You must have heard of Marie Kondo by now. The Japanese organizing consultant and author wrote a book called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, and one by one my fellow minimalists/decluttering enthusiasts have devoured it and sung its praises. Me, I was a KonMari skeptic. I had already read a few books on the subject (my favorite being “The Joy of Less” by Francine Jay), so what new could Marie Kondo’s book possibly bring to the table?
Can’t resist the cray
Inevitably, I cracked. It started when I watched her 42 minute long Google Talk a few months ago and realized what differentiates her from the similar authors that I have read: girl is cray. She has had an obsession with organizing and tidying up since she was 5, she wants you to roll your socks instead of balling them in order to give them rest, and she wants you to fold your t-shirts to make them stand up vertically. Fast forward a handful of weeks: it was the end of my summer holiday and I had a day to spare, so I bought the book for my Kindle and read it in one sitting.
Surely I can’t donate any more clothes?
If you have ever read a whole book on decluttering in one sitting then you know the unstoppable urge that follows: you want to throw away everything you own. I armed myself with a printable KonMari checklist, rolled up my sleeves and got started on my closet. This is where I want to remind you that I have several rounds of decluttering under my belt and that I’m not very sentimental. I have donated teddy bears and jewelry and I have recycled very old birthday cards. In short: this was not my first rodeo. I thought I had a pretty good grasp of what I owned, and that the things I own were things that I liked, but boy was I wrong.
In short, Marie Kondo’s schtick is that you collect all your similar items and pile them up in one place so that you get the full overview of everything you own within that category. This means everyday clothes, jammies, socks, jackets, coats, yoga pants, all of it. You then pick up each item one by one, hold it in your hands and ask yourself: does this spark joy? If yes, keep it. If no, out it goes. I decided to veer slightly from the rules and made separate piles for “yes”, “throw away”, “donate” and “undecided”. I worked quickly, and any garment that gave me the slightest feeling of “ehhh…” was banned from the “yes” pile. What I learned was:
- I had a surprising amount of “ehhh…” garments.
- Going through the “undecided” pile was easy once I could compare it to everything in my “yes” pile, and I kept very little of it.
- My “yes” pile contained more than enough clothes once I was finished.
In the end I donated 5 plastic shopping bags full of clothes, and 2 weeks later I can barely remember what was in them.
How many box cutters?
After my closet I tackled our book shelf, then our bottomless drawer of spare cables, then the bathroom and my collection of cosmetics. Out went my samples, everything that had expired, and anything that I didn’t like. I discovered that I have an obsession with things that are travel sized, and marveled at my 4 complete sets of tiny shampoo and conditioner. Lastly I tackled the junk drawer, where I found a large collection of batteries, about 20 pens, and most curious of all: 15 tiny box cutters. Why so many box cutters? Where did they come from? I also found wrapping paper that I didn’t even know we owned and a bag of dog treats, all stuck in junk drawer limbo until I KonMari’ed them out in the open. I probably should have thanked all those box cutters for something before I let them go. You see, thanking things for their service before you throw them out is part of the KonMari code of conduct. Screw it, they’re only box cutters.
The kitchen mysteries
Lastly I was supposed to work my KonMari magic on the kitchen, but it was a mess and I put it off until the weekend. When Saturday came around I had to run some errands, but when I returned home The Boyfriend had already started working some KonMari magic of his own and was nearly finished. The kitchen looked tidy and wonderful and he told me he had thrown out 3 bags worth of stuff, which I still can’t wrap my head around. What the hell was even in those bags? Mystical pointless kitchen stuff, obviously, because I still can’t figure out what is missing. We also decided to donate a very fancy 36-piece set of cutlery that we had been gifted, only to discover that we also owned a different set of fancy cutlery that we had completely forgotten about that we loved.
When the whole process was over I came to several conclusions:
- I always keep a running list on my phone over things I want to trash or donate. This was immensely helpful because it let me get rid of all of those things before even starting on the more difficult decluttering. This got me started on a positive vibe before I had to make decisions about the more difficult items.
- I realized how unsentimental I have become regarding books. Now that I own a Kindle I really can’t think of a reason to keep the few hardcover books that I have left, but I still kept them in fear of regretting it later.
- Say what you want about giving your clothes rest by folding them in weirdly specific ways, but Marie Kondo revolutionized my socks and tights drawers. By rolling them I know exactly how many pairs I own, and I will notice instantly if I lack hold-ins or wool socks or half-socks for the gym. Laugh at me all you want. I’m officially a sock-roller.
- Once you’ve dealt with your own shit it is incredibly tempting to go declutter other people’s shit. Miss Kondo warns about this, letting us know that doing so would be incredibly disrespectful and that it is probably also a symptom of you knowing deep down that there is still something left of your own shit to declutter? Because if your own shit is in pristine order you will be all zen and no longer want to declutter other people’s shit? Who knows. Just don’t touch other people’s stuff.
- Not owning a car is a problem when you want to get rid of things. Sure, we could rent a van, but I haven’t driven a car in 5 years and I never ever drove in Bergen, and The Boyfriend doesn’t have a driver’s license. Because of this we are stuck storing larger items until one of us makes a friend who owns a car.
- I own a ridiculous amount of t-shirts and they all spark joy. Mmm, t-shirts.
In closing I will leave you with this fantastic one-star-review from Amazon.