Konmari: 3 years later
June 14, 2018 3:55 PM   Subscribe

So around 2015, there was a lot of buzz around the konmari decluttering method (like this post). Anyone want to weigh in on the method, 3 years down the line?

So I finally got around to reading Marie Kondo's books, and I'm contemplated it. I have a chunk of time this summer, and I really would love a home with less boxes of stuff shoved in every available space.

I want to hear your success and failure stories, for mefites who did the whole konmari thing at least a year ago and managed to keep it up.... or didn't.

Difficulty level: medium sized city townhouse, two full time working parents, two eight-year-olds.
posted by Valancy Rachel to Home & Garden (27 answers total) 57 users marked this as a favorite

The ideas that stuck:
-Clothes folding methods (socks especially.)
-Everything in a category at once // touch it feel it toss it. And do it in the order she supplies; it does help to deal with easy stuff like clothes before personal stuff like CD/DVD/vinyl/photos/books
-Before getting something new, something old has to go

As for the other notes in the book, I found "everything has a place" a bit impractical. A bunch of bookshelves, plastics, and bins–stuff comes out but takes double the effort to put back in.

The whole method is like dumping a box of Lego on the floor and sorting it somehow. Everyone sorts differently (I'm partial to colour) but without the strict adherence to putting it back where you sorted it, you have just ended up removing the broken/unwanted Lego and still have Lego everywhere. For it to truly de-clutter you have to decide to give up "good" Lego even if it sucks to do so...I leaned on Goodwill and Value Village donation zones as well as E-cycling depots to get rid of most stuff in "one-trip."

Good luck!
posted by Khazk at 4:11 PM on June 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

About 15 years ago, I did very serious declutter in my home. This was before Marie Kondo (I was inspired by the FlyLady). My focus was on just getting rid of what we didn't need and finding a place for everything we kept. I weighed everything as it left the house. (Not the weekly garbage and nothing that would be replaced) and after many month, the total was over a ton. Things gradually accumulated again but I saw the benefits of having both less stuff and everything I did have having a place for at least five years afterwards.
posted by metahawk at 4:13 PM on June 14, 2018 [5 favorites]

In a fit of wildly unfounded optimism a couple of years ago my wife purchased both The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Unf*ck Your Habitat, and I have in the intervening time gained an appreciation for the irony of the two books on decluttering gradually becoming a part of the clutter.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 4:20 PM on June 14, 2018 [22 favorites]

It's been two or three years, and I certainly still have some clutter, but it's not a crazy amount. Some of the folding methods have proved very successful. But the biggest takeaways have been attitudes towards stuff... Being able to let go of stuff without guilt, not giving things to other people that they don't need or want, focusing on making my living area pleasant.

I'm never going to be a minimalist - and I don't want to be, but I don't regret it.
posted by Caravantea at 4:25 PM on June 14, 2018 [29 favorites]

the only thing I ever managed to konmari in my house was the linen closet and its still following those methods in an orderly fashion and I am very happy with the changes I made. linen closet is always neat and organized. (esp the store each set of sheets in one of its pillow cases trick!!)
posted by supermedusa at 4:33 PM on June 14, 2018 [2 favorites]

I didn't do the full konmari (emptying rooms on the floor), but I have decluttered a ton and tried to let go of as much as possible. I have found useful:
-the idea that you do have time to put things away. I realize I don't even like to take the time to zip my makeup bag up and down, sheesh
-the idea that you don't need more storage, you need to let things go and repurpose what you already have - very true except for my son's toys which I don't really mess with and more shelves have helped with
-the idea that paper clutter is the worst and just get rid of as much as you can, I got rid of a garbage bag of old files I hadn't needed for several years, I try to file key papers away or shred them right away whereas my tendency is to pile them up and then keep them all
-the idea of things having a home, and putting things away. I have developed more of this as a habit and it really does seem to be a huge part of reducing mess and clutter
-as I've done the above I've seen the effects of shopping and mindless consumption, and that is another habit I'm working on that has had longterm benefits, spending less and again making more space, makes it easier to take care of your things when you have less

Before I moved and had to start again with my boyfriend's stuff I felt like cleaning was easier and I could do a deep clean more quickly because there was less to move around, I was feeling the benefits when I'd have friends over and had to barely do anything because my place was in order, minus cleaning up my kid's stuff.
posted by lafemma at 4:34 PM on June 14, 2018 [10 favorites]

I did the Konmari thing a year ago and was quite surprised that the life-changing magic was true for me:

I am SO much happier in an uncluttered house, surrounded entirely by things that I love.

