The Big 2020 KonMari House-Reset Event!

Considering it’s been roughly six years since The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up was released, and nearly two years since Tidying Up with Marie Kondo hit Netflix screens around the world, I’m guessing you’ve been exposed to Marie Kondo in some context already. I remember becoming privy to her around the time the book came out, when it felt like her signature KonMari method took the internet by storm and it’s what all the bloggers were talking about for like 6 months. I vaguely remember approaching this period with the same contrarian attitude with which I regard most new things. Thanks; I hate it.

And now, true to form, I’m very late to the party but will bravely pretend I’m right on time and everyone else was just early. That’s the kind of on-trend taste-making work you can expect from this blog. Here we go.

One of the laziest but most accurate ways I can describe the last 7+ years of owning this house is busy. I feel like I’ve just been bouncing from project to project with very little time in between for a long time, and control over my own home has gotten away from me a bit. I love things, but the volume and lack of organization had started to feel like a burden. A chaotic living space is always draining, but worse with a house under renovation because filling it with too much crap becomes an actual obstacle to getting things done. A little while ago, it hit me that while this house is pretty long on space, it’s actually really short on functioning storage—kitchen cabinetry remains lacking, the only closet on the first floor is completely gutted, the linen closet on the second floor is far from optimized organizationally, and my furniture generally offers very little in terms of space to stow things away. Some efforts have been made in the basement and the garage, but are far from ideal. So maybe my real problem is storage, not excess?

The trouble is, I couldn’t even really tell because I didn’t have a great handle on what I owned, which makes planning any storage-related projects feel difficult. Do I really need tons of cabinetry in the laundry room, like I think I do? How should I fit out the interior of the dining room closet if I don’t know whether it needs to hold a vacuum cleaner or shelves of serving ware? So it struck me that to proceed in any kind of orderly, informed fashion, I needed to first really take stock of what I had and open my mind to the possibility that, in fact, there are just simply too many items in this home. Then I could worry about how to store it. So after wrapping up the Bluestone Cottage kitchen renovation, I decided to put a brief moratorium on new projects until I got my own house under control. So I’ve been busy, but in a different way than normal!

ENTER, STAGE LEFT: MARIE KONDO.

Let’s talk about Marie Kondo for a minute because there are some things I feel inclined to say. First thing’s first: if you haven’t actually read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Upyou might think you know what it’s about but it’s highly unlikely you actually do. Because here’s what I think has happened: Kondo releases this book at the ripe age of 27. She is a woman. She is extremely tiny. She is Japanese. She has some cultural customs that factor into her KonMari method that feel foreign and odd—laughable, even. The book then gains traction particularly among American bloggers who make it all about throwing away all their stuff, possibly including their high school yearbooks. This sounds crazy! Extreme! So we either dig further or tune out. And then Netflix releases a show wherein she brings her method into a series of American households, and we watch as they, too, throw away all their stuff, vanquish the clutter, and reclaim their wall-to-wall carpeting from under the mounds of junk.

The lesson here is essentially that packrats need to get rid of things in order to have fewer things, and doing so will make them feel better. It’s easy to swallow but hardly groundbreaking. We like the show because it provides a semi-satisfying before-and-after, and some of the people they cast to be on it are charming or relatable in some way. Through this lens, Marie Kondo becomes a kind of poster child for minimalism, which is puzzling because that’s not what her seminal work is about.

As a result of so many people being exposed to her work through this watered-down television version, through this watered-down blog version (definitely not what I’m in the process of doing right now), through good old word-of-mouth, or some combination, my impression is that Marie Kondo has, to many people, become kind of a punchline. Like she’s just that cute little kooky Japanese lady who wants you to throw away all your things and live in a white box. I’ve been sharing bits and pieces of my “tidying journey” over on Instagram stories, and I can’t tell you how many people have sent me messages prefaced with some variation of “Marie Kondo is not for me because I’m not a minimalist” (she never says you have to be) or “I got through one room and gave up; the whole joy thing just doesn’t work for me” (you’re doing it wrong, it’s not a room-by-room approach) or “Kondo has clearly never known clutter herself, so she has no business telling me how to handle my own” (she has, and writes about it at length).

