It’s nigh impossible to attempt any kind of decluttering effort without encountering Marie Kondo and her KonMari method. The self-stylized “Japanese art of decluttering and organization” is the method of choice for so many vloggers, bloggers, and Facebook groups that one could get the impression, at first, that is is the only way to declutter.
This was only slightly less true in 2018, when I made one of my failed “Let’s clean up our act!” attempts. Kondo did not have the name recognition she has today (which came via her 2019 Netflix series), but she was still highly present in the decluttering community. That’s when I bought the KonMari bible, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” and tried to dive head-first into it.
I started with a very successful purging of clothes. I had the whole experience: the mountainous pile of wearables dug out of every closet and drawer, the boxes for sell/donate/trash, the “sparks joy” moment with each piece, the drawers full of neatly arranged stand-fold clothes, and the multiple garbage bags at the end. It was successful, and motivating, and left me eager to dive into the next step: books.
Books went … okay, I guess. I had the piles, the boxes, the moment with each. I had started clothes on a Saturday, though, and made the mistake of trying to start books right before the beginning of the work week. As such, the process was slower, suffered from start-stopping every night, and hindered by the special place books hold in my life. It was a real slog.
I ultimately made it through, but then the real problem reared its head: the purged books. I didn’t want to throw out the books I’d purged, but my local library wasn’t currently accepting donations, the local thrift stores did not want them (they sell books for like 10 for a $1 and no one buys), and very few were actually worth the effort to sell. So I just stacked all the boxes of purged books in the hallway.
I tried to move onto papers after that, but those looming cartons of books was discouraging, and I was really afraid of how decluttering everything else was going to just generate MORE boxes of stuff I couldn’t even give away. So I vowed I would get those books out of the house, somehow, before continuing the declutterng process.
And — you guessed it — the boxes are still there now, almost two years later. And since they never left, I never finished my KonMari decluttering spree.
KonMari builds itself as a big-step process you immerse yourself in, commit to fully, and come out the other side changed. And that’s great, in theory. Honestly I love the KonMari method and I really want to do the whole thing.
The problem is, I don’t really have the time. I have a full time job, and kids, and commitments every week, and no spouse to share the load with. I can start on the weekend, get momentum, but once the week starts and the process slows to a crawl it becomes just one more chore, and then the next weekend is filled with other plans, and then it’s a month later and oh, well, maybe try again in the spring?
Plus, let’s be honest, the kimono step is something of a cop-out. “Okay, next just do everything else!” she instructs, with a waive of her hands. I get it, not everyone will have the same things in their house and so it becomes harder to dictate all the categories. But she could have parsed it out into a few groups to give the reader some sort of plan of attack. You can’t just be like “clothes, then books, then papers, then whatever!” and not expect that kimono step to intimidate.
So, no, I won’t be doing straight KonMari method as I try to improve my relationship with stuff. I will, however, take the core lessons of “sparks joy” and only keeping those things that do so, to heart as I approach decluttering in whatever mode I ultimately decide to do it.
Oh, and also the folding technique. I’m definitely keeping that.