Monday, August 31, 2015

My KonMari Journey: A Method to Organize Your Home Once- And Never Again

Are you constantly organizing with no progress? Do you go through massive "organize-a-thons" that fizzle out before you finish, leaving a destroyed, half-organized home in your wake? Is your progress never sustained? You're not alone. I am constantly going through my items and donating things, striving to be a minimalist that knows where every. single. item is for efficient working. Over the years I've donated and sold hundreds of items, but the process is never finished!

Lately I've felt the weight of my organizing burden more than ever. I need the organizing to be done so I can do what matters as I'm already busy with work and school. My mind's been so twisted in knots over it that it's hard to sleep. The process had to be re-evaluated, it was not working.

"The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing" is a best-seller first in Japan, then in Europe and the US. Over 2 million copies have sold and it's been published in 30 countries. Time Magazine put Marie Kondo on their 100 most influential people list for 2015. My local library has over 150 holds on this book! The hook of her book; once you learn and implement her method, you're organizing is done forever. You never revert back to mess, you never have to tidy again.

The book had been on the periphery of my mind for a few months now. Being at the nadir of my clutter crisis, thoughts of the book moved front and center. I knew it was the final step I needed to put my organization to bed. I've already donated hundreds of items and sold off a business that wasn't right for me. It's easy for me to let go of things, this ability was trained by years of selling everything I could to keep my business as a vintage seller going. But I was moving the little I had left from one spot to another with little progress. I needed the next level of decluttering magic.

The genius of Marie's method is the simplicity. There are three steps:

1) Tidy in One Quick Shot, as Quickly and Completely, As Possible
2) Sort by Category, Not By Location
3) Selection Criterion: "Does it Spark Joy"?

You go catergory-by-catergory, and pile every single item you own in that category (books, clothes, etc.) in front of you. You go through each item one-by-one and you hold it to determine if it "Sparks Joy". If it makes you happy, you keep it, if it doesn't, you get rid of it. When you're done with a category, neatly put away your items stacked vertically so you can see every single item at-a-glance.

I read the book to near-completion at pg. 153, reading from 12am to 4am non-stop!

It was hard to sleep after reading her book because I wanted to declutter non-stop until her method was complete! I took notes on time and photos along-the-way (some were lost when my phone was stolen + my camera is currently on the fritz, but I salvaged what I could) this is my KonMari Method Journey. I set a deadline of 3 days because I wanted to go on my mini-vacation to visit Ruth in Orlando with a clear mind and clutter-free home:

Day 1: Clothing) August 19, 2015: 12:00PM to 5:53PM

Figuring out what "sparked joy" was hard. I played ambient noise as Marie suggested in the book because music or TV could interfere with our intuition.  I'm used to keeping clothing based on whether the fit is flattering and it was hard to overcome that. I went back and removed even less than what I kept initially the next day because I knew I kept items that didn't "spark joy" because I thought I'd like it later or the fit was good. I learned from this exercise than an item "sparks joy" when it makes you feel as happy as when you first bought it AND there are no doubts (like, 'I don't like the color', or, 'it's too worn') what so ever. My wardrobe is minimal but more satisfying because I adore every single item.
 * * * 
Day 2: Books) August 20, 2015: 12:26PM to 1:52PM 

I went to 3:40 PM here when you count cleaning the shelves and putting them away (+ a stop to snack.)

First I laid them all on the floor, then I piled them by Kondo's suggested categories:

General (books you read for pleasure) - 32 books
Practice (references, cookbooks, etc.) - 121 books (whole living / school books / self-improvement)
Visual (photographs, collections, etc.) - 27
Magazine: 68

I went from 248 books to 68 magazines to 48 magazines. I wanted to get rid of more but I do actively reference a lot of the whole living books for school. I do want to read then sell as many as these as possible in the months to come.

Looking back on the books in my categories and what I kept was interesting. Marie Kondo says her method one for self-discovery and that's part of the genius of it. What you keep, what sparks joy, helps you discover who/what you really are and where you passion lies.

