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.
Next up is our coats.
How do you approach the clutter in your home?
Buy the book here.
What a timely topic: de-cluttering. I giggled when you described the clothing falling from VERTICAL folding. I suppose what I took away from your post is gathering information on various self help topics is productive as long as one has confidence in one’s judgment to keep the info you like and leave what doesn’t apply to one’s particular life scenario. I have no experience emptying my handbag. If anybody needs something….the odds are good I’ve got it in my handbag on any given day. Sort of a shoulder abuse security blanket. Thanks for making us think and be connected to current knowledge, Elysha!
The vertical folding was a joke, for me. (Perhaps my folding skills could use a tune up.) I didn’t mention in my post that she also abhors rolling socks into balls which is something I’ve always done. So you’re right — it’s about finding what works for your personal situation and using that. I did do her vertical thing with my handbags, and that definitely looked better, and seemed more practical. I don’t empty my bag out each day either. The only time the stuff all comes out is when I switch bags. Thank YOU, GGW!
I enjoyed reading this as I’m currently reading her book now. I’m hoping to learn from it (I’ve been messy my entire life) but ready to discern the tips that just won’t work for my lifestyle. It’s something I’m learning to do anytime I read a “how to” book/article. There’s no one size fits all method for anything!
I like the same things about this method as you do…but I agree that we have to do what works for us, not what someone who doesn’t know anything about us or our lives thinks we should be doing.
I also have big bags of clothes ready to take to st Vincent’s …spring and Autumn is so good for that. Yesterday I told the kids to go through their clothes and put everything that they didn’t like or fit anymore on the bed. I then gave them a garbage bag and told them to fill them up. Seemed to work quite well! I bought lots of clothes while I was away ???? so when I was unpacking, I made sure to pull out the same amount of clothes to give away as I was putting in. I also regularly go through my books in the same way.
I have avoided this book like the plague:). It is such a wholesale approach and I agree with you–it is not always realistic. I have some clothes that don’t bring me joy, but I cannot afford to not wear them right now. Her book is a bit aspirational for me. But the concept sure sounds freeing.
Hi Kristine, it’s definitely a freeing concept which is so much of the appeal..don’t we all want more freedom in our lives?!?! I can see why you may be avoiding it…I think I probably was too which is why I waited this long to read it. As for needing to wear items that don’t spark joy, could you add something to your look that does…a necklace or scarf? Perhaps that could help elevate your feelings about the garment if it’s accessorized with something that does make you happy.
Your house must feel lighter, Sara! It’s so good to have your kids involved in the process. I try to do that too. And I’m glad you found some nice things to buy on your trip…they’ll always remind you of that special time!
Hi Stacy! It’s kind of amazing how everyone seems to be reading this book now! Clearly, there’s a universal interest in creating space in our lives. Thanks so much for dropping by and sharing your thoughts. I appreciate it!
Ha! We continue to travel on similar wavelengths, Elysha. I had read a teeny bit about this book, and purchased it when we were on vacation and it was perched at the checkout of the health food store. I really appreciate all of your comments, as I read a small amount of the book and haven’t gotten back to it.
Love the “sparking joy” test…although as I look around at the substantial chaos in our new home, I don’t know when I’ll get to applying that test to all of this :). On the plus side, we did a HUGE amount of clearing out/donating/throwing out when we moved this summer. I guess I just need to get back to it. Hmmm…will need to ponder the daily clearing out the handbag…makes sense, just not sure I can stick with that. In the vein of your wise advice of tailoring Kondo’s suggestions to our individual lives, maybe once a week?
Thanks, as always, for the inspiration and wisdom…and humor. xxo
ST, Seeing your dancing red dress pop up on my feed with a comment always makes me smile.
Yes, the book made me feel the same way as you..that my place is a huge mess or substantial chaos as you so eloquently phrase it ????. Moving is definitely a great opportunity to clear out. I’m glad you were able to make good use of that, and I hope that you are settling in nicely. The important thing is that you feel at home. I don’t think living in the Kondo approved way is for everyone. Once again, it comes back to balance…take what you need and discard the rest. (Both with your belongings and her tips!) xoxo Dance On My Friend!
I recently read Kondo’s second book, aptly titled Spark Joy. In it, she revises some of her earlier lessons to show how to focus on the joy rather than the tidying. I so enjoyed some of her suggestions like when you’ve found the things that give you joy, keep them close and use them or display them instead of storing them.
I wasn’t even aware she had a second book. Thank you for letting me know! I like the idea of keeping the joyful items close by…it’s good to be reminded often of what brings us joy.
Have a good day, Karen!