After hearing about the tidying frenzy initiated by organizing guru Marie Kondo, we decided to take the plunge with our own variation of KonMari with a family. We were reluctant at first, to be honest.
A friend had been telling me about the book, the life-changing magic of tidying up–which I had heard of but hadn’t bothered to read (pshhht–I already know I’m a tidy, organized person). But she started talking about the special folding method Kondo prescribes, so I exclaimed, “THERE’S SPECIAL FOLDING?!?” and promptly ran to the bookshop.
Amongst the criticisms of the KonMari Method (KonMari is a combination of Kondo’s last and first names) are the typical “who has the time?” and “my family would never go for that” dismissals that also crossed my mind. But after reading the book, and looking at a few extreme before and after photos on the internet, I decided it might be worth trying at home.
We are a family of four living in an 800-900 square foot apartment with no closets. We are already careful about accumulating clutter. The KonMari method suggests that it’s not just about paring down and sorting your clutter, but actually taking each of your possessions in hand, and assessing why it’s in your life. The end result is that you let go of anything that doesn’t “spark joy” or in other words, you pitch anything you don’t absolutely love. It’s not a new concept, by any means.
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
– William Morris
It’s an easy idea to appreciate, and a difficult one to apply, because knowing something is useful is the major hangup for most of us. Kondo’s earnest (and a little abstruse) concept of attributing feelings to belongings comes off as endearing, if not hilarious (seriously–read the sock-folding chapter), and though I’m sure it’s not meant to be taken literally, I get the underlying message. If you appreciate and love your surroundings, it can have a positive impact on your happiness. She’s right. The thing that’s different from what we already know about tidy, minimal spaces is that she gets to the heart of a common problem–guilt. Objects can fulfil their purpose in ways other than simply their intended use, and if they don’t make your heart sing, get ’em outta there.
So, as she recommends in the book, we began with clothing. It didn’t take as long as we thought–one evening for the two of us, and then an afternoon for the kids. We’ve already pared down our clothing by at least half. There are four garbage bags awaiting pickup from a local charity, and a heap for rags.
Next mission: books and papers. Not so tough for us, as we already made the switch to library books for most of our reading, except for beautiful hardcover classics, which do spark joy. We’re now working on the “Miscellany” portion (or komono) and this part is huge. We’re nowhere near done. But we’re well on our way, and can instantly see the benefits. There’s less to put away at the end of the day, and we can find things we’re looking for, since they’re always in the right spot. And laundry has decreased. That in itself is life-changing.
Kondo insists that you don’t have to drop any cash on fancy containers, products, or invest in any organizing systems. But it helps to a few things on hand to make your life-changing magic go smoothly, so if you’re interested, you may want to look into getting the following:
The book. It’s actually a great read–and if you’re like me, you’ll laugh at the woo-woo bits but take away some great inspiration for sprucing up your space. You can pass it on when you’re done the process.
Garbage Bags. Get a big box. And get some recycling bags while you’re at it. You can donate things in them–you don’t have to send it all to landfill. But there’s definitely lots you’ll be throwing away.
Wooden Hangers. You don’t have to do this, but loving your clothing means treating them nicely. Wire hangers are just bad, and plastic is ugly. Donate them, and treat yourself to a little bit of lovely.
Shoeboxes. You know you have them. Put them (and the lids!) in your drawers, and they’re the perfect size for keeping those specially folded clothes in order. And, you’re recycling. Win-win. But if you want to get all organizey and show some love to your lingerie, you could spring for these:
A Shredder. You’re going to be getting rid of a lot of paper, so protect yourself from identity theft or the misuse of your sensitive information. If this seems like clutter, then borrow one from a friend, or buy it and donate it once you’re done.
To be clear, none of the above items are necessary to get started. You may simply use what you have to get the job done. As Kondo suggests, if you discover a need for a special container or encounter a storage problem, don’t rush out to buy it, because the solution usually crops up in the process, which is also why she cautions not to organize or put things away until you’ve completed the purging for the entire category.
We’re loving the results so far, and our 10-year-old is so excited about the special folding (I’m so proud!) that she asks to help with the laundry. I can honestly say that our table linen drawer has never before sparked an iota of joy, but now that I can find everything at once glance, it makes me very happy, indeed.
Have you tried the KonMari method yet? How did your family react? Did the results stick?
This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click through and end up purchasing an item above, a small commission goes to offset the costs of running Big City Bucolic.