You might have noticed a book with a pretty blue cover taking over Facebook feeds, people’s closets and basically the world. It is entitled The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. The book boasts a unique method which clears a house of clutter once and for all.
The Life-Changing Magic is a helpful, enjoyable book. I’m grateful to have read it and certainly recommend it to anyone who could use guidance in how to start purging their home and organizing the items they choose to keep. Many friends of mine are using the “KonMari” method which the book describes to clean and organize their houses.
It is fun to see how the KonMari method of “tidying up” is opening people’s eyes to the clutter they own and directing them to rid their homes of unwanted items indefinitely. When people ask me if I have KonMari’d my home, I usually cite the whole 4-kids-five-and-under thing as why we haven’t completely reorganized our belongings according to the book. Because even if I wanted to I wouldn’t be able to complete the process as fully/easily/quickly as I’d like due to my already-overflowing daily lists. But that’s not the point.
The truth is that I haven’t KonMari’d our house because I’m not sure I really want to or need to.
Allow me a few paragraphs to explain some very positive things about the book and some limitations to the KonMari method, which I believe minimalism can perhaps improve upon. 🙂
(+) Positive Aspects of the KonMari Method
- The method of “tidying up” (which is really a severe declutter) makes a lot of sense. Author Marie Kondo suggests cleaning your home all in one go or as swiftly as possible, with the goal of being completely finished within 6 months or so. Of course attacking clutter for a few months with the goal of eliminating perpetual mess is appealing.
- Asking “Does this (item) SPARK JOY for me?” is the main test which the KonMari method uses to decide whether an item should be kept. I’ve found this question to be extremely helpful in determining physical possessions’ actual value in my life. It’s so simple and yet so profound—the things we keep around ourselves should bring us a measure of joy. Otherwise they simply add to clutter-stress.
- Another principle of the KonMari method is keeping the same item grouped all in one place. Pens, all in one drawer and only that drawer. Shoes, one closet. Tools, one bin. This point is key to the clutter never building up again. It makes sense that if items only belonged in one place and only that place, they wouldn’t end up on counters or tables waiting to find a home.
- Following closely on the heels of the previous point, the KonMari method demands that when you’re finished using something, you always, always put it away exactly where it belongs. Ahhhh. Now this is where it all comes together. Kondo goes so far as to suggest emptying your purse at the end of each day and hanging it up in the closet, but if I tried that I’d certainly forget the essentials which are meant to stay in my purse. 😉 This concept might be toddler-level basic, but it’s amazing how often we don’t actually put things away where they belong.
- Folding Method. I would be doing you a disservice by neglecting to mention Kondo’s awesome clothes folding method. It’s one of the great gems of The Life-Changing Magic. Kondo explains that her method of folding clothes is influenced by the ancient Japanese art of Origami. It’s basically genius and will rock your tops drawer.
(-) Limiting Aspects of the KonMari Method
- It is not realistic for our current stage of life. My daily to-do lists are often overloaded. Also, since we moved last year and cleaned out our entire storage unit, we’ve already been through every item we own with a fine-toothed comb. (We do have several boxes still to sort through comprehensively, but we’ll get there eventually. 😉 ) I consider the question, “Does this spark joy?” when I come across an item that either doesn’t have a home or I feel isn’t necessary, but the idea of overhauling my entire living space is something that cannot happen right now. 🙂
- The “Spark Joy” concept could still result in an overwhelming amount of clutter. If you’re a sentimental person and most of your stuff truly does spark joy, then to declutter you might need a different method. I’ve gotten rid of many things which actually do spark joy for me—travel trinkets, notes from friends and the like, but hidden away in boxes they don’t actually add value to my everyday life.
- It doesn’t account for necessary everyday items. Screwdrivers, dustpans, toothbrushes. These everyday needs don’t spark joy for me; however we need them so we have them in our house.
- It doesn’t account for replacement of items. Half my closet does not “spark joy”. I am not going to get rid of those items because it’s not in the budget to get a whole new wardrobe all at once, and it wouldn’t be responsible to simply toss items without thoughtfully replacing them. I wear what I have until it needs to be replaced, then I’ll consider the items which will round out my closet for maximum flexibility.
- Keeping items in only one place. There are some items that I simply like to keep in a couple places. Although we live in a small home and it would be easy to keep writing utensils in just one place, I LIKE having pens stashed away in every room. If have a thought and need to get it on paper that. instant. before I loose it, I need a pen to jot it down. We also keep diapers in a couple different places because many times there’s a kid sleeping in the room where the diapers are kept. And poop happens.
So there you go. My home probably won’t be KonMari’ed anytime soon, and that’s OK with me.
Jesus sparks joy, not stuff. I’d rather continue to look for the minimum level in my belongings, knowing that the less I’m attached to physical stuff the more my eyes can be focused on the eternal. I suggest that if that KonMari method helps you with that, go for it. 🙂
Jesus sparks joy, not stuff.
Have you read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up? Did you KonMari your home and what did you think about the method?
Chime in below; I’d love to hear your thoughts! 🙂