I truly believe that if Marie Kondo were older, taller, whiter, a native English-speaker, and possibly male, this outright dismissal wouldn’t be happening. It seems to me that Real Simple has been publishing the same four ineffective cleaning/organizing/tidying tricks for like twenty years, and yet for some mysterious reason we accept, without question, that getting rid of a shirt every time you buy a new shirt is an effective or sustainable path to a clean house. And yet, when a person who has literally dedicated her entire neurotic life to figuring this out for us so we don’t have to, makes a business out of it, and writes a best-selling book describing it in detail so you can do it too—for free, no less, even though people pay for her services—all we want to focus on are those motherfucking yearbooks which, BY THE WAY, you are 1,000% free to keep according to Marie Kondo. You are 1,000% allowed to keep whatever the hell you want, as much as you want, according to Marie Kondo. The point is that she is literally a self-made expert in this very niche field that is populated by many voices but a scant few experts. Her advice is qualified. We should listen to her. Why in the world wouldn’t we?

I rest.

SO. WITH THAT. Because I hope that it’s legitimately helpful, I’d like to get into what took from the book, and how I approached my KonMari whirlwind cleaning extravaganza! To me, it rings true that the overall method really applies to anybody (and could even apply to things other than physical clutter), but the actual specifics and ways of thinking about it may differ between people. So this is what helped me! I still highly recommend just reading/listening to the book—I sat in bed and read it cover to cover in a few hours, and I’m neither a regular nor fast reader. The text itself tends to be fairly repetitive, but I’m guessing that’s on purpose to take advantage of liminal thinking or something.

+ THE BASICS +

A few important things to understand, so listen carefully.

1. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is really like 90% about discarding, not organizing. The idea here is that you need to know what you need to store before you can think about how to store it, and the only way you know what you need to store is to take inventory of what you have. Often people find that the organization part mostly works itself out once the tidying part is completed. You want to move through the discarding as quickly as possible (which I took to mean a week or two, but she mentions 6 months in the book—ha!), so getting caught up in how you want to organize and store things mid-purge is a roadblock to speedy progress.

2. Fundamental to the KonMari method is the idea of tidying by CATEGORY and not by location. We often store the same type of thing in various areas of the house, so a room-by-room approach simply does not make sense. This is counter to the way most of us learned or figured out how to approach a big clean-out (or whatever you want to call it, pick whatever is least triggering!), but that doesn’t mean you know better. You do not. Check yourself before you wreck yourself, and listen to Marie.

3. The categories are specific, and come in a particular order. FOLLOW THE DAMN ORDER. It goes: Clothes, Books, Paperwork, Komono (Japanese for “small things”—i.e. a catch-all category we’ll get back to), and lastly Keepsakes. The idea is to start with what’s easiest to part with and will create the most volume of discarded objects upfront, thereby creating the momentum and sustained motivation that comes with experiencing quick results. It’s called positive reinforcement. You know, the way human brains are hardwired to find the drive to do anything at all.

It’s almost like this lady knows what the hell she’s talking about.

+ THE BIG TAKEAWAYS +

I’m going to guess you’ve heard this idea that every item must be held in your hand, individually, and that it must “spark joy” in order to be kept. You may have also heard some stuff about thanking your belongings as you put them into a trash bag. I see you rolling your eyes over there—hear me out! I think the particular language doesn’t resonate with everyone (how the hell do I know if something “sparks joy”??? I’m dead inside!), but the general concept is good. I found that reframing it slightly and keeping a few things in mind throughout REALLY helped me. The fact is that I really do like almost everything I own (I wouldn’t have procured it if I didn’t!), so nearly all of my decision-making came down to “like” vs. “LOVE,” and that line can feel unclear. I think some people are more capable of this gut-level, joy-based decision-making (or just don’t actually have much attachment to a lot of their stuff), but I like a little rational thinking thrown in there because I, too, am dead inside.

Anyway. I had the following list in the notes app on my phone, and would review it before I began the day’s purge to psych myself up and get myself in the right headspace.

