How To Declutter Your Life If Everything You Own Sparks Joy – The Marie Kondo Effect
Marie Kondo seems to have it all figured out. She’s 34 but she looks like she’s in her early 20s. Her gentle and happy disposition makes it look like she has no worries at all.
Her 5 step method to tidying up our lives have been the most talked about topic for 2019 so far. The KonMari method seems easy enough to follow.
KonMari Method Made Easy
Split your belongings into 5 categories:
- Komono (Miscellaneous Items)
- Momentos / Sentimental Items
Then, work through each category, step by step. Ask yourself if each item “sparks joy” for you, until you’re left with a tidy home full of neatly folded clothes that can stand on their own and a home that makes you happy.
How To Work Through Each Category
To help you out, we’ve made a little guide to figure out each step for each category.
|Category||What To Do|
|Clothes||Take out all your clothes and put them together in a place where you can see them. |
Take your time to look through each piece of clothing, starting with clothes you wouldn't wear as much — this means winter clothing in Singapore.
Resist the urge to wear older clothes as lounge wear.
Organise your clothes with these categories:
3. Clothes that should be hung,
8. Special event clothing (e.g., swimwear, uniforms),
For Clothes that need to be hung, hang them in this order:
left to right, lightest to heaviest.
The rest of the clothes should be folded into rectangles that can stand on their own.
|Books||Take all your books and put them on the floor. |
Books should be separated into these categories:
1. General books (read for pleasure)
2. Practical books (e.g., cookbooks, textbooks)
3. Visual books (e.g., coffee table books)
|Papers||Papers should generally be discarded. |
Marie’s direction with papers are to put them into three piles:
1. papers to be discarded,
2. papers to be dealt with,
3. papers to be saved (split according to infrequently used papers like insurance policies and leases, and papers that are used more frequently like seminar notes).
|Komono (Misc Items)||These are loose items around the house, and should be categorised as such: |
3. Skincare products
7. Electrical items
8. Household equipment
9. Household supplies
10. Kitchen goods/food supplies
11. Other (e.g., spare change)
|Sentimental Items||Marie Kondo believes that just because you let something go, doesn't mean you let go of the happy memories associated with it. |
Take each item in your hands, and see if they still spark joy for you before deciding to keep them.
You can do the same with photos in photo albums as well.
You might wonder what “sparking joy” really means. After being meme-ed thousands of times throughout January, it’s easy to just dismiss the concept.
Marie mentioned in multiple interviews that the goal for the KonMari method isn’t necessarily to get rid of stuff, but to really ponder about the item you’re holding in your hands. Think about if you want to bring that item with you into the future.
When you hold an item in your hands, it should make you feel something. Either you’re okay with letting it go — which is when you thank it and let it go, or it makes you feel that warm, tingling sensation.
Something “Sparks Joy” If It Makes You Happy.
But What If Everything I Own Sparks Joy?
Stop and ask yourself: is that question really true?
Then, get a friend or family member — someone who you know won’t take nonsense from you — to go through the process of tidying up with you.
Or, if you can afford to pay someone (like the people at Vice Media above), you could hire a KonMari Consultant to help you go through the process of tidying up.
It’s a vigorous process to become a KonMari Consultant, so you can be assured that the person you’re paying knows what he/she is doing.
KonMari Consultants not only attend a seminar, and submit a photo of their neat homes, they also have to take a written exam and complete at least 10 practice sessions for certification.
As seen on the Netflix series, the KonMari method to tidying up is very much a process. There’s no need to rush through it or feel like you have to finish cleaning up in a day.
Take your time to sort through your barang barang. Not every single one of them is going to make you feel joy.
Maybe all you need is a firm but guiding hand that can help you through this process.
Also Consider: Is The KonMari Method Really For Me?
There’s the argument that Marie Kondo advocates keeping only 30 books, which is not the case. The number “30” came from a line in her book where she says that there are only 30 books in her personal collection.
She isn’t telling you to do what she does and keep only 30 books in your home library, but to take stock on what is in your library and pass on what isn’t necessarily useful in your life any longer.
Marie Kondo isn’t the only person in the world who knows a thing or two about home organisation, she just happens to have the most popular method at the moment.
What Other Ways of Home Organisation Are Out There?
How To Organise Your Clothes
Marie Kondo advocates folding your clothes in your drawers first, but that might not work so well with softer materials like silk or chiffon, and you might not want to hang them up according to their heaviness as recommended.
You could try organising your clothes by colour or by function (skirts all the same area, pants in the same area).
How To Organise Your Books
Some may like to organise their bookshelves by colour for Pinterest-worthy bookcases, but that makes your books harder to find.
Try organising your books by their genre, then alphabetically by the authors.
If you have a lot of unread books and you feel guilty about it, statistician Nassim Nicholas Taleb believes these books — he calls them an “anti-library” — help to constantly remind us just how much you might not know.
If you have a lot of unread books, it could mean that you’re the type of person who yearns to gain more knowledge by collecting books, and helps to relieve the cognitive bias that you have already gained all the knowledge you need to know.
If it’s your goal to go through your To Be Read pile, try putting them together in an interim shelf separate from your library and work from there.
How To Go Through Your Papers
For important papers like your education certificates and insurance papers, organise them in folders instead of just putting them all in one clear file. You might not look at them every day, but it saves you the frustration when you really need to look for them one day.
What Has Worked For Me?
I am the biggest pack rat ever. I have books stacked everywhere, clothes that pile up on the side of my bed, and miscellaneous items that seem to just multiply.
What works for me is honestly having my family nag at me to clean up, or sometimes playfully jabbing at how messy I can be.
Try a mix of organisation methods and figure out what fits for you. That’s what makes Marie’s method so compelling — while she gives you guidelines to tidying up, you’re not bound to them.
Some people, like me, work better with a messy desk (though not with a messy room, I’ll have to admit).
The whole point of “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” is to spark joy in your life. So leave a bit of mess, and keep what works for you.
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