When I first heard of this decluttering/organizing method, I was intrigued. I’m always interested in learning about the possible “perfect” method of organizing. After many internet searches trying to find out why this book was creating such a buzz, I decided that I’d need to buy the book to really learn what it was all about.
The “KariMon Method” (a mash up of the name of Marie Kondo, Japanese organizing consultant and author of the book), in a nutshell, includes:
- Decluttering is done by category rather than location, i.e., instead of decluttering one room at a time (kitchen, bedroom, bathroom), you declutter categories of belongings (e.g., clothing, housewares, books, papers, etc.).
- With the KonMari Method, you must gather together everything in the category you are decluttering – every single thing from every area of your home (so if the category is clothing, you gather all your clothing from every closet, the laundry room, things hanging on the back of a door) and pile it all in one room.
- Then you pick up and hold each item individually and ask yourself if that item “sparks joy.” If it does, it’s a keeper; if it doesn’t, it’s discarded.
Marie (pronounced Mar-ee-ay) Kondo recommends that you begin with the clothing category as it is the easiest category to go through and make decisions about discarding items (not a lot of sentimental value in clothing). That worked for me since I was mostly interested in culling my clothing assortment anyway.
I guess, technically, I’m not a successful student of the KonMari Method as I have focused my clothing decluttering efforts on my one primary closet rather than gathering all my clothes from every area of the house.
In spite of that, the method has worked for me in ways that other decluttering methods haven’t.
Keep only those items that
Ms. Kondo advocates focusing on “what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of.” She says the “best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in one’s hand and ask: ‘Does this spark joy?’ If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it.”
It’s a new way of thinking about your clothing and other belongings, and it may sound a little strange, I know. But try it! I have discovered that when I hold an item, look at it and actually ask myself if it “sparks joy,” I do actually have a physical and/or emotional response, and it’s pretty easy to decide what to keep and what to let go.
And after reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up about a year ago, I really followed the “does it spark joy” criteria and got rid of things that didn’t.
A few weekends ago, my friend Sarah and I had a girls get together while my husband was out of town, and we got into my closet and “KonMari’d” it again. (Note to you and to self: It’s much easier to do this with a friend. I recommend recruiting someone who you can trust to be honest with you to help.) It was pretty amazing to me to see the “discard” pile of clothes that resulted! And, once again, much easier to figure out what to keep and what to say goodbye to when I took each piece out one at a time and asked myself, “Does this spark joy?”
For the most part, the clothes that ended up in “doesn’t spark joy” pile (see my pile here!) were things I hadn’t worn in a while but that I’d been hanging on to because: it was expensive, I loved wearing it (5 years ago!), it was still in good condition, etc. Sound familiar? Some things were really easy to discard – things that I could immediately tell no longer sparked joy. However, there were others that were a bit more difficult, maybe because I had a sentimental memory about wearing something or because an item had brought me a lot of joy at one time. But when I finished the first round of easily determined “spark joy or doesn’t spark joy,” I went back to those items that had been a little difficult the first go around, and since I was more practiced at determining if something sparked joy or not, I found it easier to let go of those second round items if it was appropriate.
Wow! Now I have a lot more room in my closet for my clothes to breathe (important according to Marie Kondo)! And I don’t have to keep looking at things I haven’t worn in a long time and in reality won’t wear ever again. I am able to really see now what few pieces I might want to fill in with what I already have – things that do spark joy when I wear them.
Also . . . I’ve noticed that I now have all these empty hangers waiting for something new to hang on them!
I recommend reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It’s a different way to approach decluttering and organizing. And it’s a quick and fun read.
You can focus on your clothing like I did, or you can really embrace the whole program and work on a plan to declutter and organize your whole house. Marie Kondo recommends that this is something to be done over a period of time (e.g., six months) – it’s not a quick fix plan. But Ms. Kondo walks the reader through decluttering every category of items that you likely have in your home, including housewares, miscellaneous, books, and papers, so that it doesn’t feel overwhelming.
There are other helpful things you will learn in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, including Kondo’s game-changing folding technique and “vertical storage” (it’s a simple way to create more storage area for clothing in your drawers). After writing this post, I was compelled to refold some of the contents of my drawers with her vertical folding/storing method (until midnight!). (See photo below of my camisole collection vertically stored – doesn’t it look pretty!? Apparently, I wear a lot of black camis.)
There are some new ways of thinking about your belongings – and some KonMari ideas that might seem funny or strange (e.g, thanking an item for its service to you and saying goodbye to each individual item that you are discarding).
Overall, the most helpful idea for me was definitely the “does it spark joy” question. Truly, it makes the “to keep or let go” decision much clearer – at least it did for me.
In the end, I decided to use the suggestions that were helpful to me and made sense, and leave behind the ones that didn’t. However, I do think if I took on the complete KonMari decluttering method, it would be life changing.
Hmmm . . . maybe I need to rethink this!
Let me know if you try decluttering the KonMari way!
I’ve included below a few short videos which bring to life the KonMari Method decluttering method as well as demonstrations of the folding technique and vertical storage method (including one video of Marie Kondo herself!).
If you would like to access the cheat sheets Kristen references in her video (she has a collection of KonMari Method cheat sheets), you can find them on her blog, The Together Act. I haven’t downloaded the cheat sheets myself and I have no connection with this blogger, but I chose her videos to share with you because she was relatable and her videos were clear and short.
The following video is Marie Kondo demonstrating her folding method: