(Marie Kondo cover image courtesy: USAToday)
Marie Kondo, a Japanese organising expert and consultant, has set off a decluttering trend around the world that works wonders. Her professional tips that will help you declutter, organise and ‘spark joy’ in your home. Her bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing can be surmised with a simple approach:
Hold the object in your hand and ask yourself if it ‘sparks joy’. If it does, it is treated with respect and placed in an accessible place where it belongs. If it doesn’t, thank it for its service and discard.
Here’s how you can get there:
Decluttering Tip #1: Sort Categories, Not Rooms
It’s a very common habit to declutter homes room by room. However, Kondo suggests proceeding by category instead.
For example, if you are sorting your clothes, pick out every clothing item you own from every room, and heap them in a pile in one spot. This process will give you a better perspective on what you possess. You might even be shocked to see how much you have accumulated over the years!
Keep the items you love, ask yourself if it ‘sparks joy’ and get rid of everything else. You must discard completely before you start putting things back. Don’t keep a ‘maybe’ pile. This way you can purge clutter successfully.
She also states that items from the same category should not be stored in multiple places as it leads to forgetful, unnecessary accumulation.
Decluttering Tip #2: Dealing with Guilt
One of the biggest impediments to decluttering is guilt. When sorting through your pile of clothes, you may notice that you probably bought an item you never wore, or accepted a gift from your relatives out of politeness that you never liked. It’s totally okay to say goodbye to them.
Kondo says that at some point in your life that item brought you joy so even if you never used it, it has served its purpose. Now let it go with love.
Joy is a simple filter so spread it around. Have a donation box ready and dump everything in there. Someone else might cherish a set of scarves you’ve loathed.
Decluttering Tip #3: Don’t Let Nostalgia Interfere
Items of sentimental value are the most difficult to throw away. You might have made up your mind to declutter on the weekend, but once you open a box of old photos and gifts, you’ll notice that you tend to waste time reading and reminiscing instead.
To tackle this, Marie Kondo advises starting with items you are least emotionally attached to; start with utensils, move on to clothes, then paperwork, books and lastly ‘Komono’ (miscellaneous items). Letting go can get quite addictive, so if you proceed in this order, you will be in the right mindset by the time you reach your nostalgic stash.
Also, it’s best to do this alone. Someone else’s joy or opinion is not a substitute of your own. Not just that, doing things alone can hasten the process.
Decluttering Tip #4: Respect Your Belongings
Marie Kondo emphasizes on considering your belongings’ feelings every time you organize. She states that they work hard to serve their purpose and must be treated with respect.
She uses the ‘KonMari’ method, coined after her nickname, to fold clothes with care. It’s a vertical folding technique wherein items are easy to spot. Also, it’s less likely that your clothes will get misplaced when pulling out something in a hurry.
This neat method of organising works especially well in a dresser. In case you cannot invest in one, use shoeboxes or drawer dividers for segregating shirts, bottoms, scarves, socks, etc. Use deep boxes for heavier items and small ones for knick knacks like jewellery, makeup, etc. Avoid buying more storage and keep things simple.
A neat set up like this, filled only with things that give you joy, inspires you to pursue this habit without relapsing into your old ways.
Marie Kondo’s Decluttering Tip #5. Tackling Stress
Kondo’s organising method is stressful, without a doubt. She suggests that the decluttering happens at one go and not it small batches. But the result is – as the book suggests – you will ‘never have to clean again’ or rather your decluttering sessions are going to be spaced far apart.
Instead of stressing about how much time this is going to take, just start! Be prepared for some snack breaks in between. At the end of this exercise, you would have reaped unexpected benefits and a huge lesson in detoxing your home of objects that have outlived their usefulness.
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