When our homes are cluttered, our minds likely are too. It is difficult to observe surroundings full of mess and random objects strewn along the ground without sinking a little deeper in our mood and outlook. Therefore, the reverse is true as well; by creating a clean space around us devoid of clutter and mess, we intrinsically feel better and more relaxed, at least according to studies by Indiana University and Princeton University
With this being the case, why don’t we all do a lot more cleaning and organisation in our own homes? Well, we do. Anecdotally if you were to speak to all of your neighbours, especially families, you would likely hear that they often clean their house and organise their living spaces multiple times a week, although it never stays that way for long. Therefore maybe there is an issue here, maybe people are doing it in an ineffective way?
A solution to this then would be to read and observe the work of the Japanese lifestyle guru Marie Kondo (Konmari) who has taken the world by storm over the last few years as her books and TV show have made it to the West, with people from all over taking her advice and feeling better all around because of it.
The main ethos of her methods is simple: Does (thing) spark joy? If the answer is yes, then keep it and move on to the next thing, if not then throw it away without hesitation. By utilising Konmari’s methods, your home should be perfectly organised and no longer require constant cleaning as everything you own has a reason to be there and a place to stay.
Sounds simple, right? Well, it is and it isn’t; Konmarie has a system for what to organise first, which means clearing out your entire house to fit the categories, then the actual decision making can be quite hard (especially at first) as you go through all of your things collected throughout the years and throw much of it out. It is a long process, but one which, done correctly, should only be done once and then it makes life a lot easier after that.
I first heard of KonMarie and her methods a year and a half ago, and at the time I rented a four bedroom house with two friends meaning that a lot of cleaning had to be done to maintain the house to our strict standards. It was quite tiring making sure our home was always clean, tidy, and organised and as such when I found KonMarie’s methods I decided to follow them and then get my housemates to do the same.
It starts with clothes, you gather all of your clothes from around the house and sort them into three piles; keep, discard, unsure so leave until the end. When I did this I found I had a lot more clothes than I realised, buried within drawers and wardrobes. It took a long time to properly evaluate but the more clothes I handled, the quicker it became to know if they sparked any joy and in the end I had a lot less clothes than I had started with, but my drawers and wardrobe had so much more space and I never felt as though I wanted to wear any of the discarded clothes again.
Then it was onto books/ papers which was a nightmare for me as someone who trawls charity shops often to find cool books, and hoards them until the end of time. After getting over the shock that I was going to donate many of my treasures, I buckled down and put empty boxes next to my bed which was completely covered in tomes. I took a long time holding each book, thinking about them and eventually making each decision but by the end I had far fewer books, which meant I could put other things on my shelves and feel better looking at the books which held a lot more meaning for me.
Papers weren’t too bad to deal with as I just went through all the drawers and mainly threw away manuals for things we likely never needed a manual for, whilst only keeping insurance documents and sentimental writings from my school days which made me feel something. This will probably be the easiest category for most people as it can be hard to form an attachment for things that came with random products we bought, or old prescriptions etc… It was hugely satisfying to see that the kitchen drawers were clean for once and suddenly important documents weren’t difficult to find.
What KonMarie calls komono items (misc. items) was, for me, a bunch of plushies, toys, models, statues and random trinkets that didn’t hold much sentimental value but had been kept anyway. On this day there were a lot of Pokemon plushies and random teddies donated to the local charity shop. At first it felt a little weird not being surrounded by fluffy soulless teddies, but it became quite nice after a while to look around and not instantly be bombarded with information and colours.
The final category is the hardest to properly define and deal with as it is all about sentimental items. By definition these are the things you want to throw out least and as such, it takes a lot longer per item. For me, I had a bunch of letters/ notes, special clothes, presents etc… and it definitely took more effort than the rest of the categories to part with things from this category but by the end I had gotten rid of quite a lot that didn’t immediately spark joy or mean as much as they had before.
All of this made moving a lot easier and meant packing for university was simplified to the extreme by having the KonMarie mindset and less things to pack. I also noticed an increase in productivity and general happiness because I felt a deeper connection to my surroundings by only having things that held a kind of meaning. It also decreased the time spent actively cleaning a lot more as putting things away was easier, there was less to clean/ put away, and I was subconsciously organising things as I went about my day.
I have continued with this ethos since moving for university and my productivity has definitely been better than before, I’ve got a nice clean room which makes me feel happy to spend time in (which is needed during working from home/ studying from home) and has been such an important developmental step in my life. It has also helped to improve my mental health and I have noticed less bad mental health days simply due to feeling happier with what was around me.
Overall, I realise that KonMarie has her critics and detractors who call her methods extreme, obsessive, or simply ineffective. To me though, her methods are not quite the norm and definitely require a change in how you view your world, but they can also be supremely effective for making positive changes to your life and improving your general mood, surroundings, and outlook.
Feature image credit: Pexels photos