KonMari, The Re-Up.
10 Tips to Declutter using Marie Kondo’s "Spark Joy" Method.
Preface to this blog post:
Marie Kondo’s The Magical Joy of Tidying Up hit book shelves in 2011 - outlining a rather simple, yet insane method for decluttering and organizing your home. It’s called the KonMari method and if you think you’ve never heard of this, you have. Two words: Spark Joy. If you’ve overheard someone talking about “Sparking Joy” in a clothing store or your co-worker bitching about being overwhelmed by The KonMari Method or swiping through endless InstaStories of sparse closets with #SparkJoy, that’s this. KonMari is the process where you take every single item out of your closet, put it in a giant pile to sift through, deciding what stays and what goes based on a factor of “does it spark joy”? It’s a daunting task, actually, terrifying. When the book made its debut in the USA in 2014 it caught on fast and became the annoying brunch conversation of 2015. Many people who were afraid of having to do it hoped the hype would die down. Now, it’s January 2019 and Marie Kondo’s Method is a full-on water cooler moment. Thanks to Netflix. People can avoid decluttering their homes by binge watching others do it. Tidying Up with Marie Kondo debuted on January 1st and it’s an 8 episode series hosted by the Japanese decluttering phonom. It’s all anyone seems to be talking about…
I KonMari’d my entire house in May of 2017 and at the time I considered myself a late adopter. I did it exactly as the book describes and didn’t cut corners and it changed my life so much that I wanted to tell everyone about it. Since I’m a writer, I pitched an article about my experience to MSP Mag in the summer of 2017. It wasn’t a slam dunk; the question came up if it was still relevant or newsworthy. I made my case saying that the minimalist trend, whereby living with less and keeping things simple will continue to expand and grow. I cited a couple Netflix documentaries as examples that show people living fuller lives with less crap. With that, I convinced my editor that I could do the topic justice.
Cleaning out and organizing my home and writing about it seemingly paved the way for me to be some sort of expert. The MSP Mag article was well received and it led me to appear on Fox9’s The Jason Show to share my experiences. A few people at the station did the KonMari Method as a result of seeing my segment, so The Jason Show did a follow up segment. I then got asked to be on a decluttering Podcast. Then in May of 2018 I worked with my dad to get rid of 30 years of Architectural Digests that he carefully saved and catalogued. He had been talking about them for years saying he would go through them again and enjoy them when he retired. 18 years after retirement he hadn’t touched them and as much as he loved them, the thought of them began to overwhelm him. In a somewhat emotional afternoon I helped him get them out of his closet and into the car. Only 10 could be carried at a time because they are so substantial. We brought them to the Recycling Center and we carefully tossed them, one by one, into a huge dumpster. Mid way though the tossing he started to get nervous that he was making a mistake. I explained what Marie Kondo says about releasing the past and honoring the joy they once brought you. He was reluctant to give them all away, so we looked at a few and he kept 7 of 350 magazines. One of them was the special tribute issue to New York after 9/11. Looking at the dumpster, it was a colorful mosaic of hundreds of magazines spread out and covering pizza boxes, TV boxes and Amazon boxes. It caught the attention of the other people at the dump. and it created this unique and beautiful sense of joy—people were asking us what we were doing. I posted pictures on my Instagram and told the story of the relief my dad and I felt after we were done.
Shortly after, I started getting messages from people asking if they could hire me to help them clean their closets. I would think, “How am I qualified other than the fact that I’ve done the KonMari method and had success with it?” That’s just it – it didn’t matter! My enthusiasm for what this method did for my life translated into credibility. The empowering energy of an organized home is contagious. People wanted to feel the feelings I had after getting rid of 50% of my things. Before I met with my first client, I designed worksheets to help me get to know her better so I could see how we might approach it. I felt like I needed this to look like a legit business but I didn’t want it to be too serious. Under my logo was my tag line: “Clean your shit up. Get organized.” My enthusiasm created a need for my services. As I worked with people, I realized they weren’t hiring me because I’m an expert. They seemed to trust me and feel safe doing this with me and I strike the right balance tapping into emotions while having fun. This all came about very organically. I still have the first check I received taped taped to the wall above my desk to remind me that cleaning out my shit led to a business opportunity which is helping people thrive personally. It’s deeply fulfilling work and I LOVE doing it.
