You’ve heard of Type 1 and Type 2 fun, but have you heard of Type 1 and Type 2 tidying? Possibly, possibly not, as I did just make up the terminology right now, but the ideas aren’t new. Let me take you on a journey.
You get home from work. You throw your coat and jacket on the sofa, throw your bag on the floor, take your shoes off and leave them in front of the TV. Eventually, you take a shower, leaving each item of clothing in a trail towards the bathroom as you remove it. There are dirty dishes left in the sink from breakfast. Then, post-shower, you have a moment of inspiration. You decide to tidy your flat. You rush back, hang up your coat, unpack your bag, do the dishes. And somehow, after all this, the place still feels somehow…messy. Why is this?
Because this was all Type 1 tidying. And you need to make time for Type 1 AND Type 2 tidying in order to have a happy home, much like you need both Type 1 and Type 2 fun to have a happy life.
In Marie Kondo’s book (which I talk about here), she highlights her method for sorting through all your possessions, and how to best keep track of them. She describes tidying as one “big job” of organising and decluttering, and from there everything will “find its way” back to where it belongs. This, in essence, is the difference between Type 1 and Type 2 tidying. Type 2 tidying is much like Type 2 fun; it’s deeper, more substantial, lasts longer. Type 1 is more superficial, but equally important. If you only enjoy Type 2 fun for example, my guess is that you live quite a stressful life, and that people don’t describe you as someone who “lives in the moment”.
In short, Type 2 tidying is deciding where everything goes and Type 1 tidying is keeping it there.
Let me delve deeper. Type 2 is about sorting, giving everything a home, taking stock of what you own. It’s the process of arranging all your cards or fancy plates nicely in a glass cabinet. It’s figuring out where to store your books and where to store your towels. Without this type of tidying, it’s just ANARCHY. Things get “tidied” into whatever drawer is free at any given time, and there’s no system to the madness. Type 1 tidying is the “20 minutes a day” people go on about. It’s taking the pots and pans out of the dishwasher, it’s folding the underwear and putting it in the underwear drawer, it’s putting the scissors back in the desk organiser. I touch on this in my Marie Kondo post, but she essentially says that if you tidy a little every day you’ll be tidying for ever. I whole heartedly agree with this, for the same reason as outlined above; it’s exclusively Type 1 tidying.
Type 1 tidying should be easy. It should be something you can do mindlessly while you chat to your housemate, or husband, or to your mum while on the phone. It should be something you can do while catching up on your favourite show, or listening to your favourite podcast. Type 1 tidying is even something you do before the mess starts; it’s hanging your coat up on the rack when you get in and putting your keys in their place. THIS is what needs to happen every day, and THIS is simply a case of habit-building and finding 20 minutes every morning or evening. Upkeep is necessary, but not sufficient.
For Type 2 tidying, I can genuinely recommend Marie Kondo’s book (have I mentioned I think Marie Kondo is fantastic?) This can take several hours, or even several days. The KonMari method involves taking ALL your items of a certain type and organising them ALL, thereby making it easier to get rid of things you don’t need or take note of duplicates. But there are other ways, if you literally don’t have that amount of time or energy. Of course, these other methods are just postponing the inevitable; but they do make things easier, and they do make a difference.
Marie Kondo actually advises against tidying by “area” – that is, tackling that one cupboard or closet. I think it’s absolutely fine, as long as if you later discover you had more items that should have gone together with these ones, you move them all to the same spot. Granted, this may be harder to remember do, but eh. I’ve certainly found that the areas I specifically sat down and worked through (kitchen cabinets, bathroom cabinets, under the stairs) have managed to stay tidy and organised for the past YEAR.
Type 2 tidying is, in many ways, less “fun”, as it takes longer and is more mentally draining. However, it’s a great way to connect with your space and to make your home feel your own. If you ever enjoyed interior design on the SIMS or organising spreadsheets, now is the time to hone in on those interests and put those skills to good use. I suggest actually making an activity out of this sort of tidying. Allow yourself to enjoy it! One evening or weekend, take a good chunk of time – 3 hours say – and dedicate it to working through an area. It’s also great fun taking stock of old possessions, and the memories that come with them! And once this side of things is done, the mess is much easier to manage.
One thing I’d say is that even though theoretically you only need to properly Type 2 tidy once, you will end up needing to rethink things as you accumulate more and more possessions. In fact, the idea of owning too much is actually something that makes me quite anxious – I buy things because I actually need them, but I hate the fact that I need them. However, as long as you “take stock”, and aren’t sentimental about keeping things, you should be fine.
If you’re a subscriber to “spring cleaning”, I suggest Type 2 tidying to be included in the “spring cleaning” package. Type 1 should be a daily, or at the very least a weekly task.
Happy Type 1 and Type 2-ing!