Those of you reading this who actually know me are probably laughing at me already, but hear me out!
I am not a neat freak. Cleaning is something I do (poorly) when I know someone might come over. While I am not necessarily a neat person, I am a fiercely organized person. Yes, that’s a pile of laundry to be put away, but it’s already folded and sorted. My cleaning products may need a dusting themselves, but they all have a place. I digress…
Here’s how my journey started…
I saw Marie Kondo on Good Morning America, and was fascinated by her approach to decluttering and organizing. I looked at my closet, my kitchen, my basement, and all I saw were things I didn’t need or ever use. I immediately Amazon Prime’d her books and dove in to her process. I had tried spring cleaning in the past, or I had gotten rid of things I hadn’t used in the past year, but Kondo’s philosophy sets her apart from the usual clean-outs. Her method is not about getting rid of the things you don’t need; it’s about keeping the things you love – the things that “spark joy” in your life. I loved that – how great would it be to open my closet and not be depressed by seeing the skinny jeans that will probably never fit me again? Her method, called the “KonMari” method tidies category by category, rather than room by room. Kondo claims that by doing this, we are less likely to relapse into a state of untidyness because we can’t just continually shuffle the mess to another room. There is a lot more depth to the process, but in short, here is how I transformed my living spaces and “KonMari’d” my life:
I gathered all of my clothes and shoes from every corner of the house and piled them up in my living room. I was completely overwhelmed from the start. I’m not a clothes horse by any means, but I couldn’t believe how much crap I had. One-by-one, I held each item in my hands and waited to see if I felt the “joy” spark. I was able to get rid of a few items easily, but maybe I would wear this “someday.” Kondo says that “someday” never comes – if this item really sparked joy, you would already use it. For the items you get rid of, Kondo suggests holding them in your hands and thanking the item for its purpose. I felt very silly doing this at first, but in a weird way it really helped the process. I didn’t feel so bad about getting rid of something I only wore a handful of times – it had served its purpose and would hopefully serve a new purpose in the future. After paring my wardrobe down, I felt the method starting to work. Now when I open my closet or my dresser drawers, I only see things that fit, make me feel good, and are regularly worn.
Books were a hard next step because I tend to see books as sentimental items; however, I was able to rid myself of useless outdated textbooks from college, cookbooks collecting dust, and the books I’ve started five times, yet never seem to get past the twentieth page.
Receipts, bills, recipes, takeout menus, junk mail, owner’s manuals. The mountain of papers in my living room was quite the sight. Kondo says she can keep every paper she has in one small folder. This was a confusing step to me because papers don’t really “spark joy” for me, but always seem essential; however, after going through each paper one-by-one (tedious, but necessary), I realized much is readily available online. I now keep only the absolute essentials in one organized safe box.
Komono (miscellaneous items)
I felt like I was really in the groove now. Realizing what didn’t spark joy was becoming easier. I pared down my kitchen items, threw out all of the expired bath lotions, organized my cleaning supplies, and tossed my CD collection (which had been uploaded to iTunes a century ago – did I really think I still needed Now that’s What I Call Music! Volume 6? Following Kondo’s organizing methods, everything now has a place, is visible and upright, and easily accessed.
This is the hardest part. I am nostalgic as h*!$, and I can’t bring myself to throw out things that have good memories attached to them, but according to Kondo – this is ok! If it sparks joy, it should be kept and displayed. I did get rid of a few things – ticket stubs to college football games, my sad keychain collection from sixth grade, my Boy Crazy! cards (ok, maybe I kept those), but kept the things I want to show my kids one day – yearbooks, love letters from my husband, my first cell phone. Now more are on display, and make me smile when I enter a room.
Now that I have completed the KonMari process, I do feel a bit “lighter.” I will say this, though – I’m dying for my husband to read these books and jump on the tidying bandwagon with me. It would be easy for me to just start decluttering my husband’s things myself, but Kondo advises that we can only tidy our own items, otherwise we will relapse. Because of that, I unfortunately don’t really feel like much of the spaces I share with my husband look different. Also, am I alone here, or do children make cleaning and tidying difficult? Anyway, I do feel like I can more easily get rid of the things I don’t need, and I’m not as apt to keep things just because I might need it. My space is more tidy, and I can feel the joy in the items around me – arigato, Marie Kondo!