Theme of the Month: De-Cluttering the Marie Kondo Way

Theme of the Month: De-Cluttering

I’m sure by now you’ve heard of Marie Kondo and the tidying phenomenon that’s sweeping the world.

If not then let me enlighten you. Marie Kondo is a Japanese organising consultant and author. The KonMari method is a systematic method she created after years of studying the art of organising. Her tag line is ‘does it spark joy?’ and it’s this question that enables her clients to determine if they want to keep their stuff or throw it away.

I reviewed Marie’s best selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying on my author blog which you can read HERE. More recently, I’ve binge watched her Netflix show and became utterly hooked on her method.

De-cluttering is something I love to do. Clearing space in my home, moving the energy around, so the house feels better, helping our mind set to improve, and feeling the power of being organised can’t be faulted, but as with most of us, that clutter keeps reappearing.

I was so inspired by the show that I decided to abandon my carefully planned out blog schedule and dedicate February’s theme of the month to de-cluttering.

Always one to walk the walk I began to work through Marie’s system on my own house and clutter with surprising results! If you follow my Facebook page, then you’ll have seen the posts I shared of Day 1: Clothing and Day 2: Books. I was blown away by the comments and response to my posts as so many people debated trying the method for themselves, or shared their own experiences. Some people were terrified to start, but others were motivated to follow my lead and give it a go. I even received a few text messages and emails from people sharing photos of their neatly folded clothes and empty bookshelves.

The thing I love most about Marie Kondo and her #KonMari method is how she has embraced her Japanese culture and made it relatable to a Western audience. Being a huge fan of personal development and the cultures and customs of many faiths and countries, I was interested to read a Huffingtonpost article by writer, Margaret Dilloway who defends Marie Kondo and her system and explains the Shinto traditions where in the Japanese culture items are imbued with a sort of dignity.

Think about something in your house that you love above everything else. You’ll clean it with care, make sure it has pride of place, and probably smile when you look upon it. Why can’t all our belongings make us feel this way? Well, according to Marie Kondo, they can.

I can fully accept this way of thinking as the older I get, the more I value experiences over material possessions. The ‘stuff’ I have in my home needs to mean something to me on an emotional level and not just to fill a gap on a shelf.

With Marie’s method, she asks you to clear everything – your entire home – in one go. Yes, you read that correctly – IN ONE GO! However, she also divides the process into lessons.

Lesson 1: Clothing
Lesson 2: Books
Lesson 3: Papers
Lesson 4: Kimono (miscellaneous items)
Lesson 5: Sentimental

Marie has studied and explored the art of organising since she was a young girl and fully understands how clutter has a knack of returning. Her KonMari method is proven to prevent the rebound and keep you tidy and organised.

I was dubious when I first read that, but as I’ve actively become involved in clearing my clutter something has changed within me. More importantly, something incredible has happened to my entire household. I’ll be sharing more on this over the month so be sure to check back each week to follow my updates.

For now, I want to share the details of my first lesson.

Lesson 1: CLOTHING.

As per Marie’s instructions, I emptied every item of clothing I owned (including shoes and bags) from all my wardrobes, drawers, linen closet, behind doors, and laundry basket and piled them all on my bed.

Next, I picked up every piece one at a time to see if it ‘sparked joy’. You might think this is a bit hippy for you, I did initially, but when I picked up my favourite t-shirt, I did feel that warm fuzzy sensation in my chest. The kind you get when you stroke the cat, or hear your favourite song on the radio. It’s real, and we just need to recognise it. When I picked up items of clothing that didn’t make me feel joyful, I thanked them and then dropped them into the charity bag.

Thanking each item you donate or throw away is an essential part of the process, and as Margaret explains in her article about the Shinto culture, it’s a beautiful way of expressing your pleasure for the item that at one point in your life you loved enough to purchase and wear. I got rid of a denim jacket (size 8) that I’d had in my wardrobe for fifteen years. I LOVE that jacket. I used to wear it all the time, the denim was faded in just the right way, the fit was fantastic (when I was a size 8), and it definitely sparked joy. However, I’m four dress sizes bigger now, and no matter how much I love this item of clothing there was no valid reason to keep it. I had to donate it so someone else could experience the joy I once had – I sent it off with gratitude, and I felt so much better about it.

I’m not a fashion icon, so I was able to be incredibly ruthless with my pile of clothes. My daughter sauntered in to see what I was up to and was amazed that I managed to fill eight bags full of clothes for charity. “I didn’t know you had so many clothes,” she said. “You only ever wear the same five things!” What does that tell me! I didn’t need 80% of the clothes I kept because I never wore them.

Donating so many bags to Women’s Aid also felt pretty amazing as I was thankful for the space I’d cleared, grateful that I could support a charity that means a lot to me, and stunned at how calm I felt looking at my empty shelves and wardrobe.

On Marie’s Netflix show she also demonstrates how to fold your clothes in such a way that you can fit thirty tops into one drawer – game changer!

