As a professional organiser, I have of course read quite a few books by leading declutter professionals, my favourites being Julie Morgenstern and Peter Walsh. However, there is a relatively new book by Marie Kondo, the very successful author of ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’. Here is how I recently started my personal KonMari journey.
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When I went back to visit family in Switzerland in December 2013, my mum gave me this book (in German it’s called ‘Magic Cleaning – Wie richtiges Aufräumen Ihr Leben verändert’). Apparently, it was already quite popular in Europe, but I hadn’t heard of it yet in Australia. I read it during my stay there and found it OK, but not extremely revolutionary.
However, during the last year, my thinking has changed a bit, and all of a sudden, I have to say that her approach does hit a nerve. So, here I am as a professional organiser, reading her book again and most importantly, going through the process myself. Yes, in our own home! It’s not very cluttered, but read on to find out what happened.
KonMari – as she calls herself – doesn’t declutter in the way that most others do. One main difference regarding her method is that she concentrates on items that are staying in the home, which are only things that spark joy. All the other items and possessions are being thanked for having served, and then they are released and discarded by donating, selling or tossing them.
She very clearly recommends decluttering your home in a certain sequence, and most importantly, by categories and not by rooms. After creating a vision for the home, she starts with the clothes and ends with sentimental items. This makes sense to me because clothes usually have less sentimental value to us, and it gives us a chance to hone our skills before we come to the really difficult decisions.
I will write in another post about what you need to know before you start with the KonMari method (sign up at the end of this post so you don’t miss it).
Let me tell you about my first experience going through all my clothes (please note that you should only make decisions about your own stuff and leave the items that belongs to other family members alone).
This was my wardrobe before:
1. Take it all out
“O.M.G.” was all I could say. Have a look at that (and I consider myself as a woman who has not so many clothes …).
Even for me as an organiser who has seen worse, it felt a bit overwhelming. The thing is, you not only empty your wardrobe, but gather all your clothes from wherever they are stored in your house.
So, I listened to my own advice – just start! – and followed the sequence that Marie Kondo suggests in her book. First up were tops, and then bottom parts, etc.
2. Let the sparkling of joy begin!
Again, as suggested by KonMari, I picked up every single piece and asked myself whether or not it sparks joy. If yes, it stays. If not, you thank the garment for having served its purpose and discard it. Sounds crazy? Exactly my thoughts when I read the book first. However, I’ve tried it and also did some more reading about gratitude, and for me, it does work. If you don’t want to say it out loud, just do so silently in your head.
3. Find a home for your clothes
One can hang or fold their clothes. KonMari highly recommends folding most garments (see here how she folds a t-shirt). We renovated our walk-in-robe a couple of years ago and put in some drawers and shelves, which is great. (If you only have hanging rods, there are other solutions, such as hanging organisers with drawers.) I have folded everything stored in my drawers, and I will need to buy a couple of containers for my tops that are still folded and piled in the ‘pancake’ way. Just want to give it a try.
This is an example with scarfs. I always used a special hanger but that never really worked for me. I love how I can now see at a glance what scarfs I have (after purging 50 %!).
Finally, this is how my wardrobe looks now:
It might not look much different than the previous photo, but believe me – it actually does spark joy when I look at it! I have 5 full bags for charity and one bag of rubbish because the garments were stained or torn (if you wouldn’t wear it anymore, why would anybody else? Don’t donate those things). As mentioned, I hadn’t regarded my wardrobe as cluttered, but I was still able to let go of so many things.
What is my verdict after the first step of my KonMari journey? I think it’s a really good approach because one creates a vision to start with, and then concentrates on the joy and positiveness. It absolutely does make sense to declutter by category, and not by room, even if it can be very overwhelming. If it’s too much, start out with a sub-category only. Most people don’t have the time to spend whole days decluttering anyway, and they might have to break it up into smaller bites due to the lack of time.
Having said this, I have only done my clothes and will now move onto my books. This will be a challenge because I looove books. Stay tuned to find out how it goes (sign up below to not miss any future blog posts).
Wish me luck, and as always, I would love to hear about your KonMari adventure.