Does It Spark Joy? My 1st KonMari Experience
I tend to always be a little late to jump on the proverbial bandwagon. It took me forever to finally read the Harry Potter, Twilight, and Hunger Games series; and I’m pretty sure everyone had (and already killed!) a variety of succulents before I bought my very first one. Sometimes I’m reluctant, sometimes I’m busy, and sometimes I’m just lazy. But eventually, I catch up with the trends. Such is the case with Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. This is a book that has been on my radar for a very, very long time. And considering my penchant for all things neat, tidy and organized, you may have thought or assumed I was among the first in line to read it. Admittedly, this book fell into the “reluctant” category for me. I’d seen countless blog reviews, news features, magazine articles and more touting Kondo’s message of “joy,” “neatly folded socks,” and “thanking your items for their service;” and honestly, it all kinda made me roll my eyes. But since the beginning of this year, I’ve been undertaking an education of sorts on all things slow, simple, and less. And as I’ve been making my way through a variety of books to help me on my quest to calm, I felt like it was time to finally see what all the hoopla surrounding this book was about. I read this book last week while I was on vacation with my boys, and my reaction was a surprising mixture of disappointment, intrigue, disbelief, revelation, skepticism, and inspiration. Today, I wanted to give a few quick thoughts about the book and share what happened when I actually put the famed KonMari method into practice in our home!
There is so much packed into this tiny 200 page book. It’s a quick and easy read; and it is definitely one that will give you pause, make you want to talk about it, and maybe even inspire you to implement the organizing methods outlined. I feel like I could go on and on about what is (and isn’t!) in the book, what I liked and what I didn’t, what I agree with and what I don’t…but I am trying to keep my posts to a read-able length these days #iswearimtrying! I will say this though – when I put the book down after reading it straight for two days, I was genuinely shocked and a bit confused at the cultural circus surrounding the book. I was astounded at how little was covered. I was amazed at how poorly the book was organized (of all things!). And honestly, I was taken aback by the extremely audacious claims that her method for decluttering and organizing would be a once-in-a-lifetime solution (meaning, you would never ever ever ever have to declutter and organize again!) #Seriously?!?!
Despite my pretty strong skepticism and cynicism, it’s that exact claim that made me want to try the KonMari method…just a little bit. Although I did roll my eyes at a good bit of the book, maybe her method really is as revolutionary as it claims? My extensive experience with decluttering and creating cute organization systems hasn’t truly stemmed the tide of stuff in our home, so maybe I do have a thing or two to learn? Could her too-simple, bare bones, extreme method really be a panacea from living with too much stuff? Could 4 little words really change our home forever? As much as I wanted to toss the book aside, Kondo’s book planted too many seeds of “but what if?” and “it doesn’t hurt to try it,” and “what do I have to lose?” and “could this really work?” So…I KonMari’d my closet (exactly where she said to start); and in short: I totally, really get it.
Does It Spark Joy?
I’m sure you’ve seen and read various decluttering tips and tricks from organizing experts: “If you haven’t worn it in a year, toss it.” “If it’s broken or missing pieces, toss it.” “If it doesn’t fit you right,” “If you never use it,” “If the color is different than it looked in the store”…I could go on and on and on. Kondo skips every single one of those guidelines and suggest that you instead use four easy words to declutter your home: “Does it spark joy?” That’s it. You are supposed to take each and every item (in a specified order, in your hands) and ask yourself if it sparks joy. If the answer is real, true, fervent “YES,” you keep it. If the answer is any version of “no,” you toss it. There are no thoughts of functionality, usefulness, sentimentality, or practicality. If the items lights some sort of fire in you, you keep it. Otherwise, you don’t need or truly want it. It’s a simple if not ruthless method…and by doing this – truly, authentically, genuinely – you will theoretically be left with a home full of items you love and nothing else. And that alone would be life changing.
Yep – I was rolling my eyes too. Until I tried It.
