Kondo’s book has sold an astonishing 2 million copies copies and will soon be available in 30 countries. (This recent Wall Street Journal article provides good background about and insight into the craze.) While there were certain parts of the book that were not…how do I say this…quite my speed (Guys, I can’t say thank you to my house regularly (or ever), and nor can I roll my socks gently because of their daily burden of being crushed between my foot and my shoe), the general premise that a massive possession purge + organization your belongings means a perennially less messy and more stress-free life makes total sense to me. I also loved how pragmatically Kondo draws a line from reducing your possessions to increasing your financial well-being, your awareness of over consumption, and your valuing (one hopes) of experiences over things.
So I’m pretty tidy—or at least I thought I was—but I feel like I learned a lot from Kondo’s book that I hadn’t heard or considered before, and I’ve been happily tossing out belongings for several weeks now. I also infected George with the fever, and he recently reduced his t-shirt stash from like 9 to 8 billion. Baby steps.
Anyway, some real keys for me:
- Get Rid of Anything that Doesn’t “Spark Joy”: So I modified this a little bit for my own clean-out, giving myself an “or isn’t 100% necessary” addendum. (I mean, does my, say, blender “spark joy”? Not so much, but I use it an awful lot and would be at a loss if I were to toss it. I mean, how would I make milkshakes? Okay, maybe it does spark joy.) But it was shocking to pick up stuff and consider if I really even liked or needed it; so often, the answer was “nope.”
- Be Realistic About Discarding: Kondo is so over the school of “I’ll give myself another year/season to wear this, and if I don’t, then I’ll toss it.” Forget it. If you don’t love it now, what makes you think you’re going to love it in a year, when it’s even more outdated? You’ve been avoiding it for a reason. She gives this treatment to a whole range of belongings, and one that really hit home (literally) for me was the section on books. Kondo isn’t having anything about re-reading books, getting around to reading books you’ve had for forever, or using books as reference. “When was the last time you re-read that book?” She asks. Uh, never? She makes a good case that what you loved about the book was the experience of reading it, not the paper it’s printed on. So only keep what truly, truly sparks joy. Harsh? Maybe. Totally awesome? Definitely.
- Don’t Get Emotional When You’re Discarding: Kondo’s got a really honest, pragmatic set of guidelines for dealing with how to getting rid of something you might feel sentimental about, be it a memento from a former relationship or a gift from a good friend. (The point of the gift was not its being a possession, it was to show appreciation or love, which thus remains even if you discard said possession.) I tossed/donated a fair amount of stuff I’d been hanging onto for years because I felt badly about getting rid of it, for one reason or another. Freeeeeedom!
- And Don’t Organize Until You Discard: I was really getting this wrong for a lotta years. I’d try to clean out and then clean up in one particular room, but always seemed to be making more of a mess along the way, and always, always giving up before I made my way through the whole house. For Kondo, the key is reducing your possessions to the bare minimum and then putting them away in a very specific manner. It’s impossible, she reasons, to really organize your things until you have a solid understanding of what you own and where it needs to go. Marie, where have you been all my life?
So that’s just the tip of the KonMari iceberg,but if you’re as intrigued as I was, pick up a copy of the (naturally) tiny little book and get on board! MAYBE WE CAN HAVE TIDYING PARTIES TOGETHER! Ahem.
Have you read the book? If not, are you thinking of picking it up (and then, of course, discarding it? Ha.) Tell me all!