There was also a fabulous side-effect to my first lesson. I sat watching telly (totally exhausted after my first day of de-cluttering) and my daughter added four bin bags to my charity pile as she cleared her own clothes. She’d been so inspired that she watched Marie Kondo on Netflix too and set to sorting her own room out – game changer number 2 (no nagging necessary).

Lesson number one was complete, and I can’t begin to tell you how much better I feel. I can see at a glance what I have available to wear, and I know that I love everything in the wardrobe which makes getting dressed every day a breeze. I’m even going to invest in a sock divider for my underwear draw – who knew this could be so exciting!

Join me next week as I tackle lesson 2: BOOKS.


    1. Once I got started I found it quite easy to keep going. I see the light at the end of the tunnel now and I’m racing for it LOL

  1. I would really struggle with this! I am a hoarder! I need to declutter but I really can not do it, I get to attached to things.

    A few years back I donated some clothes to charity.. since then I have regretted it as they are clothes I now miss.

    however if I did declutter properly then I would fill a lot of charity bags

    1. I’ve always kept clothes that I loved even though they no longer fit me. Doing this method made me really think about my reasons behind keeping this stuff. Seeing clothes I loved but couldn’t wear because they were too small just made me feel sad so they had to go. It can be tough to part with things. I’m wondering how I’ll do when it comes to sorting through my sentimental stuff – especially photos!

  2. I haven’t watched its on netflix and we don’t have it.. However, as I volunteer in an opportunity shop we have seen what she is doing. A lot of op shops have stopped taking donations as they are being overloaded. Thank goodness the one I am at won’t say no…its all money for the church to donate back to the community. Some amazing clothes have been donated. I actually also cleaned out my wardrobe using her methods…

    1. I’ve heard this too. Lots of charity shops are receiving large donations since her show went live. I’m glad you are able to take this in and benefit from it for your church. On the flip side, if anyone needed to make some extra money I guess they could sell their unwanted clothes on eBay or similar.

  3. I need to do this again in my life, since living on land!

    I didn’t have any issues de-cluttering when I lived on a boat for 21 years. The norm was to buy something, throw something out, as of course there’s not much room on a small boat.

  4. Good article! My hairdresser was telling me about MK’s progs on Netflix.

    I am good at throwing stuff away, which is just as well as my husband is a total hoarder. I always ask myself this: is it beautiful or useful? If not, it goes. A little leeway is allowed for sentimental value, but that’s all. I had to chuck away about 2/3 of my belongings before I moved from Norfolk up here, and you know what? I can’t even remember what any of the stuff was. That says something!

    1. Absolutely! I was taking stuff out of my wardrobe that I didn’t realise I owned! Once I got going I was pretty good at throwing stuff out. I was more surprised with the kids as all three of them filled bags with unwanted stuff.

  5. YESSSSSS mate! I really need to do this. Especially as my wardrobe is so full of clothes, my husband can’t fit any of his in there, so he has to keep his in the drawers under the spare room bed! Also, did you know I have about 12 grey jumpers? 12! You have 100% inspired me! (Imma gonna struggle with the books section though).

    1. HAHAHAHA hilarious! I love wearing black so I can totally relate!! I’ve just scheduled the ‘Lesson 2: Books’ post for Friday and I’m still amazed at myself for the number of books I got rid of – watch this space! I’m going to struggle with paper (and photos) eek.

  6. I saw your decluttering marathon on your Facebook and was inspired – so I threw out a whole bunch of stuff that I didn’t need! All thanks to you!

  7. Fabulous advice! Thank you very much for introducing me to Marie Kondo’s work. I’ve been meaning to de-clutter my home for ages and told myself this year it’s got to be done. I’m going to look up the books and the Netflix show. Again, thank you and look forward to your next post 🙂

  8. Very nice work—I like how you describe letting go of your beloved denim jacket. There is current joy and the memory of joy. Both are valuable, but only one should stay in your closet.

    1. So true! That’s the part I thought I’d struggle with but I’ve surprised myself with how ruthless I’ve been. I’m letting go of stuff not memories and that’s important. Thanks for stopping by x

  9. I made a start on the wardrobe last year, and a couple of weeks ago I attempted the bookcase, that was a hard one!
    Reading this has encouraged me to keep on de cluttering!

    1. Thanks, Gemma. I’ve just scheduled my books post for Friday and although parts of it were hard I was shocked at how easy I found it to get rid of over 100 books! Staying motivated is definitely key isn’t it. Thanks for stopping by x

  10. I soooo need to do this, Shelley! The biggest problem is that the family just don’t get it – having a new cleaner has inspired some decluttering as I try to explain that she is here to clean (do the things I can’t like hoovering) not to clear up their mess. Anyway I’m stuck on the sofa again so going to find this on Netflix and then start with my wardrobe – yikes!!! hope you don’t mind but I have shared this on my PainPalsBlog regular feature “Monday Magic – Inspiring Blogs for You!”, Claire x

    1. Sorry to hear you’re stuck on the sofa again, Claire. The Netflix show will definitely keep you occupied (and inspired!) though. I’ve been amazed at the impact my de-cluttering has had on my kids so never say never LOL. Thanks for sharing on your lovely feature xx

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