Using the Konmari Method
When we decided that we wanted to live on a boat we knew we’d have to do something about our hoarding habits. We were moving to slightly bigger houses each time we moved and accumulating more stuff. You’d think that having moved so often would mean that I travelled light, but no, I just shifted a hell of a lot of junk with each move.
The boat decision made us rethink, if we could downsize to live on a boat surely we could downsize to a smaller house? I did some research on decluttering and made a start. I got rid of so much stuff, it was actually shocking how much went and how much we still had. I realised that I felt better, lighter somehow.
I stalled a bit, there was stuff I kept still just in case, clothes I kept because I felt I was lacking things that fit, stuff I planned to sell one day. I heard about the Konmari book and after chatting to a few people about it decided to buy a copy. I have to say I am amazed at the difference it’s made, in a way I agree with the people that said it could have been a short pamphlet, but at the same time the repetition of the book and the psychology of it made it really stick.
The basic premise is to look at your belongings individually (yes, potentially a mammoth task) and ask yourself “does it spark joy?” and if the answer is no, then it goes. She suggests an order for doing the sorting out which I also followed, even though I was tempted to do it my own way, I figured that I’d bought the book so I might as well do what she suggested.
I started with my clothes. I considered keeping my maternity clothes in case I have another baby but in reality it is unlikely and if I do, then I’ll just need to get some more. Then I got rid of all the clothes that don’t fit me and that I simply don’t like very much. Amazingly this added up to 3 large bin bags full. They all have gone, my clothes now fit in 3 drawers and I still feel like I have plenty. I like clothes, but day to day I tend to wear the same things. I have kept a small case with a few vintage items that I can’t wear at the moment because I am breastfeeding, but they really do give me joy and I know I will wear them again.
I’ve gone through my kitchen cupboards and got rid of any thing that I don’t use. I’ve sorted out the food cupboards and cleared out anything out of date. The boxes of old crockery that I’ve been meaning to sell have been donated to a lovely lady who is starting a cafe up, I’ve been promised half price cake for the rest of my life in return so that was definitely a good exchange for me.
I’ve shredded piles of paperwork, recycled anything that isn’t completely necessary to keep. I’ve pared down my already vastly reduced book collection to the ones that I truly love and will return to. Nearly everything has gone to the charity shop, I feel like I am doing some good there and I am not stuck with a huge pile of stuff to sell, which ends up feeling like another pressure on me.
I’ve been tidying and organising, instead of 8 sets of nail clippers (yes, seriously, 8!) we have 2, one normal sized and one small for little children’s nails. They have a specific spot in the bathroom cabinet so we always know where to find them. In fact everything we need now has a place and it’s making a huge difference, the house is easier to keep tidy and I don’t feel so overwhelmed.
The oddest thing for me is that I know when we move on to the boat we will be able to keep very few of our belongings and I’m OK with that. Having gone from a person who is hugely sentimental and a bit of a collector (OK, a complete hoarder), I am rejoicing in getting rid of “stuff”. I feel better for less stuff and I want to get rid of more. But also I don’t want to live in a bare house for the next 2 years, so I am keeping the things I enjoy for now, but happy in the knowledge that when it’s time I will feel OK about letting these things go too. In fact, I’m rather looking forward to it.