  1. Before you start, really try to nail down with yourself WHY you want to do this, and visualize what life looks like on the other side. Hang onto that vision! If you’re questioning whether to keep or toss an item, check whether it’s part of that vision or not. Generally if you’re questioning, you already have your answer. It’s not.
  2. DO NOT GET DERAILED THINKING ABOUT STORAGE. How much space you have or don’t have is not relevant at this stage.
  3. Try to think of it as choosing what to keep rather than what to get rid of. If it helps, imagine choosing things at a store—just because you have it and like it doesn’t mean you’d necessarily choose to buy it again, especially compared to all these other fabulous items surrounding it. It doesn’t mean you hate it just because you’d leave it on the shelf. Make it more about selecting the things you absolutely love and would slap your best friend over if they saw it first at the thrift store.
  4. Has the item fulfilled its role in your life? The role could have started and ended the day you bought it and you’re really just holding onto that memory, or some time later. But is it something you want to bring into the future with you, too? Is it something that future-you derives pleasure, happiness, or value from? Because…
  5. Ultimately, where we live should be for the person we are becoming here and now, not for the person we were in the past. If I were writing this blog post for myself, I’d tell myself to go back and read that three times.
  6. “Someday” never comes when you’re waiting to put something in order. It just doesn’t. Do it now. Shit or get off the pot.
  7. Really important things are not that great in number. Really.
  8. Your surplus does not mean that you are taking good care of things (often, your surplus means that you are not taking good care of things…ask me how I know). Aim to revitalize your relationship with your things by pairing down to what you can actually handle.

Onwards.

+ THE SORTING PROCESS +

DO NOT SKIP THE PART ABOUT GATHERING EVERYTHING IN ONE SPOT. It is absolutely essential. This means that as each category comes up, you will likely have to run around the house and gather all the things that belong to that category. Use the floor, the bed, the dining room table—anywhere big enough to accommodate a big pile. This has two very important and effective purposes. The first is that seeing it ALL TOGETHER really drives home the volume of stuff. You really can’t do that otherwise. The second is that it forces you to actually pick up and consider each item and put it somewhere. You may find that the most minuscule task of taking a shirt and putting it back on a hanger barely feels worth the effort, whereas just leaving it on that hanger—if you haven’t pulled everything out of the closet—requires no action at all. This comes into particular play with books, I think: I found that I could scan a shelf and easily pull out 5 things I could lose, but actually taking everything down and holding each book individually brought that number way up. We’re good at just not seeing the things that have been stagnant in our spaces for a long time.

A few helpful rules:

  1. If you neglect to gather something before you start sorting that category, it’s a pretty automatic toss. If you didn’t even remember its existence to include it in the category, it’s highly unlikely that it’s important enough to keep.
  2. Try to start early in the day. Clear head and such. Try, also, to be sober.
  3. Do not watch TV or listen to fun music or podcasts while you sort. This was hard for me because I find silence crushing and basically unbearable, but this is something that requires focus and some emotional investment to really commune with your shit and consider your life and all that. I basically listened to elevator music throughout this event because silence was too harsh. Lullatone is a great band to accompany a KonMari purge.
  4. Once it hits the donation/sale/recycling/trash bag, it’s gone.

Let’s get into the categories! I think this is where people get tripped up and stuck during this process, and somehow I am arrogant enough to believe I have something to offer here.

+ CLOTHING +

I’d recommend including shoes, belts, ties, scarves, and other clothing-adjacent things in this section. If it makes sense to you, add in watches, jewelry, glasses, and other such accessories. Some things (like clothes that no longer fit but are around for sentimental reasons) are OK to set aside for the Keepsake category. A helpful KonMarie tip:

  1. You will never use spare buttons.

+ BOOKS +

You know what a book is. I know what a book is. BUT I found that some books really felt more like keepsakes: yearbooks, books from childhood, even some books from high school and college. I think that’s OK—just set them aside and deal with them during the keepsakes category. This is actually helpful, I think, because doing so increases the volume of the Keepsake category and helps put those other keepsakes into context—it’s easier to let go of a text you read in college when it’s next to the pile of letters from friends and loved ones you received during the same period. Some helpful KonMari tips:

  1. Books are just paper with information printed in them, and their presence alone really doesn’t mean anything unless you’re reading them.
  2. If it’s unread (especially for a long time), you’re not likely to ever read it. Its purpose may have been to teach you that you didn’t need it, or started and ended when you bought it and felt good about supporting the local bookstore or the author or the publishing industry generally, or something other than actually reading the thing you’re not going to read. Let it go.
  3. Will you really ever “re-study” it? A book might have been completely fascinating but you already read it and got the value of the information, and most of us don’t need to do that more than once with any given text. And, let’s face it, even if you do want to dig up a piece of information, you’re more likely to google it than go searching through a book.

