Spring Cleaning: The No. 1 Thing Everyone Gets Wrong About The KonMari Method
Long time no see! I decided to take last week off from blogging to celebrate the Easter season with my family and enjoy my son’s first birthday. It was time well spent and nice to take a step back from all the ordinary things in my life and breathe!
Now that I’m back, I’m excited that it’s spring cleaning time! Though we got a little bit of frost this morning here in the Northeast, I believe we’re on the other side of it. I might just be willing it to happen at this point, though!
This week and next I’m hoping to do a little series on spring cleaning, because it’s something I love so much. I love that fresh start feeling that spring brings and look forward to getting outside in the sunshine with a clear house and a clear mind. Who’s with me?
Today, I wanted to write a little bit about my favorite spring cleaning resource: Marie Kondo’s Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I previously posted a review of The Life Changing Manga of Tidying Up, but now I want to dig in a little more on the process itself.
If you’ve never heard of the KonMari Method or Marie Kondo, she is a Japanese professional organizer and best-selling author. She is also working on an organization show on Netflix! She revolutionized a bunch of different organization concepts by looking at the fundamental psychology behind clutter and digging deeper into why we do what we do in terms of space and belongings. Instead of focusing on what to get rid of, she encourages clients to focus on what to keep. I love that idea! As an organization nerd, I thought this broke through a lot of the reasons I was keeping things. “Just in case.” “I might need it someday.” “But ____ gave it to me!” “It’s a perfectly good ______.”
She also invented this totally unique and useful method of folding. At the end of tidying session, your clothing looks like folders in a filing system. It’s certainly changed the way I store things. Look it up online for tips on folding and organizing.
This method is so popular that countless blogs and youtube videos have dedicated time and space to KonMari-ing. While the idea of “does this item spark joy?” (Kondo’s mantra) is easy to remember and apply, I’ve found a huge oversight that I think compromises a tidying project before you even start.
Instead of tidying room by room, Kondo prescribes tidying ITEM BY ITEM.
Kondo’s categories are:
- Komono (miscellaneous items)
Over and over again, I see bloggers and vloggers set out to KonMari their homes by focusing on a hall closet, then a handbag, then a bedroom closet, then a particular kitchen cabinet, then the fridge door. And it’s admirable… but really ineffective if you want to keep the clutter at bay permanently.
Here’s why I think it’s so important to go by category in Kondo’s particular order is that by putting things into categories instead of spaces, it’s easy to see the full volume of belongings I may have in each category. When I actually took out all the clothing from my bedroom closet, hall closet, clean laundry pile, hooks, and hangers, I couldn’t believe my eyes! This was seriously all mine? It was pretty shocking.
And I think that’s kind of the point. When we’re confronted with all the things we hold on to, we see that we’ve become like a character out of the 1980s film Labyrinth. In that story there is an old woman buried underneath a giant pile of garbage she is carrying because she can’t bear to let anything go. She’s barely able to move because she is so burdened by her past and everything weighing her down.
If we look at a staggeringly large pile of shoes or dishes or scarves or toys, we see that maybe we don’t need everything we have and maybe we can part ways with some of our belongings. And all that parting ways leads to a home where the only things we see are the things we truly love and the things that truly spark joy.
When I removed all the hidden clutter in my drawers, closets, cars, cabinets, and bookcases where it was piling up, I realized I hadn’t been seeing clearly for a long time. Out of sight out of mind, right? I had been lying to myself about my minimalism, my belief that I was unattached to the things of this world, my idea that I spent money responsibly, that I never hid things from myself, that I was open, honest, and transparent.
When we are faced with all the physical belongings we have in a big pile, everything is brought to light and uncovered and it forces us to be honest with ourselves. Or at least it forced me to be honest with myself.
I think that’s why I’m calling out people who describe the KonMari method as just decluttering your bag, then your pantry, then your bathroom cabinet. It’s great to declutter and donate, but if they’re doing it that way, I kind of think you’re missing the mark.
So the next time you hear someone talk about going full Kondo on their belongings, remind yourself to take a closer look at the book, read the instructions first, and go from there. I don’t believe there are any shortcuts in life. And if we’re going to truly let go, there aren’t any shortcuts in taking the weight off our shoulders and walking in to the future with a clear mind and open heart.