In this post, I’m going to share my thoughts on the KonMari method of tidying, my experience of following it, and how I hope it can help my mental health
For months – maybe even a year – my “wardrobe” has consisted mainly of a huge pile on my chair (c’mon, I know I’m not the only one who has The Chair…), since my actual wardrobe literally couldn’t take it anymore and the rail collapsed. My dad fixed it with some No More Nails or something, which bought me a few more months, until it gave up for good. So, I wore whatever was in reach at the top of the pile, washed them, and back to the top of the pile they went. Repeat ad infinitum. I had clothes in bags unworn and gathering dust because I had nowhere to put them.
Between various things happening in the family, and my own mental health trouble, it was a while before we finally got around to Ikea to get a replacement. I also had to take the old wardrobe apart before anything new could go in, which meant sorting through the collapsed heap of clothes inside.
Getting started was hard, not gonna lie. A huge mountain of clothes looming over you isn’t what you want when most days, you’re lucky if you change out of your pj’s. But, perfectly timed, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo was added to Netflix. I watched it in bed, feeling miserable, in the vain hope it might motivate me to get on with it, but it actually did!
Marie has published a bestseller on her method, plus an illustrated guide, however I think I first came across KonMari on Pinterest while looking for packing tips, and I used it to sort my t-shirts in my smaller set of drawers. I liked how neat it looked, and it made it much easier to see what was actually on each tee, so I was picturing the same thing for the rest of my clothes. I also hate hangers – the way they tangle up, the way things fall off them constantly – so I settled on drawers rather than another wardrobe.
Though I was already kinda familiar with the method, I followed it in more detail this time. You go through your things in order, starting with clothes (followed by books, paperwork, miscellaneous, and sentimental – see below for my checklist that you can print!) KonMari uses a particular way of folding so that your clothes stand upright, as opposed to being in stacks, so you can see everything – I found this guide really helpful. You’ll probably find that some things just didn’t want to be folded that way, things like jumpers and some denim. I just folded those items as small as they’d let me and learned to live with it.
As you sort through your items, you choose to keep only things that ‘spark joy’. It’s an odd expression, and probably means something a little different to everyone. I think I have quite a visual brain, and when I plan an outfit or buy something, I often have some (sometimes kinda unrealistic) image in mind of where and how I’d like to wear it – on a night out, to work, sightseeing in another country…So for me, if I couldn’t picture myself wearing something, it was time for it to go.
For each item you part with, you thank it for the time you’ve had with it. I’m a bit of a hoarder and have a hard time getting rid of stuff, so that part really appealed to me. I’ve held onto things for far too long because I felt mean toward the thing itself (daft I know), or, more realistically, toward the person who gave it to me. Others I’ve kept because it reminded me of a certain time.
If you follow KonMari to the letter, sentimental items come last, but sometimes clothes fall into that category. It was kind of a turning point for me when I came across the dress I’d worn to my grandad’s funeral, and I realised I was holding onto it for the wrong reasons. The dress didn’t spark joy; it made me sad. It didn’t remind me of my grandad, only the day he passed away. I realised that by giving it away, I wasn’t forgetting about him. It didn’t mean I didn’t care about him anymore. In fact, it allowed me to remember him as he was, instead of remembering the loss.
I said all this to the dress, out loud, which sounds mad, but it helped me process my thoughts. This applied to positive memories, too. If it’s a good memory that still means a lot to you, hold onto it. But, you can give something away without forgetting the memories it holds. If it’s bad memory, then letting it go can actually be a huge relief. Good or bad, you’re accepting that that part of your life is behind you; it still happened, still shaped you, but it’s time to move on.
Doing KonMari was quite therapeutic for me, in several ways. My clutter is a catch 22; being surrounded by it stresses me out, but the thought of tackling it is overwhelming. But once you get stuck in, and the mess gets smaller and smaller, you can see the progress you’ve made, and it spurs you on to continue. It’s nice to feel productive, and it’s a good distraction.
The fact that you tidy by category makes the task feel more managable than a whole room of stuff. Clothing is just the beginning, I still have boxes and draws of detritus to sift through, but I’m motivated to get through it all. I’m taking it fairly slow, so that I don’t get bogged down.
I also have a lot of rubbish to let go of emotionally, and – without wanting to turn this into a corny metaphor – I think doing all this could help. It’s helped me practice reasoning through my thoughts by acknowledging and questioning the feelings that arose, and letting go of what no longer served me.
And obviously, having my clothes organised will make my life easier! I vowed to let go of anything that I didn’t feel confident in – I’ve been wearing the same baggy tops for ages which make feel frumpy, but they were safe. They were plain, minimum effort, no chance of drawing attention. But life is too short for safe, too short not to wear clothes I feel good in, every day, not just on special occasions. Getting rid of them, and now having plenty of other options easily at hand, will hopefully push me to stray out of my baggy slouchy comfort zone, and to dress like the much cooler version of myself that I picture in my mind.
Have you tried the KonMari method? Would you give it a go? Let me know in the comments!
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