Articles - 11th March 2019

Declutter Your Life with The KonMari Method

Words by Emily Murray

Everyone appreciates a tidy home. It’s aesthetically pleasing, improves our mood, and makes us feel like we’ve got our lives in order: clean home, clear head. It’s one thing having a mountain of mess to come home to after a day working in an office, but for most freelancers, their home is their office so there’s no way of escaping the chaos. Therefore, it’s crucial that freelancers keep an ordered home.

Having to work in a cluttered environment makes us feel stressed, claustrophobic and ultimately distracts us from our work. Not to mention the inefficiency that disarray causes. Wouldn’t it be great not to waste time searching for misplaced items, or rummaging through tonnes of files to find one sheet of paper?

Order makes us feel serene, organised, and allows us to go about our day without hold-ups. After watching the Netflix series “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo”, I was inspired to put the two-time bestselling author’s teachings into action, taking control of my mess, rather than letting it control me.

Following the KonMari Method, I tackled my belongings one category at a time:

1. Clothes

I placed all my clothes onto my bed creating a huge pile, in order to appreciate just how many items of clothing I own. I picked up every item and asked myself “does it spark joy?” If yes, then I folded it into an upside-down V shape and neatly packed it away, or hung it up on a hanger.

Standing items on their side in this way allows you to clearly see every item that you have, and also allows you to easily remove and put back items (no more frantically throwing your clothes on the floor searching for a certain item). Even if this way of folding isn’t for you, I highly recommend it for when you’re packing a bag or suitcase, it saves up so much room and stops clothes from creasing.

If an item didn’t “spark joy”, I either put it in a bag for the charity shop or clothes bank or, if it was particularly nice but I didn’t want it any more, I put it in an eBay pile.

TIP 1: Use boxes for smaller items like socks and underwear – it helps them look neat and stay together.

TIP 2: Marie Kondo suggests arranging your clothes by colour, shape, brand and year.

TIP 3: Don’t keep clothes that are too small/big for you, only keep what you enjoy wearing now.

2. Books

I have a lot of books having studied English Literature at University. It’s important to distinguish between what books once made you happy and which books will actually be of use to you in the future. If you know you won’t read a book again take it to a bookshop and let it bring joy to someone else.

TIP 1: Free up shelf space and save money by borrowing books from your local library.

TIP 2: Get involved in a book swap. Paperbackswap lets you choose from over a million books to exchange for your unwanted read.

TIP 3: Have a book exchange with friends every four weeks. This will encourage you to read on a regular basis and you’ll get a variety of great recommendations to choose from.

3. Papers

I split all my papers into different piles (bills, university coursework, certificates etc) and then placed them all in clear folders with labels on the front. I organised bills in date order, divided my university coursework into modules and years, with paper clips and colourful page markers, and collected like papers together by stapling them.

TIP 1: Take all papers out of envelopes and folders so you can find everything easily.

TIP 2: Aim to let go of all pieces of paper. You should have most things stored electronically anyway, and therefore you don’t need a physical copy of it too.

TIP 3: Segmenting papers with colour coded tabs makes them easier to organise.

4. Komono (Miscellaneous)

Giving each belonging its own designated home helps bring order to your house and workspace. Put boxes in your drawers to segment items and give each item it’s specific spot so you can find it easily. Keep everyday use items out on top of your desk so they are easily accessible.

TIP 1: Discern which items you really need at your desk. You don’t need 3 water bottles, 2 books and 5 sets of headphones.

TIP 2: Decorative items on your workspace make work more appealing. But limit these so they don’t hinder your productivity. 

TIP 3: Get a stationary pot to stop pens rolling off your desk.

5. Sentimental Items

It’s weird what we get attached to. I have a bag of pebbles which I’ve accumulated from exploring beaches on family holidays when I was little. The key when it comes to sentimental items is cutting down. For example, if you have several momentos from a festival like a wristband, sticker, ticket, lanyard, flowery headband, then select one to keep. The real thing that gives you joy is the memory of that festival, and you don’t need five odd bits and bobs to bring back nostalgia.

TIP 1: Gather all sentimental items together to appreciate just how much your emotional attachment to inanimate objects is cluttering your life.

TIP 2: Let go of the Christmas cards. Realistically, unless a card has a special message or was for a particular occasion you don’t need to hold on to it.

TIP 3: Marie Kondo says when you “feel stuck while tidying, try and change the air… Light a candle or spray an aromatic room spray. Lighting incense is also an option. By creating smoke it will purify the room. I use these methods to purify my home every day.”

What the KonMari method taught me

Removing unwanted items from your house feels amazing

Unburdening yourself and your space of possessions makes you feel physically lighter. It’s a really empowering feeling breaking your connection with something that doesn’t serve a purpose anymore. Marie Kondo encourages people to thank items they no longer want to keep, which I really like because it encourages people to have respect for their belongings, and in turn learn to really appreciate what they have.

I think this is such an important lesson to learn in our throw-away culture, where we’re constantly craving the newest gadget, always left wanting more and end up destroying the planet with our wasteful whims.

Each of your belongings should be a source of joy for you

If you’re really unsure about letting go of something, then keep it. With some of my clothes I found it a little tricky to discern whether they “spark joy” for me, so what I decided to focus on was “would it make me sad to never wear this again?” Giving up something that doesn’t “spark joy” makes room for something that will.

You’ll not only appreciate your things so much more, but they’ll also become a source of joy for you – rather than just objects. We can get so wrapped up in our routines to forget to appreciate the little things – like a really comfy, well-fitted pair of jeans. Uncomfortable clothing is only going to become a hindrance to your life, so get rid.

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