KonMari-ing My Closet
Kondo is adamant about decluttering your home in a certain order, and prescribes starting in the closet with your clothes. And so I did. I emptied my closet in the exact way she said to. I then took each item, one at a time, into my hands and (reluctantly) asked if it sparked joy. And boy was I surprised at the answers I “heard.” As I went, item by item by item, the most incredible and surprising thing of all (and the whole reason I’m sharing this with you!) was how instinctual the answer to that question really was. If I genuinely and honestly thought about each item and asked if it sparked joy, I instinctively said “YES” to the things I wear, fit well, love the pattern on, and treasure. Likewise, I instinctively said “NO” to the things that were falling apart, I never wore, never truly loved, were holding onto out of obligation or didn’t fit quite right. I was taken aback at how clear (not easy, but clear) the answer was each time. I rarely struggled, I rarely had to think twice. In my gut, I knew exactly which items sparked joy and therefor would stay and which ones were taking up time, space, and choices. By asking if an item sparks joy and answering honestly, I was able to strip away a lot of the excuses for keeping items I truly don’t need or want <– and my hunch is it’s that exact reason why Kondo’s process is so different than any other.
In a very short matter of time, I had two large garbage bags full of clothes, shoes and bags to head off to the donation center. After decluttering sessions in the past, I always had a few things I kept out of guilt, obligation or sentimentality. This time, I don’t. I can honestly say everything that remains are items I truly, really love. Life changing.
The Beauty of Simple Storage
Kondo makes some other big claims in the book. Many I won’t go into now, but I did want to bring up one more. She suggests that once you really declutter a category (like clothes), you will be able to put things away, in the space you have, without any additional storage units or fancy storage systems. #gasp! Clearly she hasn’t met me! I thrive on maximizing space in a given area and basketing-labeling-stacking-and-corralling every inch until everything fits. Since that’s my instinct and go-to-method, before I started putting all the clothing keepers back into my closet, I went out to the garage and found every bin and basket I might need. Just this morning though, I put every single one of those bins and baskets back in into the garage because I didn’t need them after all. All of my items fit back into the space I had…with room to spare.
I now have one entire hanging rod and 6 shelves completely empty. Everything has a well-fitting and logical spot (using her folding method of course…the one I rolled my eyes at). Everything is easy to put away and is nice to look at. There are no fancy baskets, no complicated systems. Nothing fussy…and nothing, if I’m being honest, particularly blog worthy (sorry for the bad photos by the way, our closet is a dungeon!)! But it’s neat and tidy and oh-so-easy to maintain. In the week since I’ve done this, I find that I am no longer taking things off and leaving them piled on the floor or on the bench at the foot of our bed. I know exactly where each item goes. I know it will fit without pushing/pulling/tugging/straining/undoing some complicated system…and so I go and put it away. Life changing.
Life Changing? Quite Possibly.
This isn’t the post I envisioned writing after I first finished reading Marie Kondo’s book. In fact, I already had a rough draft in my head all about why I didn’t understand the frenzy, how ridiculous her methods are, and how I just didn’t get any bit of it. But I really am on a true and slow “Quest to Less” and the organizing junkie in me couldn’t help but try it. And so I did. I’ve only KonMari’d my clothes and my books; the next category on the list is paperwork. But…I can confidently (if not reluctantly!) say: I get it. Already…the decluttering feels different. Already…the changes feel real and true and maintainable. I don’t want to say it or believe it, but the book’s title might really be true. This method, this book…might really be life-changing. Time will tell I guess.
This post wasn’t the one I had “queued up” for today, but I really couldn’t help chatting about this here and now. At this point, I do plan to keep going through our things using Marie Kondo’s method; I’ll keep you updated on how it’s going and what I’m learning along the way. After all, clothes and books were easy for me. Once I get to home items and fabric, I might find that “joy” question much harder to answer! At the end of this year, I plan to share with you the variety of books I’ve read on our “Quest for Less,” as I’ve had a lot of eye- and heart-opening realizations already (via this book and others!). For now, though, I’d love to hear – have you read this book? Did you like it? Have you tried it? Were you skeptical? Did you roll your eyes too? I want to hear it all, so share away in the comments!
27 Comments on “Does It Spark Joy? My 1st KonMari Experience”
While I adore the book and the method, there are some things in the book that I JUST. CAN’T. GET. BEHIND. There is nothing that will compel me to thank my purse every night for doing its job during the day! 😀
Right?!?! I’m right there with you! I tried to thank my clothes as I put them into the trash bag to head off to the donation center and just couldn’t do it 😉
I can’t do that either BUT I also thought saying goodbye aloud to things you are discarding was silly, until I did it. It really helped me let go. Goodbye, Things! (which is the name of another book from another Japanese author, lol)
How do you decide which of your socks spark joy? I have read a lot about KonMari, without having read the actual book yet. And while I get that her question is at the same time more simple and more brutal than most other decluttering systems, there are many things in my household I have to keep regardless of the level of joy I feel about them.
