Photo credit: Chanel Parks
My name is Chanel and I collect a lot of shit.
From clothing to papers to the weird knick-knacks I've won at bar trivia nights, my room is covered in so many items, one might wonder how I live there. Even though I clean at least once a week, my room is rarely as neat as it could be. Once you accumulate so many things over the course of so many years, it's hard to find a place for everything. After all, that lipstick I haven't put on in the past year might come in handy one day!
No it won't. I know this because I just finished reading the popular book, The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art Of Decluttering And Organizing.
If you're not familiar with the title, it's basically the book of January 2015, or what I like to call the monthlong period when everybody tries to fulfill their "be more organized" resolutions. Written by Marie Kondo, a consultant who's made a successful career in, well, tidying up spaces, the book is based on childhood anecdotes and testimonials from clients who have all tidied up their homes based on her decluttering method. Spoiler alert: there is a right and wrong way to tidy up a space according to Kondo, and we have all been doing it incorrectly.
Kondo's philosophy emphasizes the mental attachment we have to our possessions and her approach is quite simple: declutter first, then store. To declutter a space, she asks her clients to go through every item in their possession and question whether those items "spark joy." If a certain object fails to do so, chuck it.
Once clients have completed decluttering their homes, Kondo's "KonMari" method requires that clients find a specific place for EVERYTHING that's left.
Here's what "everything" looked like for me before I took the plunge:
Kondo stresses the importance of decluttering in groups (like going through your clothes all at once). Her advice? Dump the closet and drawer contents onto the floor in a huge pile. But let's be real, when a room is already cluttered, it requires even more work to make that happen. So instead, I swiped everything off of my bed and used that as my elevated floor plan.
Look at that sea of clothes.
There it was, all of my possessions, on a bed, ready to meet its fate. Here's what I learned as I put Kondo's suggestions to work:
Try to have an open mind when reading the book.
Truthfully, I dove into this book thinking, "This is NOT going to work." But, when I got further into the book and completed the the mental exercises, I was surprised by all of the thoughts and emotions that surfaced. It made me realize that, YES, I really did want to get the excess crap out of my life.
Keep Benadryl on hand.
Imagine this combination: clothes that have been stored in bags for a long time, plus dust and funky smells. I almost had a full-on allergy attack going through my stuff, so beware.
Speaking of clothes, pay attention to Kondo's folding instructions.
I used to work in retail and hated folding for display shelves. But Kondo outlines a specific way to fold clothes, which you can see in action here, and once I got the hang of it, I wanted to apply it to everything. Socks were definitely a treat and I fan-girled over my own handiwork on my knits and button-down tops.
Decision fatigue happens.
After questioning whether hundreds of items bring me joy, I reached a point where everything just started to feel like junk. (Goodbye, heinous green sculpture.) But it is fun to run down the list of things that send positive energy through you.
Okay, there's still a lot of products in there, but I'm a beauty writer and lots of items bring me joy, so what do you expect?
The overall process was surprisingly relaxing (especially when I had some quiet tunes playing in the background, even though Kondo does not recommend decluttering to music), and particularly rewarding when I realized that I could fit just about anything in my dresser. When all was said and done, I eliminated 15 (15!) hangers from my clothing rack.
Getting organized took me, a 23-year-old living in a New York City apartment, a little over five hours. That means if you live in a larger home (like Kondo's target audience seems to), you'll want to choose your day(s) wisely.
Or, you can skip the home organizing and apply Kondo's philosophy to these other areas of your life:
The KonMari Method of Dating: Ask does he/she/they spark joy? You'll probably feel nothing, so get rid of them.
The KonMari Diet: If it's not a french fry, it shouldn't be cluttering up your plate.
The KonMari Method of Working: Your desk does not bring you joy, but the nap room does. So go take a nap.
Have you tried Marie Kondo's decluttering sensation? Tell us your experiences below.
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