It’s said that we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. I had a bunch of stuff I didn’t wear, didn’t like, or were gifts that took up residence in my closet and drawers. After spending too much time searching for something I liked around everything I didn’t, something had to give!
Enter The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I have no idea where I first heard about this book but I ignored it in the beginning. From the description, it’s clear right away that Marie is a neat freak and obsessed with being tidy. It’s hard to identify with someone like that when you’re surrounded by clutter. But after hearing people rave, seeing checklists, and even adorable drawings touting the benefits of KonMari, I finally took the plunge and read the book.
And? A lot of it really is life changing. Yes, Marie is certainly over the top obsessed with tidying but that excitement is contagious! While some of the book can be a little nuts, so much makes perfect sense. Instead of deciding what to get rid of, Marie has you decide only what to keep. Her criteria for this is simple: Does this spark joy?
In addition to that, she has you go through by category, not location. This is extra work since you’ll have to gather everything from a category together (clothes, books, papers) in one space but this is also extremely helpful. Most of us have no idea how much stuff we have and seeing it all together, in one spot, makes it extremely obvious.
My Previous KonMari Journey
Before I really get into this session, I have a disclaimer: This isn’t my first time tidying my stuff. I actually started the process before and went through clothes, books, papers and started on the miscellaneous items before I lost steam and paused. My biggest hang up last time came with communal areas, especially the kitchen. There’s plenty to discard there, and I did get rid of a lot, but my husband and I had different ideas on what to keep. In hindsight, I should have discarded what we agreed on and moved on to the next category but I got discouraged and gave up.
This time around, I see why I gave up and what I could have done differently. While I’d love for my husband and daughter to declutter their stuff (and they both have to some degree), I need to focus just on my stuff.
I talked a bit about why I wanted to go through this process in my post ‘Why Seek Simplicity?‘ While this transformation, especially of the first few categories, won’t be nearly as dramatic as it was the first time around, please understand that it’s only because I’ve gone through this part once before. How much did I discard the first time around? I easily had two or three large garbage bags full of clothes, shoes, and coats alone.
The Process for Clothes
1. Gather Everything In One Place
I did a load of laundry before starting so that everything was caught up and washed except for what I was wearing. Everything else came out of drawers, the closet, and was collected from around the house and thrown on the bed. Since I had done this before, the pile of stuff wasn’t too bad but the first time, it was overwhelming.
If you end up with a mountain of clothes, make it easier on yourself and break things down into categories. Last time I did tops, bottoms, undergarments, outerwear, loungewear, etc. If you still have an overwhelming pile after breaking them down, make subcategories. For tops, I had to break them down further into tank tops, short sleeve, long sleeve, and blouses.
2. Does This Spark Joy?
Pick up each piece, hold it in your hands and ask yourself “Does this spark joy?”
I struggled with this the first time around and searched for some of my favorites to get an idea of what that “joy spark” felt like. I kept going and eventually got the idea of what sparked joy and what didn’t. A lot of my clothes were things others had discarded that I welcomed at the time. As I went through them, I realized very few of them sparked joy for me. They either weren’t my style, didn’t fit quite right, or I just never reached for them.
There were also a few things that I wanted to try on before I made a decision, even the second time around. I set those aside and came back to them, tried them on, and then decided.
I did manage to convince my husband to KonMari his clothes since he had been hanging on to a lot just to be sure he had enough to wear. Both of us ended up going through our clothes piles twice while we honed that joy meter. If you get done sorting your clothes and still feel like you have a lot, go through again. It was surprising what we were able to discard the second time around.
This KonMari session was a huge success. I paired down my clothes to the point where everything fit in two dresser drawers and on a few hangers. I was also able to let go of the things that I had replaced but forgot to discard.
3. Fold and Put Away
The last step is to put everything back in its place. Marie has very specific suggestions on how to arrange things in your closet (longest to shortest, dark to light, lifting to the right) but since I had five things to hang up, I didn’t worry too much about that.
Everything else was folded. She has a very interesting way of folding clothes and after trying it out, I love it. It doesn’t really take extra time with this method but having everything stand on end looks really nice. Plus, for anyone else like me who doesn’t rush to the dryer to fold clothes before they wrinkle, this folding method helps smooth out clothes a bit too. While I thought Marie’s careful obsession over storing her clothes properly seemed over the top, I’ve found I feel like I take better care of my clothes when I take the time to do this.
The last step of the KonMari process is to discard what you don’t need! Most of my clothes from before and this time will end up being donated or, if they’re in bad shape, in the trash. I try to donate or recycle as much as I can but I need to get this stuff out of the house ASAP. If you want to take advantage of the tax write-off, make detailed notes, bag it up, and toss the bag in the car. Next time you’re out, donate and be done!
Overall, I’m really excited to start this process again and am committed to finishing it this time. I feel good about the fact that I’ve tackled a lot of this before and made good progress. I know I can get it done and finally get some of this extra out of the house once and for all.
Next, I’ll be going through the books and paper category!