Tidying Up to Spark Joy

Everyone who has decided to tidy up using the Marie Kondo Method has a story. This is mine.

I spoke about Marie Kondo briefly in my self-care post Loving Your Body, but hearing about her new Netflix series Tidying Up inspired me to share a little more about how her “KonMari” tidying method has changed me.

I discovered Marie Kondo in October when I was searching YouTube videos on decluttering. So many videos popped up about the KonMari method. I knew that I wanted to get rid of a lot of things in my room: barely-used hair products that didn’t work for me, clothes I no longer wore, fabric that I knew I was never going to make anything with. I wanted to give my room a complete refresh, and I knew that had to start with a deep purging of everything I didn’t need.

Exhibit A: Tons of fabric that I hadn’t used in years

I read Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Manga of Cleaning Up: A Magical Story, which I knew I’d be able to read through quicker than her other book since it was a graphic novel. I set an internal deadline: I was going to clear out everything in my room that didn’t spark joy in three weeks.

The first thing I learned: it’s harder to get rid of your unused possessions than you think! You spent money on them, you have a history with them, and it can be hard to let that go. But it also weighs on you.

For example, I’ve bought a lot of hair products over the past year trying to find the right ones for my uniquely fine curls and kinks. I had found a few stellar products, some worked just okay and other products were absolute trash.

Even though I knew that I would never use some of the hair products in my closet, I had spent money on them and couldn’t stomach throwing them out – and it was too late to return them. What if I ran out of what I liked and couldn’t make it to the store on time, so I needed to use these so-so products? Or what if what my hair liked changed one day and these “just okay” products started working for me?

Kondo’s method is a gem. You ask yourself one question when you’re considering throwing something out: does this item spark joy? If yes, keep it. If not, throw it away.

I asked myself: do these barely-used hair products spark joy? The answer was no. I threw out the trash products, packed up the rest in carrier bags and gave those to my cousin who’s a hair stylist. Products that were “just okay” in my hair could work wonders in another person’s hair.

Another important thing that Marie Kondo teaches you is that “someday” really means never. If you’re planning on using something “someday,” that’s a likely indicator that you need to chuck, donate, or sell that item.

I initially felt bad about chucking unfinished sewing projects that I thought I might finish “some day.” Then I realized – I am never going to finish these projects. They are preventing me from starting new sewing jobs that I truly will enjoy. I am holding onto unnecessary guilt by keeping them in my project drawer. I let them go.

Kondo’s clothes-folding method is life-changing! It saves so much space in your drawers!! After I donated bags full of clothing to Purple Heart, I still had a pile full of clothes left on my bed. I was afraid my drawer and closet still would feel cluttered, but by the time I had folded everything the Kondo way, there was so much space left in my drawers and closet that I was stunned.

In the end, I ended up donating over 6 XL black Hefty trash bags full of books, clothes, electronics, games, accessories, handbags, and more. I sold over $100 worth of my possessions. And I threw away about five trash bags filled with things that I didn’t need.

In the moment, when I was sitting in my room trying to decide whether to keep a barely-worn (but pretty) scarf or not, it was hard to fill trash bags. It was difficult to decide what to keep. But after I gave my former things away (or threw them out), I felt so free!

The KonMari method is so meaningful because the simple act of giving away items that no longer bring you joy spills into other areas of your life. It magnifies a larger lesson: choose a life that sparks joy.

You will start to choose joy in your everyday life. You stop choosing to do things out of guilt or a false sense of morality. You make decisions because they create positive emotions in your life or will have positive ripple effects in the long term.

Thoroughly tidying up my room invigorated me to do something that I wanted to do for a very long time: rip up the carpet in my bedroom and finish the hardwood floors underneath. I don’t think I would have felt so strongly inclined, if it hadn’t been for the KonMari method.

Bedroom before decluttering & removing the carpet the previous owners had installed

Have you read any of Marie Kondo’s books or tidied using the KonMari method? What are the things in your home that spark joy?

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