Day 2: Papers) 3:40 PM to 5:38 PM 

Add another 22 minutes to get all the cat fur off of my storage box! Done by 6PM!

Papers was one of the easiest tasks for me. I got them all down from two IKEA storage boxes to one.

For papers you use the following method. Dispose of anything not in these 3 categories:

1) Currently in Use
2) Needed for Limited Time
3) Must be Kept Indefinitely

A lot of the papers were school work (my Master Herbalism paperwork pile is surely over 200 papers strong) and a bit of work for my business that I have to keep for now. I write e-books/homework/etc in my compositions books on-the-go, so those will be consolidated into the computer in the months to come.

NOW when I pull out my paperwork box I can see everything at a glance and it's made me much more productive. I just pull out whatever papers/notebooks I need and get to it rather than rooting through the paper-mess-pile in two boxes!

Day 2: VHS/DVD/CD) 9:32PM to 10PM

This one was SO easy, I'd already deeply purged this collection (from shelves full) over a year ago.

VHS: Went from 16 to 5
Video Games: 17 to 16 (can't believe we have that many! This includes both my roomie's games.)
CDs: 11 from 14
DVDS: 21 to 10

Day 2: Accessories) 

I only have two necklaces and one charm so...done!

Day 2: Make-up/Body Care) Not Done 'Til 3AM

And then I kept finding more, and more, and more...

Before I started Herbalism school all I had in this category was my homemade toothpaste and some Dr. Bronner's soap. This task went on forever now that I have tons of random things from school to organize: tinctures, salves, medicated sprays and scrubs, and-on it went. This was my least favorite part of the process because my heart wanted to just throw it all away but I had to keep it all for school and work. I only have about 3 lipsticks and one mascara, rarely used, but all made in school, so I kept them.

 * * * 

Day 3: Electronics) 8/21/2015: 9:48 AM to 10:54 AM

I awoke tired and achey from sleep deprivation and the constantly moving of stuff; but bound and determined to complete the method! Electronics was easy, again, I didn't have much. I love seeing all the cords standing up on the box so I can easily grab my charger, etc. as needed!

Day 3: Household Equipment) 11:57 AM to 12:54 PM (put the household stuff away by 2:43PM)

This includes stationary, writing materials, sewing kits, tools, etc. This one was a little painful because I even organized my screw/nails/thumbtacks.

Day 3: Gardening Equipment) 

I wrote that I was 1/2 done with gardening by 3:06 PM. It helped to have a sink of soapy water and essential oils on stand-by for cleaning kitchen and garden stuff as I went from this point on. All the pots I chose to keep were cleaned, dried, and neatly stacked away and I added my gravel and dirt all to one bag instead of  having a clutter of multiple near-empty bags in my gardening supply box. By 3:18 PM I was done and the garden supplies were stored.

Day 3: Kitchen Supplies) 3:35 PM to 5:19 PM

By this time I was working as fast as possible, knowing what "sparked joy" was second nature. The kitchen supplies in a pile was a daunting sight so I wanted the process over quickly! The day had flown by and I was determined to stick to my deadline. By 5:19 I'd cleaned out my drawers and cabinets with rosemary and orange essential oil, put my items neatly back into the cabinets and swept the floors. I'd also washed/dried items along the way if necessary and organized my tea bags (!!!) so that they were all neatly standing in a tray.

As I sat on the floor in the middle of a hurricane of scattered kitchen utensils, AJ's tall frame cautiously approached from the shadow hallway. He interrupted me as I frantically moved tools, cups, and utensils from box to box:

"I don't understand what this 'method' is, or why you're doing this, but I'm sorry you're so stressed and look so tired." Dramatic pause, Bambi-eyes activated. "I love you." Sad face.

