Marie Kondo’s famous KonMari method of tidying is sweeping the nation and filling up thrift stores. But is getting rid of half your stuff really worth the effort? Three HUM employees bravely undertake their own apartment transformations to find out.
First, What exactly is the Marie Kondo Method?
Marie Kondo instructs tidying by categories of items in the following order: clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous items, and personal mementos. For each category, you take every item of that kind in your home and gather it all in one place. (For example, all your clothes come out of your drawers, closet, and storage and go in a big pile on the bed.) This crucial step allows you to see the total volume of items in that category.
You then pick up each item one at a time to decide if it’s something that sparks joy for you. If it does, it stays. If not, you thank the item for the time that it spent with you and discard it to enjoy a new home with someone else. The goal is that in the end, your home becomes a place where you love every little thing in it.
Our KonMari Tidying Experience
What’s your motivation for tidying up?
Christa Pok, Social Strategist
My motivation for tidying is to live life with more intent, starting with what I choose to surround myself with. If I surround myself with things that make me feel good and happy, then maybe it will encourage me to ask myself whether I’m doing things and surrounding myself with people that make me happy, too.
Chloe Rodabaugh, Community Manager
I recently went through a breakup and have had a difficult time. I really need to make some changes to be able to clear my head and live comfortably in a space that wasn’t originally meant to be occupied by just myself. All of that is my motivation for undergoing a total cleansing process for this new chapter of my life.
Zena Wozniak, Editorial Director
I’ve been suffering from a serious case of winter blues. I thought going through my items and clearing some space might be a good way to reprioritize and re-empower myself into feeling more at home in my surroundings (and hopefully headspace, too)!
What was the most challenging part of tidying up?
CLOTHES!!! I have the most of these out of all the categories, and they’re the hardest for me to let go. If I read a book, it’s easy for me to let go because I know I probably won’t go back to it. However, I have a tendency to think I’ll wear something again, though in the back of my mind, I know I won’t.
For me, the most difficult part is letting go of objects that once held positive feelings and now hold negative feelings. It was a big realization that my past is officially my past and that I need to take steps to move forward.
The hardest part is overcoming a fear of scarcity again and again. I’m on a mission to eliminate debt from my personal finances right now. The idea of throwing anything out feels contradictory to my thriftier instincts—but in the end, the two pursuits came together. In fact, tidying is a great accountability exercise. By looking at the things I had previously purchased, I now know where my weak spots are and can better evaluate my purchases going forward.
What things did you eliminate?
That black romper I was meaning to fit into one day, running shoes I bought in high school, socks with holes, a college textbook on microeconomics, earbuds that are no longer iPhone-compatible, an alarm clock (I know… who still uses one), microfiber sheets, birthday cards (sorry, friends), old paper utility bills, punch cards to places that don’t exist anymore, punch cards to places I’d never go back to, my first iPod, video games I no longer have game stations for, CDs, and DVDs.
Old tubes of lipstick, cooking pans, coffee mugs, eyeshadow palettes, worn-down jeans, old concealer, T-shirts that I was hanging on to “just in case,” necklaces, a pile of receipts, six pairs of old shoes, dish rags, bath towels, and empty cans of dry shampoo.
Oh, geez. False eyelashes, a wet suit, two whisks, a dress I wore to a family wedding in 2009, a very short and tight bandeau dress that I bought in 2012 and have never worn, an empty can of hair mousse that’s at least two years old, a hanging shoe rack that had been folded in the bottom of a storage closet since I moved into my apartment a year ago, a tote bag full of tote bags, a bunch of self-help and yoga books I either already read (or knew I would never read), and a replacement headlight for a car I don’t even own anymore.
What benefits did you experience?
When I was tidying up, I felt SO stressed! Ask anyone around me; it was obvious. But afterward, I felt relieved. All the things I hesitated on, I don’t regret giving up at all. I actually haven’t thought about them much. I see the things I’ve kept and it makes me feel good because I know I kept them for a reason. They serve a purpose in making me feel happy. They spark joy for me.
I can finally come home to my space and actually relax. Everything has a purpose now, as opposed to having things that take up space for no reason. I also know where everything is, which makes my day go so much more smoothly. It also forced me to get some new things in my space that are my own and don’t relate to my past situation. That alone was extremely liberating!
I have a new sense of pride in my home that I didn’t feel before. I could invite anyone over and wouldn’t be afraid for them to open any drawers in my house. I used to keep things scattered around on every surface all the time. Now though, everything has a home. When I use something, I get satisfaction out of putting it back to its rightful place until I need it again. It really makes a difference in your day. Something as simple as getting ready in the morning with a clear bathroom counter makes you feel happier about yourself before you leave the home and confront the world.
Although I wouldn’t say the KonMari method cleared my winter blues completely, it was hugely helpful. After all, you never get to be in control of what happens outside the walls of your house throughout the day. But there is something powerful about creating a sanctuary of orderly purpose and joy in the one place over which you do have control.