Declutter: How I’m Making Konmari Work for Me

Every spring I get the urge to purge. I’m not sure if it’s the spring cleaning bug or simply the fact that during the school year we kind of neglect our house. Since my husband and I both teach, we tend to put off big projects until summer break, so by the time late spring rolls around we have built quite a to do list.

This summer, one major task is to declutter. About a year ago I started really simplifying my wardrobe and have since purged close to 70% of my wardrobe. I’m totally hooked. It is so easy to keep my closet neat and organized when it isn’t cluttered. Now, I’m ready to tackle the rest of the house.

I have ready Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (twice) and there are two big ideas that have stuck with me.

The first is to handle each and every item and ask “does this bring me joy?”. I admit that when I first read this it seemed a little much, if you know what I mean. However, now that I’ve done a number of purging rounds with my closet, I think I get it. To me, this means to follow your initial instinct for each and every item – don’t let your head talk you into keeping an item. I can’t tell you how many times I start a declutter session strong and then the further I get into the project I start talking myself into keeping things or even pulling them out of the donate pile because they cost a lot, or because I might need them someday, or because of some long past memory. I let my head get in the way of my initial instinct.

I have found that it is much easier to purge once I have emptied out a drawer, cabinet, or closet it and cleaned it. This method forces me to handle each item as I choose what to keep. I am much more selective about the items I put back into a clean space than I am when I grab items to get rid of out of a full drawer. For example, if I leave all of my clothes in the closet I tend to grab a few I don’t like and call it a day. If I have to refold or rehang an item to put back into an empty space, I am a lot more “picky”. To me, asking if an item brings you joy means I should go with my gut. Do I love or need this item? This removes my head from the process which means I’m not as likely to talk myself into keeping something I don’t’ really need.

The second is to tackle the decluttering all at once. Now, this is probably never going to happen as long as any of my four kids are home. To go through our entire home would take a few solid days of uninterrupted work. And to be honest, if I’m going to have someone watching the kids for a few days I’m going on a mini vacay with my husband, not decluttering 🙂 I understand the value in this because once you see how much you really have it makes it easier to purge excess items, but it’s not my reality at this point.

So, I’ve decided to focus on tackling one area of our home per day. This will break the overwhelming task into smaller pieces that I can fit in during naptime, an early morning wakeup, or while the kids are busy with my husband. Somedays I may get a few areas decluttered and others I may not get to any at all, but this way it’s a manageable and practical project.

how to make konmari work for you

I got a good old-fashioned paper and pencil and started listing areas of our house I can declutter at once – pantry, bathroom cabinets, kids’ books, junk drawer, etc. Originally I was going to create a “schedule” but I decided an open-ended checklist was easier to work with. I can choose which area of our home to declutter and tidy based on the day’s schedule, kids’ moods, and my motivation. Plus, I’ll get that satisfaction of crossing items off the list!

Over the next month I will tidy each of these areas in no particular order, but based on what works best each day.

When I say tidy I really mean a major declutter. I wouldn’t say I’m ready to go minimalist, but my experience with a capsule wardrobe has opened my eyes to the idea that less is more. I’ve also realized how much of my stress comes from feeling overwhelmed by the stuff we’ve accumulated during our 10 year (and 4 kids) in this house.

Throughout the process I will share weekly updates here to keep myself on track and let you all know how it’s going, so stay tuned…

I would love some company – is anyone else working on decluttering and simplifying this summer?

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10 Comments

    1. My husband and I are moving into our first house this summer and we are looking forward to purging the majority of our stuff. We’re collectors so we won’t go minimalist but we are definitely going to get rid of the excess. Good luck on your journey!

      1. Sarah,
        Before we moved here (10 years ago) I had moved almost once a year, so it was a great way to keep my things under control. We have quite a bit of space in the suburbs, so we’ve accumulated so much! I can’t wait to pare it down. Good luck with your move!
        xo,
        Paige

    1. Spring/summer is a great time to work on these projects! We’ve lived in our home for 12 years and now have 4 kids. We try to keep on top of clutter, but as you know, it just adds up! We are considering a move in the near future so we have been working on major decluttering and cleaning. I’m really enjoying the simplified home that is coming together here. Now if I can just keep it that way ; )

      1. Meg, I dropped off a carload at the local donation center already after just 2 days! It’s so easy with 6 people to accumulate quickly. I hope after a big purge to be better about staying on top of it. I think it will be a huge weight of my mental load to declutter our space. How old are your kids?

    1. I love that you made a list of the areas to tackle! There’s something so satisfying about seeing it all down on paper. I agree, I think one big declutter is unrealistic, and sounds like a great recipe for burnout. I too tackled my home a little bit at a time. (Also… I wrote about some tips for keeping decluttering eco-friendly, here if you’d like! litterless.co/journal/declutter). Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

      1. Thank you! I will check out your post. I think if I lived just me a huge declutter may bring a lot of satisfaction (and it would be possible time-wise). Focusing on small areas has really helped and I’ve adopted some of Marie Kondo’s ideas to help. So far, so good!!

    1. We are moving from a 1700 square feet house into a 600 square feet apartment, having recently moved from a 3700 square feet house to the current house, so decluttering and reducing drastically is weighing on my mind currently. my mother suggests moving everything and THEN reducing when i see what i use nd what feels like too much stuff in the new tiny place. What do you think?

      Wendy

      1. Wendy,
        Wow, talk about huge motivation (and need) to purge and declutter! I think I would do as much as I could before the move just to make it easier on yourself and not start off in the new place already overstuffed and cluttered. Is it possible to pack in 2 categories – the “absolute must-haves” and the “if it fits”? So you have your essentials when you first move and then once you see how things fit into your new space you can add extra items if it’s possible?

        I have to admit – I’m a little jealous! It would be such a great experience to be forced to minimize my belongings and get a fresh start. How many of you will be sharing the space?

        xo,
        Paige

    1. Great idea re the two categories of packed boxes! Thanks!

      Just the two of us, or it would surely be impossible!

      1. Keep me posted! I’d love to hear how the move goes and how living in such a small space with fewer possessions works out.

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