At the start of 2017 I set myself a New Years Resolution to get organised and tidy up, using the KonMari method.You can find out more about this method in some of my other posts, but in brief it’s a method which suggests only keeping those belongings which ‘spark joy’ in some way (whether this be because they’re aesthetically pleasing, or because they serve a practical purpose). Once you have finished discarding, the idea is to then find the best way of storing those items which you have left. I was hoping to have sorted through and finished the discarding part of the process in the first six months of the year, before our latest addition made an appearance. While I made good headway, I haven’t completely finished and, for obvious reasons, have done very little decluttering in the latter half of the year. So, with the start of the new year, I’d thought I’d take a look at what I achieved this year and set some goals for the coming year.
Despite being four months pregnant when I sorted through my clothes, and unable to wear quite a lot of them by that point, I found I knew what I really enjoyed wearing, what I needed and was quickly able to get rid of those things which I no longer wore. I didn’t have huge amounts of clothing to begin with so this was an easy category for me. We’ve also stacked our clothes horizontally rather than vertically as suggested in the book. I still find this takes longer but it does mean you can see everything in the drawer in one quick glance!
We sorted through our books, and despite not expecting to get rid of any (having done a mini clear out of books a few months beforehand), we found we almost halved our book collection. The children’s books on the other hand…I think we only got rid of one! I began by arranging T’s books in a lovely rainbow which definitely sparked joy for me…but apparently no one else, because I was the only one putting them back properly! Which sparked more flames of rage than joy. So I stopped. Maybe I’ll try again in a few months…
This was quite an undertaking (understatement!) and required three fairly intense sessions before it was organised and manageable. We’ve kept more on top of it in recent months as we now have a ‘needs filing’ folder as well as a ‘needs shredding’ folder but how we manage paperwork still needs some work I think.
The fourth phase of the KonMari method is ‘Komono‘, or miscellaneous items, which can be tackled in subcategories. This year we have sorted through and reduced our DVD collection (as well as moving most of our DVDs into these DVD sleeves); stationary; linen; kitchen utensils; glassware; cables; mugs; coins (no, I hadn’t realised that would be a category either); CDs; bathroom items; and craft supplies. I also have recently sorted through kids clothes recently and now have it in labelled storage bags ready for the baby as he grows.
Although I’m yet to finish, I’ve found the process very helpful. For one thing, the areas I have tidied have mostly remained tidy and have certainly been easier to keep tidy and clean. I’ve been more able to find things as needed and keep things organised. I’ve started using The Organised Mum’s method of cleaning in the past few weeks which has been great for giving me a cleaning routine had also helped me to keep on top of those little piles of mess you find building up in certain areas.
It’s also changed my mindset somewhat. I feel that I’ve become more aware of how I want our home to be – what ‘sparks joy’ for us. For example, I’ve cleared some surfaces and bought some nice house plants which always lift my mood! It’s made me more careful about what I buy, as I have been more inclined to consider whether an item really sparks joy in some way (do I really like it? Would it be especially useful?).
Although I/we’ve decluttered before (I’m in my eighth home of the last twelve years: clutter is not my friend), this method is far more thorough than anything I’ve done before and there are two reasons for that. Firstly, by the time you have finished the method, you should have sorted through literally EVERY single item that you own. Every cupboard, drawer and box in your home has been opened up, emptied out and sorted through. I’ve never attempted decluttering on that scale before. Secondly, Marie Kondo recommends decluttering by category rather than location, as this enables you to see clearly exactly what I’ve got – you may have several of one item when in fact you only need one. However, if this item is dispersed around the house, you may not realise quite how many you have and therefore not get rid of any! On the other hand, if you declutter by category, you may well find you get them all together and then think, ‘actually, I really only need one or two of those’.
So, what’s next? Quite a few categories have been done, and I could probably just about pick it all up where I left off and carry on with the remaining subcategories of Komono before I reach the fifth and final phase of the decluttering process: sentimental items. However, I think it would probably be beneficial to do a couple of things first.
