Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.
— Arthur Ashe
We tried the KonMari Method on our entire home, and here's what happened.

We tried the KonMari Method on our entire home, and here's what happened.

I have always been a keeper of sentimental but essentially worthless items. As a child, I kept everything (and I mean everything). I had so many "special boxes" I could start my own flea market. As I've matured, I like to think I've improved in this area, but each time I move, I am reminded that while my tastes in sentimental, worthless items may have changed, I have not quite outgrown my proclivity for keeping junk.

This thought has been nagging at the back of my mind ever since we moved into our apartment in May. There were so many boxes. So. many. boxes. All of the useful, practical, everyday items had mostly been unpacked. What was left were several large boxes that, at our old apartment, lived in the storage closet. Since the new apartment does not have a storage closet, we were left with little islands of boxes full of useless (but sentimental) items (some probably junk, some not) spread across the sea of our floor. And I was so tired of boxes.

With this on my mind, a few nights ago while browsing Pinterest (do people still do that?), I came across an article about the KonMari Method for decluttering. After reading into it a bit (and making my husband listen to me read it aloud), we decided we'd like to give it a try.

The KonMari Method, which I admit is a bit extreme, was developed by tidying expert Marie Kondo. Kondo believes that possessions should be cherished. This means keeping only what is used and brings joy, and taking care of the items you do keep by making sure each has a place of its own.

From Kondo's book, Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up, the steps of the KonMari Method are:

Commit yourself to tidying up. Make up your mind that you will have a tidy home (and life!). No waffling! No excuses. If you can't commit, you're not ready. If you're ready, then commit!

Imagine your ideal life. Before you start anything, think about the kind of home you want. This can be on a physical and aesthetic level, but don't let it be only so. This step is about narrowing down the reasons why you want a tidy home. Is it to have more people over? To have more space for creativity? What are your passions? Your home should be a space that encourages you to pursue them. Find out what you want out of your home, and make sure that it is at the front of your mind.

Finish letting go first. Don't try to multitask. Get rid of everything you are not keeping before you start organizing what you are keeping!

Tidy by category, not location. Don't go room by room. Instead, gather all of your possessions by category and deal with each category one at a time. Kondo's book provides a list of categories to help you stay on track.

Follow the right order.  This means you must go through each category in the order recommended in the book. Kondo has a reason for this: you are not simply decluttering. You are training yourself to have a different mindset in regards to your belongings. Start with your clothes, then move on to the other categories.

Ask yourself if it sparks joy.  There is only one thing you need to decide when going through your possessions: "Does it spark joy?" Kondo suggests holding each thing and really considering whether it is something that adds to your life. If not, that is the sign it is time to part with it!

If you are thinking about trying this method, please buy Marie Kondo's book or (as I did) check out a copy of the eBook from your local library. If you did not know, many libraries offer an e-library that enables you to "check out" eBooks and audiobooks for free!

Why we decided to try the Konmari Method

Sometimes, it's a good idea to apply an extreme solution to an extreme problem. My husband and I have recently undertaken the immense task of launching our own business. On top of that, he is freelancing full-time, and I am balancing a day job with keeping up with my writing and with VeryHappyWell. Needless to say, keeping our home clean and organized can be a struggle.

Our "ideal life" is one that fosters our creativity, opens up the opportunity for new connections and friendships, and creates an atmosphere of peace and intentionality throughout our day-to-day life. Additionally, we want to have the mobility and flexibility to travel and live other places...without renting a storage unit.

The ground rules

In addition to following the Konmari Method, we also made some of our own ground rules:

Finish in one weekend. Our apartment is not huge, and we didn't have so many things that this was not doable. Some of the sources we read when researching said the KonMari Method can take up to 6 months! I don't know about you, but I don't have that kind of time. So we committed to ourselves that by Sunday night, no matter what, we would be finished with our process.

Physically remove everything that is not being kept from the apartment AND take them to their end destinations. For us, parting with possessions is only half the struggle. The other half is not allowing the items we have chosen to part with to live in a corner for days (weeks, months) before we actually discard them. If we were going to do this, we were going to do it right. No matter what, everything we weren't keeping would be removed.

The payoff

It took us about eight hours to get through Kondo's list of categories - it was definitely tiring! But by the time we were finished, we not only had a very clean house, but I think we also had a shift in perspective.

One thing I liked about following the KonMari method was that it took the focus off of deciding what to go through. Following her list of categories made the entire process less stressful. We didn't have to come up with which rooms or types of items we were going to go through next. Kondo had already provided these for us. All we had to do was gather up the items and decide which ones to keep.

Another thing I liked was that the decision-making process was relatively easy. As we moved from item to item asking ourselves if it sparked joy, it became clearer and clearer what belongings we truly cared about and what we had just to have. When all was said and done, we ended up with two boxes of items to donate, a bag full of clothes to sell at the local thrift store, and a box of books for the used bookstore.

American consumer culture makes it so easy to accumulate junk. Cheapness and convenience are often at the forefront of marketing. But after this exercise, I think I will be more inclined to spend a little more money for something well-made that brings me joy than something ugly and cheap that will break or be irrelevant in a few months.

Finally, I loved the intentionality of Kondo's storage ideas. Now that we have identified what we want to keep, we are excited to extend our creative expression to our storage systems and home decor.

Would I recommend?

Yes! Even if you don't commit to a full KonMari makeover, I would definitely recommend reading the book. It is full of not only great perspective-challenging thoughts, but also great tips about how to care for your items and store them beautifully.

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

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