Have you spent the first few weeks of the year asking if your possessions spark joy? Have you been refolding all your clothes, and organising all of your drawers? Since watching Marie Kondo, Tidying on Netflix, I’ve been spending my January doing just that. I first discovered Marie a few years ago, when I read her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying and was first introduced to the KonMari method. I had mixed views about it; I loved the principle of only keeping items which you truly loved, but struggled with some of her other views on things like not relegating old t-shirts to wear as nightwear! Reading her book did give me an urge to tidy, and that I did, however I never really committed to it.
In the first week of January, through the power of Instagram I discovered that Marie now had her own Netflix show. I was intrigued, and within about twenty minutes of the first episode I was hooked. It might be the fact that it’s more visual, you can see the difference rather than imagining it, or it could be that seeing her do it in other people’s homes made it seem more achievable. Either way, it’s inspired us (yep, I managed to rope in Mr Makes) to have a huge clear out.
We're probably about 80% of the way there, and I’ve actually found the whole thing really enjoyable. The process of clearing out has brought some calm into those first hectic weeks of the year, and helped me feel like I’m a little more in control. I’ve received so many comments on social media about it, some of you are just as into it as I am, others are not yet convinced. So, I thought it might be handy to share some of the lessons I’ve learnt along the way, and some tips for anyone wanting to give it a go.
Follow the method, but make it work for you
I think this is perhaps the most important lesson. Although Marie gives advice for tidying with children, the reality is that H is still of an age where she wants to be entertained and with us all of the time. Carving out an entire afternoon to gather up all my clothes and go through them all is just unrealistic. We got around this by working in sub-categories, one evening we sorted out our sock drawers, the next we tackled t-shirts. It worked for us, and we’ve still managed to clear out loads.
It’s not necessarily about chucking out as much as you can
This is my biggest takeaway from the TV show. When I read the book, it felt like there were some quite strict rules about what you should keep. When I watched the TV show, I realised that it really is about keeping what brings you joy. If you have a huge collection of something, that’s ok, as long as each item is something you truly love. As a result, whilst clearing out there genuinely hasn’t been anything that has been hard to get rid of.
You have to be realistic
Despite the process not being about chucking out as much as you can, if you want to do it properly then you have to get tough. I hoard craft materials. I keep a lot of things ‘just in case’. I realised that there were items that I hadn’t used since we moved into this house (a whole three years ago), and that I probably wasn’t going to use again. That meant getting rid of a huge pile of fabric offcuts, some printing ink, and a whole box of buttons. Similarly, we’ve ended up getting rid of a load of DVDs because we never watch them anymore.
You’ll have to keep some stuff that you don’t necessarily perceive as bringing you joy
This has always been one of the biggest questions I’ve had, what about items that you just need, even if you don’t actually like them? For example, my medication does not spark joy. A bottle of bleach does not spark joy. A screwdriver does not spark joy. It was Marie’s second book, Spark Joy, that actually finally answered this for me. Joy doesn’t have to mean one thing, and so in the case of the above, items which keep you well, which help keep your house clean, or which make life easier, can be kept as they have a role in your life!
It can be highly addictive!
A word of warning, once you get that spark of inspiration, you will want to clear out everything. Do not read the book just before bed, don’t sit down and watch the show at the end of a busy day, as the urge to tidy can become too much!
Where do I start?
If I’ve managed to convince you to give it a go, where do you begin? I’d recommend the Netflix show as a good way to get a feel for the method, and the results it brings. If you want to take it one step further, I have both of Marie’s books, although I’m finding that ‘Spark Joy’, her second publication, is actually more useful in terms of getting on with the process.
I’ve still got some way to go with clearing out (namely getting rid of the huge ‘to sell’ pile that now occupies my studio), but I’ll posting updates on Instagram as I go. In the meantime though, I’d love to know if you’ve also been clearing out, let me know in the comments below.