As a lot of you will know, I have just finished completing the KonMari Method, so I wanted to put together a thorough guide to everything you need to know about it, based on my experience. So, welcome to my (lengthy — you have been forewarned) KonMari “after” post, where I share what I’ve learned and answer all the questions I’ve been getting, such as:
- Did it work?
- Have I kept it up?
- What changes (good and bad) has it made to my life?
- How do I find living with someone who’s not a Konvert?
- Is it worth doing if the person you’re living with isn’t on board?
- What have I learned?
- Do I regret anything I decluttered?
- What would I do differently?
Obviously, it’s a pretty big topic, so let’s just get stuck in, shall we? 😉
Q1: Did it work?
I wish there were a straightforward answer. It worked in the sense that I got rid of about two thirds of my stuff. So if you’re looking to drastically reduce your belongings then yes, this is the best way I’ve found to do it.
Did it work in the sense that my house is now immaculately clean? Sadly, no. For one, I have a husband and a toddler, neither of whom are even remotely minimalist. 😉 And two, because it doesn’t really account for the lazy side of human nature. I’m not a particularly lazy person, but I still don’t always put things back where they’re supposed to go. When I get home after a long day, I still dump my stuff on the floor. When I kick off my shoes in the evening, I don’t immediately put them back, nor do I always remember to do so before I go to bed. I’m better at it than I was, though, so that’s something.
Yes, the house is cleaner after completing the KonMari Method and yes, it’s easier to take things out and put them away. I’m still not ecstatic about having to get off my arse to dust, though.
Q2: Have I kept it up?
Again, based on what I’ve just said, yes and no. No, in the sense that I don’t always put things back where they’re supposed to go (and I guess not every single thing has a specific home). Yes, in the sense that I do it a lot more frequently than I used to, and I’m much more ruthless with stuff since completing the KonMari Method. I rarely hesitate before throwing anything away. Those “what if?” questions have been quieted. If I see something that doesn’t spark joy, I just dump it then and there.
Q3: What changes (good and bad) has it made in my life?
Great fucking big ones.
Let’s dive in deeper:
Completing the KonMari Method — the good changes:
>> Even though my house isn’t immaculately clean, it’s a damn sight cleaner than it was. Cleaning in general has been made so much easier because there’s less to clean, there’s less to clean around, there aren’t as many things to move out of the way, there aren’t as many things piling up and falling over…
As I alluded to earlier, it doesn’t make me any more likely to want to clean the floors, but it does make the process easier when I do it because there aren’t as many obstacles on the floor, and the mop is very easily accessible.
>> It’s easier to find things. Less stuff means fewer hiding places. And because I’ve gone through everything quite recently, I still have a fair idea where I put it all. (Handy, because I get about a million messages a month from my husband asking where things are.)
>> It drastically reduces your desire to shop. I’m not bringing home impulse buys anymore. I couldn’t say with certainty that it’s reduced the amount of money I’m spending because what I’m finding is that, since completing the KonMari Method, I’m much more willing to splash out on quality items.
Of the things I do buy, I’m much less likely to regret purchases because I think long and hard before taking each one home. And if I decide after I buy it that it doesn’t spark joy after all, I either return it or donate it, whichever is most appropriate.
My relationship to things has changed — I think of them now in terms of how much they enrich my life. There isn’t that same guilt attached to spending more on things I love, because I know I’m not spending lots of small amounts on shit.
Completing the KonMari Method — the bad changes:
>> It drastically reduces your desire to shop. Yup, that’s a downside too. Shopping used to be a bit of a hobby. I never did a massive amount of it, and I certainly was never a big spender, but I used to enjoy it every now and again. I still shop, but some of the fun has been taken out of it because there’s the second-guessing process and the questioning. Can’t a gal just buy a cheap candle in peace?!
>> I’ve also found that I feel much more overwhelmed now when faced with clutter. Christmas was very difficult for me this year. I normally love Christmas — I love putting up the decorations and making the house look all festive. But this year? It made me twitch. I was very anxious and, frankly, unhappy, for the entire festive season. It really stressed me out and, for the first time ever, I couldn’t wait for the decorations to come done. (It’s odd, because the decorations themselves sparked joy, but having them take up half my house did not).
Speaking of extra clutter…
Q4: How do I manage living with someone who’s not a Konvert or minimalist?
With great difficulty. I don’t think you can ever fully complete the Method or reap the full benefits if you live with someone who’s not into it. There’s only so much stuff you can declutter when you live with someone. Their stuff will always be clutter to you; it will always take over the place; it will always be an eyesore. It’s hard. I dunno what to tell you. I struggle with it.
I never forced my husband to get rid of anything. I sometimes tried to reason with him, but I never pushed him. (Even when faced with over 20 bottles of Tabasco sauce, folks. ‘Cause I’m a fucking saint.) And I hope, by doing that, that I’ve fostered some more trust between us. I think if I’d forced him to get rid of stuff, or gotten rid of it behind his back, his tendency to hoard would have been heightened and the situation could potentially have gotten a lot worse.
So yeah, patience and understanding are what I’m preaching. And hey, try to lead by example and to share the positives, and then let it go as much as possible.
You’ll still see benefits just from doing your own stuff and from shared stuff that the other person agrees to let go of, so it’s definitely not a total waste of time. I’d still recommend completing the KonMari Method as best you can and, who knows, they may eventually follow your example.
