The KonMari Method

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“What are some of the best ways to envision your ideal life before you begin tidying? How detailed does the vision need to be?”

Be as specific as you can when envisioning your ideal life. For example, a former client of mine imagined coming home from work and listening to classical music, doing yoga as a way to decompress from the day’s events, and taking a bubble bath before bed. Detailing your daily routine will help you distinguish between work and home and lay the foundation to achieve your larger goals.

You may choose to write down the details of your envisioned life using qualitative statements (“I hope to cook more often at home”) and quantitative measures (“I will have met my goal by cooking at least 4 times a week”). Additionally, others have found it useful to create vision boards of their ideal lifestyle. This is especially helpful for those who are unsure of what they want. To do this, flip through a magazine on home décor and cut out images that ‘spark joy’ for you. You may subconsciously gravitate toward certain styles that you were not aware that you liked.

“After tidying, I feel as though I know what sparks joy much better now than when I first started. Would you recommend tidying again when you feel that your home is cluttered?”

Of course! There a couple of reasons for feeling this way after you have finished your tidying festival:

1. You may not have completed every category of the KonMari Method (clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellanea), sentimental items). Perhaps you stopped at a certain category or were not as attuned to what sparks joy for you the first time around as you are now, and may not have been as thorough as you could have been when discarding.

2. Since completing your tidying festival, your lifestyle has changed. Perhaps you’ve had a child, changed jobs, moved in with someone, or your tastes have evolved. Regardless, this suggests that your envisioned life should be adapted to accommodate those differences in circumstance. If this is the case, tidy your home again with your new ideal life in mind.

“What are some tips for organizing children’s belongings?”

After having children, I’ve let go of the standard of perfection that I used to demand of myself and others. When I first became a mother, I used to feel frustrated that I could no longer tidy my home exactly the way that I wanted, but after having my second child, I no longer even had the energy to consider some of my former practices around the house. I’ve since learned to be more forgiving of myself, as the joy that comes from parenting exceeds any satisfaction that could have come from a perfectly neat home.

With this in mind, here are some tips that I’ve used that have helped me to keep my home in order with two young kids:

1. Narrate as You Tidy: As you tidy, explain to your children what you are doing so that they can learn from you. Try to demonstrate that tidying is part of maintaining the comfort of a home. If they see their parents regularly tidying with a smile, children will associate tidying with a positive and necessary activity.

2. Tidying and Fun Go Hand-in-Hand: In a similar vein, try to show your children that tidying and playing naturally go together. When children are around 1-year-old and can begin to walk, challenge them to put their belongings away after play. If I am busy with work, rather than tidy up after each time they play, I will wait until my daughters go to sleep, then clean up in one shot.

3. Establish a Designated Place for Children’s Belongings: Children’s toys seem to multiply (especially stuffed animals) and quickly find their way throughout the home. Designate a set location where each of these toys will be kept, and make sure that your children are aware where their toys belong. They can assist you with putting away their own toys.

Additionally, by establishing a place for your children’s belongings, you can visualize the finite space that you have to accommodate any more new toys or practical things such as wipes and diapers, for that matter. Recognizing that this reserved space is limited will keep your home from being overtaken by your children’s belongings.

“How can I motivate myself to clean?”

‘Cleaning’ and ‘tidying’ are distinct from one another. ‘Cleaning’ involves the removal of dirt and grease that naturally accumulates over time, while ‘tidying’ entails returning objects where they belong after each use.

To motivate yourself to do either, practice mindfulness as you perform even tasks that you might perceive as mundane, such as washing the dishes. Take the time to do the job well, and consider how it contributes to your ideal life (perhaps your goal is to eat more healthily. Then, having clean dishes allows you to enjoy your home-cooked meal.) By taking care of the things that you own, you are expressing gratitude for the various ways that they serve you and ultimately saying that you are worth the time that it takes to be taken care of, too.

“What are your thoughts on radical minimalism?”

Fundamentally, the KonMari Method shares the minimalist belief that individuals can improve the quality of their lives by taking inventory of their belongings. However, the KonMari Method does not suggest that the only way that this may be achieved is through owning fewer things. Instead, the KonMari Method encourages individuals to reflect on whether each of their belongings “sparks joy” for them and contributes to their ideal lifestyles. Additionally, individuals thank their belongings for their service before discarding them and develop a sense of mindfulness and optimism, as a result.

If radical minimalism is a lifestyle that sparks joy for others, of course I am not opposed to it.

“What are some tips for keeping the kitchen organized?”

1. Timing is especially important in the kitchen, as packaged, canned, and fresh foods all have different expiration dates. Be aware of what you already own before you shop for new groceries. Note which items need to be consumed first, and how you can incorporate different ingredients in a way that utilizes what you have and mitigates waste. By periodically taking stock of what you already own, you will keep from accumulating items that you will not use.

2. Even though the kitchen may serve the same basic function for everyone as a place to cook and eat, there are still many ways that you can individualize your space to reflect your passions and prioritize your most-used items. For instance, if you enjoy baking, store your mixer and trays in an easily accessible place and display your favorite cake decorating books or images on the topic on a picture rail for easy reference. Arranging your space so that frequently used tools are stored in intuitive and beautiful ways will encourage you to do more of what you love.

3. Try to keep your countertop clear, especially near the sink and stove. You want to be able to easily wipe down the area around your sink after it gets wet, and this will become a hassle if you have to pick up many small items. Additionally, you do not want your kitchenware and products to be coated in grease by sitting close to your stove. The minimal extra effort of storing items in drawers and cabinets after each use will be well worth it once you experience the calmness of a clear and clean countertop.

“What is your daily routine like?”

On most days, I wake up around 6:30 a.m., open the windows around my home to let in fresh air, then burn incense. I hold off on checking emails first thing in the morning, and wait until after I have had a simple breakfast or do some yoga to transition into a work mentality. Before I leave my house, I always try to tidy my house so that I can focus completely at the task at hand and not on the state of my home. Fortunately, my husband helps with the cooking between both of our busy work schedules. We are in bed by 11:30 p.m. after having played with our girls and tidied their toys one final time.

“I find ‘papers’ to be the most challenging category. What are some suggestions for tidying papers?”

As an overview, papers should be divided into those ‘currently in use/need to be addressed’ and ‘papers that need to be saved/kept indefinitely.’

Separate your papers into these two categories and make sure that you only keep the documents that spark joy for you (aside from those that must be kept for tax purposes, etc.). Then, regularly monitor the pile of documents that are ‘currently in use/need to be addressed’ and respond to bills and inquiries as soon as possible. Follow through on projects that you started, or they will continue to be put on the backburner and never get finished.

If you feel that you must keep every document, be assured that a lot of the information — even the content of your notes from school — can be found online if ever need be. You have already gained the knowledge from the documents that you want to keep and carry much more of the text with you already than you might realize.

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