I patiently read the book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. After reading the first chapter I wanted to get stuck in immediately, I certainly need to make changes. I’ve finally got started, and now just waiting for all the magic to trickle in!
The concept is very simple and imbued with the Japanese appreciation for the material world that isn’t materialistic. You should touch each item and sense your intuitive response. As yourself, “Does this item spark joy?” If not, it should be donated or discarded.
I was reminded of this method from the Curious Handmade podcast recently. She gives a good run down of some of the challenges and benefits of the KonMari method. She did a massive clear out of stuff, including a proper yarn stash revision.
When I taught in Japan I was always amazed at how even the littlest children would come into the classroom, remove their tiny shoes and point them out of the classroom door. Then, as they were exiting the room, the shoes were pointed in the right direction to slip them on quickly so they wouldn’t hold up traffic. In Japan you won’t waste time struggling to get packages opened because they have what my husband and I call “A Japanese Notch.”
The Japanese attention to detail isn’t just an appreciation of order but a consideration of reducing waste of materials and time, and at an atomic level, your life and earthly matter.
The KonMari method appealed to me very much. My mother is a proper hoarder. I’m not exaggerating, we’re actually afraid she’ll have a fall and no one will be able to find her under a mountain of stuff. In various times in my life I’ve been completely deluged with stuff. The international moves I’ve made are always points where I shed my skin and stuff. But now that I want to *stay* somewhere I won’t be doing that again. I know there’s a tendency for me to become a pack-rat when things are tough. I don’t know why – but my inner order matches my outer order.
So – by that correlation will my inner order fall in line when I get my outer order literally lined up? I need some help for sure right now. Work is far more stressful than it’s ever been in the 5 years at my current job. There have been multiple deaths and diagnoses of terminal illnesses in my family and my husbands. Other things that have happened which I can’t even talk about I get too sad. My hair started falling out in clumps in December and it doesn’t appear to have stopped. So! If this method is magic, I could really use some magic right about now 😉
Starting with clothes
KonMari says start with clothes. The books, “komono” (stuff) and sentimental possessions come later. She does say to “do it all at once”, but I don’t have gobs of time like that. So I hope to complete this over the next couple of weeks.
To start- I piled all of everything onto the bed. I didn’t do shoes, I’ll tackle that next. I have done clothing culls in the last year, whereas I usually reserve them for when I move. It seems like way more stuff than I thought I had.
Next I had to handle each item of clothing. DOES THIS SPARK JOY. That is a really hard question. I think there’s maybe 5 items that genuinely make me feel joy when I touch them. Items that I would run in to save from a burning building. Grey velvet jeans! Long soft cardi! Socks with sheep on them! For these items it’s obvious. Others are more ambiguous, a pair of lounge pants? I’m not going to get a sense of joy, but KonMari says to think of what good service that item has given you and appreciate it for what it is.
And this is when you start excluding stuff. Get rid of anything from which you can’t sense joy or from which you derive no value.
- Gone are the ill fitting tops and socks with holes in them.
- Gone are the items you said you’d repair but never bother to because, really you don’t care for the item.
- Gone are the freeking “slimming fat pants” which just make me feel fat instead of making me feel slim.
Apparently all of these things do not spark joy! It’s a bin full of stuff which doesn’t fit, needs repair, feels scratchy, or makes me feel bad. Byeee!
Next you set about folding. the KonMari method would really work best if you have drawers. I have more shelves and two drawers in the shared chest. You fold the items into rectangles and then fold them onto themselves. You get a nice little package that stands on its own. This is a huge advantage because if you remove an item, you don’t mess up a stack.
I used shoe boxes and shoe box lids to corral my smaller items. She explicitly says: this isn’t a storage problem you don’t need new storage equipment. But couldn’t figure out how to make this work with shelves otherwise. I also couldn’t figure out how to handle bulky cardis and sweaters, so for now I had to stack them.
And I realised something as I wedged the little rectangles together. This “gamifies” your clothing. Folding underwear always seemed an entirely DAFT concept. But now I see that you’re playing a puzzle game as you put the item away.
She mentioned the little “click” you’d feel when you reach the right amount of stuff, or when something is folded “just right”. This reminds me of the research put into the addictive appeal of quest based RPGs. A continual flow of positive response reinforces these activities and you will actually look forward to folding your underwear.
The KonMari method gives you the puzzle pleasure of Tetris and the reinforcement of an RPG.
I don’t recommend starting as I did on Sunday night after you’ve been away all weekend. But I’ve been away so much there really wasn’t a better time. I notice already that I can’t pop on that shirt that doesn’t quite fit right and I don’t “have to wear” that pair of socks that itches my toes because of the seam. So far the method is working!
For now, I can enjoy the things I have an hopefully when I go to make a purchase again, I will be more discerning and avoid accumulating things just because. Let’s see if the game is enough to keep me interested long enough to reinforce these habits.