Last year, I read the fabulous and best-seller book ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up‘ by Marie Kondo. She is a Japanese cleaning consultant who shares her guide to decluttering your home through her revolutionary KonMari Method for simplifying, organizing, and storing. I have to be honest, at first, I wasn’t sold on this idea of de-cluttering, in fact, I found the idea too simple to be the premise of a book. I mean how hard can tidying up be? But I knew I could learn a thing or two about keeping my house in order so I gave this book a go.
WHAT IS THE KONMARI METHOD
Marie Kondo devised the KonMari method of simplifying and organizing the home. The method takes spring cleaning or Diwali cleaning to a whole new level. According to Kondo, tidiness is a way of everyday living. Here’s a summary of what the KonMari Method entails. If this intrigues you, please read the book as it goes in depth about the steps and clarifies on dealing with each category.
1. DE-CLUTTER EVERYTHING AT ONCE
Instead of taking it slow, Kondo advocates a full epic clean up to ensure that you don’t revert to your old cluttered self. You can decide the time duration for the cleanup and it can take someone a weekend or a month to completely de-clutter.
2. IMAGINE YOUR IDEAL LIFESTYLE
This includes the kind of house you want to live in and how you want to live in it.
3. KEEP ONLY THE THINGS THAT SPARK JOY
This is a very important step in the KonMari method, to take each item in your hand and ask yourself “does this spark joy?” If yes, keep it and if it doesn’t spark joy, then throw it out. An exception to this would be things that don’t necessarily bring joy but can’t be discarded. These are things that help you every single day and so you should appreciate how they are contributing to your life.
4. TIDY BY CATEGORY, NOT LOCATION
Generally, we tackle house cleaning by segregating rooms but Kondo tells you to go by categories. The ideal way is to start with clothes, books, papers, and miscellaneous. The author says tidying by category prevents the confusion that arises when you try to declutter objects stored in multiple locations.
5. DISCARD FIRST, ORGANIZE LATER
There are two steps – discarding and organizing, and discarding must be done first.
APPLYING THE KONMARI METHOD
As soon as I read the book, I went head-on into the process. It took me four days to clear up a one bedroom apartment. I was shocked to find the number of clothes, paper/mail, and general junk my husband and I had accumulated. I followed the book to the letter. I got all my clothes out of the closet on to the floor and literally went over each item one at a time. Letting go of clothes was the hardest bit for me. I let go of clothes that I had not worn in the last two years even though I had the opportunity to. Kondo, says the same goes for unread books or books you have read already, but I did not discard some throw them because I knew I would get to reading them soon. Before this, for two years I held on to my Living Buddhism magazines that I had no intention or time to read again. I decided it was time to donate them as well. I got myself a shredder to deal with the daunting pile of mail.
My biggest revelation was the ‘dormant loungewear‘ as Kondo puts it. These are clothes that you no longer wear outside the house and end up piling up as home clothes. Turns out my dormant loungewear was enough to help dress someone in need of clothes. As I dug into the mountain of clothes I could feel the joy of letting go of everything that had been taking space in my closet. I realized it wasn’t the lack of closet space at all. Most of these items I had bought on sale and they did not spark joy.
In the end, letting go of these clothes felt really good. Once the clothes were handled, the other categories became easier to deal with.
I can now see how this sort of intense de-cluttering can change your perspective. It is really a philosophy and a lifestyle choice. I don’t see myself doing everything as per the KonMari method, but every now and then there is a reality check. After reading the book, I watched a documentary on Minimalism (I think on Netflix) that changed my outlook on tangible things. Even though this book is not about minimalism and I hardly think I am ready to become a minimalist, I think I can apply some of it in my purchasing decisions.
My closet is streamlined and organized. I know where every item is in my closet and it is no longer a struggle to find my favorite t-shirt.
Shopping mindfully. I don’t buy things just because they are on sale. Instead of buying 5 items, now I shop quality items that I love and that spark joy.
Decision making has never been easier. When everything boils down to whether it sparks joy and/or whether I need it, then decision making becomes a lot easier.
Letting go of stuff is therapeutic. I never knew letting go of tangible stuff can be so liberating.
Appreciation for what I have.