I’m about a year late to the party, but I just finished Marie Kondo’s book on ‘tidying.’
Kondo’s method, which she calls KonMari, has a cult following. I can easily see why. Who doesn’t want a once-and-for-all answer to the clutter in their home and office? Kondo claims that after following her method, her clients have a habit of quitting their jobs or make other huge life changes — simply because their perspectives have changed so drastically. They learn to identify what was truly important to them, and prioritize other areas of life as a result.
The main question KonMari poses is this: do your possessions spark joy? If not, why keep them around?
Kondo advises clients to start with one category of belongings, like clothes, taking the time to pick up each piece and handle it, and evaluating whether it ‘sparks joy’ in your heart. Does it bring a smile to your face and lift your spirits? If it does, it stays in your home. If not, out it goes. While most clients end up disposing of well over half their possessions, Kondo swears that none of them ever miss the things they dispose of.
Earlier this month, I spent a week sorting through most of my house: clothes, books, medicine & toiletries, linens, and a portion of our paper files. I’ve already disposed of or donated almost 20 garbage bags full of stuff, plus more than 50 DVDs. This was all from a modest, 2 bedroom apartment — and I haven’t even tackled the kitchen yet!
So far, I have found the process to be extremely intuitive. In her book, Kondo talks about one client who found herself keeping book titles related to one particular topic — in an industry in which she was not working. She later quit her job and started a business in that industry. The practice of handling and pondering each item I own had a similar effect on me, as I realized I was keeping things related to my deeply held beliefs and goals. I was also shocked to realize how much time and energy I had spent transporting and storing unusable items over several recent moves. Why was I holding onto so much expired medicine? I’ll never know, but I do know my jumbled box of pharmaceuticals gave me more headaches than it ever relieved.
Sometimes it’s necessary to confront small, tangible choices you’ve made (like possessions accumulated in the past) before coming to conclusions about big ones that will impact your future.
This spring, ask a few questions of the items in your home and office:
- Does it spark joy?
- Did it once spark joy, but now brings dread?
- Are you holding on because of an attachment to the past, or because of a fear for the future?
- Has it fulfilled its purpose in your life?
- What are the chances that you’ll actually need it again?
- Is it more expensive or cumbersome to store in the short term than it would be to purchase it again in the future?
- Can it bless someone else instead of sitting around your life, taking up space?
Disposing of 20 bags full of unused possessions has given me peace of mind, closets and cupboards I actually love to open, and clearer focus for this next season of life.
What might it do for you?
Image #1: Unsplash
Image #2: the author’s car on her first trip to the donation center during the great KonMari Purge of 2016
Laura Finch, a native of Wheaton, IL, has eight years of experience in politics and news, including time spent working as a press aide to a U.S. congressman and a stint as a producer for a morning cable news show. She holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from Taylor University in Indiana, a graduate degree in digital journalism from American University in Washington, D.C., and is an alumna of Indiana’s Lugar Series. She has also been published in one book, “The Zambia Project,” about a major student AIDS project completed through WorldVision. In her spare time Laura loves to run along the Potomac and discover new D.C. restaurants with her husband, Andrew.