Nov 20, 2015 · 4 minute read
Simplifying, especially for those who have a gear-heavy passion, can be daunting.
It’s a task worth tackling, though, to free up the time, space, clarity and focus to pursue the work you love.
Some of us have studios or whole rooms dedicated to our passion – a craft room, a photography studio. It can seem like decluttering and simplifying are in direct conflict with doing what we love.
And that’s why I found the KonMari method of decluttering so helpful. Marie Kondo, the method’s developer and author of the book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” bases her whole premise on what you love. I think she really gets us creative folks, and as the book has taken the world by storm, I think a lot of people feel the same way.
I must admit, I was reluctant to look into the book at first. After all, I told myself, I’ve spent years organizing my stuff, and I’m an organized person. What do I need a book on it for? But I kept seeing it written up all over the place, and I was intrigued, so I checked it out.
I’m glad I did, because it’s not really about organizing in the first place.
In fact, Kondo says organizing doesn’t get you to the root of problem with tidiness; organizing is really just moving stuff around. Her focus is on de-owning. Get rid of what you don’t love so you’re left with what you do, and that’s likely to be a lot less stuff than what you started out with.
In general, Kondo’s method goes like this: take out all your stuff, group it by category (clothes, cooking items, papers, etc.), touch EVERY. SINGLE. THING. Decide if you love that thing. If so, put it back. If not, get rid of it.
Simple, but not easy. It can be a daunting task, especially since she suggests just doing it all at once, like over a weekend. Just do it and get it done, she advises. That’s not how I did it though. I would tackle a category on a day when I didn’t have my daughter, and I thought I could get through it. I was pretty slow, too. It took me a whole weekend just to go through photos.
The point is, I went through everything. My kitchen, filing cabinet, photos and mementos. Everything. I wound up getting rid of a few carloads of things, including things it had never occurred to me to consider getting rid of, like the giant desk that I built that I no longer sat at when I worked. I would work on the patio or at the dining room table, so I removed the desk, and now there’s so much more space.
What makes it possible to declutter so easily, and what I found to be the most useful part of the book, was the order in which Kondo says to go through everything. You don’t just dive right in and go through your precious family heirlooms. Mementos and photos come last. Those are the toughest things to go through, so Kondo has you work up to it starting with clothes and progressing through things like the items in your bathroom and kitchen. By the time I got to the sentimental items, I had exercised my decluttering muscles enough that it was SO much easier to get rid of the things that I didn’t love and that weren’t adding value to my life.
Some might have a little difficulty with Kondo’s admonition to thank our pieces for their service before bidding them adieu, or with her heartfelt consideration for the feelings of inanimate objects. None of that bothered me, probably because I spent my formative years in a town that prized weirdness, and as a child, was very concerned with the feelings and comfort of my stuffed animals. Just so you know, I did not thank each and every piece I got rid of, and my house mojo seems to be intact. But if ascribing feelings to your inanimate objects is not your cup of tea, it’s worth it to give Kondo a little leeway because she really has good ideas.
I think the KonMari method of tidying up is really geared toward creative people. Only being surrounded by things you love is truly inspirational, and it clears the way for you to focus on the things that matter.
I know as we declutter more to move into our tiny house, I’ll need to go through this exercise again, but because of the KonMari method, it’s not something I dread. I’m kind of looking forward to it now.
How do you work through your decluttering, and what do you think of the KonMari method?