If I get rid of all this stuff, what will be left of me?
There’s a hugely popular book out called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo that teaches you how to organize your home and life using Japanese organizational methods. Marie Kondo’s particular method of putting everything in its place, but only the things that are absolutely essential to have in that place, is known as KonMari.
Everyone knows Japanese people are excellent at organizing. Marie Kondo says this superiority is because space is more limited in Japan than in many other societies. Kondo wrote her master’s thesis on tidying and works as a professional organizer. She just dropped her own app, has multiple books on several bestseller lists across the globe, and is training people on becoming KonMari certified to help other people organize. KonMari is being marketed as quite literally the planet’s best decluttering method.
People are swearing by her methods, and I wanted to see if I could be swayed to not only tidy up but to stay tidy. Kondo’s super strict, though. Like, brutal. But if you follow her rules, I swear by Odin’s beard, it will CHANGE. YOUR. LIFE.
Follow Her Order, You Must
This is how it’s supposed to play out:
1. Picture your dream space
2. Say out loud why you want to live that way
3. Do it all at once, not in sessions
4. Hold each thing to feel if it sparks joy
5. Put things away by category not location
6. Go in this order: clothes, books, papers, miscellany, and then things with sentimental value
7. Get rid of all that no-spark-of-joy stuff before you put things away (neatly)
My situation is especially weird. I live with my fiancé and my roommate and am basically drowning in stuff at all times. He comes from a mother who never gets rid of anything. She has all of his Easter outfits from his entire life. He himself has kept all of his Pokeball (or whatever) cards.
I come from a mother who took pictures of all my trophies (yeah, I had a lot nbd) and then THREW THE TROPHIES AWAY. Then she scanned all of our family photos and then THREW THE FAMILY PHOTOS AWAY. So my fiancé and I, as far as memento-keeping goes, are most certainly not a match made in heaven. He likes to keep, I like to discard.
We cleared our schedule for the weekend and followed KonMari’s Type A advice, chapter by chapter, to try and achieve our dream living space. Wanna see how I did with my messy fiancé who owns 8,000 vapes, myself who has more clothes than Cher, and our combined collection of bongs and drug paraphernalia? Okay.
I’m Scandinavian Royalty; He Likes to Chill
Personally, I envision my apartment as a dope-ass crib with production gear stowed neatly but readily available, a kitchen that has nested Tupperware and no useless spices (we had three mother fucking jars of cumin, and I don’t even know what that is). I want people to think we are utilitarian with a dash of urban partier. Like a Norwegian or Dutch home, super high-tech with clean surfaces and not much clutter, a shrine to my writing area (Kondo says you should shrine up the place that gives you the most joy) and a closet so organized it would make KonMari orgasm upon first glance at it.
My man, to his credit, has pretty much the same vision. But, we are not willing to sacrifice our lava lamps or incense because we want people to know that we do drugs in our utilitarian, Scandinavian-esque pad. Picture your dream space.
I bet it’s not as dope as ours. That’s ok, you do you.
One Fell Swoop
I used to tell myself: “I’ll just neaten a little bit at a time, and eventually my house will be in order.”
KonMari says WRONG!
So, we cleared our schedule for a whole weekend (I mean we still went out at night; don’t think we’re not cool) and got to Kondo-ing our apartment. The first category you should hit is CLOTHES. (Don’t start until you know the categories.) We put them all in the bedroom (remember: tidy by category, not location) and piled ‘em up on the bed to take stock.
Holy shit we have a lot of clothes!
Next up was holding each item and asking if it sparks joy and getting rid of it if it doesn’t. My fiancé said, “That’s dumb.” He just started chucking shit he doesn’t wear anymore into an Ikea bag. I followed suit. I figure, If I can discard this shirt without even looking at it twice there’s no way it sparks joy, right? I found a pile of clothes I was saving for when I lose weight and my boobs shrink a bit.