+ PAPERWORK +

Also a category where certain things make more sense to set aside as keepsakes (for me, all my materials from school). Otherwise, you’ll likely want to get rid of whatever you can, because recycling a buttload of paper is super fun and freeing. Keep what you absolutely need but remember that a lot of your paper probably includes things you can find again online should the situation ever arise (bills and bank statements, especially). Manuals are another good example—you can find them all as PDFs online, so just toss. If you must keep, at least reduce the bulk by tearing out the pages written in languages you don’t speak.

+ KOMONO +

So the first three categories are pretty easy and self-explanatory, and then you get to Komono and don’t know where to start. I think sub-categorizing is essential here. These categories will vary between people depending on what you have, but I spent a lot of time coming up with categories that made sense with my things, and ordered them easiest to hardest, like the broader categories. So here’s my list. If I had any idea how, I’d give you a printable PDF but then—as a piece of paperwork—you’d just throw it away.

  1. Dog toys and supplies
  2. Cards: credit cards, debit cards, customer loyalty cards, business cards you’ve been handed, that kind of thing
  3. Food and pantry items
  4. Cleaning products and supplies
  5. Toiletries, skincare, cosmetics, etc.
  6. Arts & crafts supplies
  7. Electronics, cables, and chargers
  8. Stationary/notepads
  9. Office supplies, pens, pencils, and scissors
  10. Baskets
  11. Tea towels and rags
  12. Table linens, napkins, and aprons
  13. Fabrics and sewing supplies
  14. Cameras and photography equipment
  15. Bed linens, blankets, throw pillows (inserts and covers), towels, shower curtains, and bathmats
  16. Bags and totes
  17. Cooking appliances
  18. Cookware like pots, pans, bakeware, and kitchen tools and utensils
  19. Servingware, dishes, and trays
  20. Candles and candlesticks
  21. Vases and pottery
  22. Art
  23. Rugs
  24. Mirrors
  25. Lamps and light fixtures
  26. Furniture
  27. Gardening tools and supplies
  28. Lumber
  29. Tools
  30. Assorted architectural salvage
  31. Keys

Again, this list is pretty specific to me. You might have videogames, DVDs and tapes, sports trophies, an extensive collection of sex toys—I don’t know your business! But I think it’s worthwhile to spend some time creating a list of your subcategories before you begin any of the categories. That way, you know you have a plan and won’t get bogged down trying to figure out what comes next.

+ KEEPSAKES +

This, too, I divided into a few subcategories:

  1. Journals, notebooks, sketches and drawings
  2. School binders and papers
  3. Childhood artwork
  4. Photo albums and photos
  5. Childhood toys
  6. Objects, trinkets, figurines, souvenirs, and knick-knacks.

As Marie warned, this was the hardest category—but actually not for the reason I expected. I’m not really sure how to write about this without turning it into a whole blog post, but part of the reason I’ve spent the last decade working on houses—my own and others—is that I really do believe that the place you live has a huge effect on your overall well-being and happiness. And confronting this mountain of “keepsakes” was rough—with it came this immediate realization that I’ve really used the physical space of my home to hang onto SO MUCH from the past, like some kind of weird monument to my personal history. For what? What space am I reserving for new experiences, new stories, new people? Because this enormous pile? This is not the pile of a person who has left space in his life for, say, another person to join him in this space. Which is something I’d really like, while we’re all being honest. Going this (life, renovation, what have you) alone was never the intention, and yet my stuff indicates a different story. It made me profoundly sad to just take it all in, in all honesty. Then I got to work, and actually letting go of a ton of it was the easy part.

+ DIGITAL +

Oh yesssssss he didddddddd. I’m adding a category. I’m fucking crazy.

How many back-up hard drives and little keychain flash drives and disorganized files and shit on your desktop do you have? Applications (are they all called Apps now?) that haven’t run since four operating systems ago? Duplicate photo files? So I think it’s worth pulling all that stuff together and spending some time on it. I’m not good about keeping my own computer organized (always too many windows open, always just putting stuff on the desktop to handle later), and I know the mayhem of my digital space causes me a weird level of anxiety and frustration, so I’m going to get after it!

Going to. I haven’t completely wrapped up this whole KonMari event, but I’m super close! Sorting through physical photos feels like a big slow job (I want everything either in albums or the trash), so for now I’ve just set photos and photo albums aside for further review. I’ve also been working on the basement and the garage, where all the lumber and tools live. That’s kind of a big task but nothing I can’t manage, and any organizational improvements to those spaces is a huge victory in my eyes. They tend to get pretty nutty pretty quickly.

