The KonMari method is a system of organizing your home by getting rid of anything that doesn’t make you happy. In the powerful words of Marie Kondo, the woman who developed the KonMari method, “discard anything that doesn’t spark joy.”
The Miriam Webster dictionary defines joy as “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.” I’ve seen it defined in a more spiritual context as a “settled state of contentment, confidence, and hope.” So, if you’re Darth Vader action figures and your vast collection of Barbie accessories no longer makes you feel contented and hopeful, it’s time to say goodbye.
Hmmm. In that case, since doing laundry no longer sparks joy in my heart, goodbye washer and dryer. It’s time to turn the laundry room into a Zumba studio. My husband’s golf clubs have never made me joyful. Won’t he be surprised when he gets to the golf course tomorrow morning?
While reading Ms. Kondo’s best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I admit that I giggled on occasion (well, maybe it was more of a “laugh out loud”). This woman actually suggests that before getting rid of items, you thank them for serving their purpose. She texted her old cell phone from her new cell phone to thank it for “all it has done.” I wonder if the old cell phone and the new one are still having conversations?
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t appreciate or care for our possessions; I just don’t want to have a conversation with my coat before I donate it to The Salvation Army.
A Tidy Home is a Happy Home
For most of us, it feels good to keep our homes tidy. If you check our last blog, The Ugly Truth: Why Self Storage is a Must for Your Clutter, you’ll note that clutter can be physically and psychologically damaging. Marie Kondo has made quite a good living as an organizational consultant and author, so there is probably something to be said for her method. I’ll give her props for mentioning self storage as a solution for those who have trouble “letting go.” I’m still on the fence about thanking a broken toaster for serving its purpose.
The KonMari Method
As you’ve probably guessed this method is highly detailed, so I’m going to give you a very simplified overview. The KonMari Method advocates sorting your belongings by category rather than by room. The reason for this is that people typically store items of the same category in different locations. Imagine that.
Before you begin your organization journey, read the following rules. This can be quite an overwhelming process, so you’d better have a glass of wine first.
Rule 1: Commit yourself to tidying up.
Rule 2: Imagine your ideal lifestyle (visualize your life in an organized home).
Rule 3: Finish discarding first. Before getting rid of items, sincerely thank each one for serving its purpose (this is where she loses me because having conversations with inanimate objects is just weird…unless, of course, it’s a stuffed Care Bear or my Samantha doll).
Rule 4: Tidy by category, not location.
Rule 5: Follow the right order – Categories 1 through 5 (see below)
Rule 6: Ask yourself if the item sparks joy (now we’re talking to ourselves as well as our things).
Category 1: Clothing
Clothing is typically stored in closets, dresser drawers, and maybe under the bed. After you’ve removed all of your clothing from these spaces and laid it on the floor, you can then move on to creating sub-categories. For example, you could separate your clothes into seasonal categories or “these haven’t fit since high school.” You can then further subdivide into “what the heck was I thinking when I bedazzled this bikini.”
Category 2: Books
As with clothing, remove all books from shelves and place them on the floor. Place them into four broad categories:
- General (books you read for pleasure)
- Practical (references, cookbooks, etc.)
- Visual (photograph albums, etc.)
Hold each book and decide whether you want to keep it or toss it. Remember you’re looking for books that “spark joy.” Be sure to have a long literary conversation with each one.
Category 3: Papers
Papers include accumulated newspapers, invitations, and school announcements stuck to the refrigerator, as well as junk mail. The basic KonMari principle for papers is to throw everything away unless it does not fall into one of three categories:
- Currently in use
- Needed for a limited period
- Must be kept indefinitely
You’ll find the complex system for categorizing all other papers (bills, sentimental letters/diaries, receipts) in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
Category 4: Konomo (miscellaneous items)
These are the items you will find everywhere in your house.
- Makeup (cosmetic samples that have never been used)
- Valuable Items (passports, credit cards, etc.)
- Electrical Equipment (small appliances, cameras, cords, etc.)
- Household Equipment (stationery, writing materials, sewing baskets, etc.)
- Household and Cleaning Supplies (medicine, detergents, cleaners, tissues, etc.)
- Kitchen Goods (pots and pans, small appliances, kitchen implements, etc.)
- Other (spare change, keyrings, etc.)
- Anything Related to a Particular Interest or Hobby
This category should take you about 6 months because you’ll find items that you haven’t seen in decades. Properly thanking all of these items will take some time. I’d love to be a fly on the wall when you thank your empty Windex bottle and the half-used tube of toothpaste you discover stuck in a planter.
Category 5: Sentimental Items
These are items from your past that still hold meaning for you. The problem is that they are probably stored in a drawer or closet where you never see them. They include mementos, photographs, and souvenirs. These things tend to appear in unexpected places (like under the refrigerator or behind the toilet).
The KonMari Method will help you organize what is most meaningful. You’ll use the same method for sorting these items as you do for everything else. Lay them out on the floor (or bed or table), and create categories. Be aware that you will be holding on to each photo to see if it “sparks joy,” and then you probably need to have a long conversation with it before you throw it away.
Self Storage and KonMari
So now you’re ready to “put your space in order and change your life forever.”
Anyway, that’s what the book says. If you’re going to follow this method, you really need to use self storage because it will give you the best of both worlds. You can follow the KonMari Method and still have a place for those “maybe I’ll need them later” items.
If you’re lonely or just really enjoy talking to inanimate objects, you can visit your items in their self storage unit whenever you like and thank them for serving their purpose. Tell them you miss them and make them feel appreciated. Don’t worry. Our friendly, professional storage management team will not laugh. They’re probably having discussions with their own belongings.