I feel like a million bucks every time I get dressed (seriously--so many more compliments on how I look, when I lived with the 10% of my wardrobe that made me look and feel fabulous.)

The habit of recreationally shopping went away. I may window shop online when I'm bored but I never pull the trigger unless I really want/need something.

The exercise about just trusting my gut and getting some concrete evidence that it serves me well extends to other areas of my life. For instance, eating--I had a life long poor-kid habit of eating stuff if it's in the fridge and still good, even if I don't particularly care for it, just because, well, I should. A few weeks into the Konmari practice and I noped right out of that.

Now that I'm thinking about it: not long ago I answered the OK Cupid question about "what's the most private thing you're willing to admit" with "I took Marie Kondo's advice, and it actually lived up to the hype. Who knew?" I met the guy I'm currently dating because he wrote to me to respond to that. Truth!
posted by Sublimity at 4:47 PM on June 14, 2018 [55 favorites]

+1 to the folding methods and that paper clutter is the worst. Those things have stuck with me. I also really glommed onto the idea that you should LOVE what you have it should bring you joy. Basically if it's not a hell yes, it's a hell no. That has saved me from a lot of regretted purchases I think.

But I do not unpack my purse and put all its contents away every night. No.

I did KonMari with two working parents, two toddlers, medium sized house. I got through all of my stuff except the childhood photos, but none of my husband's stuff. (not my job.) So we are not minimalists by any stretch but it was still noticeable.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 4:51 PM on June 14, 2018 [10 favorites]

I did the full-on KonMari around when the book came out in English - I was extra-motivated by my cross country move that needed to happen while I was out of the country. Single adult, not a lot of stuff to begin with, I still got rid of 1/3 to 1/2 of my stuff (excluding furniture I was already planning to sell).

Nearly three years on:

- If putting stuff away seems like a hassle, that's a cue for me that it's time to declutter that area again.

- Getting rid of all my paper was great. I cut back on online filing systems, too.

- I have even fewer books now than I did immediately post-KonMari. I love books and have a BA in English, but I'm accepting that I don't actually need to own them. I have like 30 books, total.

- I saved paperboard tea and cracker boxes and made drawer organizers and I like it.

- I still fold my underpants. I thought it was stupid and did not expect it to stick. I also came to like folding my socks vs. folding the cuff over them to make a ball.

- Reading everything in my box of sentimental stuff and going through photos was daunting but pretty great, actually. I felt so loved.

- I don't buy stuff even if it seems like I "should" have it if I don't want it. No bed frame, no white buttondown shirt, etc.

- Contrawise, I'm a bit more willing to spend money on things that are lovely, but not necessities (house plants, skin care). I feel like it's okay to have stuff because I like it, and also okay to donate it later if I stop liking it.
posted by momus_window at 4:52 PM on June 14, 2018 [19 favorites]

I did a light version a couple of years ago. Mainly clothes and media. The main benefit of the method for me was getting ok with discarding/donating items. The lasting effect is that I simply acquire less stuff now.

It's great having room in drawers and closets to actually see what's in there. I don't follow her folding suggestions anymore but I don't need to because the drawers have less quantity of items so stuff can spread out and it doesn't impede access.

I regret throwing out one or 2 items (out of a hundred, probably) that I could have repurposed in some way for sewing projects. The solution would have been to set aside 1 bin for projects/deferred decisions that I could revisit. But all in all I dont remember 98% of my tosses.

I do remember everytime I was on the fence and I asked someone if I should toss something, and they said yes, so I did it. Alternatively some helpers will be very uncomfortable with you throwing out your stuff. Those are the instances where I wish I kept my own counsel. Kondo says its best not to involve others in the decision making when it comes to personal items because they will sway you, and I think that's true. Each individual has to make their own decision about their stuff.

I highly recommend it. I actually wish I had gone full Kondo but its some emotional baggage holding me back, like people will judge me for not having stuff? Who is this person whose closets are only 25% full, lol. Truly you realize how little you use out of the stuff you own. So I am 75% full.
posted by charlielxxv at 5:08 PM on June 14, 2018 [4 favorites]

I wrote a post about Marie Kondo's book for my blog last year.
posted by orange swan at 5:12 PM on June 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

I did the big konmari purge on most of my apartment three years ago, and then moved a year later. It definitely made moving easier than it otherwise would have been. I do also think it's made me less likely to buy new things unless I really like them and know how/where I'm going to use them.

It didn't really help me with ongoing maintenance. I have ADHD and spatial organization is difficult for me. I suspect her systems are not great for people with my kind of ADHD in general - they are a bit too fussy. But one interesting thing - I recently hired a professional organizer and she's commented multiple times that, though my stuff is disorganized, I have a lot less to get rid of than many of her clients. So I think it has stuck on some level.

One thing I do regret is how many books I got rid of.
posted by lunasol at 5:15 PM on June 14, 2018 [6 favorites]

I completely konmari'd my clothes, shoes, books, cleaning potions, towels, sheets, and table linens, plus I just got rid of a lot of random stuff as I came across it, and it's mostly stuck. I still fold things pretty regularly, although sometimes I just place them in the drawers and fold them later. I loved having the extra space, but it's all gone now... appropriated by Mr. Carmicha, who has an incredible and, to me, oppressive amount of stuff that is all in disarray. I confess I hoped the konmari results would inspire him, but alas.

I fantasize about dumpsters.
posted by carmicha at 5:23 PM on June 14, 2018 [14 favorites]

My husband and I have done a couple of rounds of it and are beginning another one. We find it helpful; we're apparently just animist enough that thanking an item for its service makes it a lot easier to let it go.
posted by Lexica at 5:30 PM on June 14, 2018 [7 favorites]

We did it right when the book came out and got rid of probably 2/3s of our stuff. We had a young baby at the time and it truly changed our lives. We live in a larger space now, but we basically never buy anything that we don't absolutely love or need.

Most remarkably, her promise that you will look and feel better in other areas of your life was absolutely true. Our finances improved, we achieved some clarity on our life goals, and we rarely have to clean because we have so few things. We have more time to devote to reading. Occasionally magazines we've been meaning to read will stack up, but it's much easier to let go of them.

Since you have kids, I find the hardest part is doing any KonMari-ing for the kids. I feel it's not my job to get rid of their things, even if the things aren't sparking joy for anyone right now (e.g. old greeting cards). But I have adopted a three-day waiting period for toy gifts. If it's not the best toy ever at the end of three days, we donate it and no one misses it.

Also, her sequel has some helpful hints. One we found useful was that, for the objects we couldn't get rid of for whatever practical reason, to treat them with extra care. We did that with an old puffy vest that serves a purpose, and now I see it with affection rather than irritation.
posted by luckdragon at 5:52 PM on June 14, 2018 [6 favorites]

Four years later, I still have a lot of stuff, though I find getting rid of stuff easier and am slightly pickier about bringing stuff in. I have a better appreciation for what clothes I actually like.

I absolutely hated her sock folding method, however. It caused me to never have matching socks. Terrible.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:48 PM on June 14, 2018 [3 favorites]

Clothes were where I did the biggest purge and it's really upended my relationship to clothing and clothes shopping. I no longer buy everything that fits my atypical frame, I like every piece of clothing I have, and I've discovered so many old favourites buried under a pile of fast fashion garbage that happened to have room in the shoulders without being a sack. Generally I take much more joy in what I own and buy, and I know where everything is.
posted by I claim sanctuary at 11:46 PM on June 14, 2018 [1 favorite]

We did like 60% KonMari on wardrobe a couple of years ago. We did it recently to our kitchen and it was amazing again and cooking in the kitchen feels so much more efficient! I know her prescribed method is to do it all in one go, but we've been able to do it in stages and I've still gotten a lot out of it.

In the past few years the things that have 'stuck'

- I shop less frequently and think of my wardrobe as an investment. I have to looooooove the thing I'm buying and I feel less guilty about paying more because it's usually for quality and I loooooooove it.
- The same goes for buying anything for our relatively small flat. We agonise over ages over new things. How much do we love it. Where will it live. How annoying is it to clean/dust around it.
- I still purge on a regular basis. When I do add to my wardrobe, I use it as an opportunity to scan through and pull out old pieces to donate to charity.
- This kinda sounds bad, but I don't hold onto gifts just for the sake of it being a gift anymore. I'll use it, put it on display for a little bit, but if I find that it's not giving me that "spark", I lovingly re-home it to charity. So we no longer have a bunch of mediocre stuff around that just made me feel guilty that I had to like it out of responsibility.

We still have a few trouble spots (stored STUFF under the guest bed, the Wardrobe of Forgotten Things) but I'm confident we'll get to those eventually and in the meantime the rest of the home feels good.
posted by like_neon at 1:55 AM on June 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

I KonMaried my wardrobe, kitchen stuff and personal care stuff in the bathroom, before running out of time to do more. These are now the only parts of my house I am happy with. They have almost exactly what I need, and no random things in the way to make them difficult to tidy or clean. I look forward to tackling the linen cupboard and office sometime!
posted by harriet vane at 3:31 AM on June 15, 2018 [3 favorites]

I did a half Konmari when moving 3 years ago, and there are definite categories that stuck - we got rid of most of our DVD collection and I haven't bought another one since, for example. Having fewer things definitely makes my house seem cleaner just from clutter reduction.

