NOTE: This post was originally published on my previous blog, Recovering Shopaholic.
My post on how my husband and I downsized our large book collection was very well received, and many readers told me they’d like to see more content from me on the topic of de-cluttering. Toward the end of that post, I mentioned that we had also applied the “KonMari Method” to our compact disc collection. Today, I recount that process and share the insights learned along the way.
On Music Collections
We didn’t start out with an insanely huge music collection. Between the two of us, we had exactly 400 compact discs. This pales in comparison to the stash of a guy I dated long ago, who owned 2000 CDs, all arranged in alphabetical order on four racks that filled an entire wall of his living room. In hindsight, I should have seen those impeccable racks as a red flag of an overly controlling person who approached his relationships with the same type of “things must be just so” attitude. But you know what they say about hindsight being 20/20…
Anyway, my husband’s and my music collection wasn’t even in plain view. In this modern age of iTunes, we had painstakingly digitized each disc long ago (using the “Royal we” here, as I’m the one who did the work!). The actual discs were stowed away in boxes at my mother-in-law’s house less than a mile away. In fact, we had completely forgotten about those boxes when we believed we’d reached our goal of getting all of our stuff out of her house by the end of last year. It wasn’t until I read “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo that I was reminded of yet another household category that needed to be “tidied.”
Using the “KonMari Method”
Marie Kondo doesn’t specifically address music collections in her book, but her “KonMari Method” can be effectively applied to virtually every area of our possessions. Since we had experienced such great success in downsizing our book collection, I was inspired to take on another household category. My immense paper/file stash still felt too daunting to address, so I enrolled my husband in de-cluttering our compact disc collection. So he hauled the four heavy boxes from his mother’s garage to our living room two weekends ago.
Just as we had done with our books on the previous Saturday, we stacked the compact discs on our living room floor. We then went through them disc by disc and asked ourselves,
Does this CD spark joy?”
In some cases, the answer was “No” for one of us but “Yes” for the other. One affirmative answer was enough for a disc to remain in our collection. As with our books, we had to sometimes ask some follow-on questions, as the “sparks joy” query didn’t always elicit an immediate response. Other questions we pondered included:
- “Does this CD add value to my life?” (a similar question to the above, but with a slightly different slant)
- “Do I see myself listening to this music again soon?”
- “Do I even still like this music?”
Tastes and Preferences Change
Most of the music we owned pre-dated our relationship, even though we’ve been together for almost sixteen years. All of it had sparked joy within us at one point in time, but tastes and preferences change. Just as we often don’t love the clothes we purchased two decades ago (if we even still own them), we don’t always feel inspired to listen to the music of yesteryear. Of course, some artists we loved long ago still stir passion in our souls. There’s no way I’d even consider letting go of my Depeche Mode and Duran Duran CDs (yes, I was a child of the 80’s – and I still am that girl!). But other groups we used to swoon over now leave us feeling lukewarm at best. What we love changes – and that’s okay!
We had a few duplicates within our collection, so it was a no-brainer to pass at least one of them on. If the artist and songs still sparked joy, one copy of the disc was retained. Otherwise, both were slated to move out the door. If we couldn’t remember an artist or album, we followed Kondo’s advice regarding books. She recommended that books not be opened and read during the “tidying” process, so we also didn’t listen to any of our CDs. If we couldn’t conjure the music in our heads and feel excitement about the tunes and words, it was time to let that particular disc go.
A Speedier Process – and the End Result
The CD de-cluttering process proceeded much quicker than downsizing our books. In fact, it probably only took about an hour to complete. Once again, our curious cat, Sprite, decided to get in on the action and “help” with the process. Our other cat, Coco, observed from a safe distance (she’s older and more camera-shy).
When all was said and done, we opted to cull over half of our compact disc collection. While we elected to keep 187 discs, another 213 were slated to be passed on. Although we neglected to take a photo of all of the CDs laid out on the floor, we did capture a few shots of the end result.
An Often Neglected Step
After we decided which discs were staying and which were going, there was another step in the process. We had to delete the culled music from our iTunes library. I realize that many people would probably omit this step. They might think, “What’s the difference? The other music isn’t taking up any physical space in my home.” Well, that’s true, but there are a couple of other things to consider.
For one, only one person is legally allowed to own a copy of purchased music. If we were to donate or sell the actual discs and retain the digitized music in our personal library, we’d technically be breaking the law. While I doubt that the authorities will take the time to follow up on such things, it’s still something to consider. I have to admit, however, that I didn’t even think about this until my husband mentioned it. There was a second and more important reason why I wanted to update my iTunes library.