I know. I felt the exact same way when I was reading the book….and was one of the many reasons I was/am so skeptical (especially moving forward to things like scissors, kitchen gadgets, etc).
But here’s what I found so interesting…sure…socks don’t necessarily spark “joy.” But as I was going through my socks, there were absolutely ones that “sparked” something more than others. Joy may not be the right word…but I’m trying to focus more on the spark…do I feel something in perticular about these socks? I am certainly no KonMari expert and I do think there needs to be some practicality applied…but even when I think about my scissors drawer in my craft room, I have ones I LOOVE to use and ones I never do and I can only imagine I will feel that “joy” when I go through them too.
Just food for thought but I am definitely right there with you!
I can definitely see it for things that aren’t strictly chosen for practical reasons (thoughI’d rather keep a non-joy sparking pair of socks or two rather than having to do laundry more often 🙂 ) Currently, I try to identify a few things every week that I really don’t care about that much. Once you start being more critical about your possessions, it is amazing how much you discover you own that you don’t particularly like or use. My apartment building has a donations shelf in the laundry room and it thrills me every time when I discover that my discarded possessions are picked up by neighbours in a matter of hours. They might not bring me joy, but they can still make somebody happy.
I am going to strategically place photos of me around the house with joyful words all around them. -Greg #youcanneverbetoocareful #tryingnottogettossed
You have a very funny husband. Lol
Your hubby is a funny and supportive… He’s a keeper! Thank you, Greg, for your service to our country!
Well, the whole decluttering process can be quite addictive. But I’d dare to say you should be safe.
Oh Greg … you just made me miss my DH so much. He would have done the same thing…. I see your support of Megan in every post she makes.
I went into her book with a TON of skepticism, and I rolled my eyes at a lot of it. But parts of it really did surprise me in how effective they are. I didn’t do our whole house, but I did a lot of my own things; and the guilt that was released because she was “giving me permission” to let items go really was amazing. Perhaps that is just me. But the other thing that surprised me was how much I had invested myself in the clothing my kids were wearing. Once I went to them with the mindset of, never mind me, are these sparking joy for THEM, it was a revelation. Suddenly they have drawers and closets containing nothing but clothing they will actually, happily, wear. AMAZING. And because there is room, they also put them away – relatively neatly!
I was sceptical when I started decluttering my house using the Kon Marie method. Nine months later I am so happy I did it. Now I am very careful what I bring into the house and since everything has its home it is so easy to keep the house clean and organized. I was surprised at how easy was for my kids ( 8 and 10 years old) to make decisions about what spark joy (their clothes, toys and books). Even my husband did his belongings. The most difficult part for me was the stationary.
Some friends and I affectionately refer to this publication as “the sock book”:-) but it really changed my thinking about a lot of my stuff. Pulling all like items together (books) was tremendous because I never realized I had them stuffed everywhere. That was a huge lesson for me. Second, was the “permission” to get rid of stuff that was “good” but didn’t spark joy. I had a lot of guilt saving going on, keeping things because I felt I had to. There’s a quote about not holding on to a mistake, just because it took you a long time to make it- and that, with the sock book permission, let me toss the unfinished craft projects or things I changed my mind about… Finally, with the closet purge, it totally worked for me and now I’m on the capsule wardrobe band wagon. Choosing a few quality pieces that I love and that work with everything else I have has been not only sock book friendly, but also liberating. It takes me no time to get ready and I love everything I have. And it all fits in my closet!
I’ve been stubbornly resistant to reading this book too! It sounds a little too “wacky” maybe?! But now I’m going to put it on hold at the library because I’m curious!
Thanks so much for this post! From everything I had heard about the book I also thought it was SO not my type… but if you- the most normal, neat, approachable blogger on the planet- approve it I’m gonna read it! I’ll let you know!
LOL @ Greg! 😀
I am looking forward to your thoughts as your go throughout the rest of your home. I’ve not read the book, but I have heard it of it, and I confess to the same skepticism you’ve expressed here. Will my paper towels and tin foil spark joy? I mean, how far does this go, exactly, without bordering on the ridiculous?
