Spring has sprung, are you ready to tackle your spring cleaning? I thought I could skip it this year as I had just moved across the ocean from Taiwan to San Francisco with a total of four suitcases, or so I thought.
A few weeks ago during a regular sister chat, my sister told me she was re-organizing her house. I responded with the usual “oh, spring cleaning, sounds good.” But then she told me she was actually re-organizing because of this book she was reading called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Kondo Marie. She started describing the details of the book and recommended me to read it, too. Little did I know that this book was going to change my life.
The book was written by a professional organizing consultant named Marie Kondo. Her book is now a global bestseller translated to multiple languages. You can also find her presentation about her book on Youtube.
I think what makes her book so captivating is how simple her philosophy is. Basically, the key to de-cluttering is to keep only items that SPARK JOY. Her book is full of examples of items that her clients had, and how they managed to part with those items by following her philosophy.
After reading the book, I knew I had to do some spring cleaning, or KonMari-ing. While her philosophy sounds really simple, but the reality is, when it comes to your own personal belongings, it’s difficult to put aside emotional attachments and answer yourself honestly if the item sparks joy or not.
Here is an example of one of my many struggles throughout this process. When I was going through my clothes, I thought for sure I would keep the bridesmaid dress that I wore to my sister’s wedding, but when I held the dress in my hands (that’s what you have to do for all your clothes), and I asked myself, “does this dress spark joy?” I was totally taken aback by my own reaction.
The truth was, the dress no longer sparked any joy. It had been hanging in the closet with the plastic protector over it for nearly six years, untouched. Even though it reminded me of the beautiful sunset wedding where I was the maid of honor and looked gorgeous in that coral color, I knew I would never wear it again. I even put it on to see if I could wear it with other accessories (which you are not supposed to do if you follow her method correctly). Unfortunately, the answer was still no, so I finally put the dress in the donation pile.
As you can see, the process of de-cluttering is not easy. You will stumble upon things that are really difficult to let go. However, I find that the more I do it, the more comfortable I am at deciding what goes, and what stays. Her recommended order of organizing is extremely effective. You always start with clothes, then you move onto books, papers, and miscellaneous items and finally you sort through memorabilia. Her order allows you to start with “easier” items so that by the time you reach family photos and gifts, you have already honed your skill of letting things go.
The whole process will take some time depending on how much stuff you have. I am still not finished with everything but I have finished clothes, books and papers and I am already feeling as light as a feather. By letting go of things that I have clung on for years or even decades that no longer spark any joy feels like a huge burden has been lifted from my shoulders. I am not advocating that we should toss away things that have deep meanings to our heart, but if those sentimental items mean so much to us, don’t they deserve our attention and care instead of being neglected in a storage box where we most often than not, have forgotten their existence?
Her book has not only changed my whole perspective about de-cluttering, but also my life. I realized that her Spark Joy philosophy can be applied to pretty much everything. Besides surrounding ourselves with tangible things that spark joy, shouldn’t we also surround ourselves with people that spark joy, eat food that spark joy, watch movies and shows that spark joy, tweet, like and follow things that spark joy, and so on?
Once I finish KonMari-ing my house, I look forward to re-organizing the intangible items of my life. It’s difficult to gauge how that’s going to go since I will be venturing beyond the boundary of her book. But it’s definitely worth a try because just by organizing my house has brought me so much joy, can you imagine what it will be like when I KonMari my goals, my habits, my computer files and bookmarks, my time, and the people I am associated with? The possibilities are endless!
So with spring in full swing, maybe it’s time to give KonMari method a try? Once you start, your life will be changed forever.