“Never gonna happen, babe,” my lover said to me. “Just get rid of ‘em.” Into the bag they went. KonMari says to thank your clothes before you discard them. I say, “Nah, I’m good.”
Keep Your Own Guilt, Asshole
KonMari says people who send keepsakes to their parents to store are cheating. Giving away hand-me-downs to relatives is transferring the guilt from your inability to purge onto someone else who feels an obligation to house your stuff for you. My mom is like, “Throw your shit away. Don’t send it here. I’m downsizing.”
I remember the aforementioned TROPHY MASSACRE; so sending anything to parental storage is not an option for me. I do give my sister my sluttier clothes that I’ll never wear. It brings me joy to see them on her, more so than on me. I also tell her to chuck it if she doesn’t like it. And she does! Mom runs a tight ship.
I’m supposed to subcategorize my clothes after I’ve purged them. Wow, I have like four categories just for rave outfits alone! How the fuck do you categorize stuff that could be a costume for an actor? Sometimes I need to play a soccer mom or a prostitute. I don’t want to have to buy clothes for that. We compromise by making a “props” drawer and loading it with unique items that could be used for sketches, but don’t need to be hanging in our closet. Voila!
We left the joyful clothes on the bed while we moved onto the next category: Books. This went fast. It’s 2016, and we have Kindles; so the 12 books we own stayed put. Papers were also a fast category because everything is digital, and we only keep exactly what we need. A manual for your printer? You can find it online. Throw it out!
Komono or, miscellaneous, was the hardest category for us. We have a lot of weird collectible items from friends, relatives, raves, drug companies, etc. It’s hard to decide what is “necessary;” so we stuck with things that make us smile. Figuring out where to store them is the hard part. Once you know what you’re keeping, it makes it easier.
FYI: I tried like hell to purge a ton more stuff, but my man was resistant so I’ll have to a) live with it and find storage in my small apartment or b) figure out how to throw them out a little a time so he doesn’t notice. KonMari says she used to do this, and it caused great pain in her family members so she doesn’t anymore. BUT I’M NOT A BEAUTIFUL JAPANESE ANGEL NOW, AM I?!
Give Me The Feels
KonMari says amateurs shouldn’t start their clutter purge with sentimental stuff because these items often elicit emotional responses. That’s why you should work your way up to the good stuff. My mom scanned all my pics for me; so those are all neatly on a flash drive. My lover had a harder time getting rid of some emotional stuff. It’s now sitting in bins in our storage closet. At least it’s neatly tucked away. We need to go through it again, but I’ll give him a break. He didn’t take to the KonMari method as well as I did. I decided to take my sentimental stuff, like old stuffed animals and toys, and put them in a pile, too. Then I was like: “If I wouldn’t display this in my home, I’m not keeping it.” Bye, Care Bear! Bye, Beanie Babies! The rest of the stuff I put on top of our vape cabinet so I can look at it every day. Joy, I tell you.
Everything in Its Place
Putting stuff away is the hard part, but since everything is out of drawers and closets, it’s easier to see where you have space for stuff. I rolled my leggings and put them in my drawer. I can see them clearly at all times, same with my socks, bras, and underwear. KonMari says folding is better than stacking; so my shirts got the same treatment. This was so cathartic! I even purged a little more as I was folding and organizing. It felt AMAZING.
And you know what? We’ve stayed neat! I go to the mall and walk by stores without buying anything because I feel more connected to my clothes and things. My kitchen is more workable, and I promise I’ll start cooking soon. Promise!
In the meantime, I tidy every day and take much more pride in my space. Kondo’s method really does work, despite it feeling overwhelming and downright mean and brutal. I think the emotional weight of having too much stuff is a terrible burden for a lot of people. I feel light and free, and I’m going to make everyone read this book now!
I hope I meet KonMari one day. She changed my life, and she looks like she smells like perfumed silk bunnies on a warm, spring day.
Consider donating your stuff to Goodwill or a women’s shelter in your area!
Repurposed with thanks from Kindland.