We all know someone who is tidy, constantly straightening and cleaning up, perhaps obsessive. Maybe this person annoys you. Maybe this person IS you. The tidiest person that I can think of, is myself. I have always been this way. My apologies to everyone who knows me, as I have likely tidied up something that you were still using. Marie Kondo, my new favourite person, believes that roughly 10% of people are naturally neat. As I read this statistic, I will admit that I felt slightly smug, maybe I should stop reading, what could this book possibly teach me? "Preaching to the choir," were my exact words when Husband gave me this book for Mother's Day. Although, being obsessed with the minimalist movement, I had heard wonderful things about the KonMari method and was curious to learn more. I quickly realized that I had much to learn, and was delighted to streamline my thinking into one brilliant phrase, "does it spark joy?"
Marie Kondo is an organizational expert running a world acclaimed consulting business in Tokyo, Japan. Her methods are proven successful, 100% of her personal clients have never relapsed into clutter. The title of one of the chapters in The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up is titled, "Tidy a little a day and you'll be tidying forever." Kondo believes that people cannot change their habits without first changing their way of thinking. By tidying everything you own in one large event, you shock your brain into changing the way you view your possessions. It works! Kondo goes against everything else that I have read regarding decluttering and organizing, she recommends aiming for perfection. I really believe that this all or nothing approach makes all the difference!
This book brought me so much joy, I will not be discarding it, ever. I enjoyed reading Marie Kondo's book so tremendously, that I had trouble falling asleep after reading (I like to read in bed before I go to sleep most nights). My brain was buzzing with ideas and personal epiphanies! Husband did make fun of me as I was too excited to sleep and he looked over and saw that I was reading a chapter titled, "Storing socks: treat your socks and stockings with respect." Ha ha! Honestly, this book is riveting!
The first thing that I did after reading this book was hug each of the people who live in my house. Luckily, they all spark joy for me, so they can stay.
The second thing that I did was discard possessions using the KonMari Method. I did the entire house. It was exhausting and exhilarating all at once. The interesting thing is that I have been actively discarding as we have a move coming up, I am not a huge accumulator to begin with, and I still got rid of SO MUCH! Kondo recommends that you discard all at once, intensely and completely. Discard according to category, not one room at a time. Recommended order of decluttering is clothes, books, papers, kimono (miscellany), and mementos last. There are many reasons that this order brings the most success, I recommend reading the book to learn more. You pile everything in a category on the floor, which makes a huge mess (motivating for me), and then pick up each item and only keep it if it "sparks joy." If you don't love it, it's gone. This sounds like it would be time consuming, but I found that this step went quite quickly. Also, for those of you who have difficulty making quick decisions, the more you do, the easier the decisions get.
Kondo's book is full of wisdom on what to do when you can't throw something away, specific advice to the common pitfalls in each category, and brilliant organizing and storage solutions backed by research. There is a reason that mementos are the last category, these are the most difficult decisions in the process, and you might find yourself feeling nostalgic and taking time to remember your life. Honestly, I really enjoyed going through my mementos. I didn't actually have an entire day or a weekend to devote to discarding (as recommended), so it did end up being in spurts of an hour here or there, which seemed to work fine for me. I can see how if you need more of a jolt to change your ways, an intensive weekend (or 2 or 3) would be the best plan.
Kondo recommends reducing "until you reach the point where something clicks." This happened! By far, this was my favourite moment in the process. I no longer feel like a fake minimalist. I am the real deal People. I have possessions, but I have the correct amount for me at this time in my life, and I honestly don't feel stressed by what I own. It saddens me that belongings bring anxiety to so many people. Marie Kondo believes that excess possessions are a burden (no exceptions), and I would have to agree. Consumerism is a trap.
The third thing that I did was put everything away. There was so much less to put away. It is amazing. I had fun trying out different methods of folding and organizing, vertical is best as it uses the least amount of space. There were areas in my home where I have shelves where Kondo would recommend drawers, so I did some adjusting according to my space.
"Your real life begins after putting your house in order." Many of Kondo's clients made large life changes after overhauling their possessions. Some changed careers, quit jobs, learned to love life with less income, made lifestyle changes in eating and preparing food, lost weight... the list is endless. Decluttering and organizing your things, has a spill over effect to the rest of your life. In general, there is a feeling of simplifying and focus, which is beneficial in all areas of life. "The question of what you own is actually a question of how you want to live your life."
When everything around you in your home sparks joy, you have more happiness. There were a few things that I was hanging on to out of duty or reasons that I can't quite articulate, and I feel a lightness now that I have discarded those things. Everything in my house makes me smile. Most of all the people in it. Reading and implementing this book was a gift to myself and my family.
Kondo, M. (2014). the life-changing magic of tidying up.