His tone was a mix of one you'd use when you've grown apart from your spouse and fear the worst... and the tone you'd use when you're talking someone down from the edge of a building. Since I'd started the method I'd stopped decluttering only to eat, go to school, or for urgent work tasks. Sleep, spending time with AJ and assuring him I wasn't insane, both put on the back-burner. I explained, for possibly the 4th time in those three days,

"I'm doing all this now so we can spend all the time together afterwards! Trust me! This will work! Our lives will change forever! We will NEVER HAVE TO TIDY AGAIN AFTER THIS!" 

He started to walk back to the bedroom and away from the chaos "Wait, come back! WHY DON'T YOU BELIEVE ME!?"

Day 3: Art Tools) 5:22 PM - 5:41 PM / Biz Tools: 5:40 - 6:28 PM

Determined to get back to normalcy, I plowed forward as fast as possible. From AJ's perspective, I was a crazy woman in the living room taking ALL of our shit out of every drawer, putting them in a pile on the floor, asking myself (sometimes outloud) if they "spark joy" (which is crazy-talk) all while barely eating or sleeping for nearly three days straight. If I didn't finish soon, he'd Baker-Act me! I've already been crafting more since stacking my supplies so they're all visible- love it!

I was tired as hell and did this one at lightning speed! By this time, I was a pro at feeling out what "Sparks Joy". The method really is genius for that! From 6:10 PM to 6:28 PM I organized my donations and threw out some things, then left to the dollar store for boxes and supplies.

Day 3: Pantry) 8:08PM to 8:22 PM

I used shallow trays from the dollar store to organize the food in our pantry ( not a lot, we all keep it minimal with bulk goods) and now cooking is even funner! And we're eating up some stuff we forget we had hidden in the back.

Day 3: Personal Momentos) 11:44 PM to 12:00 AM

The momentos was actually done very quickly, I don't have much put thought into what to keep or not, "spark joy" feeling was 2nd nature. I  kept going until 12:45 AM, clearing up and doing final sorting.

I doesn't look like a lot, but it was jam-packed in those boxes! This doesn't include the trash, either!

Donation Pile) 12:29 PM - 4:05 PM !

I decided to host a yard sale so I went through my pile grouping items after my trip. It's a good thing I did this because I would have donated the printer cord I needed!  The only reason I didn't donate the pile on Day 3 is that I was too physically exhausted to force myself to carry the boxes downstairs to my car.

* * * 

KonMari Method Take Aways:

  • The process of going through what "sparks joy" and what doesn't makes me a better designer. I refine better.
  • The very next day, first thing, I looked a picture I had out of my mom from the 70s and BAM- my new brand name and design, the one that's not "been right" and has tortured me since November of last year, came to me instantly! A clear home = clear mind! + ...
  • ...Having your muses easily at hand is the only way they can be accessed so they can inspire you. (Versus having them buried.)
  • I want to do little things I couldn't do before because I was always organizing/couldn't find things/couldn't decide on type of item: write snail mail to people, wrap-up random presents for friends, even actually celebrate holidays!
  • If you have bad decision paralysis (like me, mine is crippling) choosing what "sparks joy" helps you hone decision making skills. I am more decisive! Thank God!
  • I'm working hard, happily, and effortlessly, not having to stop to "find" things
  • I feel more inspired, being surrounded only by the very best and none of the rest. This process would help you find yourself, your path, and refine your style.

Unexpected lessons learned:

- You can keep things you love in boxes and cabinets without diminishing their value. I used to think you had to display everything decorative to appreciate it, but that's overwhelming visually. I have my favorite toys in the top of my closet now and it makes me happy every time I open it.

Closing Thoughts:

I want to do this method for EVERYONE. All of my friends. My business partners and clients that are having the same problems with clutter, my family; everyone needs this method and this book! I even want to recommend it to clients when I start working as an herbalist. I feel like this method is the first step toward improving your health and starting a fresh new chapter in your life. I still have a couple of things to do (the wall art needs to be picked through and re-hung, then the cars, fridge, and AJ's stuff) and I'm so excited to keep going! I'll update with the after of how I stacked the items in drawers according to the method, "afters" of people I help with the method, and more detailed information next time.