+ WHERE DOES IT ALL GO? +

Above is my pile of STUFF to get rid of. I could list a few things these many boxes contain, but I really do mean a few. Madness! What’s not shown is some of the furniture I plan to part with, and some large semi-broken tools I’ll list on Buy Nothing to become someone else’s problem. But anyway—what now?

The biggest thing that bothers me about Tidying Up is that, based on the text, Marie Kondo seems to say that basically everything you’re getting rid of goes in the trash—like the actual trash; the trash that gets sent to a landfill. I’m guessing this is because seeing the volume of trash bags grow is motivating, and she doesn’t want clients to have the additional burden/distraction of trying to sell things, schlep them to a donation facility, etc. etc. But yeah—I’m not down with that plan, ha!

ANYWAY. Since this stuff isn’t trash, I’d like to attempt some kind of yard sale (feeling increasingly unlikely by the day, in the age of Covid), and maybe sell some of the better stuff online? I dunno. I could use the money so I’d rather try to get a little cash out rather than just donating everything as a one-step solution.

So, a few suggestions for what to do with it all! First, check out my friend Ashley’s excellent post over at The Gold Hive which covers a ton of bases. PLEASE add more in the comments because I’m very much not an expert on waste management, even though I try!

  1. Recycle papers and plastic. Duh.
  2. Electronic cables and other electronics (even vacuum cleaners!) can be recycled at Best Buy locations.
  3. Clothing can of course be donated, or recycled by H&M in exchange for a modest discount on your next purchase.
  4. Check to see which thrift stores or non-profits in your area are accepting donations.
  5. Join your local Buy Nothing group on Facebook. Apparently people will take basically anything.
  6. When in doubt, check out Earth911! You can search by zip code to find out where to recycle pretty much anything.

Even though I still have a few parts of this to wrap up, the house feels SO MUCH BETTER. I still have plenty of stuff and am in no way a minimalist, but I don’t really want to be. It’s just so nice to feel in control of my own stuff again, and I feel so much more equipped to do the things I need to do without unnecessary hassle and frustration. On top of that, it’s a really rad thing to look around a room and realize you really love everything you see. I think it might be magic, after all.

Oh, also? I’m feeling a full house tour coming on, since it’s been SEVEN YEARS and it’s looking pretty good up in here! During this pandemic more than ever, I feel so incredibly lucky to live in a place that I love, and will get better as I check more things off the list, and I’m truly grateful to Marie Kondo for showing me the way and teaching me how to tidy. Life-changing, indeed!

Oh, and I still have my yearbooks.

About Daniel Kanter

Hi, I'm Daniel, and I love houses! I'm a serial renovator, DIY-er, and dog-cuddler based in Kingston, New York. Follow along as I bring my 1865 Greek Revival back to life and tackle my 30s to varying degrees of success. Welcome!

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135 Comments

  1. 7.30.20
    Sara L. said:

    THANK you. Man, when I read “Life Changing Magic…” a few years ago, I was completely mesmerized. So much intelligent information! So simple! I started a purge but got hung up on the Komono aspect and kind of petered out, but I did get rid of amazing piles of stuff, including so much crap from my childhood that I so didn’t need. But then I started reading all of this weird backlash online from people who obviously hadn’t read the book or took exactly the wrong lessons from it. (For what it’s worth, I never assumed that when she said “trash” she meant actual trash, since I’m pretty sure she mentions donations a few times…) So thank you for pointing out exactly what is so great about her method. It works! For everything! And now I have to get back to my own, second purge, and funnily enough I have my yearbooks out on the floor right now, and I really just want to toss them. Thank you so much for the list of Komono categories! I know I will use it for a reference. Hope to see you on the other side!

    • 7.31.20

      Ahhhh, best of luck with the second round! This was number 3 for me after stopping right after books twice when other stuff came up. Feels so good to power through the other categories!!

  2. 7.30.20
    Dianna said:

    Check with your local animal shelter as they will usually take blankets, towels and liens. I also usually go thru my dogs stuff and anything that is still in great shape goes to the local shelter as well.

