For those of you who haven't heard about this bestseller, it's a book written by a woman who sounds like she is obsessed in a not-entirely-healthy way with eliminating clutter from the lives of everyone on Earth. She has a consulting business for which she has a three month waiting list so she can help people pare down their possessions to only those that "spark joy".
In her process she encourages people to consider why they have trouble getting rid of certain items even if they don't spark joy in their lives. She sees tidying as a way to clear out connections to the past or fears about the future that are holding them back. She also sees clearing out unloved items as a step towards finding out what things a person truly loves and valuing those things more.
A great summary is contained in an interview with her American editor on Here and Now.
I checked out Kondo's slim volume from the library Saturday afternoon and read it all in one night. Usually I hate anything that smells like self-help, but for some reason I found this to be delightful. I don't know if it's because the author sounds kind of charmingly insane (see: sock folding) or if it's because I feel bogged down by two tough years, and so I'm primed for a book to tell me how to purge my possessions/feelings and move on to a new kind of life. Maybe a little of both.
Sunday I began to Kondo my life, starting, as she mandates, with my clothes. I didn't think I would discard too many clothes: I used to work at a thrift store where I accumulated waaaay too much clothing, and after a couple of purges I felt like I had it down to a manageable level. Wow, I was wrong.
Before you sort, you take all of your items and pile them on the floor. Here are all the clothes I owned piled in my parlor:
The piles are tops, bottoms, athletic/swimwear, shoes, accessories, and "clothes that should be hung". It took about two hours to gather all my clothes, and I felt instantly overwhelmed and excited as I set to work. I started with tops, handling each article and asking myself if it brought me joy. If yes, I piled it on the chair. If no, I thanked it for it's service to me and put it into a discard box.
One thing I really liked about this process versus other purges is the emphasis not on what I use, but rather what brings me joy. I realized quickly that I frequently wear clothes that I don't like. I wear them because they are convenient. I placed those items in the discard pile with some trepidation, concerned that I wouldn't have clothes to wear. However, as I plowed further into my task I realized that I have other clothes that I really like but don't wear because they are stored less conveniently. I forgot I even had some of the clothes I like the best. If I categorized by use I would have kept the clothes I don't like as much and unhappily worn them until they fell apart. Since I was focused on things that spark joy, I kept clothes I had never worn, and I have spent this week enjoying them for the first time!
The next tasks are folding and storing. Kondo has a special folding method, and significantly no socks can be balled up. Storing gets more complicated: most things should be stored in drawers, and everything should be stood on end, with nothing stacked on top of anything else. For example, here is my post-Kondo sock drawer:
It took me two hours on Sunday and all day Monday to fold or hang and store every article of clothing I kept. Although it was a pain, I don't think that now it is set up it will be any harder than keeping my drawers neat before. I also must admit that it feels GOOD to open your sock or sweater drawer and see every option laid out before you. It feels so much easier to pick out an outfit.
There are some things Kondo prescribes that I don't think I'll follow. For instance, I will continue to store away my off season clothes. I'm pretty good about getting them out on time, and I generally only store sundresses and sandals in the winter and coats in the summer. Things are just too tight with them all out at once. I also can't store all of my clothes in one spot in my home. Manlover and I have two closets, one of which is much bigger than the other. All my clothes wouldn't fit in the small one, and Manlover would never give up access to the big one. We both own too many clothes for that, even after my purge.
I intend to finish the Marie Kondo method by purging books next, then papers, miscellaneous items, and finally mementos. I hope that Manlover will join me, too, because I'm not the only one in our apartment who owns a lot of crap, and I wouldn't feel good about Kondoing our common spaces, like the kitchen, without him. Even if it doesn't help me move on to a new emotional space, I will love having less clutter in my apartment, and more room in my closets.