At the beginning of the year, I wrote about how this was the year to create some space in my life. After a good start, it all seemed to fall apart. New habits crumbled as the stress and pressure of life came back into full force and J. Crew continued to flood my inbox with sales and cute blazers.
One day, I happened to browse Facebook and saw an ad for the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It’s been a New York Times best seller for months now, but I’ve somehow been oblivious to the craze. It promised to be life-transforming. Whoa. That’s a pretty heavy claim, so I was intrigued.
I admit to becoming a bit of a hoarder. I think that I keep a pretty neat house, except for my version of Monica’s closet.
I’ve started keeping more than I need, and it irks me. I can feel the clutter even if it’s hidden. I remember loving to organize and clean when I was younger. My mom always gave me the chore of dusting because I was the only sibling to fastidiously pick up each object and dust it, around it, and under it. It sucked to be so darn perfect all the time…
Well, I thought that I was fastidious until I read the examples the author, Marie Kondo, gave of her history of how she became interested in organization. Geez. It sounds like she’s focused her energies in the right place now, but reading about how she sneaked into her sister’s room to clean it… INTENSE. But if I’m going to read about how to organize, who better to learn from than someone who’s been stalking clutter in the night since she was a child?
The main premise of her book is to only surround yourself by things that bring you joy. Instead of asking the question, “Do I like this?” when deciding whether to keep or discard an item, you are to begin asking, “Does this bring me joy?”. It sounds like a silly question to ask of inanimate objects, and I admit to rolling my eyes hard when I first read it. But if you really think about it, it’s a much different question than asking if I like an item. Most items are in our homes because like them. But do they bring us joy? That gives you pause.
The method is as much about discarding unnecessary items, as it is about organizing what is left. The main steps to discarding include:
- Tidy by category, not by room, in her recommended order (clothes, books, documents, etc.)
- Ask if it brings you joy
- Acknowledge each item with gratitude
There are a lot of other parts to each step, but these stuck out the most to me.
I began the madness in my closet, as she recommends starting with clothes. I seriously questioned beginning in my closet as that is where I keep my most prized possessions. She says this is the preferred place to start as it’s supposedly the easiest place for decision-making. However, I’m sentimental about many of my clothes. I thought seriously about bucking her method and moving to the next category, but I decided that if I was going to try something so tried-and-true, I needed to do it right or I couldn’t leave her a scathing review on Amazon if it didn’t work.
So, I begrudgingly entered my closet and took all my shirts out of my drawers (if you have too many clothes, she recommends starting with a subcategory like shirts). I went upstairs to my overflow closet (yes, I have that many clothes) and took shirts out of there.
I attacked the pile, discarding some shirts quickly. Like many people, I was skinnier in college, but kept shirts that clung tight even then. Why did I think I should keep them now after going up a few sizes? I mean, crop tops are in and all right now, but no one should see my American Eagle shirt with the word “Surf” stretched out so much, the letters looked like pixelated versions of themselves.
I maybe, kinda, liked other shirts, but when I asked myself if they brought me joy, the answer came surprisingly easy for most of them. I had to admit that even sentimental shirts, like a t-shirt from my freshman year of college, didn’t bring me joy. The joy was in the memory of that year, not in a shirt that I only looked at when spring cleaning. Huh. Maybe the professional organizer is onto something…
When you decide to discard an item, Kondo recommends that you thank it for its service to you. When I first read that, I again thought it was a little strange. Girlfriend’s got some things to address in her next therapy session. However, when I did stumble across something that was hard for me to part with, I almost felt relief after thanking it for serving me. It was as though through gratitude, I gave myself permission to move on from the past.
In fact, the most poignant sentence in her whole book for me was, “But when we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.” (pg. 181) *Mind blown.*
Before I knew it, the discard pile began towering.
After deciding what to keep (Don’t fold and go. Discard then organize. Or Marie Kondo will take your soul.), she recommends folding your shirts like this:
I initially thought this was also stupid. (I pretty much gave her a side-eye the entire book.) Standing up your shirts? Is it really going to save you time and organize your drawers easier? Yes and yes. I had no idea what was at the bottom of my shirt piles before. This makes everything in your drawer visible and easily accessible. Bonus? The folding isn’t really that intricate. I was taught to fold like this, minus the last step of folding horizontally again. Suddenly, I had a drawer full of awesome.
It’s so nice to be able to see everything and pick what I want immediately. I’ve also found it easy to put shirts back this way. I know that I’m a super-dork for saying this, but I can’t wait to move onto the other categories.
Now that I’m a part of the KonMari cult, I’m really looking forward to seeing if and how this begins impacting the rest of my life. I’ll keep you updated!
I’d love to know if any of you have already tried the KonMari Method? How’d it work for you?