Although I hate labels, I do class myself as a minimalist. Not an extreme minimalist like these guys, but minimalist nonetheless.
I don’t like ‘stuff’.
I can tell you exactly where everything I own is kept. I like to have a few empty cupboards. I don’t have a junk drawer. I
banned asked my friends and family politely not to buy teddy bears as gifts for my daughter. I just don’t see the need for hundreds of soft toys piled on the bed, which will then one day be moved to bin liners and stored in the loft because she can’t bear to part with them. Don’t worry, I’m not a complete grinch, she has some teddy bears, she just doesn’t need more.
Along with many people who enjoy tidying, and many who don’t but who should, I recently came across Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
I’d put off reading the book several times because I’d heard the author dedicated a chapter to the art of folding clothes. I don’t need to be taught how to fold, thank-you-very-much. But I came across an audiobook version and, since listening is less effort than reading, I thought I’d give it a go.
While I don’t agree with everything – I can’t see myself thanking my socks or unpacking my entire handbag when I get home tonight – I did learn some tips and was able to do some more de-cluttering in my already clutter-free home.
The KonMari method
In short, the KonMari method goes something like this: if an item does not bring you joy, you should discard it.
With traditional decluttering methods you might consider the usefulness of an item; but with KonMari, you’re supposed to hold each item (touching it is important, apparently) and ask “Does this spark joy?”
a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.
“tears of joy”
synonyms: delight, great pleasure, joyfulness, jubilation, triumph, exultation, rejoicing, happiness, gladness, glee, exhilaration, ebullience, exuberance, elation, euphoria, bliss, ecstasy, transports of delight, rapture, radiance
My first thought was: “This book is weird, how can I get joy out of a potato peeler? A jumper? A bath towel?” But slowly, it started to make sense.
If this potato peeler is crap, if it scratches at the top of the skin without actually removing any, it doesn’t bring me joy. Ok, peeling potatoes may not bring me a whole lot of joy, but it would be much more joyful with a peeler that worked.
If my jumper is made out of scratchy wool, so big that it drowns me, or so worn that it doesn’t actually keep me warm, it probably doesn’t bring me much joy either.
And the bath towel that is hard and scratchy, no matter how much fabric softener is used and how delicately it is washed. Definately no joy.
According to KonMari, these things should be discarded. Truth is, I was probably holding on to them ‘just in case’, but when does ‘just in case’ ever come. And if it did, would I use these things or just go without?
The KonMari method has a strong focus on decluttering clothes. Since there wasn’t much clutter in the rest of my house, I started with my wardrobe.
I donated about 3/4 of the clothes in my wardrobe (and then made my husband do the same). Most of them were too small (pre-pregnancy), too big (during pregnancy) or things I just didn’t wear. They didn’t spark joy. Sure, I could hold on to these for ‘someday’, but when ‘someday’ comes I will probably have forgotten I own them and buy new ones anyway. Or perhaps ‘someday’ will be so far away that my taste will have changed and I won’t like them anymore.
Our wardrobe now looks very bare but very tidy. Just how I like it.
I received the same response from my sisters and friends: “But what will you wear!?” My answer: the same things I’ve always worn. The clothes I donated were not things I wore. They just took up precious space.
What I learned
There are many aspects of the KonMari method that I haven’t discussed here, (if you’re interested in learning how to fold, a quick search in Google or Pinterest will have you sorted in no time), but with my already clutter-free, empty-cupboard, limited-teddy-bear-storing home, I already classed myself as somewhat of an expert at tidying.
I’m surprised how much I discarded and how much better I feel for it. I have far fewer clothes, but I never have to worry about what to wear. I like everything in my wardrobe. Everything fits me. I don’t feel the need to rush out and fill it again. In fact, I’m more careful with what I buy. I now look for the joy before I get to the checkout.
I recommend this book to both hoarders and organisation freaks like me (why is it that the tidy ones are referred to as ‘freaks’!?). But be warned! There really is some life changing magic in this method!