While there are a variety of methods out there to declutter, edit, and organize your belongings, Marie’s first book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up resonated with thousands launching it to the #1 spot on the New York Bestseller’s List. Her method is simple --- determine whether items will stay or go with a yes or no question: does it spark joy? Marie divides the possessions in five categories and homeowners systematically move through each category until every item that remains is one that sparks joy.
Want to give it a try? I should warn you, her style isn’t for the faint at heart….or the indecisive. Her method is ruthless in order to strip your home of all the things that weigh you down, physically and emotionally.
First on the chopping block is clothing. You’ll need to find EVERY article of clothing and place it on a bed, floor, or other surface that is NOT the normal home for clothing. (You’ll have quite a pile on your hands.)
Next, pick up the first item your hand touches and ask yourself, “Does this ______ spark joy?”
Yes or no?
Yes or no?
There is no room for buts or ifs in KonMari. Just yes or no. And this is where the magic of the bestseller can, at times, allude its reader. If you find yourself instinctively delaying your decision to answer yes or no, and reaching for another item instead, then this isn’t for you. And that’s okay.
My organizing company is no stranger to “KonMari Gone Wrong” inquiries. American culture is very different from the Japanese culture on which Marie bases her organizing magic. Bridging the gap to a foreign method can get a bit complicated. We’re all about choices, options, and variety here in the States. We’re also serious about the amount of things we accumulate in order to live life the way we prefer. It’s not bad, it’s just our culture. As a result, we stumble over the possible elimination of things that are NECESSARY but bring us ZERO joy. Clients reach out to us at this crossroad, surrounded by piles of a KonMari category they can’t seem to reduce, let alone organize.
So what’s the solution to a dilemma like this? Is there any way to avoid a KonMari Gone Wrong and become a success story like the ones we hope to see on Netflix, without Marie by your side?
Well of course there is! And because we LOVE to see our readers succeed, we’re going to tell you how.
First, be honest with yourself. Are you ready for a ruthless and complete purge? Have you come to a place in your life where you hear yourself saying, “I can’t live like this anymore! I need a radical change if I’m ever going to get to XYZ!” Do you fully trust yourself to make these decisions and then live with the consequences? If you are, then you’ll abound with joy. Living with less means making room for the things that matter. By eliminating the items that emotionally and physically weigh you down, you’ll have the energy and mental bandwidth to reach higher than ever before. It will be glorious!
But if you’re not ready for something so extreme, select a method that better fits your personality, lifestyle, and goals. There is NO SHAME in choosing a different path. Your reduction might not be as dramatic, but you can always reduce again at a later date.
Second, find an accountability partner. Endeavoring to minimize your things is going to be hard, no matter what method you choose. Find someone like a pro organizer or type-A friend to keep you moving forward even when you feel overwhelmed. If you choose KonMari, Marie Kondo offers an app to track your progress!
Third, allow for deviations. Progress is better than perfection. If you KonMari 90% of your belongings and delay decisions on 10%, you’re still moving toward your goal. You can always come back to that category and re-test your items for joy. If you get stuck or realize the method you’ve chosen is not a good fit for you, call someone who can help you navigate the next steps. Sometimes all you need is a fresh perspective to clarify direction.
Upstate Clutter Coach supports a variety of methods (including KonMari), tailoring them to the needs, lifestyles, and goals for each client. You can read more about different methodologies on the blog or check out our suggested reading list.