The KonMari Method - Is It For You Or Not?
I get sometimes asked about Marie Kondo - what I think about her method of decluttering.
Before I say anything here is just a short summary for those who might not be familiar with her name and her method: Marie Kondo is a Japanese organizing expert whose decluttering philosophy, called the KonMari method, helps people to get rid of clutter and teaches them how they can maintain a tidy and clutter free home. Her approach rather focuses on the ’art of decluttering’ to reduce the amount of your possessions than providing storage and organising solutions for them.
First of all I am a huge advocate of regular decluttering - I myself do it twice a year, at the beginning of spring and autumn, and I believe a clutter free home can benefit you in many ways in your life.
So that is a given - I am on the same page with Marie in this regard.
I watched her series on Netflix and I loved her little 'ritual' she did every time before getting down to business - she searched for the 'centre of the home', kneeled down and gave a few moments to greet and appreciate the place and explain what was going to happen.
I believe every house / home has a 'soul', an energetic make-up that can either help and support the people who live there or hold them back.
Even though if you feel this is a big fat BS, there are still a few things you can learn from Marie Kondo that can help you create a beautiful and happy home.
Here you can read about her most important teachings as well as about my ’take aways’ – what I follow and what I do not.
Does It Spark Joy?
Her main decluttering principle is to only keep stuff that fills you up with joy and happiness.
In my view your home is a source of your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing, a so called sacred place where you can retreat from the outer world to recharge, rejuvenate yourself and it should be the reflection of who and what you are. Consequently your home should mainly have things that make you feel joyous. Eventually you can ask yourself whether your entire home sparks joy for you - whether it is a source of harmony and happiness for you or just some 'bricks and mortar' filled with stuff.
Even though I think this is a great principle, it ignores the fact that our homes have practical items as well that we keep for some specific purpose but they do not particularly spark joy for us – like a dishwasher or a water pump (but who am I to tell you that these cannot spark joy for you, right? J). Or, from other perspective, we might have things that we do feel delighted about but they are actually completely useless or not needed so there is no point of keeping them.
Be Grateful For What You Have Got But Discard Ruthlessly
It comes from the ’spark joy’ principle – everything that does not make you happy (and does not have any practical purpose in your home) needs to go. Which many of us find challenging. There are several reasons why people accumulate clutter and why they seem to be unable to take part with them. What can make it easy is to shift a bit our mindset – to see our physical items as things that serve us, either our physical comfort or our emotional, mental wellbeing. Once they have fulfilled their purpose they no longer serve us – so there is no point of keeping them. Even though many of your clothes, your books or kitchenware have ’served their time’ for you they can be still useful and helpful for other people. Why to keep them tucked away in the back of your closet and cupboard when you could help others by giving away the things that you do not need any more. This actually is a key point of circular / green economy – reducing waste and saving resources.
Or if you want to take it to a spiritual level – by getting rid of clutter and giving away things that have no use for you you restore the free flow of energy, the flow of life and you open up yourself for new experiences, new opportunities as you let the new, fresh energy to flow into your life.
Marie has a ritual for this step as well – saying thank you to each of the items you discard for serving you well. As ridiculous as it may sound it can actually help you to eliminate the guilt you might feel for having bought something and now getting rid of it.
Although I do not do this ’individual thanking’ I do have my own gratitude ritual. Once I have collected all of the stuff that needs to go I express my gratitude and appreciation to the Universe for having blessed me with all of these things and I express my wish that the people who need them will find them. This way I not only free up my home from the physical items themselves, but I free up myself emotionally from these things as well.
Organize by category, rather than by location
According to Marie it is easier to decide what we want to keep from the same type of things if we can see all of them together ’in a pile’. Piling up let us say all of our paper works, documents, files and folders in one place can make us realise how much stuff we have got and how much space they actually take up. Sometimes it can be quite shocking to face the amount of stuff we have if we can see them, all at once in one big pile. This confrontation can be just the last ’kick’ for us to get down to business and do that decluttering.
However, sometimes this can be a bit tricky, in my opinion. Decluttering – especially if you have never done this before and you tend accumulate things – can not only be physically tiring but also mentally and emotionally challenging and exhausting. Meaning you might need a few days to finish the process.
I personally do prefer to go by category than location but for me it is easy as I declutter twice a year and I do not have and do not buy much stuff so it is not overwhelming to see them in a pile, as well as it is not that time consuming for me to sort out everything in one go.
However if you have loads of stuff to go through you will actually need a ’dedicated’ place in your home that is big enough where you can do this without causing any ’traffic jam’ or other inconveniences in your home for days.
So before throwing all of your clothing or kitchenware in one place think about whether you have the space as well as the time to do it within a day. If not I would suggest you start it step by step by location in every room – discard first those things belonging to one category that you are absolute sure about getting rid of, and once this is done you can pile up the remaining stuff in one place and decide what else needs to go.
Specific was to fold and store
Marie Kondo has her own special, space saving ’signature folding technique’ – folding clothes, beddings, etc into small rectangles that you can then stack next to each other. It does free up lots of space, keeps things organised, and it is easy to oversee what is where. It actually gives you the impression you have got enough because nothing is tucked away in some invisible place - so it works as a sort of ’mental trick’ that you do not need anything new to buy – especially if you do keep those that give you joy.
I have to admit I do not use this technique – I personally find it a bit too much, kinda complicated and time consuming so I just fold my stuff simply and neatly. Also, this folding technique, in my opinion, does not work with all kind of storage space. – it is perfect for drawers and dressers but not so good and useful for shelved armoirs and wardrobes.
What I do follow is compartmentalization – dividing my stuff into categories and keep them in different ’sections’ so it is easy to keep them organised and neat as well as it is easy and quick to find them.
All in all the KonMari method is quite a ridig approach of decluttering, though effective. I does not leave too much personality or individualism in the process, it is rather a ’one size fits all’ method so it might not be for everyone.
As you could see there are principles I like and follow but there are ones I do not find that helpful for myself and my home.
The key is to find what works the best for you so feel free to make some little tweaks here and there. The bottomline is that you have got a clutter free home where everything has their own dedicated place, it is easy to keep them neat and organised and you can quickly find anything.
What I truly love and appreciate regarding her method is that she incorporates some level of spirituality and soulfulness in her way of decluttering. She sees a home as a whole ’living and breathing entity’ that you have to work with, treat well and appreciate in order to make it a happy and fulfilling place. And one way to appreciate your home is keeping it clutter free and tidy.
If you do not know where to start the decluttering or feel somehow reluctant and worried about the whole process and you feel a helping hand, an expert guidance could be useful, please feel free to contact me or read more about my Space Revival service.
And by all means download your beautiful gift, the Home Harmony Starter Kit that will help you become more aware of your space and build a stronger connection with it.