Inspired by Netflix’s Tidying up with Marie Kondo series to declutter your home? Attracted by her promise that “when you have finished cleaning up once and for all, you’ll never again relapse into clutter”? Well, let me ask you a few questions so you can make sure the KonMari method is for you. Because as someone who gets paid by others to help them declutter and get organised, I can tell you it is not for everyone. But the good news is that there are alternatives to it.
Did your clutter happen overnight?
Well, if, like many, your clutter is the result of years of accumulation, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to discard it “all at once, intensely and completely” as the KonMari method advocates. Think about all the stuff you’re going to have to face and all the decisions you’re going to have to make and that you may have been postponing for years. You might soon suffer from decision fatigue. If you continue pressing on, you might make decisions you might eventually regret and that might paralyse you.
On the other hand, if you start small and let go of the stuff you really feel comfortable letting go of, without any pressure, you’ll learn that decluttering is like a muscle that can be developed over time. Because when you trust yourself and the decisions you’ve made, you’re going to want to repeat the process, especially as you’ll start appreciating the benefits of living with less. It doesn’t matter the number of iterations you need to go through. What matters is that along the way you’ll learn to make tougher and tougher decisions and let go of stuff you thought you’d never have been able to let go of. You just need to be consistent and committed to your goals.
That’s what I experienced with my books. Even though I’m usually good at decluttering my own stuff, I have to confess that the decluttering of my bookshelves ended up spanning over a 10-year period. I started dealing with the books I had less attachment for, such as the travel guides and the recipes books. This gave me the confidence to start letting go of some of my novels and helped me find the courage to revisit my choices, every time challenging myself more than during the previous iteration. Today my bookshelves are almost empty and one of my greatest satisfactions is to figure out who I’m going to pass the books we’ve finished reading to. I’d never have thought I’d reach such an outcome when I started the whole process.
Is the the rest of your family on board with the idea of decluttering your entire home?
They’ll have to be if you want to declutter your entire home. Because when it comes to other people’s belongings, only them can decide which items are important to them and which ones are not. You’ll likely create a lot of resentment in your household if you declutter their own spaces and belongings. It might lead you to feel that your efforts went unappreciated and stop you from continuing the decluttering process. You might be very excited at the idea of decluttering the KonMari way but trying to force the rest of your family to get involved in the decluttering process might push them even further aside.
In any case, it’s better in my opinion to start tackling your own spaces and belongings so you can show the rest of your family the benefits of having a clutter-free and organised home. That’s the best way to inspire them to get involved and declutter. In fact, most of the men I work with do get inspired by the work we do with their wife and want to get their own areas sorted too.
Do all the items you own in one category have a dedicated home?
Sorting by category as preconised by the KonMari method is ideal because it gives you visibility on how much you own in one category and will help you decide what and how much you should keep. However it assumes that all the items belonging to the same category are stored in one single location, or are at least easy to retrieve and consolidate. Having been in many homes, I know it’s not always the case. Try to imagine the time you’d waste if you had to scout around your home for all the items belonging to the same category.
In such situation, I’d advise you instead to do a first round of decluttering going progressively through your home, room by room, area by area. At that stage, let go of the obvious such as the broken toys, the faded/stained/torn clothes, the old magazines and newspapers, the expired food and cosmetics etc. In the process, consolidate like items together and assign a home to each category. Once you’ve completed that first round, review each category, go through another round of decluttering, and if need be, relocate the category to a most suitable home.
Is it easier for you to let go of your clothes than your books or documents?
According to the KonMari method, the correct order to sort your belonging is clothes, books, documents, miscellaneous and sentimental items. I can tell you I have a few fashionistas amongst my clients who would rather have me walking over the dead bodies than starting the decluttering process in their wardrobes!!
Only you can decide what the right order is for you. Think about those criteria to help you decide where to start:
- Your level of attachment to various categories of items. The lesser attachment you have, the easier it will be for you to let go and build momentum. If you have less attachment to your clothes than other categories of items, by all means, start there. Otherwise think about your kitchen. Or your desk. Or your storage space. Options are plenty.
- Your stress level in relation to some areas. It might be your bedroom because that’s the first thing you see when you open your eyes in the morning and the last when you close them at night.
- Your objectives for getting organised. If your aim is to be able to entertain at home, you may want to start in the living room. If it’s about easily putting a meal on the table, you may want to start in the kitchen.
I’m truly in awe by the way Marie Kondo is inspiring people all over the world to declutter because, let’s face it, we are drowning in clutter, and there are so many reasons why clearing clutter is good for us. It’s wonderful if she has inspired you too and if her approach has worked for you. But please remember that there’s no one-size fits all approach when it comes to decluttering and organising. It’s important in my perspective to build your habits, preferences and even limits in the process of decluttering and getting organised. Because that’s the only way to keep going at it until you’re done and to maintain the results of your efforts. Contact me if you’re not sure where to start so we can look at options that would make sense to you.