After Christmas, and before the New Year, I typically start feeling overwhelmed and anxious. Why?!?!? STUFF. There’s so. much. stuff. At that point, we still have Christmas décor up and we’ve received lovely gifts. Although I enjoy Christmas décor and appreciate receiving gifts, it all just becomes too much. I start feeling weighed down and claustrophobic.
Last year, I went on a purging rampage thanks to a 30-day declutter challenge I was following. According to this particular challenge we didn’t need much stuff and should get things down to a bare minimum. I ravaged through the house room by room, as the challenge prescribed, sacking things for Goodwill donations. We had less stuff, but it wasn’t working for our family. At one point, the challenge leader suggested having only enough plates for your family, which meant keeping a measly six plates. What if we had company over??!?! What if I didn’t wash and dry the dishes immediately after each meal?!?! What if we broke one?!?! It wasn’t long before I realized this was for minimalists, and minimalism wasn’t our style. Yet, we did have far too much stuff. That’s when I was introduced the Konmari method, and it was life changing.
I used a free app from our public library (Overdrive) to listen toThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing during my commute to work. Then I borrowed the companion e-book Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up to better understand the method visually and get started on our home.
It took us about six or seven months to get the majority of our house done using this method, and we’re still working on the last bits. In this process, I realized several things about our stuff:
- I kept things for “just in case” moments that never came. You know things such as, “I’ll keep this dress in case I’m invited to a theme party” or “I’ll hang onto this in case I lose five pounds”.
- I kept things because someone gave them to me.
- Even when we bought replacement items, we kept the old item if it was still usable.
- We bought things because they were a “good deal” even if we didn’t need them.
- We had so much stuff that we didn’t know what we actually had, and sometimes bought duplicates.
- Our things were unnecessarily time consuming.
When I told people we were doing a serious declutter of our home using the Konmari method many were shocked saying things like, “but your house is so organized” or “your things are so tidy already.” Yes, we kept things looking tidy and for the most part they were organized, but the sheer quantity of things was overwhelming. I spent ridiculous amounts of time working to keep things in order and keep track of things because there was a lot of it.
Here’s what my closet looked like before Konmari:
The matching hangers and items sorted by type made it seem tidy, but notice how much is in there. I couldn’t find things and really didn’t know what all was in my closet either. In addition to what was in my closet, my drawers were jam packed, and I had under the bed storage boxes loaded with out of season clothing. I didn’t do a good job of showing what junk was resting on the shelves above my clothes. It was a mess, ya’ll!
Here’s what my closet looks like now:
The changes are subtle. There’s still a lot of clothing in there, but notice the spaces between the hangers. I no longer have out of season clothes tucked away and I can easily see what I have, which means easy access and no more buying duplicates by mistake. The bed linens aren’t stuffed under my shirts, they have a new home in a pretty sea grass basket. As a result, it is more pleasing to the eye when I enter my closet.
Imagine such little changes throughout your entire home, and even life! Stay tuned and I’ll explain how Konmari is different from other methods of organization I’ve used over the years, and what benefits we’re enjoying. You can pop over to our Facebook page for a quick video tour of our house on a typical afternoon.
If you relate to any of my sentiments of having too much stuff, you may want to snag (or borrow) a copy of these books. A few disclaimers for the books: the author, Marie Kondo, is Japanese and therefore her books have been translated from Japanese. Some things don’t translate perfectly into English. Also there are differences in Asian culture and Western culture that you’ll notice. That said, I enjoyed both books and found them very helpful.