I first came across Marie Kondo’s book and her organizing tips in an article about minimalism. It immediately sparked my interest. It said she advocated only surrounding yourself with things that spark joy, meaning they bring happiness and positive vibes into your life. And that just sounded so right.
Naturally, I did what any normal millennial would do, and I googled away. Soon I found Marie Kondo and her organizing tips are a big deal in the organizing world. The so-called KonMari method, thoroughly explained in the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is almost worshiped by some but seriously disliked (an understatement probably) by others. While some reviewers said the book actually did change their lives for the better, others described it as the ramblings of an obsessive lunatic.
I wanted to see what the controversy was about, so I gave it a go myself. It’s a fun and easy read, but honestly, I did not find it life-changing. And like some reviewers had warned me, some of her views are rather …ehm… interesting. For example, she suggests you should talk to your clothes for them to stay vibrant and alive longer. Sorry, not for me.
However, if you can look past some of her ramblings, Kondo offers some very useful decluttering and organizing tips. I would never say a clean house is a number 1 priority, ever. But I do believe in surrounding yourself with positivity, and that includes the objects I keep.
After reading the book I did a mini house cleanse myself. And interestingly enough, my house really feels somehow lighter. I almost feel like I can think a bit more clearly without some of the clutter that was lying around before.
If you have a free afternoon on your hands, go on and read the book yourself. It’s a fairly quick read and if nothing else it will give you some serious motivation to start organizing. But to save some time read our 5 organizing tips you should take from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
Work by category, not by location.
Usually, when I would decide to tidy up a bit around the house, I would go to the room that felt most cluttered and started there. I would open one drawer after another, take everything out and then try to put it neatly back in. Only to realize a few weeks later things are looking pretty much the same they were before my little cleaning project.
To avoid that, Kondo suggests you try something different. Instead of cleaning room after room, work by category. The order in which to work is as follows:
– Mementos (items with sentimental value)
Once you’ve decided which category you want to tackle, get every single item from that category you own (and that means those jeans from high school you are saving down in the basement, as well) and lay it out on the floor. It may sound like a bit of an ordeal, but gathering all of your stuff in one place helps in two ways. Firstly, it will help you realize how many items you actually own (because no, you do not need 12 white t-shirts) and secondly, it will make deciding, which items to keep much easier.
And that brings me to number 2…
Start by letting go.
According to Kondo cleaning should begin by getting rid of the unnecessary. Before you start putting things back in the closets, you have to go through your items one by one and decide which ones to keep and which ones to let go. This is very important because only this way will you be able to assess the available storage space and the best places for the items you are keeping.
Decide what you want to keep, not what you don’t want to get rid of.
This is one of the best organizing tips I found anywhere. Deciding what items to keep and what items to let go is not an easy task. This is especially true for the items that we hold on to not because they have some sort of emotional value. But honestly, I find myself struggling with others as well.
A huge problem in my closet was what I call bad buys. You know, when you buy a blouse that you think would go really well with those jeans. But then you wear it once and it just doesn’t feel right. We all have those. And while my judgment in what I should buy has gotten much better over the years, I still had some of those barely ever wore it, so I can’t throw it away pieces in my closet.
The KonMari method suggests this is all to be resolved with one simple question. When you are going through your items, one by one, hold each in your hands, and ask yourself Does it spark joy? If it does, it goes on the keep pile, if not, the throwaway or giveaway pile.
This sounds easy enough, but I still found myself struggling sometimes, especially with my bad buys. Because the item does (or did) spark joy in some way, but obviously not enough for me to wear it.
What resonated more with me was this: decide what you want to keep and not what you don’t want to get rid of. This change of perspective made so much sense to me. Holding on to things just because you don’t want to get rid of them really doesn’t make much sense, does it? So I went through my wardrobe and away they went, all of the pieces I didn’t want to get rid of but didn’t really want to keep.
Make sure every item has a designated place.
Once you are done letting go, it is time to start putting things back. Well not back, but to their new designated place. It is very important each and every item has a specific place, where you put it. This way when you are done using it, you’ll know exactly where it goes. This may seem more obvious for some categories than others. But you really should apply it to all of your belongings. I am talking about things like keys, your wallet, and other knick-knacks. Things that you use often, but don’t really have a specific place to put them. So to avoid having them lying around the house (and having to look for them constantly) make sure each item has its home.
Store everything so it can be seen.
I believe Kondo calls this »vertical storage« and she recommends using it for pretty much everything. Instead of putting items one on top of the other, stack them vertically, so you can easily access every one of them. This way you will also be more likely to put them back to their place when you’re done using them. Kondo even teaches a special folding technique for your clothes, where you basically start by making a long rectangle and then fold from the bottom to make a sturdy enough package.
This completely transformed my dresser. Before stacking my clothes, I thought the dresser was completely unpractical. But now I love it for neatly storing all of my t-shirts, sweaters, and jeans.
Avoid decluttering by – not cluttering.
While Kondo has some ingenious declutter and organizing tips, I feel it really misses an opportunity by not addressing one crucial step.
To avoid having a cluttered house, think twice before bringing new stuff into it. This sounds very obvious, but many people struggle with it. I feel like today everything is so (financially) accessible, we often forget to think whether we really need something. We just buy it because it’s so cheap. And this doesn’t only affect the way our houses look and feel. It influences a whole range of other problems our world is dealing with today (unnecessary waste being one of them). So I suggest next time you want to buy something just because it’s a good deal, stop. Ask yourself »Does it spark joy?« at the store rather than having to do it when you are yet again decluttering a year later.
Have you read the book yourself or tried the KonMari organizing tips? What did you think and what were some of your favorite takeaways? Tell us in the comments below!
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