Who remembers the ‘Tidying Up with Marie Kondo’ hype on Netflix? The late 2018/early 2019 period was all about how to declutter and ‘spark joy’. Alongside the millions of viewers, we agree the KonMari Method ® is a great way to keep track of your items and practice mindfulness. In the last six months, tidying took off during COVID-19 and home organisers in China continue to ‘spark joy’ as they teach people to declutter.
So maybe you indulge in an indoor plant hobby that is quickly getting out of hand. Or perhaps you’re a millennial who has recently moved into a new rental home and have little floor space. Whatever your housing situation is, the KonMari Method ® could come in handy to improve your home organisation skills.
To many, the new year is for new beginnings. And what better way to start 2022 on a fresh note than to get rid of things that no longer ‘spark joy’? With Chinese New Year 2022 just four weeks away, this is a good time as any to start decluttering.
To those who hope to get their home a little more organised, we got in touch with Esther Tan, 28, a certified Konmari ® Consultant in Singapore, who goes by Your Tidy Half, for some home organisation pro tips on how to declutter.
What Is the KonMari Method ®?
Before we begin, it’s essential to understand what the KonMari Method ® is. The KonMari Method ® encourages tidying by category. The tidying journey moves along in this order: clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous objects (referred to as ‘komono’) and finally, sentimental mementoes.
Every item will go through a “joy-check” process. You’re to only keep things that “speak to the heart” and throw away items that “no longer ‘spark joy’.”
As Marie Kondo says, “Tidying is the act of confronting yourself; cleaning is the act of confronting nature.” We know chucking stuff can be an uncomfortable act, but it’s all for a better living space. So, let’s begin our journey on how to declutter!
1. How Do I Start to Declutter?
Make a Mood Board to Ensure You Surround Yourself with Items You Love
You’d think we would dive headfirst into tidying and discarding old items. But Esther’s first tip for us is to take a step back and look around your home. Her advice is to “think about how the energy of the space will change if you only live with items you truly cherish.”
So ask yourself:
- Does this space support my lifestyle?
- What are some activities I enjoy or want to do in this space?
- What do I want my home to say about me?
After you’ve reflected on these questions, make a mood board with photos along with your answers.
“People often associate tidying with discarding large amounts of items, which makes tidying feel like a really daunting task. This is why most of us get stuck or are afraid to even start,” Esther shares.
By making the mood board, you’re setting the tone and being more mindful of the whole process. The board will serve as your North Star when you declutter, of what to keep or throw.
2. What Should I Declutter First?
Organise by Category Instead of Location
Organising by location often results in the same space being cluttered again as you don’t delve into the root of the problem: you don’t know what you want.
“Usually, tidying an overflowing drawer will create the impression that you need more drawers or storage solutions. This adds to clutter because you have not identified what ‘sparks joy’.”
Consequently, you may purchase more items in an attempt to fulfil this gap. To combat this issue, Esther recommends assessing items as a whole category as it allows you to see all your favourite things and the volume of your possessions in their entirety.
To start tidying, gather all the items in the same category into one pile and begin ‘joy-checking’ them. Begin with clothes, then books, papers, miscellaneous objects, and sentimental items. Pick out what to keep and then discard the rest with gratitude. At this stage, you can start sub-categorising your available items, if need be.
“It’s only after tidying, you can find the best home for items that you cherish,” Esther adds.
3. What You Should Not Do When Decluttering?
Tidy First Before Purchasing Storage
Having proper storage for your items can be a great way of organising your home. But Esther warns against viewing storage as the go-to solution to home organisation.
“Purchasing storage without a clear purpose of where or how it will be used is also creating clutter.”
‘Joy-checking’ items should take priority when you’re wondering on how to declutter. After you’ve tidied up, reuse freed up boxes, shelves, and storage spaces. This way, you can more accurately gauge what types of storage you need and how much built-in storage space you actually have.
It’s also preferable to repurpose what you already have before purchasing new items.
“Takeaway containers, shoe boxes and gift boxes make good drawer inserts! If you do want to purchase storage items, make measurements of the designated home.”
Extra tip: You can utilise storage items such as boxes, baskets or trays to organise items and keep items upright for visibility. If items get lost or are inaccessible in deep drawers or tall shelves, baskets can increase accessibility.
4. What Do I Do with All My Stuff?
Delegate a ‘Home’ for Every Item
Esther explains that if we have clutter around the house, it’s likely because our items do not have a ‘home’.
“Clutter has nothing to do with what or how much you own—it’s the failure to put things back where they belong.”
When items can be easily found and returned to a designated place, you can see everything you own in one spot. This increases the use of the item too. A common reason why most storeroom items remain unused is that many dread the process of taking items in and out.
For instance, if you sew and do craftwork regularly, you can create a dedicated corner for these activities. All related items to your hobby should remain accessible to you, instead of being stashed willy-nilly in the storeroom.
Having a ‘home’ for all items also eliminates the need to ask other household members where things are and improves the flow and use of your space.
“At this point, there will be no more clutter since you remember what you have, where to find and how to return them.”
5. Why Does It Feel Good to Get Rid of Stuff?
Give Away, Recycle or Donate Items That No Longer ‘Spark Joy’
So you’ve gone through the five categories and completed the tidying journey. What do you do with items that don’t ‘spark joy’? Discard, recycle or donate them.
“Some of these items may be gifts or freebies from friends and families which we do not like or have no use for. If you’re unsure about an item, try using it. But if you’re certain you won’t like it, it’s best to give/donate it. The joy in a gift is during the act of receiving it,” Esther says.
OLIO is one platform you can use to share food and non-food items for free. Alternatively, you can sell on Carousell or donate your clothes or furniture to charities in your efforts to declutter.
There’s a reason why the saying "Out with the old, in with the new" has a positive connotation to it. Getting rid of the old can be a therapeutic process. If you’ve missed clearing your space on 1 Jan, try again in Chinese New Year 2022. Doesn’t matter whether you celebrate or not, springcleaning can take place wherever, whenever, regardless of the occasion.
How to Declutter Your Home with the KonMari Method ®
Quickly, here is a five-step recap on home organisation tips using the KonMari Method ® and how to declutter your space.
Steps for Home Organisation Using the KonMari Method ®
What to Do
Make a mood board
Set the tone of how you want your living space to look like and what you need; declutter by retaining what you love only
Organise by category
Go through your possessions in this order: clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous objects, and sentimental items
Delegate a ‘home’ for every item
Assign a place for every item to reduce clutter and increase item usage
Tidy before purchasing storage
You can use storage to better organise your items but it’s more important to ‘joy check’ first; reuse existing containers before purchasing new ones
Giveaway, recycle or donate items you don’t need
Whatever that doesn’t ‘spark joy’, discard, donate or sell
Part of mindful living is to inhabit a space filled only with things you love. For those with many worldly possessions or who live in a tiny space, the KonMari Method ® can be a great way to declutter and organise.
Esther believes keeping only what makes you happy can change the energy of your home too.
“This is a new perspective compared to what most people have been doing—trying to discard as much as possible.”
“Living in a space that is filled with only things you love is truly empowering, both practically and mentally—definitely life-changing!”
Hopefully, you’ve gained many helpful tidying tips from Esther. If you haven’t cleaned out your home yet, maybe you can do so before Chinese New Year 2022. For those who don’t know where to start, you can book a consultation with home organisation professionals like Esther. Good luck on your home organisation journey!
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