The joy of decluttering

Two Christmases ago, Marketing Comms Manager Rachel was bought the best-selling Marie Kondo book ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying’ by her husband. This year, he booked a KonMari declutter expert to visit their home. She tells us what she made of it…

When I first had The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying pressed into my hands, I rolled my eyes. Here we go again, I thought. My husband is someone who gets easily swept up in new fads, but judging by the hype — and a cursory look online revealed a lot of that — I thought that maybe I should shelf my cynicism and see what all the fuss was about.

The KonMari system is based around the concept of going through your stuff, throwing out anything that doesn’t spark joy and keeping what remains in an organised system that isn’t too tricky to maintain. Sounds great, right? Sounds like a lot of work, I thought. And my relationship with stuff at this point consisted of a reluctant reorganise of my wardrobe roughly twice a year, because it had gotten so chaotic that I couldn’t find anything. Invariably, during these biannual clear outs I’d find so many things I loved but never wore, buried under everything else. I’d resolve to do better next time. I never did. Then along came Marie.

I gave it a go. I’d seen my husband looking delighted as he shipped binbag after binbag of stuff to our local charity shop. I went through mine and did the same, feeling very pleased with myself. And since that time two years ago, I have been better. No more clothes avalanches upon opening the wardrobe. I now think before I buy new stuff, asking myself if I really need that new item. I ask myself if it sparks joy. If something new gets bought, something else has to go. It has all been surprisingly easy to maintain. So far, so good. Marie would be proud.

And then at the beginning of the year, the husband said:
‘I want us to get a declutter expert in’. 
And there was I, thinking we were doing great. 
‘Just to sort us out before the baby comes.’
There’s the thing, you see. We’re expecting a new arrival who comes with a whole lot more stuff, and there’s nowhere for it to go.

So on a wet winter Saturday, we welcomed Aline, a professional Marie Kondo Declutter expert, into our home. I asked her for advice on what storage units she might suggest we buy for the baby’s clothes. ‘Let’s see how we go today’ she said. I was baffled as to how sorting out my clothes could make any difference to that, but rolled up my sleeves and got stuck in.

Try decluttering for yourself, KonMari-style:

  1. Tackle categories, not rooms: Clothes are recommended to be your first job. Get all your clothes from everywhere — all the cupboards, the attic, your coatstand, throw them into one giant pile, and then work through it, asking yourself if each item brings you joy. If it doesn’t, it’s out. Some good advice is if you consider throwing something out, even for a second, then that doubt is your answer (Out!).
  2. Try not to be sentimental: Learn to say goodbye to your stuff. Recognise that certain things brought you joy in the past and it’s the memory of the joy that you keep. Do you have photos of you wearing that outfit, being happy and feeling good? Well then, that’s all you need. The item can go.
  3. Make it easy to find what you do have: The KonMari method is all about folding clothes so that everything you have is instantly visible to you so you have a full range of choice available.
  4. Once you’ve done clothes, repeat these actions with other categories: It’s recommended to do clothes first, followed by books, papers, office stationery, kitchen, household and tools, bathroom, and sentimental items.

Our afternoon with Aline was over too soon, and I can’t emphasise enough how enjoyable it turned out to be — re-living great memories and ‘saying goodbye’ to lots of stuff.

Here are just some of the benefits to decluttering:
• The relief at having tackled that space and having beautifully organised cupboards and drawers 
• The joy of re-discovering things you’d forgotten about that you really love. 
• The delight when you realise it takes far less time to get ready in the morning as you know where everything is. 
• The space!

Oh and the baby? She’s sorted. By the time we were finished, my existing chest of drawers was hers, and all laid out KonMari-style, we can see exactly what we have for her. So do we feel ready? Now that’s another question….

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying book is available here. To find out more about booking a visit from a declutter expert:

Rachel Marsh, Marketing & Comms Manager at Global Action Plan.


Originally published at