“Does this spark joy?”
„The life-changing magic of tidying up”, also known as the KonMari method. I will tell you a secret. The word “life-changing magic” isn’t there by accident. The KonMari method changes lives! Or at least it changed mine.
Marie Kondo is a Japanese writer who has dedicated her life to organising the possessions of ordinary people. Her book is a bestseller in Japan, Germany and the US (probably other places as well) and so the KonMari method took over the world.
Marie Kondo’s philosophy is simple – our physical environment influences our mental state and we can change our lives through our things. Many people call KonMari a minimalism tool, but I don’t quite agree with them. Although both philosophies are based on the ideas of living a fuller life by owning what is valuable, they have different end goals. Minimalism is often focused on the rejection of the consumerist ways while Mari Kondo mainly aims at a tidy home. It, of course, doesn’t mean that the method isn’t suitable for people on a minimalist journey, especially if their possessions are overwhelming. I would recommend it to anyone, regardless of their situation.
I still feel strong emotions when I talk about KonMari even though I read the book almost two years ago. It is not an accident it took me about 10 attempts to write this blog. In the book, she talks a lot about the human stories, family traditions, about the soul of the house, the things, our own. And even though in some situations this personification could be hard to understand and could push away the ordinary person, in some it actually awakens deep thoughts: If I really treat my possessions with such disrespect, how do I actually treat the important things in life – my friends and family, myself? All of a sudden something clicks. Yes, I don’t thank my apartment every time I step through the door as Marie advises, but I feel my gratitude for what I have. And that is the key to the life-change.
I can’t correctly describe the KonMari philosophy. Firstly, because I don’t have the writing skills; second, because maybe my personal understandings shouldn’t affect yours; third, because there is no need. Just read the book. No one’s descriptions on the Internet will be enough for you the feel the real need of the method in your soul. So find a copy of the book in a bookstore, a library or from a friend (like me) and dive into the life-changing world of KonMari.
However, I would still like to tempt you a little bit with some of the basic rules of the method. I love rules and I think that for full success these ones should be followed. Of course, everyone does things differently, but my advice is to stick to the following (written in my own words) because there’s an intentional logic in them:
Dedicate yourself to decluttering – nothing will change with minimal effort;
Declutter first, then organise – a cleared-out house is not a decluttered one;
Leave only that which sparks joy – instead of focusing on the unnecessary, pay attention to the things you love, follow your heart;
Declutter by categories, not spaces – instead of just the wardrobe in the hall, go through all of your clothes at the same time (Use subcategories if need – only trousers, glasses or DVDs);
Take everything out of its ordinary space – gather everything on a pile to see the actual quantities out of their normal space and this is when it will click (and don’t forget the trousers from underneath the bed, the glasses in the hall cupboard or the DVDs in three different drawers);
Follow Marie Kondo’s category order – Clothes, Books, Papers, Kimono (Miscellaneous), Sentimental - this order is from emotionally easy to emotionally hard and would help you gain momentum;
Find solutions for the decluttered items – donate, gift, sell, bin as a last resort, but don’t let them accumulate again. You have already decided there is no space for them in your life;
Organise what you’re keeping:
Organise vertically, not layered;
Put everything from one category together (all trousers in the same draw, all glasses in the same cupboard, all DVDs underneath the TV);
Use boxes to separate your possessions (for example shoe or electronics’ boxes, no need to buy new things);
Find a “home” for every item.
This is my understanding of KonMari and the method truly change my day-to-day life. When you’re amongst valuables you want to take care of them. When there’s nothing unwanted, you don’t spend hours dusting it and organising it. When everything has a home, nothing is homeless and constantly cluttering and the room is always as you would like it to be.
With KonMari you compromise with absolutely nothing. As the writer says: “the greatest change that occurs through tidying is that you will learn to like yourself”. “When we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future”. After KonMari we live here and now, only with ourselves and no longing for the past or expectations for the future.
Good luck with your life-changing magic!