At this point, most have likely heard of the KonMarie Method, Marie Kondo’s Japanese guide to decluttering. Earlier this year, it was THE thing as instagram overflowed with photos of “Kondo-ed closets” and #KonMarie.
Her method comes down to two factors — discard first, then put away.
Her discard tactic is particularly intriguing. She says if an item no longer sparks joy, it’s not worth keeping. And to discern which pieces to keep, she suggests taking a deep look at everything owned. Roughly this translates to –> take all your shit out, throw it in a pile, and sort through piece by piece — asking, does this item spark joy?
It’s a comprehensive approach –sorted by categories — that Kondo says should be done “in one go”. So that means going through your space, gathering everything from the specific category, and contemplating if it brings happiness. Every item in your home gets reviewed.
When something comes up that no longer sparks joy, she encourages giving gratitude to that piece — thank it for the joy it once did bring, and then let it go.
Her storage concept, or the put away part, was a bit hard to grasp. She says to keep just one storage per category. She also elaborates on her folding technique (vertically) which makes things –like your socks– happier. She doesn’t like to put out-of-season clothes out of sight, and she wants you to remove everything out of your handbag after each day because that too makes for a happier handbag which she refers to as “a hard worker!”
About your handbag, she says,”Being packed all the time, even when not in use, must feel something like going to bed on a full stomach. If you treat your handbags like this, they will soon look tired and worn.”
Kondo suggests starting with your clothing, but she has an answer for everything in your home. In a nutshell, she wants you to get rid of most of it. There’s a specific chapter dedicated to mementos, stuff we’re emotionally attached to, like photos and letters, which she heartily believes in paring down.
After reading the book, I saw my home as a huge mess. We’ve got a suitcase filled with DHs teeshirts that he never wears. Our media cabinet is stuffed with old zip drives, CDs and cassette tapes. There’s even a camcorder hiding in there! And please don’t get me started on our toy situation. One storage per category? Kondo’s approach doesn’t take kids stuff into account accurately.
I love the idea of living only with items that spark joy, and I do think this book is a great manual with action-able tips guiding us towards more conscious living. (She wants us to have altars!)
But to live in the #KonMarie approved way is to embrace an entirely minimalistic lifestyle. And as simply beautiful as it may be, it’s not really realistic for everyone.
Here’s what I suggest for those whose lives may not be quite ready for the Kondo way, but still want to clean out some clutter:
Pick a category to tackle.
I like Kondo’s category approach, though I’d still keep the sorting of clothing and books separated per person. For my decluttering session, I went with winter accessories since the weather suddenly went all December on us.
Apply the Spark Joy rule.
This is probably the biggest take away from the book. It’s so simple..does this item make you happy?
In my sorting, it was actually quite apparent, going through our stuff, which were joy-inducing. I came across a memento — a hand-me-down from my mom- that was all kinds of 70s style. I haven’t worn it — I don’t think ever — yet there’s something about it that still makes me happy. I kept it. I don’t think Kondo would’ve approved.
Fold the keepers nicely. Put them away.
Kondo’s folding seems way too complicated to me. I understand her space saving technique, and practicality of being able to see everything at once, but folding stuff vertically feels unnatural…it all kept falling over!
For our winter accessories, I folded them as usual, then placed them in their bin- – up in the coat closet. After clearing out about 70%, it was much easier to put away. And more importantly — it was easier to get to.
As to Kondo’s suggestion to do your decluttering all in one go…I say do what you can. Stay consistent, but don’t go crazy trying to get it all done in one day.
The winter accessories was all the decluttering I had time for yesterday, but I still got a huge bag of giveaways and more space in our closet.
I like the idea of scheduling your next session so you can keep at it, but in a realistic time frame.