In a blog post earlier this week, I reviewed The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. In this short book—an international bestseller—the author details her KonMari method for decluttering and organizing.
As I wrote in my review there were aspects of the agreed with and aspects I didn’t agree with. But reading the book did make me want to give her methodology a try. The book does a great job of sparking action.
I decided to try out the KonMari method on my clothing. That’s the category that she recommends starting with because it tends to be the easiest category of items to part with. So, as instructed, I gathered up clothing from various storage areas in my house. I keep almost all my clothes in my bedroom, but there were some items in the guest bedroom closet, including out-of-season clothes and some that weren’t fitting when I moved them there.
I emptied all my drawers and shelves and piled everything on the bed. Marie would have had me pile everything on the floor. But in my bedroom, there’s more bed space than floor space. Plus, I didn’t have to bend over to reach the items on my bed. Here’s how my bed looked with all the clothes on it.
I started with the clothes from the guest room closet, because they were the ones I’d worn least recently (per Marie’s instructions). As I touched each item, I asked myself her trademark question, “Does this spark joy?”
I found the question to be very powerful. It’s different from, “How recently have I worn this?” or “Does this look good on me?” There were items in there I had once loved and probably still looked good on me, but they no longer sparked joy. They went right into the donate bag.
I used the app iDonatedIt to keep track of my donations as I put the items in the bag. It was very easy and gave me a little boost as I watched my tax deduction rise. Here’s a photo of the donations:
The whole process took me about 90 minutes (not counting the donation drop off) and when I was finished, I had donated more than half my clothes. What was left easily fit in the drawers and shelves in my bedroom (no more guest room closet for me!) with room to spare. There were items that had been stored in the guest room I’d completely forgotten about and some of them sparked joy. Now I have easy access to them.
I feel absolutely no pangs or worries that I’ll miss any of the items I donated. It’s clear that I still have an abundant amount of clothes. I love that they’re more mindfully stored now.
As an aside, I’ve been using Marie’s folding method for shirts for years. She suggested folding items so that they can be stored vertically, like files. I hadn’t used that method on pants, but today I tried it. So far, I like it quite a lot!
I know how to declutter, obviously. Did using the KonMari method make a difference? It did provide a couple of real advantages:
Of course, the book addresses more than clothing. A couple of days ago, the book inspired me to dispose of a bookshelf full of seminar notes—the handouts that used to be distributed at the conferences I attended (they’re now distributed electronically). That was a little harder; they represented more to me, I think. But I acknowledged that I literally had not looked at any of them after the conference and they were just taking up space. It felt really good to let those go and I have The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up to thank for it.
I’m still not sure of the practicality of the book’s premise that one should always sort by category not by location—it’s great if you can do it in one session, but what happens if multiple sessions are necessary? it seems to me that you wouldn’t be able to find anything until the process is finished.
Maybe I’ll find out. There are still plenty of areas I can practice on in my own home. In any case, I think I’ll be using the “Does it spark joy?” question with at least some of my clients (giving Marie credit, of course). Perhaps I’ll post more here as I continue on this journey.