Clutter in our homes can not only be a distraction but a major stress-trigger. It can lead to high cortisol levels – a hormone the body releases in stressful situations. For most of us, clutter accumulates slowly over time and we don’t realise how bad the situation is until a major life event such as moving, changing jobs, marriage or death occurs and forces us to declutter! With the increasing popularity of a minimalist lifestyle and the small urban spaces that are a norm in Indian metros, freeing our homes of clutter can help us not only simplify our lives but also concentrate on those things that are most important to us, without unnecessary distractions. Decluttering can free us from the burden of those objects that have outlived their purpose in our lives and make room for those that bring us joy!
Marie Kondo is a famous Japanese organising consultant, author of the best-selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organising and the creator of the revolutionary KonMari Method – in which she shifts the focus of decluttering from discarding objects that might have sentimental value to keeping only those things that spark joy. According to Kondo, when we shift our thinking to keeping only those things that bring us joy, we often find it easier to get rid of those that don’t!
The KonMari Method
Kondo says her method is inspired by the Shinto religion in which “treasuring what you have; treating the objects you own as not disposable, but valuable, no matter their actual monetary worth; and creating displays so you can value each individual object are all essential ways of living.”
The KonMari method consists of gathering together all of one’s belongings, one category at a time, and then keeping only those things that when held in your hands “Spark Joy”.
The Six Basic Rules of Tidying
Commit Yourself to Tidying Up in One Go – This first step is the most important. Unless you commit yourself to decluttering your home, you will never begin. Remember, well begun is half done! Kondo says that cleaning a little bit at a time, a small area at a time doesn’t work in the long-term. Stuff has a way of reaccumulating over time. Decluttering the entire home, by category of stuff instead of rooms, she says, although intensive and laborious, can help make a dramatic changes in mindset and guarantee better, long-lasting results.
Imagine Your Ideal Lifestyle – Another crucial process in the decluttering process wherein Kondo encourages you to visualise your ideal lifestyle. What do you hope to achieve by decluttering? What are the specific goals that you feel your clutter has prevented you from achieving? Instead of general goals like “I want a clean house”, focus on the specifics, “I want to be able to access my watercolours and create a space where I can paint.”
Tidy by Category, not by Location – In most homes, items that fall into the same category are stored in different places, all over the house. If you are tackling your clothes, then collect all the clothes from all over the house together first. Then divide them into sub-categories to make sorting easier.
- Tops (shirts, sweaters, etc)
- Bottoms (pants, skirts, etc)
- Clothes that should be hung (jackets, coats, suits, etc)
- Bags (handbags, messenger bags, etc)
- Accessories (scarves, belts, hats, etc)
- Clothes for specific events (swimsuits, uniforms, etc)
Kondo also instructs you in the fine art of folding, which frees up an enormous amount of closet space.
Follow the Right Order – According to Kondo, following the right order in sorting is as important as the sorting itself. She advises you to sort clothes first, then books, papers, miscellaneous items and lastly, mementos.
Ask Yourself if It Sparks Joy – Once your items are sorted into categories, pick each object in your hands and ask yourself if it brings you joy. You must touch every item so that your body can react in a physical and emotional way. If it does, keep it. If not, give it Thanks and let it go says Kondo. Keep in mind, this is NOT an intellectual process but an intuitive one.
Finish Discarding First – Once you’ve decide which objects to keep, discard those that you are not keeping before you begin organising. Once you are done, all that is left is to designate a specific place for everything you’ve decided to keep. Kondo says she has only two rules while organising:
- Store all items of the same type in the same place and
- Don’t scatter storage space
The best thing about the KonMari Method is that, at the end of the process, you are left with only the things that you love. This allows you to cultivate a new relationship with your belongings. Often, we find it hard to part with our things for sentimental reasons. They remind us of people we loved and have lost, they conjure up memories of happy times and sad, of nostalgia. But getting rid of things (whether by donating them or recycling them), does not mean that you are getting rid of those precious memories or giving up your identity in any way. On the contrary, sending unused objects out of your home can liberate their energy and yours. You can feel physically, mentally and spiritually lighter, when you are surrounded by things that you love and that bring you joy! Surrounded by objects that make you happy, you will feel healthier and revitalised!
Give the KonMarie Method a try and rejuvenate you home and life with a clutter free minimalist space!