Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past few months, you’ve probably heard about Marie Kondo and her KonMari Method. Along with Mrs Hinch and her famous Hinch Army, we’ve seemingly never been so pumped about cleaning and organising our homes.
And I, for one, am thrilled about this fact (apart from Mrs Hitch’s excessive use of chemicals but I won’t dig too deep down that hole today). I’m also secretly annoyed that I didn’t realise just how much other people are interested in being taught how to store pants properly or pictures of shiny taps; I should have launched my own organisational blog years ago and shamelessly cashed in but I always assumed it’d make for some boring as fuck content. How wrong I was, eh?
Those who know me well will testify that I’ve always been a fan of general tidiness. Well, not the actual act of tidying per se but I do find great satisfaction in having a clean home and get irritated if I see a pile of wet towels on the bathroom floor, a wardrobe full of clothes that haven’t been worn for years or dirty pots left idly by the sink.
Given that I live with three other people who categorically do not share my views and are blessed with the ability to ignore said chores/clutter, this can inevitably lead to tension (me stomping about whilst passively aggressively shouting: ‘Am I the only person here who even CARES IF WE LIVE IN AN UTTER SHITHOLE OR NOT?!‘ probably doesn’t help matters).
I was recently given a copy of Marie Kondo’s book, ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’, by colleagues after I’d been banging on about the Netflix series so did what bloggers do best and decided to share my thoughts about this book and the KonMari Method on the internet.
I always thought I was pretty well organised – until I actually began the process. Hello, my name is Lisa and I am a secret hoarder LOL. Just from sorting out my clothes, books and paperwork, I managed to discard/donate 18 bags of stuff. And I haven’t even finished the last few categories yet.
The KonMari Method – in a nutshell – is that once you get rid of unnecessary clutter in your home, your life will change for the better and keeping things tidy in the future will be easy peasy. Hmm…
There are a few key rules:
Unclutter everything all at once
It really is ‘Go Big or Go Home’ with this one – there’s no bit-by-bit approach. The idea is to discard things first and then think about storing the remaining items later.
This can seem overwhelming but Marie breaks it down by reminding us that it’s simply a case of deciding whether to get rid of an object or keep it. And the only question you need to ask yourself is: ‘Is this useful or does it spark joy?’. If the answer is no, then either bin/recycle it or donate it.
Marie says that to do a mass once-in-a-lifetime clean, it takes around six months. At first, I baulked at the idea of spending six months to complete the KonMari Method but when you do it properly, it’s actually an accurate period of time to really ‘get your house in order’.
Does this spark joy?
As I mentioned above, the key phrase to the KonMari Method is ‘Does this spark joy?’. I can’t say that my tin openers sparked much joy however, I certainly didn’t need four of them so I kept one and popped the rest in a bag to be donated.
Joy is a subjective word, isn’t it? The things in our home that spark joy for me, such my collection of Delftware figurines (why yes, I AM an old lady) or cookbooks don’t spark joy for Adam so there definitely has to be a degree of flexibility if you live with other people.
Sort by category, not location
Marie suggests that to truly declutter, you need to do it via set categories. This kind of went against my usual method of decluttering as I usually tackle one room at a time.
I love a good analogy so came up with this: you wouldn’t do your laundry and just take items from the bathroom, would you? If you did your laundry room by room, you’d never properly catch up (this idea works for me as my family like to leave dirty laundry not only in their respective bedrooms but under the bathroom sink, stuff socks down the side of the sofa and leave sweaty shirts in the kitchen *shudder*).
The penny was starting to drop and I began to think that maybe, just maybe, Marie knows what she’s on about. It’s also important to stick to a particular order of decluttering (below) as apparently, that’s what makes the method work efficiently so don’t be tempted to go rogue.
Are you happy wearing clothes that don’t make you feel absolutely amazing? No? Then get rid. Harsh I know. The best way to do this is by gathering every single item of clothing in the house and putting it into one big pile.
