Recognizing clutter, former procrastinators, is key to getting rid of it. We become accustomed to having it around so we don’t call it by name. We work around it, shove it over, give it time, energy – life.
How do you know what to keep and what to let go of? Kondo suggests you hold an item in your hand and ask, “Does this spark joy?” If it brings an inner smile, keep it. If it pulls you down with unpleasant memories, guilt, or otherwise creates drag, let it go. Even if it hangs in your closet never worn but makes you smile, keep it with a clear conscience. We still get rid of more stuff with the spark joy criteria. Does that snazzy purse or heirloom vase feel like a burden? Adios. (Granted a cheese grater or broom doesn’t spark joy, but you’d be hard up without either. They’re keepers.) Doesn’t spark joy? Let it go.
Why do we have so much to let go of? Why do we constantly need to clean out? Kondo contends that we clean out repeatedly because we’ve never cleaned out once well enough to reach a level to maintain. That’s me.
Her approach to thorough decluttering is to do it by categories, not by rooms. By rooms we fail to see how much we own, miss the collected impact, and do not spot duplicates. She suggests cleaning by categories in this order, moving from the easiest emotionally to the most difficult: clothes, books, papers, household miscellaneous, mementoes.
Take clothes for example. She says remove all clothing (one person’s) from closets and drawers and put it on the floor in one place. I did it. To avoid lugging stuff up and down three flights, I modified by putting all clothes on each story on the floor. I made decisions for all stories at once making duplicates and “overstocks” obvious. For each item I asked, Does this spark joy?
I found it surprisingly easier to do and more thorough than my old ways. Clothes in the closet or drawer resist removal. On the floor, they’re already out. Definitely worth the few extra minutes to gather it all and return the keepers.
Usually decluttering here is like peeling an onion. Layer by layer, slow and painful. I long to reach that marvelous level of maintenance. I’ve said I can’t use the Kondo method for everything. That’s mostly preference. Often we say we can’t do something we really could if we asked the Lord for courage, guidance, and creativity. Consider Kondo’s approach. Adapt it. Be alert to how much you can do.
Project: The change of seasons is an excellent time to clean out clothes. You’ll free up space, be rid of dead wood, bless somebody else with your giveaways, and use more of what you have. You can do it!
When will you tackle your clothes?