In the meantime, deep, calming breaths.
Q5: What have I learned?
>> That we have WAY more stuff than we think and than we need. Like, a shit-tonne more. I’d consider myself a pretty organised person, and I used to do pretty regular clear-outs, particularly of my clothes. And I’d actually done one just a few weeks before starting the Method, so I didn’t think I’d be able to get rid of that much.
When I look back at all the stuff I cleared out of the house — and I’m talking several carloads of stuff — I wonder where I put it all. I mean, my house now is by no means empty — there’s still plenty of stuff in it. Yes, it’s stuff I love but, what can I say, I’ve got a lot of love to give.
So where the fuck did I fit all that other stuff?!
>> It makes you realise that the things you think are important really aren’t. The categories that I thought would be really difficult for me — like stationery — actually turned out to be fine. I realised I don’t really need fifty billion packets of stickers, or forty billion rolls of washi tape. (I do still need a billion notebooks and pens though. Those are what are REALLY important to me.)
>> Living without things is much easier than you think. I mean, you get rid of stuff, and then you see that it has absolutely no negative impact on your life whatsoever. Zero. You don’t even notice the stuff is gone. And I think, the more you live without, the more you realise you can live without.
Which leads me to:
Q6: Do I regret anything I decluttered?
Nope. Not a single thing.
Q7: What would I do differently?
>> Honestly, I thought the category thing was great BUT not everything can be neatly pigeon-holed. And because ‘komono’ is such a vast category, it can be easy to overlook all those random little bits. (To this day, I’m still spotting things I forgot, like the poker for the fire.)
If you only do it by category, it can be hard to see progress, particularly when a lot of what you’ve decluttered is now behind a closet door or in a drawer. It’s also hard to get a sense of how far there is to go — if you declutter all your clothes, for instance, you still have no real idea how much you’ve done or how much is left to do. If you go room by room, on the other hand, you know how many rooms are left.
Now look, I’m not saying categories aren’t the cat’s pyjamas. As she says in the book, they help you see exactly how much you have, and you can easily spot duplicates, etc. And that can be really eye-opening. But one thing I found is that a lot of the categories actually took up a large part of a room. So clothes made up the bulk of the bedroom, stationery and books made up the bulk of the office, toys made up the bulk of the living room, toiletries made up the bulk of the bathroom, etc. So I’d start with a category and then finish everything else that’s in the room. That would give me a greater sense of achievement because I’d have a much more visual representation of progress.
>> I’d also have a ‘holding area’ for things — one designated space for all the stuff I was getting rid of — because I found I was stashing stuff to be donated all over the place, and the piles just grew and grew. Which leads me onto another important point:
>> I’d get rid of the stuff much more regularly. Once I’d finished a category, I’d dump the rubbish and either bring the rest to the charity shop immediately or place it in my designated spot (probably the car boot) so I could drop it off at the earliest opportunity. Leaving bags and boxes to build up… Well, it defeats the whole purpose of the Method, really.
Completing the KonMari Method — final thoughts:
I know she says it’s a once in a lifetime event, but I feel like things change. Circumstances change. Your lifestyle changes. Your hobbies and interests change. Yes, they’re small things that don’t necessarily warrant a complete overhaul of everything in your life but, sometimes, it can be a drastic change, like emigrating, or starting a family, or moving in with someone, or some other major life event like a serious illness or the loss of a loved one. All of these things could easily prompt a total re-evaluation of everything in your life.
Maybe it won’t be as tough or as “new”, because you’ve already been through it so you have the basics down, but I can easily foresee several instances in which you might be starting a completely new chapter in your life and, therefore, want to start the Method from scratch. So, once in a lifetime? Possibly, but not necessarily.
Also, the book is like a shrink. I mean, it should be in the psychology section, really. It’ll help you get over your separation anxiety regarding your stuff; it’ll help deal with the feelings of guilt and anxiety related to letting things go; it’ll help you to embrace change, let go of emotional baggage, and turn over a new, decluttered leaf. It will generally open your eyes to a whole new way of living. You’ll view your relationship with your stuff in a whole new light.
You can still lie on a couch while reading it, if that’s what floats your boat, but it’ll cost you a damn sight less than a psychotherapist.
Is it worth it?
Hell yeah. (Haven’t you been reading any of this?)
If you haven’t read the book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, you should. It’s relatively inexpensive (or free if you pick it up from the library or borrow it from a friend), and it’s a quick read. “Life-changing” is a pretty bold statement to make in the title of a book but, in my experience, it truly is. And I don’t normally buy into that sort of bullshit. But I’m sold. I’m a KonMari Konvert. I’m drinkin’ the Kondo Kool-Aid, folks.
And that’s about it. PHEW! It took me a solid AGE to formulate all my thoughts on the topic (nevermind the cramp in my tendons from all the typing) so I really hope it’s proved helpful to you. If you’ve any questions that I haven’t covered, please let me know in the comments below. 😀
In the meantime, I do plan on re-doing the Method in the first half of 2016 so why not ‘like’ the Facebook page (see below) so you don’t miss out on my second go round. Or, if you’re more the visual type, head on over to my YouTube channel where I’ll be vlogging the entire process (again).
As usual, the ‘share’ buttons are below and to the right so you can show some love. 😉
And now if you’ll excuse me, I have to ice my poor arms.