I do love your perspective on things! 🙂 <3
I adore this book! For me, it literally was life-changing. I’m a pack-rat, and I spent years with the “What if I need it later?” mentality. I was practically drowning in things, as I also had major guilt over keeping things that were gifts, or were family items, or were expensive. Transitioning to only things that spark joy meant that my home is just as functional, but significantly more relaxing. For the first time in well over a decade I am completely unpacked and have no additional storage anywhere but in my home.
Also, for the people who wonder how socks and plungers and laundry detergent spark joy: the book specifically covers items that don’t thrill you. Rather than the thing itself sparking joy, the way a flattering favorite sun dress might, the joy comes from the item being exactly what you need for a particular life task. Does the beauty of my plunger spark joy? No. But having a plunger that is ready to do the correct task at a moment’s notice DOES. Same with everyday socks: it’s not their beauty, but their functionality–these socks are comfortable, in good repair, and in the style I prefer; they make me feel good while I wear them and are easy to clean–that’s my sock joy.
I will, however, in no way clean out my purse every night. I have better things to do with my life. 😉 To be fair, you get the impression that she matches her purses to her daily wardrobe, so for Marie Kondo, having a “purse loading zone” makes sense: all her daily needed objects are right there where she can pack that day’s purse and not leave out anything important. I change my purse seasonally, though, so instead once a week I clean out my purse, dust the inside, remove and file any lingering receipts (although I try to do that daily), and then repack it.
I also recommend reading her second book: Spark Joy. It’s a bit more of a how-to manual that covers the implementation of her methods in more visual detail, AND she admits that there have been people who have relapsed! So it definitely has a more “chill” vibe, for those who found the original book a bit…harsh. 🙂
Yes, I read that Kondo book on decluttering. I did it all over my house especially in my kitchen. Got rid of a lot of glasses/ice cream dishes, etc. We have a great donation company here that takes almost anything and sells it somehow to give the money to military families that need help or something like that. It’s called Purple Heart. They even come to your house and pick up whatever you have to donate. Still need to declutter my worst area: paper clutter; mainly recipes. Have a difficult time with printing recipes that sound good and then don’t know a good way to store them. Have several large binders already full but lots more printed recipes. YIKES. Need suggestions for that! Anything would help.
Pinterest. That’s where I keep all my recipes 🙂
I read this book and the “Swedish Death Cleaning” book around the same time. All the comments you initially had about the KonMari book are what I still have to say about the Swedish one – unorganized and a complete waste of my time to read. I am certified in Feng Shui, and the premises in KonMari are directly related to feng shui principles. Clutter causes energy to get stuck and causes you to waste mental energy every time you look at it and say, “I should really clean that up.” KonMari provides an easy to follow, guiltless way to get rid of the stuff cluttering your life. I just KonMaried my kitchen (was not the plan, but an ant invasion made it necessary). Pulled everything out of my cabinets to spray for the ants, then went through each item, asking if it sparked joy, before putting it back. I feel so accomplished and feel no guilt about getting rid of gifts, because I did reflect on the giver and the joy that person brings me. I wish every elderly person would go through this exercise, before leaving all their stuff for their kids to go through after they die!
Yes – my family and I had quite the task of cleaning out my childhood home when my mother passed. I am determined to keep our clutter at bay as a result!
Sounds like your kitchen is in great shape! Good for you!
I guess, I too, will reluctantly read this book. It had so much hype that I plain ignored it.
I tried this method when the Netflix show first came out and read both her books after. I believe it truly is life changing if you follow through to the end. Miscellaneous was super hard for me to do and I believe you have to have a home for everything like she stresses towards the end of the book. I just was not able to go through all my miscellaneous ( and husband and 3 kids 7 and under misc. stuff) and find them a home. It’s also crucial to shop the way she suggests by only bringing in things that spark joy. That was also super tough for me to remember as well.
I read the book and started on some of the things. I love her folding method for my socks!!! will never go back to the old way.
Also liked the folding method for some of my tops, but after awhile, I think it puts more wrinkles in the cloths than my previous method. Maybe I have Sparked Too Much Joy and kept too many clothes.
I like how she has you take everything out of the closet or drawers. It does give a person a better way to inventory what you REALLY have and allows you to compare and choose which items you plan to keep.
PS From NIkki to the group. I can’t let go of lots of my Clutter nor stay away from Hobby Lobby. The act of Shopping Sparks Joy in me. I LOVE seeing all the beautiful flowers and decor I buy even when I don’t have a place to keep it. I tend to change my Decor with the seasons. Think I am a drop out for most part.
Loved the book but I procrastinate.