to ask yourself, "Does this bring me joy?"
I documented some of my process but the biggest eye-opener for me was the realization of the sheer amount of things I possess in my little apartment.
All of the books I own in my apartment were laid out on my dining table. I love books with all my heart and this was the category that was the hardest for me. (Do you see my dining table bending a little? Ha.)
There were joyful + painful moments as well as lots of memories flooding through my thoughts while completing the process of tidying my apartment but after I completed it, I felt new, refreshed, and cleansed.
Total bags tossed into the trash? 15. I know. I couldn't believe it either.
One of the things that Lady Marie advises to do is to "[visualize] the ideal lifestyle you dream of." The one thing I had always wanted to do was to reorganize my bookshelf as a color gradient - because, why not?! Being a visual person, sometimes I won't remember the name of a book that I'm thinking of but I know the color and can see the cover in my mind. So, naturally, this way of organizing my books makes sense for me.
This process of tidying was probably one of the best experiences I've ever had. Kondo states in her book that it would also teach you to edit out other things in your life and I think that this is a true statement.
As a UX designer, it already gives me a new perspective when it comes to choosing hierarchy of information, process flow, and editing material out. If you're in the industry, ask yourself, "Will it bring my user joy?"
UX Notes: Designing experiences should be done with the user in mind but what happens when you have multiple kinds of brain processes accessing the same material? Filters can be a point of contention with content managers and designers but having visual filters may be a feature that many have not yet experimented with but could provide another way for others to naturally find what they need. Hey Amazon - what if you had book cover color filters in your search process? I'll bet that your sales would go up (even if it's a little margin) and that you would have die hard, loyal fans.