After I worked with a couple clients, I learned so much about what decluttering is all about. It has nothing to do with what’s really in our closets and drawers. It has to do with how we feel about ourselves and what our stuff represents to us. Over cluttered homes are emotional security blankets or living with a mess is a means to avoiding feelings. If that doesn’t make sense, seriously read the book. It’s mind blowing. I was sobbing when I read the book because Marie Kondo gets us. It clicked why I love this method so much and why people might want my help with it. I do life coaching, I teach mindset workshops, I give motivational speeches on how to reduce anxiety and I meditate every single day. As a result, people kind of like my positive energy and since I’m pretty open about my struggles, people trust me to not judge them. I can bring ALL these tools into your closet with me and we can make magic. This isn’t closet cleaning, it’s emotional realignment, reprioritizing your possessions and looking at your things through a lens of: “does holding onto this make me feel bad about myself”. And why is it so hard to let go? I’d be lying if I said this process isn’t spiritual on some level because you HAVE TO HAVE FAITH that giving away your dead grandma’s nightgown that brings you no joy won’t lead to regret 5 years later.
18 months ago I wrote a long detailed post about my exact process, and results. Here it is: http://theworldofdoug.com/blog/konmari
KonMari: The Re-Up
10 Tips to Declutter using the "Spark Joy" Method
Now that KonMari is in full swing on Netflix, The Jason Show asked me to come on again to talk purging. Which is amazing because in July I did a segment about how to shop mindfully and I used the tenants of: Don’t buy it if it doesn’t “Spark Joy”? Kondo’s rules can be applied to anything! Here is the segment on shopping: https://www.facebook.com/JasonShowTV/videos/951486538352056/
In preparation for this new segment, I decided to write this blog post with some helpful tips based on what I’ve learned in my work with others and as I’ve gotten deeper into decluttering.
1. Begin at the Beginning. Read the book. Mentally prepare to take everything out of your closet/drawers/under bed storage or wherever you are keeping your wares and pile it up so you can dig in. I keep overhearing people at work saying, “I don’t really need to take everything out, I’m doing my own version of KonMari.” If you’re interested in doing it at all, enough to try your own version, just do Marie’s version. Don’t half-ass it (spoiler alert: it’s fear that is keeping you stuck) because you may miss out on the miracle.
2. Write your intention down before you begin. In the book she tells you to write down WHY you want to do it and what you would be able to do if you got organized. Do that soul searching and WRITE IT DOWN. You need to know what you want to get out of this, and when you write down your intention, the universe will guide you to it. I had a client who had a bedroom floor covered with clothing and shoes and she felt so held back and didn’t feel like she was living her life the way she was meant to be living. I kept saying, “Your life is waiting for you under that clothing pile. The answer is on your hardwood floor.”
3. BE HONEST with yourself or a professional and be willing to be willing. It can be a big step to talk about "what's not working in your closet" and "why do you want to change". When you are open/honest, it leads to the willingness to do things differently in your closet. For me, the hardest part of this process was DECIDING I WANTED TO DO IT and then FOLLOWING THROUGH. By the time I finished the book I felt so fed up thinking about my mess to the point that I was willing to dive in immediately. I couldn’t wait. I identified with Marie and I wanted the peace and freedom she promises you will feel after you declutter. The slightest bit of willingness produces radical results. Once you start, you won’t want to stop.
4. Decluttering is the most loving thing you can do for yourself (and your pets, partners and kids). At the beginning it seems super hard but remember this process is about you and it's a gift to yourself. When you actually get through it, your energy changes and people around you benefit because they get more of you. A closet jam-packed with things that don’t bring you joy takes away from your ability to be present and free. Cleaning it all out produces a total energy shift, I promise.
5. Once you’ve read the book and are ready, mentally prepare. Pay attention to how your closet makes you feel, your desk, your bathroom. Wherever there is clutter or things unneeded, how does it make you feel? Does it make you feel guilty or anxious? Late and sluggish? What is most glaring? Write these feelings down and why you think you have them – it’s fun to refer to them later when you are done.
