It’s definitely a problem in our house! Not only do we spend lots of time trying to clean up and tidy all the things we have in our house, but we also spend a lot of time trying to FIND things amongst all that clutter.
A friend of mine, another mother in my daughter’s school, told me about a book called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. This friend said it was a quick read and she’d been enjoying following the program.
I went on a trip to Washington, DC last weekend to visit my stepdaughter in college. As we were walking through the school book store, and I saw this book by the counter. It was on sale for 30% off, and promised to help you get rid of the piles of clutter forever. The KonMari Method detailed in the book promised a revolutionary category-by-category system that would lead to lasting results. In other words, once you do this major decluttering, you’ll just have a tiny bit of easy maintenance to do and clutter will be a thing of the past. I thought to myself “think of how much time and frustration I could save if I didn’t have to deal with tidying up and clutter!” Without thinking one moment more about it, I bought the book.
The book was super simple and quick to read. By the time I made it home to Los Angeles two days later, I’d already finished it.
The basics of her KonMari system are this:
- Don’t declutter area-by-area (which is conventional wisdom). Instead tackle your tidying/de-cluttering project category by category. First begin with clothing, then books, then non-sentimental papers (e.g., credit card statements, bills, papers from kids’ school), then miscellaneous items, then finally sentimental items (like photos, gifts cards, heirlooms, etc.). Within these major categories, she has subcategories. For example, clothes can be divided into tops, bottoms, hanging clothes (outwear/dresses), pajamas, undergarments, accessories, shoes. Per Kondo, the order in which you tidy matters, so it’s important to tidy in the order she prescribes.
- Pull out ALL the items in that one category and place them in one pile on the floor. You must do this even for books that are on shelves or clothes that are hanging in the closet.
- Touch each item one by one and ask “does this spark joy?” If it does, you may keep it. If it doesn’t you let it go. Marie Kondo has a very personal relationship with items, so she says that as you let things go you thank them for how they’ve served you.
- When you have culled your items and all you have are things that spark joy, then you must store them properly. Generally piles are a no-no, and things are stored vertically so that you can always see what you have. This will help prevent you from buying more than you need, because you will always know exactly what you have. Also, once you’ve gotten into the habit of asking “does this spark joy?” you won’t want to purchase things that don’t make you feel that way.
- Start with your own (and only your own items). In general do not tidy other people’s items. Kondo says that as you clear your own space, the others in your household will automatically be inspired to do this too.
- In the end you are left with a house filled only with items that spark joy and arranged beautifully in a way that honors every item and also sparks joy.
By the time I reached Los Angeles, I was chomping at the bit to get home and put the system to the test. I actually declutter and get rid of things quite often. I didn’t think there would be that much for me to get rid of. Boy was I wrong!
As Marie Kondo suggested, I started with my tops. I was embarassed to say that my drawers were so full that I could hardly open them. Partly it was that I had way too much stuff and partly because they were badly stored.
The piles were huge, but once you got going, it went fairly quickly. My closet and drawers went from being overstuffed and impossible to find anything in, to being a beautiful model of organization. It actually makes me happy to look into my drawers and closet now. Ahhh.
At this point, I’ve gone through all my clothes, my many books, and am now organizing my papers. I’ve been at it for a 2-3 hours a day for the past 3 days. Aliza, my 7-year old got excited and wants to organize too. We’ve started tackling her clothes and toys. In the next post, I’ll blog about how it was to use the KonMari Process with a child, and how it’s been to keep it up.
If you’ve tried this book, I’d love to know how it’s been for you.