Seven best hacks from queen of decluttering
FOUR years ago I discovered Marie Kondo's book about tidying and grabbed hold of it like a drowning woman - a woman drowning in her own stuff.
I had a spare room with a desk filled with papers and other clutter. Boxes of photos, memorabilia and other documents plus a filing cabinet filled with even more documents. After reading Kondo's book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I no longer have a desk, filing cabinet or any those boxes any more. Everything I need fits on a few shelves - space that I created by clearing half my books.
Back then the book by Kondo was already hugely successful but it's now gaining new followers thanks to her new Netflix series Tidying Up.
The series has eight episodes, each featuring a different family that Kondo helps to declutter their lives. Each one has a theme, such as empty nesters who need to downsize or a family struggling to keep their home tidy with two toddlers.
Kondo's calming presence gradually transforms the homes from chaotic to organised, with some on the show crying tears of gratitude for the peace and sense of ease she has brought to their homes.
Being a Kondo convert myself I can definitely relate to how they feel and can also attest that her method works. Even now I continue to cull my belongings and have let go of things I never thought I would.
Here is a rundown of some of Kondo's best tips.
1. The best way to fold your clothes
Even if your house is perfectly organised, you should give Kondo's folding system a try, it's a gamechanger.
The idea is to fold your clothes into one long strip, fold this in half and then into thirds to create a small square that you can sit upright in your drawer. You can do this with everything including underwear and socks. It uses up less space and it's easier to find what you want. Instead of rifling through your drawer and pulling out everything to find a particular shirt or dress, you can easily check to see if it's there and then grab it without disturbing any of the other clothes. It's also very addictive once you start.
2. Take an inventory of what you have
One of the first things that Kondo asks people to do is to dump all of their clothes in one spot so they can see everything they have. There's nothing more motivating than seeing a huge pile of clothes, books or electronic cords to give you perspective on how much you really own. Putting everything together also makes you realise you don't really need five extra extension chords or three whisks.
3. Declutter in a specific order
Kondo's method suggests going through things such as clothes and books first because it's easier to make a decision on these types of items. You can then move on to paper and a category she calls "komono", which includes the bathroom, kitchen, garage and miscellaneous items. Sentimental items are left until last. This is because by the time you get to these items you will have refined your sense of what really 'sparks joy'.
4. Does it 'spark joy'?
Kondo believes the best way to chose whether or not to keep something is to hold each item in your hand and decide whether it sparks joy. This is an uplifting feeling that you get when you hold the item, and has nothing to do with whether the item is practical or you 'should keep it'. Choosing items this way means that after you finish decluttering you will only be surrounded with items that make you happy, which is a great feeling.
5. Everything has a place
Another great tip is to make sure there is a specific place for every item in your home. This means when something is out of place you can easily put it back where it should be. It also means that when you need to find something, you'll know where to look. One benefit of decluttering is that you uncover things you thought were lost or forgot you had. And you actually start to use these things.
6. Respect your belongings
Taking the time to 'greet your house' sounds pretty crazy but in every episode Kondo sits quietly and silently pays her respect to the house for what it has given the owner. She is also taking a moment to acknowledge the role that possessions play in people's lives. As people declutter she also encourages them to thank each item for their service, which makes it easier to let go of once-cherished things. It also makes you appreciate what you have and to treat each item with respect.
7. Stay focused on your own stuff
When you live with others it can become frustrating to deal with other people's clutter but Kondo doesn't recommend interfering or taking control of other people's belongings. She encourages people to concentrate on going through their own stuff and instead act like a role model for others in their lives. This will naturally inspire others to do the same. Instead of the tidying falling one parent for example, she encourages getting children involved in decluttering and tidying including things like folding clothes so everyone takes responsibility for their own possessions.
Bonus tip: Don't force yourself to get rid stuff if you don't want to
Everyone has a different amount of stuff they want in their lives and unlike some minimalists Kondo doesn't suggest that each person should only have one drawer for their clothes or just seven T-shirts. If you genuinely love something and want to keep it, you should.