In November of 2015, around a month after the birth of our son, I caught wind of the latest decluttering craze, the KonMari method. I read up about it online, and I was impressed. That same day, I bought a copy of Marie Kondo’s book ‘The life-changing magic of tidying up’ because frankly, when it comes to keeping my home in order, I need all the help I can get.
When the postman dropped the book onto my doormat, I ripped the package open and quickly set about reading it, desperate to get to the end so I could discover this secret and finally get my act together in the decluttering department. I finished it in a weekend and was itching to get started with the task at hand.
Round One:All systems go…or maybe not
As instructed, I began with my clothes. It took me longer to sort through them than it did to read the damn book. Admittedly, the closet looked a lot better after I’d done it, but it was exhausting! We had a newborn at the time, and the thought of going through the house repeating the same process for every other category in the book made me feel physically sick. There was no way I was gonna be able to manage it.
In hindsight, trying to tackle a house full of junk a month after the birth of our son probably wasn’t the best idea I’ve ever had; being knackered and hormonal doesn’t exactly leave you with much enthusiasm for anything other than sleeping.
And so the book was resigned to the shelf, where it became yet another piece of clutter in our already full to bursting home.
Fast forward to January 2018; we moved house and the amount of crap we own suddenly became disturbingly real.
The new house was literally around the corner – a whole 30-second walk from our last place. We hired people to move furniture and boxes, and paid a man and his van to take unwanted furniture and general rubbish away. Family helped out by shifting stuff in their van. And you know what? It still took four full days to get everything moved. It became pretty apparent that we had a severe hoarding problem.
The move was supposed to be a turning point for us; a chance for us to start over and to finally have a home that we loved. Only it wasn’t. The same problems we’d had at our last home followed us to our new place. In the form of boxes. Box after box after box of junk. In fact, it didn’t follow us. We carried it here!
A time of realisation
Back in 2015, after my failed first attempt at the KonMari method, I felt frustrated. I was annoyed that this self-proclaimed ‘life-changing magic’ hadn’t worked for me.
It’s only recently that I’ve started to understand WHY it didn’t work.
The reason that the KonMari method failed wasn’t that the system is flawed, it was because my heart, and my head, just weren’t in it. I was looking for a magic wand, but that’s not what the book is supposed to be. The book is a training manual, a roadmap, a tool that you can use. But ultimately, as with most things in life, you need to be 100% committed to getting the work done.
And that’s the stage I’m at now. We moved into our new home seven months ago, and it resembles a pigsty. Something has to change, and that something is me.
I’m done with being afraid that someone will drop by unannounced and want to come inside. I’m done with tripping over stuff because nobody has bothered to put it away. I don’t want to live in chaos.
Having decided to simplify my life, it seems natural to begin by simplifying my home.
And so I’m starting out on my KonMari journey again. I’ve re-read the book, I’ve watched videos on YouTube of Marie speaking about her method, I’ve bought and read her follow-up book ‘Spark Joy’ (which gives a lot more practical advice on how to do it all) and this time I am going to make it work!
Round 2: Let’s try this again
The book suggests that you tidy by category, rather than by location, and that you approach the categories in a specific order. For those of you who haven’t read the book, the basic order is:
- komono (miscellaneous items)
- sentimental items
Each of these categories is broken down further, but I’ll go into that in subsequent posts. For now, knowing what the basic categories are will be just fine.
The idea is that you gather up every item in the house belong to the category you’re working on and pile them all up on the floor. You then pick up each item in turn, and ask yourself ‘Does this spark joy?’. If it does, it stays. If it doesn’t, you get rid of it.
It’s important to note here that this isn’t a quick fix – Kondo states early on in the book that the entire process can take around six months when done properly. Given my own experience the first time I tackled my clothes, I suspect that my own journey may take a little longer, but I’m ok with that.
The aim for me is to get the stuff in the house done before Christmas, and then I can tackle everything in the attic (there’s a LOT up there; probably as much as we’ve got in the house) in the new year.
So that’s my plan.
What’s your experience of the KonMari method? Do you have any tips to make the journey easier? Drop them in the comments below.