If anyone had foretold I’d be folding my sweaters, jeans, and, yes, even undies into origami in a quest for a more organized home, I’d not have believed it. Yet, here I am. Remember last year’s breakout book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up? It prompted a slew of riveting “clutter” photos all across the web and spawned the hashtag #KonMari — now a verb, as in “I KonMari’d my closets.” But does it really work? I put it to the test.
|Sorting tops — does this “spark joy”?|
What I Like About the KonMari Method
Inspiration to Get Started
Though the book is thin and more than a bit repetitive, its very simplicity is what inspires the reader to jump right in. I wasn’t even through the first few chapters before wanting to put the book down and start giving all my stuff the “does this spark joy” test.
|Donation pile — this is just tops, pants and shoes!|
Permission to Let Go
Accepting that you don’t have to keep things forever once they’ve “achieved their purpose” is the strongest take-away of the book. That sexy dress you bought when you lost 20 pounds a few years ago that sadly never fit again? It’s just a nagging reminder that you didn’t maintain your weight loss. The dress served it’s purpose. Thank it for the joy it gave you at the time you bought it and donate it to a charity shop. That sweater that a loved one gifted you that’s not your color? It’s not going to change color sitting at the bottom of the stack of sweaters you always choose first. The purpose of a gift is the message of love and regard it sends. Having relayed the message that you are esteemed, the gift has served its ultimate purpose, points out the author. Thank it for making you feel good when you received it and let it go. That piece of furniture handed down that’s not your style? Thank it for the memories, bring it out of storage, and shepherd it off to a new life with an owner who will use it and love it.
I don’t know how well this strategy will work for Collyer-level hoarders, but it helped me let go of a lot of things I no longer use.
|Second bedroom — summer clothes closet|
While other organization methods require you to analyze how you use your space, this method puts the decision making in your heart not your head. This is another strength of the system. It doesn’t bog you down in planning and overthinking. All you need to do is sort your things into categories — clothing, books, papers, miscellaneous, memorabilia — then touch each thing and say whether it sparks joy. If it does, keep. If it doesn’t, discard. Easy peasey.
|Socks and PJs|
No Expensive Containers
At the heart of the KonMari method is a way of folding items that allows you to store them vertically. This means you will see everything at a glance and that achieves three things: 1. You always know what you have. 2. You don’t mess up a whole drawer trying to retrieve something from the bottom of a stack. 3. Everything you see sparks joy, because you eliminated everything that didn’t. This encourages you to keep the system going, shed more stuff, and let the good stuff take center stage.
Weaknesses in the KonMari Method:
I created a place in our entryway closet to store accessories like hats, gloves, scarfs and bags when we first come through the door. This way, when we’re getting ready to leave in the morning everything is right there waiting to go.
Bonus: I did have to run to the Container Store for this cool hanging shelf. (I love the Container Store.)
|Medicine cabinet — waaaay pared down|
Categories Are Too Limited
Also, I wasn’t able to sort through all my categories in one day, the way KonMari suggests. So I tackled my project over the course of a week. Either way, it still got done and that’s the key thing.
|Pared waaaay down|
|Things you need — but do they spark joy?|
It’s not practical to ask that all things “spark joy.” My hairdryer, for example, does not spark joy, but I need it. Ditto iron and ironing board. And what about people who wear a uniform to work — like doctors, nurses, postal workers, waitresses and so on? Even wearing a suit every day is a kind of uniform. Most uniforms do not spark joy. There needs to be room in any sorting methodology to keep purely utilitarian articles. If it works, fits, is in good condition, or is attractive and you don’t hate it, that might just have to do for some utilitarian things.
It’s year+ into the trend, and there is some backlash from bloggers who KonMari’d their closets, only to find keeping up with the folding a hassle. It’s common to immediately regress to rolling balls of socks, despite “stressing the elastic”. Personally, folding undies into tiny origami is tedious, so unless I see a real payoff I’ll let that go.
Despite the author’s insistence that no client ever complained of regretting letting go of something, there are accounts of bloggers who had regrets — like this woman in the UK, who threw out her flat iron. I know the feeling. I’m already regretting letting go of a round hair brush and curl tamer.
I do like seeing all my t-shirts and sweaters in one drawer a glance, though. And color me *surprised* to learn how many pairs of jeans and cords I could fit in one drawer when they’re folded the KonMari way. I was able to eliminate an entire plastic bin that was taking up space in the closet.
And look, an empty drawer!
While I have some categories still to sort — kitchen stuff, tools, and junk drawers — I can give the KonMari method a positive thumbs up.
Sasha the Wonder Cat gives it a thumbs up, too. She had a grand time shedding all over my sweater drawer while I folded.
Have you KonMari’d your house? What about the method do you like? What about the method can you do without?