KonMari-ing Everything: Reflections While Tidying Up
Many of us love the idea of living a more simplified life, a life with less.
Less stuff: piles, photos, emails, annoying people, and busyness altogether. Some of us actually do it. If it sounds like I’m bragging, I am. I have made the decision to scale down and simplify, and it is paying off in big ways.
I am in no way suggesting that this is the right path for everyone, but I am saying that the burden of “too much” is real, and there is a way out.
It’s important to consider why.
If you are going to KonMari your stuff because it’s the trendy thing to do, take a breath, and think for a second – there’s absolutely no need to change anything if it’s not interfering with your life and you feel fine the way things are. But if you’re like me and are intrigued with scaling down and simplifying, then, by all means, you should take some small steps to get going.
Do you have a bit of angst about the idea of letting go? It’s worth flipping the thought around. Instead, you are choosing to attend more to what truly enhances your life, and I can guarantee that you will enhance the lives of those around you at the same time.
I practice what I preach.
After a divorce, I was moving from a 2500 square foot home, where my husband and I raised a family. The home was in the Philadelphia suburbs and included all the usual stuff – garage, basement, closets, nooks, crannies, etc. Those years don’t necessarily jive with the KonMari mentality, mostly because you are trying to keep your children alive and your head above water. But even then, being intentional about buying, consuming, and collecting can be a positive thing that doesn’t take too much out of you.
Fast forward to my current 600 square foot one-bedroom apartment. Obviously, I still have stuff, but it’s a whole different ballgame. Two small closets, maybe five kitchen cabinets, some under bed storage, and a small-ish living room cabinet.
Here’s the thing – I absolutely love everything about my apartment! Following KonMari, I only have things that bring me joy. I know how cliché that sounds, but it’s really stinkin’ true. When I add anything to my space, I make sure that I truly need it and love it. And when you feel the need to buy something new, choose something that will last rather than something cute that won’t stay the tests of time.
In order to prevent more stuff from creeping in, pretend that you offer your space through Airbnb. I frequently rent my space through Airbnb, and it holds me accountable. Fewer things mean less crap to put away before a guest comes. When you’re in an Airbnb, you’d much rather feel calm and relaxed – like a refuge – than stressed about walking into someone else’s dirty dishes and personal tchotchkes all over the place.
This does not mean I am endorsing divorce and tiny urban apartments (although it has definitely worked for me). Just remember that where you spend your non-work hours should be a place of joy and refuge. If there are places in your home that are cluttered and you avoid because they give you anxiety, do a drawer or corner at a time. All you have to do is look at the item, and decide if it serves a real purpose and “brings you joy” or if you have it because you have it.
Do you need three colanders, nine spatulas, and a KitchenAid mixer that hasn’t seen the light of day?
When it comes to items with nostalgic value, it can be very tricky; there’s probably an entire psychology textbook about it. This is probably the most challenging part of KonMari-ing, but there are ways to deal with these items.
As far as hanging on to these things, I have to call out the myth of saving for your children. Seriously, do you think your children are going to enjoy the box of Pete Rose memorabilia or the tiny envelope with hair from your first haircut? I can tell you the answer is a big fat no! Trust me; when your children move you into the retirement village, they’re not going to be taking much time at all on your nostalgic items. And you know why – because they are yours, not theirs.
Give your children a break, and do the work now so they don’t have to. I’m not suggesting you toss it all; in fact, a box of photos and items would be lovely. Just be mindful of what you put aside for your children and their children.
And, once you have KonMari-ed your stuff, think about this when you consider a new purchase. Take a breath, consider whether you need it, consider whether you love it, and then move forward accordingly.
This is especially true with the little “goodies” in your favorite department store’s checkout line. You do not need the adorable raccoon dish towels because you already have perfectly good ones at home. The companies that make this stuff are trying to get you to buy on impulse, so don’t make it so easy for them.
And that goes for the thousands of books on simplifying! It’s not rocket science – maybe watch a video or two if you need some tips, and then take it in small steps.
For me, making this change that started with “stuff” has led to making other changes in my life, and I’ve never been happier.