6. People have fears like, “I’m afraid I’m going to give away everything. What if nothing brings me joy?” 100% promise you that you don't end up giving away things you want back. And also, if you end up giving a lot away, your life will improve in direct proportion. I gave away 50% of my things and have never missed it. It's different for everyone. For the really hard to give away pieces (and there shouldn’t be more than a few), you could put in a box and store for 3 months and set a date on the calendar to review. If it doesn’t spark joy, that’s that.
7. I get the “Why do I hate everything in my closet” a lot. You don’t. I personally believe everyone has a shadow side in their closet which I define as, “The one area in your closet that makes you feel so icky that it casts a shadow over things you love.” If you do this process for your clothes, once you sift and sort and know what sparks joy and what doesn’t, I promise the shadow side will be revealed and that’s what isn’t staying with you. Sifting through helps weed out the shadow side in the closet. It’s often sentimental stuff that people feel guilty getting rid of but they don’t really want to keep it. On the topic of sentimentality, I use an example: “You can get rid of the locket your dad gave you when you were 7. But you don’t have to give away the memory.” It’s okay if something that brought you joy years ago isn’t giving you feels now. Treasure the memory and send it on its way. Getting rid of something that is allegedly sentimental doesn’t mean you don’t love the person and it doesn’t mean you’re ungrateful. Marie tells us to thank and bless everything we put into the give-away pile. That’s gratitude in action. And you probably said thank you when you got the gift initially. Don’t stress, the shadows will come out!
8. This is a non-KonMari Doug Tip: Do smaller piles of similar things, not one big pile when sorting. Marie says to put everything in one pile when doing clothing and I see them doing that on the Netflix show and that feels too over the top. I didn’t do one pile. I put things in smaller piles and it made me less anxious. It was like tee shirt pile, sweater pile, pants pile, suit pile, etc.
Here's how I recommend that clients do after our 1st consultation in preparation for the day I come to help sort:
Put things that go together in piles-take everything off hangers:
1. Blouses/Button Down Shirts (you can put on bed if you don't want to put on floor)
3. Tee Shirts (this can include work out gear)
9. Any other athletic gear
10. Outerwear; I did this dead last and surprisingly, I didn't get rid of much of it because those were bigger ticket items, so I really only bought what I loved.
9. When sorting, have a KEEP and a DONATE/SELL pile. As soon as you are done with a pile, put the stuff into a bag to donate or sell and move it out of the room! I started to feel lighter with each bag I filled. Between clothing, paperwork, books, bathroom products and junk drawer stuff, I must have filled at least 30 garbage bags. Some was trash, some was donation. I resold very little because it’s almost not worth the hassle of trying to sell it. I went to Buffalo Exchange to sell like 20 pairs of my prized sneaker collection which were in great condition. They only bought 3 pairs and I made $45. It was heartbreaking – hundreds of dollars of shoes that no longer sparked joy for me and not even the hipster resell joint wanted my Nike High tops and patent leather neon Adidas. What I thought was worth so much, was worthless. It’s like they didn’t spark joy to the buyer at Buffalo Exchange either. So I donated them. There was something more valuable about freely giving them away without expecting money. Selling adds another step to dealing with it, which might lead to it never happening.
10. In the TV Show, Marie takes a moment to thank the house before they begin their work together. DON’T SKIP THAT STEP. It was my favorite part. Before I took all my stuff out of drawers and closets, I did a meditation and talked to my home and my things. I then put all my stuff out in piles and then I did another meditation, waking up the energy but also letting my things know that we would be working together to figure out what is staying and what is on its way to a new life. Marie says not to feel bad about letting things go, that they are ready to move on and they will let you know. I kept saying to my clothes and things, “If you don’t want to be here, let me know and I’ll release you.” I know that sounds so occult, but it works for me.
If you’re thinking about doing it or bothered to read all 2,500 words of this blog post, you’re probably ready! Don’t delay, just do it. Once you get going, it’s more easy than it is hard. And it’s more fun than it is miserable!
Regardless, I’m here for you. Leave a question in the comments below or e mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click on the image below to see a Before, during and After slideshow of moments from my KonMari Method!
Thanks for dropping into The World of Doug! x