Konmari combined with the capsule wardrobe concept has really changed the way I own clothes. After two pregnancies, I said goodbye to a ton of clothes that will likely never fit again and have not missed any of them, and I now buy clothes to fit a defined "style" and try to keep quantities to a level that makes me happy when I look at my clothes. I don't do her folding technique, but I have few enough clothes that I can keep up with neat drawers.

One non-konmari technique I used was packing up things that I am not using, and then using "have I opened the box to get them out" as a weeding-out technique for eventual disposal. The DVD collection that I kept 3 years ago has yet to leave the box, so I'm planning to do another pass this summer to dispose of even more DVDs.
posted by Vicmo at 5:57 AM on June 15, 2018

While generally the practical advice is still useful, and the more woo stuff still adds little more than a bit of personality, I agree with Lexica that the idea to thank items that are hard to throw away has been helpful to me, as a kid of the Brave Little Toaster era with an extra dose of the packrat gene. Especially for things that have sentimental value but no use or even way to display--like really worn favorite pieces of clothing.
posted by lampoil at 6:37 AM on June 15, 2018 [4 favorites]

It worked for me - I used Konmari before a transatlantic move 2.5 years ago, and it helped me get brutal about reducing my belongings. I got 10 years of stuff pared down to 8 (fairly large, but still!) cardboard boxes and 2 suitcases.

I bought a house a couple of months ago and have been slowly acquiring things since, but I'm trying to be mindful of how much stuff I have. If I can borrow something from someone else, I do that. My books still fit on a single shelf of a bookcase. I have more closets than I need, but I'm not interested in filling them. So far, it's working pretty well for me.
posted by minsies at 7:24 AM on June 15, 2018 [1 favorite]

Thanks everybody! I think you've convinced me to start. Tomorrow: clothes.
posted by Valancy Rachel at 9:34 AM on June 15, 2018 [5 favorites]

I would love to hear how you get on with it!
posted by like_neon at 2:17 AM on June 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

I think one thing that gets underappreciated about KonMari is that it gives you permission to keep something because it makes you feel happy or good. I sometimes can get overly utilitarian (like, whenever I'd play The Sims I'd never get around to actually decorating my house) but having the permission to say "I want this in my presence because it makes me happy even when it's not practical" has helped.
posted by divabat at 5:47 AM on June 25, 2018 [3 favorites]

I would love to hear how you get on with it!

So would I! It was indeed life changing for me, and for people on KM Facebook groups I'm in.
posted by jgirl at 8:34 AM on June 25, 2018

Ok: I'll try to update occasionally for posterity.

Clothes: I actually keep my wardrobe pretty basic, but I realized that I had a drawer full of "just in case" clothes that I either donated (interview blouse in the drycleaning bag that no longer buttons), tossed (random odd socks with holes just in case I learn how to darn and have a matching odd sock) or put back into rotation (the most comfortable underwear I own that I was saving for... I have no idea? Why buy expensive underwear and leave it in a drawer?). It also gave me the excuse I was looking for to donate some expensive dresses that don't fit, but to keep the completely impractical Julia-Roberts-in-Pretty-Woman-watching-croquet dress that I never wear but makes me smile to look at it.

Bonus: My kid watched this, and asked me to help him clear out his t-shirt drawer. He went from 40 shirts to about 15. If I can convince my family to stop gifting him shirts... He's super happy because he found his favourite sesame street shirt hidden under a stack of neon polo shirts with the tags on.

Books: Um, this didn't go as planned. I filled two boxes of books I didn't think I needed, then my family saw them. Turns out, even though the books were mine, my husband has been hoping to study philosophy once he retires, and he really wants to keep all the Heidegger and Kant books. Who knew? My kids also seemed so sad that we decided to only donate books I don't want my kids to read, and build a new set of bookcases on the stairs, so that we have room for the books we have.

Papers: I cleared out 2 drawers of a 4 drawer file cabinet, and my large "to file" box on my desk. Almost everything got shredded.

And that's the update. Our kitchen flooded in the winter, so we already ruthlessly pared back on kitchen stuff, but I'm looking forward to miscellaneous!
posted by Valancy Rachel at 10:31 AM on June 29, 2018 [11 favorites]

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