I first heard about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and the KonMari Method back in November 2015, from my mother-in-law. She was telling me about how it talked about going through your clothes and then your books and touching each item to see if sparked any joy. She also used the method with her grandchildren to help them tidy of their belongings, and it sounded like they had great success.
At the same time I was taking part in a #findthemoneyproject contest and so I thought that it was good timing to go through my own clothes and books using the method my mother-in-law shared with me. I was able to reduce my books and my clothes by a decent amount, and honestly it felt great. I pulled out some clothes that I actually really loved but had tucked away because I’ve pregnant and/or nursing for that last 4 years; got rid of other clothes that I just didn’t feel good in anymore, and really only kept those that I really do love. As for my books, that was a much harder task. I adore books. And I have a lot of them. So this was a challenge for me, but I pulled through and now I’m not as distracted when I look at my bookshelf, but rather it brings me some peace.
A short time later the opportunity to chat about the book presented itself, and so when I was out shopping and came across the book for a really good deal I didn’t even hesitate in purchasing it, knowing full-well that it would be money well spent. Now that I’ve completed the book and put the KonMari Method into practice, I am honestly saying, for me, it was money well spent!
Now, you’ll find a lot of people out there who disagree with The KonMari Method, however I’ve come up with a couple of tips that will help you benefit from the method rather than just chucking it out the window.
Here are my 5 Tips for getting The KonMari Method to work for you!
1. Understand Where She’s Coming From
I’d say this is a big one. Marie Kondo isn’t North American; she’s Japanese. These are two very different cultures. Several times as reading the book I felt like Kondo wasn’t actually speaking to me, but rather she truly was just speaking to her own culture. Our houses are different, our lifestyles are different, and for the most part, here in North America, our religion isn’t our culture the same way it is in other parts of the world. So when you read about thanking your socks or putting up a shrine on the top of your bookshelf, try to remind yourself where she’s coming from.
2. Actually Read the Book
Instead of bashing the book, her method, or coming to conclusions based on what others say, try actually reading the book. Relax, and be open to hearing a new perspective on tidying up. It’s really not that long; I read it in one week, and that’s with 3 children 4 and under, a puppy, a husband, school and a house to look after. She wasn’t “born organized” and she tells her story throughout the book. Her journey of decluttering, tidying up, and organizing didn’t just happen over night; it was a process that involved many trials and errors over many years. The other thing about actually reading the book yourself, and being open to her ideas, is that you tend to get the full picture rather than just someone else’s opinion on it, which allows you then the greater opportunity to implement her method.
3. Understand Her Wording
I find that there seems to be a lot of hang-ups when it comes to the language that Kondo uses; “tidying up” and “categories” being the two biggest culprits. This book was translated from Japanese into English; and from what I understand about translations, you can lose some of what it actually is talking about, especially in regards to context and meanings of words. Sometimes its hard to translate a word when it is more of a phrase or idea rather than a direct word translation. When it comes to “tidying up” I believe that our concept of the phrase actually differs. When Kondo says it, she’s talks about doing it in one fell swoop and so I actually think of it more as one big giant spring cleaning. Think about it. When you do a “spring clean” you go through everything, and I believe that Kondo takes it just that little step further and gets you to go through absolutely everything, not just the garage or just clearing up the kitchen counters. I’ve read many comments out there where it seems that readers of the book (or rather, non-readers) get hung up on this; don’t allow yourself to be one of those people, see it from a new perspective.
I’ve heard many say things like “oh I can’t tidy by category!” or “if I just tidied my clothes I wouldn’t feel like anything got done” etc. Here’s the thing, if you were to collect all of the clothes from around your house, not just your shirts & pants & panties, but your coats, your shoes, your scarves, your purses/handbags, and then went through all of it, I bet that you would actually feel like you’ve made some progress. The thing is, most people forget that they actually store similar items in numerous spots around the house. Many people like to tidy by room rather than category, and I say, why not mesh the two together? You’re cleaning up your bathroom, so do the hall/linen closet as well, because chances are, you’ve got some of the same products in both spots. You’re going through your books in your office, then go and collect all of the other books you’ve scattered around the house as well – it’ll only take a couple of extra moments and then you won’t have to worry about any books again. I think it’s key to remember her categories as well. Kondo really actually divides up the categories as such: clothes, books, papers, Komono (miscellaneous), and mementos. Pretty simple if you ask me. She also breaks each category down further; for me, some categories were necessary to break down further while others weren’t. Did it make me think that the book was a waste of my time because of it? Heck no. I read it, and applied only what I thought I needed to apply to my situation.
4. Give the KonMari Method a really good effort
So you’ve tried all of these other methods, and you’ve still got lots of clutter around? You just can’t seem to get rid of that pile of paper on your desk? And on the kitchen counter? And on your night table? Then I suggest trying something new. Honestly, what harm can it do? Either it won’t be as perfectly described in the book, and you’ll still have gotten rid of some no-longer need stuff, or it’ll be awesome for you and your house will be clearer, cleaner, more organized with everything in it’s home and you’ll feel great. When what you’ve been doing just isn’t working, then it’s time to try something new. And again, I reiterate, don’t knock the book until you’ve read it and given it a serious try!
5. Take What Works, Leave the Rest
I’d say that this is probably one of my more important points. After you’ve read the book and you begin your tidying up journey, really evaluate what’s going to work for you and then leave what doesn’t. For example, she suggests sewing the spare button right into your clothes when you buy them, then if you need it, it’s there. I am not going to take the time to do this, I will however, instead of chucking them out, put them into our button cup in the crafting supplies. She also suggests tucking away your bookshelf in a closet. This concept is really not for me as I view my bookshelf as a work of art rather that just a storage space for books. Another example, Kondo says to “Make the top shelf of the bookcase your personal shine.” When I read this section, I didn’t feel as though she was speaking to me; rather I felt that she speaking directly to those of her culture. I am not a Buddhist, I do not have Shinto charms, I don’t need to make myself a shrine. I will however display photos/items that I deeply love (however they aren’t actually all in one place, so, still not shrine-like). My point is, not everything in this book is going to speak to everyone; you don’t need to take The KonMari Method to the extreme to make it work for you. Take the golden nuggets and move on.
For me, I feel like this book is chalk-full of useful information; as I was reading, I found many points that stood out to me and was able to implement. And because of it, I now have a much clearer house that feels more peaceful and even homey because of the lack of clutter. I also have more time for other things because I’m not weighed down by the clutter, both mentally and physically. I was able to get through most of my house (I just have a bit of Komono left – deciding what to sell and what to give away, and then my photos) in roughly one week. One week of my time dedicated to clearing out the clutter to set me up right for my new year ahead, I’d say that’s a good use of my time.
In conclusion, I’ll end with this: The KonMari Method isn’t really for those who just want to clear their desk once or twice a month or for those who keep telling themselves that “it’s not for them.” If you keep telling yourself that, then chances are, you’re right, it isn’t for you because that’s what you believe to be true. And, I do believe that if you follow her method how she describes it in the book (like putting things where they belong right away, not buying things that you don’t need or really want, etc.) then yes, your house will absolutely be free of clutter, because as she describes in the book, it’s not just throwing stuff out, it’s a mindset shift. So, if you’re really ready to clear some clutter for good, are open to trying a new method, are ready for a new mindset and are ready to be free to focus on other stuff than those piles of stuff lying around, then I think that The KonMari Method could be the organizing method you’ve been waiting for.