Like many folks in the U.S. last year, I quickly jumped on the The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up bandwagon. I found myself watching YouTuber after YouTuber talking about how they’d reorganized their life after reading the book.
I’ve always had a bit of split personality on these matters.
On one hand, as a child, I was so messy that you often couldn’t find the floor (I once read and agreed with a quote from Shia Labeouf stating that the floor is the single largest shelf in a home). On the other hand, when my mom came into my room, put all of my clothes in a pile and told me that whatever was on the floor when she came back would be donated I suddenly created a space fit for HGTV. I was always very good at cleaning. And I love a good purge. It’s my favorite means of catharsis.
I’m a messy creative — always have been. I can’t stay orderly. I know where my ‘ish is and that’s what matters.
Unfortunately, as a highly sensitive person, messy spaces stress me out. A simple, beautiful space sets me at ease.
So I thought that maybe the KonMari method might be something that could help me once and for all.
But I wasn’t quite satisfied that I had cleared out enough of the clutter.
Trying to Clear the Clutter
In my estimation, the KonMari method isn’t about getting down to some magical minimum number of things or even minimalism at all. It’s about something that minimalism should be trying to get at: clearing away the things that don’t matter so that what’s left are those things that lead you toward a life filled with what you truly desire.
So far, I have only gone full KonMari on my clothes and books.
Marie Kondo challenges you to start with clothes as they are the least likely to be charged with sentiment while you learn to follow the process of listening for those things that “spark joy” and letting go of those things that don’t.
Asking whether something sparks joy is about more than simply asking “does this chemistry textbook spark joy for me right now.” For most people the answer will likely be no. But there must be a good reason to have bought the textbook in the first place. You’ve got to think a little bigger picture. If pursuing a medical degree sparks joy for you, then you keep the tools that are necessary to get you there — like the chemistry text.
KonMari My Clothes
Here are the steps I followed to KonMari my wardrobe and books:
- Pull everything out of the closet/drawers onto the floor
- Touch each item, one at a time
- Ask myself whether it sparks joy
- If it does, keep; if it doesn’t donate
- For items that don’t, thank them for their service and let them go
Marie Kondo stresses the importance of pulling everything out and laying hands on each item.
Until everything is laid out in front of us we often don’t even realize how much we have. Pulling it all really helps to emphasize how fortunate we are.
The other is that touching each item helps us to access that emotional part of us that will immediately answer the question: does this spark joy?
KonMari My Life?
For me the real work will be applying KonMari to my papers. I’ve had this book for about a year and still haven’t followed through. Honestly, it feels like such a daunting task that I can continue to ignore so long as I throw the pile of documents in a corner in a closet. Marie Kondo would be so disappointed lol.
I’m a writer and a lawyer. Hoarding pieces of paper is so strongly drilled into me that I don’t think I would even know who I was without the paper clutter.
But there is some paper that sparks joy and a lot of other paper that just brings stress. So even this writer could stand to let go of quite a few pages.
As stated repeatedly on this blog, the most important survival tactic for this HSP is to minimize stimuli. Stacks of forgotten papers are stimuli and stressful at that. So finally tackling them will really be quite rewarding in and of itself.
Maybe I’ll obtain a scanner someday soon and finally, put these paper files out of their misery.