What Clothes and Music Have in Common
A clothing analogy can help me to illustrate my point. Most of us have had the experience of losing sight of our favorite clothes in the midst of a packed closet full of ill-fitting and unloved garments. It’s so much harder to get dressed every day with an overly large wardrobe, especially when one has a lot of pieces they never even wear in the mix.
Well, the same thing is true with our music collections. I’ve often tried to put together a workout playlist and struggled to find songs I loved mixed in with all of the ho-hum and “What’s this?” tunes. It’s much easier for us to find the clothes – and the songs – we love when that’s all we have! That’s the reason for my LIWI Challenge and why I opted to update my iTunes collection.
On Virtual Clutter and Keeping the Actual Discs
In addition, our virtual information still occupies energy in our minds and in our hearts. While your overflowing email box won’t lead to embarrassment when guests visit your home, it sure can sap you of much-needed energy and vitality when you look at it. I never used to understand the impact of digital clutter, but it’s definitely non-trivial. Now that I realize how much my information overload adversely impacts my life, I’m bound and determined to conquer all of it. My paper files are next on my “KonMari” attack plan, so stay tuned.
Some of you may wonder why we opted to keep any of the actual discs at all, especially since I had digitized all of them and we have the songs in our iTunes library. Well, what if my computer were to die a premature death? I’m not sure if I would be able to access my iTunes library or not in that case, but I don’t want to take any chances. There’s also the possibility that I might one day want to listen to the actual disc the “old school” way. Plus, we never know what new technology looms around the corner that might require having the original version of the music.
While we still have our remaining CDs stored in their jewel cases in the boxes shown above, we’re considering some space-saving ideas. We may opt to purchase a case with plastic sleeves which can hold all of our compact discs in a smaller space than that occupied by the boxes. That way, we can divest ourselves of the jewel cases (after all, all song lyrics are easily obtained online these days) and store the CDs in less than a quarter of the space. We’ll likely take care of that soon, but for now, we’re just happy to have downsized and only retained the music that still makes our hearts sing.
Getting Rid of the Culled Discs
The final step in the process was to get rid of the culled discs. A quick internet search revealed that there were a few compact disc resale stores in our area. After reading reviews on Yelp, we opted to avoid one local store whose proprietor had chased a customer out of his store while hurling obscenities at her (I’m sure there is more to the story than she let on, but we still thought it best to take our business elsewhere).
We found another store close by that was a bonafide relic from the 70’s. The owner looked like he was straight out of Woodstock and he was burning incense behind the counter. The CD he was blaring sounded like the alcohol-addled ramblings of a drunk man set to psychedelic music. I have no idea who it was, but it was an assault on my ears.
We were forced to listen to this “music” while the proprietor thumbed through our CD boxes to see if he wanted to purchase anything. He finally settled on approximately 30 discs, for which he offered us a total of $35. Not much, but better than nothing… After we took the money and escaped the noise, I asked my husband if he wanted to try to unload some of the other discs at another resale store. He felt it wasn’t really worth our efforts, so we took the rest of the discs to the local Goodwill and went home.
Peeling Away the Layers Toward Clarity
It feels good to have another area of our home pared down. It feels like peeling an onion. The more layers that are peeled away, the more peaceful I feel. I am coming to agree with Marie Kondo, who attributes “life-changing magic” to the process she calls “tidying.” I now strongly believe in the veracity of the following Kondo quote:
When you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order, too. As a result, you can see quite clearly what you need in life and what you don’t.”
I know it may seem hard to believe that downsizing our books, CDs, papers, and clothing can help to increase our clarity and improve our lives, but it’s true! I still don’t have the clarity I desire, but I believe it may be just around the corner. So I’m going to keep peeling away that which is not needed in my home – and in my wardrobe – and trust that the answers I want in my life will appear. Who wants to join me on this journey?
I’d love to get your thoughts on how de-cluttering (“tidying”) has improved your life and on your experiences with the “KonMari Method.” If you have any suggestions for paring down a music collection – or any other type of collection, I welcome those, too. Please feel free to share your insights in the comments section of this post.
Before I sign off, I’d like to thank those who took the time to post a review of my book, “End Closet Chaos: Wardrobe Solutions from an Ex-Shopaholic,” on Amazon this week (and those who did so previously). I appreciate your reading the book and sharing your thoughts. If anyone else has any thoughts they want to share about “End Closet Chaos,” the more the merrier (click here for the review form).