If you know me you'll know I'm a mix of messy and neat. And I guess it also depends on who you ask. My mom will say that my room is a "disaster room." When I lived with her she'd walk by, stick her head through the door way scan my room and mutter to herself "disaster.." while shaking her head in disgust. I used to think that I had a pretty normal room. A few piles of stuff here and there but overall I had the sense of where everything was. I also thought I had a pretty good grasp of everything I had.
I don't know what compelled me to get the book The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I think Pinterest was involved. I also think that I was looking through different ways to organize my stuff because I just felt like I had too much of it. I do remember I was looking for ways to downsize my wardrobe. Perhaps that was it. Whatever it was it led me to this book. The title was really corny and I actually had an idea of what it would be about. I had read briefly, on two different occasions, of a Japanese way of organizing and decluttering one's place. I thought I'll try it out. Plus I haven't read a book in quite some time (can't recover from Harry Potter and FYI I read a lot more blogs and magazines).
Here was the state of my room before the KonMari experience.
As you can see my room was far from what I wanted but good enough for me to get through my day. It wasn't that I looked around one day and thought I need to turn my life around but I did think this is annoying. One time when my dad and brother were here I misplaced my ID and Mariner's jersey. I spent a good chunk of time searching for each item and getting more and more agitated. I felt bad because my family definitely saw the frustration. I just had to give up and go to the game. At least I had my hat and my dad could drive us to Seattle. No beer for me that day-- when I needed it too!
Even after all that (yes I found my ID- in a purse I just tossed away when I came home drunk one night. My Mariner's jersey was neatly folded on top of a dresser.. at Ethan's place) I wasn't compelled to clean up. Even after all that I didn't set out to buy the book. One day I met Ethan at Barnes and Noble and thought Hey, I'll go to Barnes & Noble and keep cool. I'll try to find that book I heard about.
After purchasing the book (30 percent off too!) we walked to the park and read. I looked at the table of contents.. really interesting they way it was laid out. Didn't even expect there to be one but it made sense for a book about sorting things out. Reading through the table of contents I just thought ahh maybe this will be another book that I don't read and ends up under my coffee table. Such chapter names like "A Tidying Marathon Doesn't Cause Rebound" and "Don't Change the Method to Suit Your Personality" deterred me a little bit. As I read through each chapter I got more and more involved and became inspired to tidy up. But I told myself I'd wait until I finished the book. That was difficult to do and I actually started tidying before I finished. I'm finally done with the book and tidying so here are some key things and the results after almost four days of having tidied up.
I started by discarding. In the book she tells you that the best way to do this is to focus on things you really want to keep not the things you want to throw away. Hold each item in your hands and ask yourself "Does this spark joy." At first I honestly thought ok this is stupid. Of course I'm going to find a reason why I should keep it. But once you start doing it the one thing that really brings you joy will be the catalyst to determining everything else that brings you joy and you'll find that the things you really love are really only a few things.
I downsized my closet by half doing the KonMari method (which if you haven't noticed the term KonMari is a combo of the author's name).
I got rid of storage bins and organizers. When I moved from my spacious 1 bedroom apartment in Renton to my smaller apartment in Bellevue with a roomie I thought I needed to invest in some smart storage systems. I'd walk through Ikea making a mental wishlist of all the organizing gadgets I'd get when my paycheck got bigger and settled with basic bins for my closet and under my bed. According to Kondo this is a major setback. And if you think about it those storage bins are just places to "hide" things away that you don't know where to put. Or at least that was the case for me. If I didn't have a place readily available in my shelves or on top of tables I'd throw it in a bin and slide it under my bed where I probably wouldn't see it again for months. Once I decluttered, I got rid of one big bin and two smaller bins underneath my desk. I also took my desk out of my room (if you want it let me know).
Going through the process made me better at decision making. She goes over this in the book and I can honestly say while I don't think I did this perfectly (she tells you to shoot for perfection) it has helped me be more confident in decision making. The point of life is to be happy right? Really cliche. Well this book sort of tells you how to put it into practice. Yeah holding a shirt up and asking yourself if it sparks joy seems trivial but after doing it so much you start to realize you have an impulse to decide what you really love and that is essentially the emergence of who you are as a person.
Here are a few more impressions from this KonMari experience:
- Read the whole book before you start. There were a few things I didn't do that were covered in the end that I feel would have made my experience more complete.
- Even after all that decluttering and reorganizing, I still don't feel satisfied. I will be referring to the book over the next few days to see where I can improve. This is ok to do!
- Shopping is much better now. When I go to shop I already know everything I have so I don't double up on anything and how to discern what I really love to what I don't actually want or need.
- She tells you to basically idolize your possessions. Not doing that. I don't believe in idolizing anything worldy because at the end of the day they are just things. I do appreciate them more but in the book she encourages you to treat your things almost like friends. Like straight up talk to your things. Nope.
- Downsizing my wardrobe didn't actually make me feel that bad. It felt good letting go of items I didn't need (she'll go over a process to effectively let go of stuff). I thought that I would have regrets but so far opening my closet has been more fun. I see everything I have and can get more creative with what I have. Plus I'm confident that what's in my closet really is me.
- I had to sort through the first category (clothes) twice. I just sort of went through each item but there was one thing that I really loved. So once I found out what the feeling was like I went through the already sorted clothes again and sorted out even more things that I didn't actually love.
- This experience really does help you realize what you want in life. When you declutter your place you start to see what really plucks at your heartstrings and you'll see a pattern in the themes of your items. For examples I kept a lot of books of food and design. Hmmm...
- I only did my room not my whole apartment. Thankfully I live with a really respectable roommate so we keep the areas that we share tidy together. I wonder if it would have been different if lived on my own and did my entire place.
- I will do this again and keep working at reorganizing, decluttering and sorting my things until I get to a place where I'm really content and relaxed in my room.
I would recommend this to anyone! Whether you're a total "slob" or moderately messy, a clean freak or a rookie hoarder, I recommend trying this. It really is much more than organizing. It's about finding out who you are and situating a place where you really love to be. If you need to clear your mind, if you're having trouble figuring out who you are, if you want to be tidier this is a good place to start. Happy KonMari to you!
Check out before and after pics below: