The Konmari Way (& Konmari Light)
Marie Kondo is a Japanese organizing guru. Her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, has fundamentally framed the way I think about organizing. Basically, she asks, “Wouldn’t it be great to be surrounded in your apartment only by things you love? (or really need, like tax documents)?”
If you buy only one of the many books out there on organizing, it should be this one. Although the book’s methods can seem a bit extreme, and her anthropomorphism sometimes a humorous distraction, this book is spot on – organize things by category, not room, using the “does it spark joy?” mindset. Because as we know, organizing is just a means to an end - an enjoyable lifestyle.
In this post, I want to share a way to use her method with moderation. We’ll call it Konmari light. Here are a few of my modifications.
1. Konmari: Do one big push and sort everything in one go. Konmari light: Focus on one category at a time, completely finishing that category before moving on to the next. Work on each category through to completion - put the keepers away and prepare the rest to be purged. For example, this Saturday, start with clothes - go through them by type (tops, bottoms, etc.), then fold them and either set them aside (if you're rearranging your space) or put them away. Try to work in 2-4 hour bursts to avoid decision fatigue. (though she is right that the decision making gets easier with time!)
Don’t be afraid to give things away that don’t spark joy, and definitely responsibly toss things that are beyond their useful life. (books can be recycled in D.C.)
2. Konmari: Dump everything out on the floor. Konmari light: She’s basically right on this one – you need to handle things, including books, to really assess them and their importance to you. Take books off the shelves from every room and lay them out in one central area by category (general, reference, photo, other.) If you can't do all of your books in one go, it's ok to work by bookshelf. For your clothes, try working on the bed, or put a sheet down on the floor for more space.
3. Konmari: Thank each item you purge. Konmari light: This actually is pretty helpful, but it works just as well if you say it in your head, because, you know, things are telepathic. She is right that you can thank things for many reasons - because you wore it one time and looked really good, or you bought it (and got a spark of joy at purchase) but never wore it - and it taught you what just didn't work for you style-wise.
4. Konmari: Fold everything with edges out, and put away by heavy to light and by color gradient – dark to light. Konmari light: Her various insights into folding are actually pretty helpful and a good use of space, but if you are hesitant to try her method because of the intense changes to your folding routine, just stick to what you’ve been doing and try to implement gradually.
5. Konmari: Get rid of everything that doesn't spark joy, or isn't absolutely necessary. Konmari light: You really should do this, but there are some things that you can't really part with until you get a replacement. For example, your one pair of (ratty old) sweatpants that you wear every night in the winter, or that pan you use every day but that has seen better days. For these things, I suggest keeping the, but maintaining a running "upgrade list" on Evernote or elsewhere of things you will replace (and remove) when you have a chance.
For a template on how to do Konmari light, including a breakdown of her brilliant categories, please click here.