My Kondo-ed Sock Drawer

While I got a lot out of reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – including the ever-useful closet-clearing question, “does this spark joy?” – I’ve never properly Kondo-ed my possessions.

It’s not that I’m against the idea of collecting all my clothes, or books, or kitchen gadgets, etc. in one place and holding each of them to determine how they make me feel. (I think that would be rather invigorating, actually.) It’s just that I seem to accomplish tidying in waves: Hmm. The closet/bookshelf/kitchen drawer is looking a little full. Think I’ll do a quick review to see how joyful I feel about all this stuff. It’s analogous to the “these pants are getting a bit tight” method of weight management rather than the crash diet method.

Regular but small-scale evaluations of my stuff seem more manageable, time-wise, than Kondo’s recommended “tidying marathon.” And it’s nice to have something to tackle when I get the “clean out and organize” itch.

But I think the real reason I like doing it this way is that it lets me work up to letting go of items with which I’m not quite ready to part. Usually this is about an image of myself, an image that’s more fantasy than real life, more vanity than authenticity, more fear-of-the-future based than present-need-based: “This architectural blouse makes me look so hip on Instagram.” Or “What if I need this [insert kitchen thingamabob here] some day? It’s so practical!” Or “What will people think of me when they see the entire collection of Mitford novels on my bookshelf?”

In my experience, shedding those phantasms takes time. When I recently ditched the books from college that made me feel well-read (but that went largely unread), it was because I could finally embrace the fact that I’m much more likely to re-read a good mystery or a cozy, psychologically astute portrait of small-town life.

(Seriously, as a pastor, Jan Karon’s Mitford novels – while occasionally a bit simplistic – and Patrick Taylor’s Irish Country Doctor series are morale-boosting manuals on how to live life in service to the “takes all kinds” variety of people you find in a church and still keep your sanity and sense of humor. Prayer and whiskey both seem to help.)

I do have a picture frame conveniently placed in front of the Mitford series just in case a guest is feeling super judgmental. So maybe I still have some work to do.

But these prolonged tidying forays have taught me that Marie Kondo is spot on about at least one thing: my wardrobe/bookshelf/kitchen drawers feel the happiest when I focus on my feelings (whether I love something) rather than my thoughts (rationales for why I “should” keep an item).

Oh, and she’s right about boxes for organizing. So helpful.

So since I like seeing pictures of other people’s lovely, neat drawers after they’ve been Kondo’d, I thought I’d share my sock and underwear drawer, where I just axed two pairs of socks (donated) and two pairs of saggy underwear (textile recycling) that were still “practical” but utterly unjoyful. I also just realized I would feel mentally happier if I used one little storage box (from some storage system I bought years ago and then tried to make my spouse use for computer stuff) to give it a little structure instead of letting all the socks and underwear run together:

(Yes, I roll my big socks and undies Kondo-style because it’s aesthetically pleasing but ball the athletic socks because I can’t be bothered. I am a walking contradiction, what can I say?)

Disclaimer: if you don’t count the three-pack of new underwear I picked up at a Goodwill in North Carolina, absolutely none of these clothes are thrifted, because used socks and underwear rarely make it to thrift stores and when they do, I’m not buying them. And because the sleep t-shirts are from my childhood and the bras are retail – saggy used bras that may or may not be my size are not something I thrift. (Oh, the wonders of a proper bra-fitting! High on my list once I have exited the maternity/postpartum stages.)

(Wait! I lied! The King Kong Empire State building t-shirt was a prize find from the Scituate Goodwill in college. Still use it as a sleep shirt because it’s worn so wonderfully thin and comfy.)

Cute and practical but no-longer joy-sparking socks:

Well, that was a heftily psychological excuse to show you my sock drawer.

What’s your psychological approach to tidying? Or your practical approach to organizing your sock drawer?

10 thoughts on “My Kondo-ed Sock Drawer

  1. Ooo, thanks for the nudge. I generally enjoy reading literary horror or Gothic horror (not the slasher stuff, yuk), but once in awhile I like something softer. I haven’t read a Jan Karon book in years. I should go to the library and check one out!

    This is right up my alley since I have minimalist tendencies. My psychological approach to tidying is if something makes me uncomfortable, even if it’s something nice, then I clean it, put it away, or donate it/throw it away. Examples: If a sock is always bunching at the heel, but it’s still a perfectly good sock, I get rid of it nonetheless. If a beautiful book reminds me of a bad memory in my past, I get rid of it. If an old, cracked, orphaned saucer makes me feel sad, I pull it out, dust it, and use it for a soap dish “with character.” I tend not to own clothes or things just because they’re “practical” or “everybody has one” or I “should” own one.

    As far as socks go, there isn’t much organization. I have 7 pairs of socks and 2 slipper-socks. Since I don’t have a whole lot of clothes taking up storage space, the socks get their very own drawer. No dividers or anything. They just sit there in their little sock “home.” I disagree with Ms. Kondo on how clean socks should be stored. I ball mine up like your athletic socks because they look like they’re hugging each other, and I think that’s cute.:-)

    Aw, look at your King Kong shirt. Love it!

    1. I realized after reading the last 2 of the Millenium (Lisbeth Salander) series and several of the Guido Brunetti crime books it might be time for a little palate cleansing – glad to suggest something similar for you!

      I love that your approach to chucking stuff is realizing what makes you uncomfortable. I just listened to some good podcasts (to which I will link later this week) that talk about the related topic of how much mental space clutter takes up. To your point, I don’t think we realize how taxing it is to have to emotionally process an item that makes us feel uncomfortable/sad/brings up bad memories every time we catch sight of it – and then to have to rehash the “but I should keep this” argument. Good for you for cutting straight to the heart of the matter and giving yourself some extra peace in the process!

      That shirt makes me smile, every time. Glad you enjoyed it! :)

  2. Your drawer looks well-organized even with just one box. I still haven’t read Kondo’s book(s) because I expect I would get myself stressed out trying to a follow such a formal system.

    To help maintain my sanity in the mornings, I tidy and organize my drawers at least once a month. I often struggle to find the right socks/hose and panties to wear with the outfit I choose. I group the socks by purpose: work, exercise and lounge, and then by colour (mainly black, white and “other”). To save space, I store out-of-season socks in my trunk with my out-of-season clothes. Holey or otherwise damaged goods get reused as rags and thrown out once they get really dirty.

    I also routinely sort my husband’s socks and undies. He has a separate drawer for socks only, since they take up so much room. He is a baller while I am a folder.

    Re: thrifting-I have been lucky to find camisoles with the “bra-shelf” which I cannot find in retail stores any more. I have also donated a couple of bras that I didn’t like after a few wearings; they weren’t yet stretched out or stained.

    I enjoy reading your articles and look forward to the next one.

    1. Glad you enjoy the blog, Carol!

      While Marie Kondo insists on following her system to a T in order to prevent relapse, I think it’s best read for the bits that resonate with you, so if you feel like you can skim and take the parts you like, you might want to check it out from the library.

      Sounds like you already have a pretty good system for your sock drawer! I agree with you (and diverge from Marie Kondo) about keeping out-of-season clothes out of sight. I have enough room in my sock drawer to keep everything there, but otherwise I swap out pants, sweaters, etc. so that I am not visually overwhelmed when I open a drawer or my closet; I like just looking at what I could feasibly wear that day. (I imagine if I lived in a less variable climate her advice would be a better fit.)

      I do most of the laundry and if the spouse’s underwear or socks get holes, off to textile recycling they go! Otherwise they manage to multiply like rabbits :)

      Good point about bras that have only been worn a few times. I may reconsider next time I’m bra shopping, although it’s nice to be able to find one that fits and then buy it in 2-3 colors.

      Thanks for sharing!

  3. Yay for Jan Karon! My 93 year old mother has begun listening to audiobooks due to failing eyesight, and I brought home a few Jan Karon books on CDs from our local library. I will soon have to request more from interlibrary loan since she’s gone through all the copies our library has. I also have my beloved copies of the Flicka Ricka and Dicka stories happily displayed. (Hey, those Swedish triplets showed how lagom was done way back in the 1930’s.) And I LOVE your King Kong t-shirt! I really think this is the essence of KonMari – being honest about what you love and what makes you happy. I know that seeing Flicka Dicka and Ricka Bake a Cake makes me smile and brings back such happy memories of my mother reading this story to me when I was a little girl. If I hadn’t donated all the other books on my shelves – the books I hadn’t read in years – the books I truly love wouldn’t stand out in such a joyful way. Now, off to read a cozy mystery (preferably one involving a lady sleuth who has a cat!)

    1. My grandmother (now deceased but probably in her early 90s at the time) was also the one who got me started on Jan Karon :)

      Great point about clearing out the extra so you can regularly see the ones that truly bring a smile to your face. For non-work-related books, I share a half bookcase with my spouse who is definitely more of a book keeper than I am, meaning the beloved books don’t stand out as well…I may need to grab my favorites and showcase them elsewhere for maximum joy as I pass by!

      If you haven’t read them already, the Ladarat Pantalung books (there are 2 so far) by David Casarett are great cozy mystery reads starring a lady detective with a cat – and featuring delicious descriptions of food. Seriously, do not read while hungry (unless you have a Thai restaurant nearby).

      1. Thanks for the suggestion! My local library had both books in so I’m starting on the first one tonight. Unfortunately, there are no Thai restaurants near me, so my next project will be attempting to prepare some (easy) Thai recipes. Win-win all around!

  4. I also tidy bit by bit for the sake of time and my schedule, but I’m a huge fan of Marie Kondo’s category method. (I just divide things into really, really small categories!) Seeing how much of a particular type of item I own is really eye-opening, and effective in recalibrating my sense of what is “enough” — which also helps me avoid over-purchasing going forward. Seriously, I cannot recommend the category method more highly!

    Your story about the Mitford and Irish Country Doctor novels made me smile — good reminder to peruse others’ bookshelves with curiosity (rather than any misplaced sense of literary judgement).

    1. I love that – curiosity over judgment :)
      The other day when looking for a specific book I realized we had books in three different places, and it reminded me of the wisdom of getting all the things in one category in the same place to sort through. (I actually disagree with Marie Kondo on storing them all in one place because I know I am MUCH less likely to, say, clean a dirty toilet bowl if I have to go upstairs to get a toilet bowl brush rather than do it right then when I notice it – but for the act of sorting, yes!)

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