I’m in the middle of KonMari-ing my room. It’s a way of tidying that was invented by a Japanese lady. She wrote two books about it: The magic of tidying and Spark Joy. I like to think that this book is more than tidying – it’s an attitude of gratitude and joy for the things you possess.
KonMari is a combination of the author’s name, Marie Kondo. It’s more memorable for English speakers so I’ll be referring to the method and the author as ‘KonMari’.
The point of reading her books and cleaning your house up is that you really want to tidy up once and for all. If you think you’re really neat and you scoff at the idea of talking to your things, this book isn’t for you.
I personally think we should care for our things more, and talking to them is just one way of coping with the copious amount of stuff we own.
Envision the house you want to live in
Think about the house you want to live in and keep asking why.
I want to clean my house.
Why? I want more space to breathe.
Why? My house is too cluttered and I want a house that looks like a dream home from Muji.
Why? I think it’s better for my health, and I can finally relax and destress.
And so on, until you can’t find any more answers.
For me, it’s really two things: health and happiness. When I have a clear mind and am surrounded by the things I love, I feel happy. And I want to be the best I can be in public and at home too.
I also think it’s easier to have everything you use somewhere visible rather than stored away. I find myself forgetting about things I’ve stored away. Also, for some reason, the shoes I stow away seem to degenerate faster than shoes I keep in plain sight.
And from a practical point of view, knowing how to tidy and declutter is really important nowadays. Apartments are getting smaller, and you really can’t afford to have too many things.
Start with clothes
Gather all your stuff into a huge clump. Start from clothes, books, then knick knacks, then sentimental items.
It’s imperative to gather everything from every single room to assess how much of something you actually have – and the amount you actually waste. It’s more than tidying, but also an adjustment of mindset towards the things you have.
In my case, it was easy because I take up only one room of the house.
Does it spark joy?
Hold the article of clothing. Ask yourself if it sparks joy.
If you do not know, find your favorite shirt and compare it to your least favorite shirt. Hold the shirt you prefer. That’s joy.
When the shirt doesn’t give you any joy, thank the shirt for its service, fold it respectfully and put it away. If you don’t wear the shirt anymore, but feel sentimental, thank the shirt for having changed your life and send it off well.
Throwing away is difficult
Saying goodbye to sentimental things is the hardest. I’ve used some of the things for formative and happy periods of my life. I found it especially hard to say bye to a yellow notebook which I haven’t used at all. What KonMari recommends is a mindset change – to decide if you want to keep something, rather than discard it. And if you choose to keep it, display it prominently so that it gives you joy.
If you feel sentimental about not keeping something, then, fold it up nicely, say thank you to it for bringing happiness to your life at some point in time, and let it go. It has served its purpose.
After reading her books, I realized that I’ve stopped thinking trash as filthy objects. I’m grateful to the things I discard – ranging from food to packaging because they’ve helped me at some point in time.
Don’t throw away your vacuum cleaner
You can’t throw everything out. Sometimes, the joy you derive from something is because you need it, say, a vacuum cleaner. In this case, thank the vacuum cleaner for its service and feel joy while using it.
If knowing exactly what you have and what you want out of your possessions isn’t joyful enough, KonMari has more specific ways of arranging your clothes and things to give maximum joy.
Firstly, arrange stuff from light to dark. Place the darkest stuff behind, and the lightest ones in front.
Secondly, arrange your hanging wardrobe so that the longest stuff are on the left, and shorter ones are on the right. This gives a pleasant upward trajectory to the eye.
Finally, if you have anything you kept – like cute tiny statues of cats – you can place them amongst your belongings to give you that spark of happiness.
Keeping everything neat
These are tips by Cheeserland.
“1. Have a home for all your belongings. Things are like humans too, treat them with respect, and don’t let them be homeless.
2. Put things back to their respective home after using. Once each and every item in your house has an identified home, it is super easy to commit to this.
3. Be thankful for your belongings and find joy in using them.”
Don’t clean in front of your parents
I think the one piece of advice that really resonates with me is this: Do not clean in front of your parents.
KonMari says that it’s actually unfilial. For one, your parents will worry if you have enough after seeing the amount you’ve thrown out. And your parents will interfere in some way, wanting to keep this and that.
If you stay with your parents, tidy when your parents aren’t in town.
In the process of tidying my wardrobe, I found clothes I wanted to wear but didn’t manage to find. If someone says they have “nothing to wear” despite having a huge wardrobe, they should start KonMari-ing too.
I’m keeping to my new year resolution of not buying any new clothes, and I’ve only bought one more pair of jeans this year. I also managed to fill two large Ikea trunks with clothes I wanted to discard. I’m donating them to the Salvation Army. And yes, I’ve thanked them.
I’ve tidied up my wardrobe. Now I can take three uninterrupted steps in my room. Next would be my books, and finally, to tidy up my desk once and for all by the end of the week!