Over the past few years, I have heard lots of buzz about Marie Kondo, the famed Japanese organizational consultant whose decluttering tips has women throwing away bags and bags of belongings.
Her minimalist approach is about as disciplined as they come and Kondo’s book, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” has earned a cult following since its publication in the United States in 2014, with millions adopting her suggestions for a neater, happier existence.
While I read her book last summer — and found her decluttering techniques to be a little stricter than I was prepared to be with my own minimalist goals — I have seen a lot of increased chatter on my social media feeds in the New Year, with lots of friends converting to the “KonMari” method.
Whether you have read any of her books or have seen her Netflix show “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo,” or not, I wanted to share a few of my favorite “KonMari” methods that seem to have the most functional utility in my own decluttering journey.
Just in case you have not delved into any of her books or shows, the basic premise is this: Decluttering should be something you give your full attention to — so plan to set aside an uninterrupted day to make this your focus.
Her method has a specific order for when to attack different materials: first, clothing; then, books, documents, kitchen and bathroom miscellany; and finally, sentimental items.
Again and again she gives the same advice: Pile everything in one place so you can see it all.
Keep only those items that will spark joy.
Keep Things You Love: While there are a few of Kondo’s tips that simply do not really align with my own way of life — the notion of approaching your home simplification process with a focus on what to keep rather than what to trash makes a lot of sense.
We hold on to clutter because of lots of emotional reasons and nostalgia plays a big part of my own struggle with simplifying my home environment.
Sparking joy is the cornerstone of Kondo’s philosophy and if you can use that emotional connection to help you part with objects that are taking up space in your life and not your heart, it is a great motivator!
You need to actually put your hands on every item to determine your emotional connection with it.
Once you decide you are going to keep something — that is, deeming it something that sparks joy in your life — you have to give it a place.
Everything in your home must have a designated place.
That segues nicely into my next favorite takeaway.
Put Like Items Together: That old adage that “everything you need to learn, you learned in kindergarten” holds true here — remember when your teacher had a designated cubby for every item in the classroom.
For example, rather than store pens in the junk drawer, a desk drawer, and utility room, choose a place to store all pens.
It will be a huge timesaver the next time you need a pen, knowing where all your pens are located.
The same goes with lightbulbs, batteries — everything needs a home and it is your job to give each belonging its designated home.
By grouping like items together you also have a better sense of whether you can get rid of any excess.
Make a KonMari Holiday: While this goes against the advice I always give — which talks about automating our cleaning and purging in smaller, bite size chunks — when it comes time to really commit yourself to a solid KonMari declutter, you really do need to commit to the whole process.
Tidying a bit at a time never works.
Things will get messy again quickly.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and while undoing years of clutter isn’t going to happen in a day either, setting aside time over a course of days and weeks is key to a successful KonMari purge.
My advice is to plan on at minimum, a long weekend or even a staycation from work to commit the time and focused on your own decluttering.
Once you get rid of the excess, the second part of the process, the organization of what is left, will seem a lot easier and intuitive!
Have a favorite you want to share? I would love to hear about it!
You can reach me at kristinesgeorge@gmail.com.
(Editor’s Note: Kristine George is a freelance journalist who resides in Easton.)