The Southern Nest Blog

The Marie Kondo Method for the Real Family: How I found my way through a sea of broken toys, preschool papers, and sippy cups to find sanity. Step 2: My Books

The Marie Kondo Method for the Real Family: How I found my way through a sea of broken toys, preschool papers, and sippy cups to find sanity. Step 2: My Books

Kondo says to go in the following order: clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellany) and finally things with sentimental value.  After I finished sorting through the clothing (Step One)  it was time to move onto books.  Remember, my approach to this method was to treat it as a program.  I would not “adapt” Kondo’s method to fit myself.  After all, she is the expert-I am not.  I followed her method strictly which meant following the exact order, the exact way she suggests to do it.  I figured if I was going to just do “mostly what she said” or bits and parts of it, I was completely wasting my time.

So, first I emptied the entire contents of the bookshelf onto the dining room table.  I added the random piles of magazines I had saved.  I scoured the house looking for every last book that belonged to me-in my nightstand, in my car, where ever it was…it now belonged on the dining room table.

This was my pile of books.  (I covered the books on my bookshelf in white kraft paper for aesthetics-hence all the white books.)



The question I have been asked the most is “when did you find the time to do this?”  Here was my approach to gathering all of the books in spite of being bombarded throughout the day with “Mommy, Mommy, MOMMY!!” and “Courtney, we need to research this package that stopped showing tracking activity” and “what’s for dinner” and “Mom, the dog threw up and Gigi is trying to play with it”….you get the point.  I picked a landing spot for the category I was to sort next.  I chose my dining room table.  Through the day, I would add to the pile.  Any random spare second I got, I’d grab at least one book and throw it on the table.  I did this throughout the day, knowing that I would need to uncover EVERY last book I possessed or I would need to throw it out.  I got the kids to bed in the evening at 8:00 and I headed down to the table, which housed my complete collection.  I found a “Zen” station on Pandora and played the music.  (My husband got a real laugh out of that one.  But hey-if you’re going to do it, do it right.)  Kondo actually suggests no music while you sort-but if you must, it must be something very soothing.  I grabbed a glass of wine (not part of Kondo’s advice, but kind of a non-negotiable for me) and my big box of black trash bags.  And for the next hour and a half, I picked up each book.  Did it spark joy in me?  Meaning…did I feel happy inside when I picked it up?  If so, I put it in a stack.  Books that I read and liked, books I read only part of but intended to read eventually, books I purchased and never touched…they didn’t give me that spark.  So, right into the black trash bag it went.  (I was not planning to actually throw it out-but putting it in a trash bag helps the process.)  In the end, I had about 3 or 4 bags of books that went straight into my trunk for donating.  I put the books that I wanted to keep back onto the bookshelf and was floored.  This is all I kept.


(A quick side-note:  I look at this picture and shudder at the piles of paper and JUNK on the desk, on the floor…it’s been a year since I have seen it like that.  I honestly cannot believe I was able to function comfortably with it there.)

My previously overstuffed, overflowing bookshelf now had empty shelves.  I stared at them, wondering what to put on them.  I felt so light.  Normally when I would “organize” my old way, I would get a feeling of dread as I would return things to the spot, cursing the lack of room and wondering how I would ever fit it all and keep it organized.  This was such a change.

I decided it was the perfect spot to keep my sheets of vinyl for Southern Nest.  I had PVC pipes cut to separate each color of vinyl and slipped it onto the bottom shelves.  I could not believe I had room for ALL OF IT.  All because I had gotten rid of those “books I may want to read one day or my sister may want to borrow it”…..gone.  Those were gone.  I was beginning to see how valuable every single space in my house was.


Just so you can see how this method lasts…I literally just stood up from my desk and turned around to grab a quick picture with my phone.  This is almost one year after I sorted.




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