Marie Kondo suggests that before you begin the decluttering process, you should spend some time coming up with a clear vision so that you know what you are aiming for. I had a few general ideas in mind but I was impatient to begin and so launched in! However as I’ve gone through the process my ideas have definitely become more honed so I think it would be beneficial to me now to spend some time deciding on some more specific goals and outcomes.
She also urges readers to have an ‘exit strategy’ – a plan for getting rid of all those items you don’t need! I found this a real challenge at first as I couldn’t help but think that if I could sell the things I needed to get rid of it could amount to quite a considerable sum which to be honest we could do with. We managed to sell a number of books, CDs and films using some of the online sellers. However, it has been quite difficult to sell clothing and in the end I gave most of it to charity, just managing to sell one or two items on eBay. While I would have liked to have even able to sell more of it, the fact is that it takes a lot of time and effort which all goes to waste if the item doesn’t sell. We still have some items sitting in boxes waiting to be got rid of so we definitely need a more solid exit strategy before we continue.
Revisiting the previous categories
I feel that it would be worthwhile revisiting some of the categories that I worked on last year. This time around, I expect it to be a much quicker process. For example, most of the clothes I have get worn regularly, but now that I fit them all, it’s easier to know which really don’t get worn! And some parts of my wardrobe definitely need replenishing.
I’d also like to have another look at utensils (because that drawer is still a pain to open and find things in) and definitely need to revisit paperwork.
Continuing the process
I think getting this process finished over the next twelve months is achievable. We’ve done a huge chunk already so it should take too long to revisit those categories. I don’t think the ‘Komono’ left to tackle should be too challenging (although a lot of it is under the stairs so will require a good chunk of time to get out, categorise and sot through). The final phase is sentimental items. I don’t have lots of sentimental objects but then I don’t think I’d class myself as a sentimental person. However, I DO have a lot of photos to sort through! The problem with the digital age is that it is so easy to keep virtual rubbish! I think it’s quite possible that sorting photographs and other digital files could take me into 2019…but I guess that remains to be seen!
If you’re interested in sorting out your home using the KonMari method, I’d really recommend it. Here are a few tips.
1. Read the book. You can find out about it online, but it’s best straight from the horses mouth. The original book is entitled ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ and there is a second title named ‘Spark Joy’ which explores some parts of the method in a bit more detail.
2. Start with a vision. Maybe I wouldn’t be revisiting categories if I had begun with a more detailed vision. This could be to do with how your home looks; how it feels; how easy it is to keep clean and/or tidy; or whatever else you want to achieve.
3. Have an exit strategy. More specifically:
• Clothing – use eBay, car boots, charity shops or clothing banks. I found it difficult and time consuming to sell. Try not to get hung up on thinking that you are being wasteful just getting rid if you could do with the money. This stalled me for a long time but when I finally gave on and just got rid of it, it was such a relief!
• Books, CDs and DVDs – worth trying online sellers such as Ziffit or Music Magpie. They both have apps which you can use to scan barcodes and get given a price – nice and quick! We found Ziffit paid more per item but Music Magpie took a wider range. Between the two, we were able to make about £70.
•Paperwork: there will be some papers you don’t want to stick in the recycling. If you don’t have a shredder, borrow one, or alternatively burn anything confidential.
• Komono: this covers such a wide range if items so I can be too specific here! So just a few possible places you could get rid of those things you don’t want or need: eBay or local selling sites (e.g. freecycle, or Facebook groups), though be careful as this can be a drain on your time; charity shops; clothing banks for clothes, shoes and other textiles; recycling centres; schools (if you have children at school and nursery, it’s always worth asking if they’d be able to make use of your unwanted craft materials, for example). I hate the idea of sending lots of stuff to landfill so we try and get rid of as much as possible in other places!
One thing Marie Kondo warns against is discarding your stuff by passing on to friends and family. Yes, there may be the odd item which you know someone might really like or could make use of (children’s clothes, for example), but on the whole, if it’s just cluttering up your home, it’ll probably just clutter up yours.
4. Join a Facebook group. I belong to a couple of KM groups on Facebook and I find it sooo helpful and encouraging to see other people’s journeys.
I’ll do an update soon to let you know how I’ve been getting on. Hopefully the first three categories won’t take much time at all!
Note: This post does contain affiliate links but, as always, all opinions are my own.