The KonMari Method – How Japanese Minimalism Can Influence Your Life

If you are like most people in Western Culture, then it’s likely your life is centered around materialistic values. And you might not be greedy or earning tons of money might be low on your priorities’ list, but still the consumerist society makes you inclined to surround yourself with possessions. You must have a kit of ten frying pans for all kinds of meals (even the ones you never prepare). You need a blender, a food processor, a juicer, a stand mixer and a hand mixer (even though you can easily manage to whip up culinary masterpieces with only two of those). And you cannot live without yet another pair of jeans (which will be your 17th) and 3 more T-shirts, and every book that goes on the New York Times best-seller list. Or do you?

This never-ending shopping cycle will undoubtedly lead to piles of clutter, disorganisation, time and space inefficiency and higher stress levels. You will need more and more organisers and containers to store your stuff. At some point, you will lose track of what you actually possess, not to mention where it’s located. And all of this subconsciously leads to stress, unexplained anxiety and loss of concentration. It all sounds way too familiar, right? Well, Japanese principles of decluttering come to the rescue.

The Japanese organisational expert Marie Condo has become a superstar among homemakers and busy professionals of all ages around the world. Her books “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying” and “Spark Joy” are a worldwide success. Her method for decluttering, widely known as the KonMari method, is based on the catchphrase “Does it spark joy?”. She urges people to only hold on to the objects they truly like and will uplift their mood. There are countless examples of people’s transformation through the method. Bloggers share before and after photos and tell how their life has changed.

Organizer lying on a table

After the complete and ruthless purging of unnecessary possessions stage, you will experience changes not only in the appearance of your home. This is Kondo’s promise and the reason for her zero-repeater rate. She claims that once you experience perfect order and its effects on your lifestyle you’ll never go back to clutter again. Some of the benefits include:

  • Better time management
  • Decreased stress levels
  • Better quality rest at home
  • Better concentration
  • You will find it easier to know what you want in life and to set clear goals
  • You will spend much less time on tidying and cleaning, so you will have time for your hobbies and projects
  • Believe it or not, your mind will feel less cluttered too
  • You will socialise more and invite more people to come to your home
  • You will become more organised in other aspects of your life, like at work, or when organising family events

With all these amazing benefits, you probably can’t wait to get your hands on Kondo’s books. And you should. But to throw a little bit more light on the tidying method, here are the basic principles of the KonMari tidying process.

Japanese architecture

Tidy by category, not by room

Contrary to popular believe, tidying by room will only make things more chaotic. You will end up moving things from shelf to shelf and room to room. According to Kondo, the best way to declutter is by organising everything from a category at once, no matter of the location in the house. This way you will save yourself from endless grouping and regrouping around the house. There is another reason to choose to tidy by category, which plays on emotions. Marie Kondo suggests a very particular order of categories to go one after the other. The idea is to start from the items which will bring the least emotional resistance and is least unique. Here is the order you should go by:

  1. Clothes (includes all textiles, accessories, linen, towels etc.)
  2. Books (including comic books, magazines, journals)
  3. Papers (notebooks, documents, etc.)
  4. Miscellaneous
  5. Memorabilia (photos, souvenirs, anything with sentimental value)

The concept is that by the time you go to the emotionally difficult categories, you will have a trained intuition and decision-making will to deal with them.

Ruthless discarding

You should begin by gathering everything from a single category (say clothes) from all over the house in a single room. It’s best to just pile everything on the floor. Then the discarding stage begins. Kondo’s advice is to pick each item and ask yourself “Does it spark joy?“. If it does, you keep it, if it doesn’t – donate, recycle or throw it away. After a few items, the process will be much easier. The point is to free your space from anything that you don’t enjoy or isn’t essential (like your toothbrush). The Japanese expert also suggests parting with your belonging with a sense of gratitude for their great service to you. This will leave you with a positive feeling from the discarding process.

Folded baby clothes

Everything needs a home

Only after you finish with the discarding completely, you should begin with the next step. Don’t indulge to the temptation to put things away as you go. Get rid of everything that doesn’t spark joy first, and only after you are left with the objects you wish to keep, you should start organising. Find a specific place for each item. The KonMari method is based on the idea that each object should have a “home” where it should return to “rest” after you use it. This way you will never go back to clutter. Everything will always be in its right place.

Fold clothes the KonMari way

Marie Kondo has very specific preferences when it comes to storage. She advises to always choose vertical instead of horizontal storage. And this Applies to everything – including clothes. Never pile things one on top of the other, instead place them one next to another. When it comes to clothes the organisational expert has come up with a specific way of folding, so that the clothes will stay wrinkle-free. It also saves a lot of space and makes a chest of drawers look astonishingly neat and eye-pleasing. And of course, it makes it super easy to take clothes out and put them back without making a mess. YouTube is full of handy tutorials of the KonMari method of folding.

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