Then you need to get reacquainted with each and every item by holding it and asking yourself if it truly sparks joy. I’ve always been quite ruthless when it comes to clearing out my wardrobe and will generally donate things that I haven’t worn for a while without getting too attached.
Storage is also a big deal. Marie prefers items of clothing to be folded in a very specific way rather than hung up – with a few exceptions – and says that we should not be storing socks in balls but roll them up into pairs.
Marie recommends that no household should own more than 30 books. I get the logic here but books are my thing. From cookbooks to novels, I flipping love being surrounded by books and my bookshelf makes me happy every time I walk past it.
In the end, I did tackle my collection and only kept the ones that truly sparked joy, have sentimental value or that I use frequently. I got it down to about 55 and have donated the rest as I cannot bear the idea of throwing books in the bin unless they are damaged beyond repair.
That said, there was one paragraph in this book that halted me in my tracks. Marie said that she rips certain pages that contain meaningful words from her favourite books and stores them in a file so that she can glance over them easily when needed. Wait, what?
I very nearly popped ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying’ in the bin there and then as an act of rebellion against the mere idea of tearing up books (one less book for me to store LOL) but, given that I’d already committed by this point, I decided to persevere.
I wholeheartedly disagree with this practice. Too far Marie, too far. The time and love that goes into writing a book – any book – make it far too precious to be destroyed in the name of tidying.
To tackle papers, we need to collect letters (not sentimental, we get to that later), magazines, product manuals, postcards and other paper-related bits from around the house.
Marie then recommends sorting them into several piles; ones that needs attention immediately – bills that need paying, magazines that need reading etc, ones that are only needed for a limited amount of time such as notes from a class then other items that need to be kept indefinitely, such as birth certificates, passports and marriage licences.
Marie even says that you should get rid of wage slips and bank statements once you’ve read them. I know that most of us have access to these online but I’d personally hold fire on binning the paper copies as you may need them to get a mortgage or claim certain benefits (in the UK at least).
Misc Items (Komono)
This is pretty much everything else that you own, from kitchen utensils and make up to DVDs and electrical items. A big task but it’s alarming just how much crap you could have hiding in plain sight.
I made a start on the kitchen and found spices that had a use by date of 2016. Shameful! I also found old makeup that had been lurking in my cosmetic bag for about five years but I probably shouldn’t admit that to the world. An eye infection waiting to happen right there.
It’s easy to end up with piles of things in the name of sentimentality but when this collection ends up taking over numerous cupboards, it’s time to downsize.
I have a small box of sentimental items containing trinkets from the girl’s childhood and mementoes of various trips away but I’m fairly ruthless otherwise; I even donated my wedding dress, veil and shoes soon after Adam and I married – but I did keep the vintage belt that was attached to my dress.
Marie’s logic is that the memories you keep in your heart and mind are more valuable than the physical items, that letting go of ‘stuff’ doesn’t mean letting go of those experiences. I’m still a bit on the fence with this one as sometimes, an old ticket stub can spark a great deal of joy and ignite memories that may have otherwise faded.
Long-term, Marie says that you should also thank your items daily, not just when getting rid of them. Marie thanks her shoes for their hard work after wearing them, thanks her clothes every time she gets changed and empties her handbag every night before storing it away.
I struggled to get on board with this bit, even though I get that the idea behind it is practising gratitude etc. I’m also a bit dubious about how realistic the method is for those who are natural hoarders and may not be able to find the discipline or mental strength for such a brutal change.
It did, however, have an expected effect on my spending habits; I now ask myself: ‘Will this spark joy?’ before buying things and am reluctant to bring any unnecessary crap back into our home.
The book obviously goes into much more detail but my verdict is that this isn’t just a passing fad. There really is something to the ‘Tidy Home, Tidy Mind’ process and if you’re serious about changing your home – and possibly your life – it’s definitely worth a read.