I recently read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. This book has been all the rage lately, and I was curious about Kondo’s story, her philosophy and approach.
One of the values of her book, in my opinion, is the debunking of many organization & decluttering tips we have learned in the past. She also presents an alternative way to think about our “stuff” and its effect on us.
Kondo’s specific approach is called the KonMari Method. She points out that with the old way of thinking about decluttering, a few days or weeks later, things start piling up again. I think the biggest difference has to do with her “go big or go home” approach. According to her, once her clients go through her method, they do not go back. There is a “click”, or a “set point” that you reach where you start seeing your things differently.
One of the similarities of the KonMari method to conventional decluttering is that the first step must be the discarding phase. But not in the way we are used to doing it. Most of the time, when we are cleaning stuff out our question is, “will I use/need this in the future?” Or some variation of that question. And most of us will keep it if the answer to the question is “maybe” or “possibly.” That is not the KonMari way. The first step is to decide on a category that you will tackle. It is important that you start out with easier categories (clothes, books) before you address the tougher categories (mementos, photos). This is so that you can build practice and confidence.
After reading the book, I decided to tackle my closet. In general, I would say that my wardrobe was already smaller than most, as I was doing regular clean outs about once or twice a year. Plus I admittedly identify as a simplicity lover versus an abundance lover. When I decided to use the KonMari method, I put all my clothes on my bed, and started holding each piece one at time. I would ask my self if that item brought me joy and go with my immediate response without letting my analytical mind start rationalizing. Guess what? I got rid of about 50% of my clothes. Two garbage bags full. There is now so much space in the closet. When I go in there I see everything I have at one glance which makes me feel lighter somehow. It also inspired me to try a modified “capsule wardrobe” approach moving forward. I will blog about that soon.
Here are some of the key points she made that really resonated with me:
- When we reduce what we own, we are essentially “detoxing” our home.
- Don’t do a little at a time (within a specific category anyways) . Set aside a large chunk of time to complete your project. And then just do it.
- Sort by category, not location. So basically, all clothes versus hall closet.
- Take everything out and physically handle each object and discard/donate anything that does not “spark joy.”
- Do not buy storage bins or storage systems.
- If you are holding onto things that do not bring you joy, then most likely it is an attachment to the past or anxiety about the future.
The benefit of reading the book – the whole book – is that it is not just the strategies and tactics to how, but really uncovers the psychological reason why we keep stuff. The “stuff” that surrounds us is more than just “stuff” that takes up physical space. It takes up subconscious space in our minds that could be used for creativity, rest, and connection.
If you are interested in trying the KonMari method for decluttering your home, I would definitely take the time to read the book to get a full understanding of the why’s behind her recommendations and practices. It’s a short enjoyable read – a perfect companion for a day at the beach this summer.