Feel free to ask any questions! I know it's an epic post but I wanted to share every aspect of this journey, I've sought the results the method brings my whole life and I'm excited to finally have it!

Have you tried the method? I'd love it if you share your journey (with links if you have them) in the comments
Daily thrifting updates, information, & Inspiration: Follow Thrift Core on Twitter and Facebook.


  1. Yay! That's so inspiring! I have the book but haven't dedicated the time to go at it yet the way that you have. I love the idea of laying out every single item in a categorey - that just makes so much sense to me! In fact that's where I'm going to start - with my toy dinosaur collection. I may end up keeping them all, but some will be neatly boxed away. I think I'll start by dividing them into saurischians and ornithischians . . .

    1. It made so much sense to me too. When we tackle a whole room (or like my dumb ass tries to do, the whole house) we can't do that all at once, don't finish, and get discouraged leaving a bigger mess than before. Category helps you work faster. Your toy dinosaur collection sounds amazing!!! Love the idea for organizing by species.

  2. i'm curious as to how this works when you live with other people. i think it would be a challenge to convince my husband - and certainly my 23 year old son - that we all need to do this. maybe that's just an excuse - does the author touch on that at all?

    1. I took the FAQ that answered this out of the post because it was getting too long :) My thoughts too at first. I dug around and found a Q&A video with Marie where she answers this. She tells us that the #1 thing we need to do is complete the method for ourselves first not worrying about others in the family and the mess they make or the mess their stuff is in. After that, you'll notice they will naturally start to put things away. I'm going to go through the method with AJ's stuff, too, but it should definitely be one-person-at-a-time and only subjected to the willing.

    2. Ur, I mean only the willing should be subjected to it. I'll have more details in a follow-up post where I show the results of the method.

  3. Wow! I'm so impressed that you got it done so fast! We worked on our kon mari hard for about two weeks, then I got so overwhelmed! We're just now getting back to it, doing a little bit each day. It really does feel AMAZING and so many bags have left our house. the areas we have down the method on have stayed tidy and i love it. my closet and dresser are so much better, I can't believe it.

    1. I believe the final day was a 15 hour stretch to get it done! If I was working a conventional job I wouldn't have been able to do it in 3 days either, haha. The only thing I have left is the fridge and wall art. I loved reading about your guys doing the method on your blog! It's hard work, but amazingly satisfying when you're done.

  4. I looked forward to reading this all day! I have (and already read) that book..........but haven't been able to get going yet, due to work. It HAS changed the way I purchase things, however! Completely revolutionizes shopping for clothes!

    1. It would be hard for me to get around to if I was working my previous job, too. I was able to do a ton of make-up work before and after to accommodate the full day of cleaning. I've had to do a couple of all-nighters for it, but that method had to be implemented ASAP dammit, no regrets! I agree on how it revolutionizes shopping and especially shopping for clothes. Now I would only bring in something that passes all tests of specialness, whereas before, I would get excited if it fit well and buy it on impulse.

  5. This is so great! My husband and I purged recently - we didn't use any particular method but honestly what we ended up doing was super similar to this - and we got rid of / donated SO MUCH! Now everything we own fits onto or into two cube shelves, one TV stand, one desk, and one very organized closet. It's awesome.

    1. That sounds awesome! Yep, that's the way to do it, get rid of tons of crap because we don't really need or use any of it for the most part, THEN put it away in an organized fashion :) You can't organize if you're just shuffling the same stuff around and around, that was my problem.

  6. I have the audio version of this book. I've had it for about 6 months and haven't listened yet. I need to do that! Nice job on the organization.

    1. I think the right "moment" of overload comes and then you use it, haha :D I'd known about the book for months but then it suddenly popped in my head that I had to do the entire method. I tried listening to the audio book online but I think really reading it was necessary for the lessons to stick in my head. I think I'm too used to using audio books as background noise for lessons to seep in that way.

