Decluttering home and mind

Hands up if you’ve seen Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix, and been pulled in into the recent decluttering fever that has taken over the whole world? Yeah, me too.

Now, I have never read Marie Kondo’s books, nor have I tried the KonMari -method. And I actually started my first full-apartment declutter way before watching even one episode of Tidying Up. Had I heard of KonMari when I started? Yes. Did I believe in it? No. I did not do my decluttering the KonMari way. And I still don’t think it’s totally for me. But going on this declutter journey has taught me much, and after having learned a little more of the KonMari method I do believe the method has a lot to teach every one of us. Even if you don’t fully agree with it.

My decluttering process

I started with my clothes last summer. I wanted to go through them for two reasons: one, they did not fit comfortably in my closet; and two, I knew I had a lot of clothes that did not fit me or I did not use for some other reason. I wasn’t happy with the situation and I wasn’t happy with my clothes. It took me two go’s to go through all my clothes, partly because I spent most of my summer either at an internship or back at my childhood home. But I finished the process once I’d returned, and it made me feel so much better, if only for the reason that my clothes were in order. I’m not completely happy with the clothes I own, but at least I don’t need to worry if my clothes fit me or not.

After going through my clothes, and after a long summer away from my apartment, I knew I had to go through my kitchen. I got rid of all expired food items, wiped down all shelves and organized the few shelves containing my dry foods. I also went through all containers, getting rid of any that weren’t good quality, and returning any that weren’t mine. (This way, my mum and grandma can bring me more frozen berries and homemade juice, now that they have their containers back.) It was a great start to a new semester.

Now, the rest of my apartment took more time. I went at it, one shelf or drawer at a time. Before Christmas I organized and decluttered the cupboards in my bathroom, as well as my outdoor clothes storage. In the past month or two I’ve gone through the rest: all little drawers, boxes and nooks that were full of, well, stuff. I did my jewelry a few weeks back, then some random boxes full of stuff I had kept, but no longer needed. And the most exhausting category of them all: a stack of papers in the corner of my bedroom I’d been ignoring. Along the way I’ve been eyeing my books and DVD’s, letting go of some of them.

What I learned

You don’t declutter just to get rid of stuff. The process is important for you to see what items you have and then reflecting on what items are necessary and what you like having in your life. And it helps you clean up and organize your space. Letting go of things or throwing them away is really just a side effect on the process. If you like to own a large bookcase like me, then have at it! You’re the only one that knows what you need and what makes you happy.

Decluttering and organizing is also a great way to have time for yourself and your thoughts. I’ve lately been suffering from a bit of anxiety among other things, and going through the items in my life has allowed me to reflect on myself. Why did I choose to hold on to this item before? What importance does it have for me? Am I ready to let go of it now? It also dawned on me, that just because someone else holds on to something, doesn’t mean I have to. I make the choice myself, by what feels right for me, and by my own reasoning, no-one else’s. There’s really no need to feel guilty about hand-me-downs and birthday-gifts you don’t like or use.

Holding on to things just for the sake of it, or just in case isn’t worth it. I guess part of my anxiety came from the feeling of a disorganized home. With piles of paper here and there, boxes full of things I had no use for and clutter everywhere actually made me feel overwhelmed. And now having an organized home with everything in its place has eased up my anxiety so much. Just having a clutter-free apartment is awesome! I feel happier with my space and I actually want to keep it clean and organized, so that I might enjoy it. For a person who has always hated housework, I actually enjoy taking care of my home – go figure.

Coming back to KonMari

While I was doing my organizing and decluttering, I would watch Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, as well as countless organization vlogs on YouTube. I even ended up watching clips on hoarders. I learned two things.

Firstly, most people have been going through similar experiences. It is nice to see glimpses of other people’s lives while they go though their own items, and how they end up happy about their space in the end. It’s been very inspiring and extremely motivating.

And secondly, most of the experiences I had seem to be what the KonMari method is aiming for: being happy with the space you have and the items you own. It’s also about thinking what makes you happy in life overall. I have noticed that my mindset is way different now. I think more about not just the objects and items I want to keep, but the experiences I want to enjoy in life. It’s both the process and the destination that in this case are important.

In the end, I’ve noticed that I want to continue going through my things. I’m not fully finished. I know there are still items left I’m not happy keeping, that take up space. Because lets face it, letting go isn’t always easy. I guess it’s a lifelong process. But I am happy with where I am now. Even if I need to organize my closet yet again.

Perhaps I will read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up after all. And hey, I ended up completing one of my goals for the year.

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