  7. You did great. I wish I could do this. It overwhelms me. I love the results you got though. I have put the book on hold at my library.

    1. Doing it by category makes it very doable. Whereas before I was always tackling a room or even the whole house and it was never completed that day, then later, abandoned.

  8. wow that is awesome.. i like to purge now and then.. i do it a few times a year but never on such a massive scale.. good for you.

    1. I recommend the method to everyone for the now-and-then purges, it's amazing! :D Though technically, like it claims, you won't have to do it on such a massive scale again if you do it once.

  9. Good job! I got stuck just after books, but will pick up again soon. My only beef with this book was how she used "throw away" or "discard" instead of "donate" or "give away". There are tons and tons of useful items going out in the trash instead of being donated so someone else can get use out of it. Otherwise, I agree - it's life changing!

    1. There aren't many thrift stores in Japan, which is unfortunate, so I think the "throw away" mentality is a reflection of that. I did make sure all of my useful items went to someone who would appreciate them. I don't even like to donate to my local Goodwill anymore because I saw them throw my stuff away and break vintage items, aah!! In the US there's no excuse though, Salvation Army will come right out to your house!

  10. wow that is awesome.. i like to purge now and then.. i do it a few times a year but never on such a massive scale.. good for you. good morning quotes

    1. Once or twice a year is a good way to do it, too. Whatever works for the individual. I know I needed this method though since I was always organizing but not moving forward.

  11. This is so great! My husband and I purged recently - we didn't use any particular method but honestly what we ended up doing was super similar to this - and we got rid of / donated SO MUCH! Now everything we own fits onto or into two cube shelves, one TV stand, one desk, and one very organized closet. It's awesome. best friend quotes

  12. What type of designer are you? How will you combine this with being an herbalist? I only ask because I'm an Interior Designer and a Reiki Master. I want to open a Reiki practice and an Interior Design business...and do both. I know it's a bit off topic, but I had to ask. I used the KonMari method today and went through the clothes in my drawers and my bookcase. I had previously purged from my dresser, but I was able to get rid of even more I was holding onto out of guilt. I'm being stubborn about the folding method. I already use it for my pjs, which I had 12 pairs (I have several chronic illnesses), but I'm holding out on trying it in the rest of my drawers. Maybe it reminds me too much of getting sick? Not sure, but I recently got rid of 9 pairs of pjs that I wore when I was sick and depressed because I'm getting better. It helped me let go of all those memories and it's a physical reminder that I'm healing...and I won't go back and slip on those old pjs.

  13. Forgot to check follow-up comments!

    1. Hey there, sorry I don't get notification of comments with blogger, it's better to e-mail me questions for immediate answers. I do freelance work for creative business owners, designs, websites, advice, things like that. My main full-time income is my new body care business though. :) I infuse my products with herbs and essential oils so that's how I'm using those skills at the moment.

      So cool that you're an interior designer and Reiki master, that's something I've always wanted to do (interior design) and the Reiki/Kon Mari/Interior Design go together perfectly. Purge the home, recharge it an the inhabitants, make it a new spiritual space.

      I thought I'd be able to do kon mari/reiki/organizaiton services for others and keep doing design AND ebooks AND the body care business but for now building up the body care business takes all my time. But I'm open to seeing clients for organization/spirituality/business/herbalism/aromatherapy/etc. in the future when the new business is more settled.

    2. That's ok. I'm taking a final Master Class at the end of the month and hope to learn how to clear homes so I can connect the two in a more direct way. I just got selected to be apart of a first of its kind wellness center in Austin where everyone practices energy healing of different forms. I'm moving from CA in March soon. So cool you are working on a body business! I started making all my body products myself a year ago. I'm selling some deodorant tomorrow to a friend. I feel like we are on the same wavelength. So weird. I also went back to school to study a Graphic Design, so yeah. Is there even a job title for all that?

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