    • 7.31.20
      vanessa said:

      Most cities have a center/depot for creative reuse, that will take craft supplies, office and school supplies, and other various ephemera.

    • 7.31.20

      Thank you both! I should have specifically mentioned animal shelters because YES! They need them! It is included in Ashley’s post that I linked to! She’s my personal responsible waste guru!

  3. 7.30.20
    Kim W said:

    I kind of tend towards smaller purges now and then, but that comes from a much more practical place – I spent one-third of my adult life in a ridiculously tiny two-bedroom apartment in the Lower East Side, one small enough that the bedrooms had sleeping lofts built in because it wouldn’t have fit any other furniture with a bed in there. I often purged things in self-defense.

    Definitely recommending the “Buy Nothing” groups on Facebook. These are hyper-local – the one I belong to only serves my small Brooklyn neighborhood, and people both offer up and accept just about everything. I’ve seen people post, like, half-used shampoo and there are still takers. I have gotten rid of a desk chair, a bunch of file storage boxes, and some other stuff, and I’ve also gotten a few bits of kitchenware.

    Also, for books I suggest Paperbackswap.com . That is a site where you can post books you want to get rid of, and interested parties speak up to claim them. You get a point for every book you send to someone (you have to pay postage, but it can be media mail rate); and you can use that point to then go look at other books people have on the list and make your own requests. I used that list to get rid of 15 boxes’ worth of books that a former roommate left behind when she moved to Australia; I got rid of about 14 boxes’ worth in only 2 months, and banked up so many points that I used them to track down a complete set of this pop-sci coffee table book series I dug when I was a kid.

    • 7.30.20
      Matcia said:

      WOW! That was an incredible journey you just took us on. Full of insights into Marie Kondo but also Daniel Kanter. House tours are nice but I appreciate the mind tour more. Thanks.

    • 7.30.20
      ML said:

      Buy Nothing is fantastic and thank you for pointing out the double standards of the Marie Kondo phenomenon. I had done partial purges but find the biggest impact has been in my mindset about acquiring new objects. I’m learning to appreciate the beauty of things without having to own them immediately!

    • 7.31.20
      Livia said:

      I also like to sell things on FB marketplace for a nominal fee. I find that if some one is willing to pay me $5-20 for an item and come pick it up, they actually want it and it will get used.

    • 7.31.20

      PaperbackSwap—great suggestion, thank you so much!! I found out also that our local used bookstore offers store credit for anything they can use/resell that you bring in, so that could be another viable strategy for books! The couple of times I’ve had yard sales in my life, books definitely seem like one of the hardest things to get rid of.

  4. 7.30.20
    Kim said:

    “You will never use spare buttons.”
    A truer sentence has never been written.

    • 7.30.20
      MOM said:

      I have like thousands of spare buttons and literally remember sewing on a button like twice in the last five years. But, as soon as I dump my buttons I have this horrific feeling that everything I own will lose all their buttons simultaneously and then what will I do? Sounds like an irrational nightmare, I know but sometimes people worry about irrational shit, just saying.

    • 7.31.20
      Livia said:

      As someone who has saved and organized spare buttons at various points in my life, this made me feel attacked and seen simultaneously.

    • 7.31.20

      Livia—hahaha, been there! And honestly I kept the majority of mine, since I’ve also bought some groovy buttons here and there for TBD craft projects, and they fit in a little jar the size of a pill bottle anyway. Ha!

      Mom—Marie makes the generally valid point that typically by the time a button falls off a garment, the garment has probably reached the end of its life anyway! I think it’s worth keeping a few just in case, but I realized I had like 30 of the same button and I could probably get by just fine with about 2.

  5. 7.30.20
    Jeanne said:

    I’m so glad you are sticking up for Marie Kondo! I loved her book and the Netflix series and I just don’t understand why people poo poo her. If they read the book and still talk down, I think they are just applying their own negative filters on it. Anyway, congratulations and great job with the clean out!!

    • 7.31.20

      I agree! I think it makes some people feel weirdly attacked? Like they need to really defend themselves? Which to me just says that they would probably benefit the most from some critical thought about their relationship with their own things!

    • 8.1.20
      Liane said:

      I am a fan of decluttering, but we have a joke in our house whenever I start eyeing all the dog toys that my dog insists, “uh, they’re like Voltron. They only spark joy when they’re all together “

  6. 7.30.20
    S said:

    Thanks for this. I realized I am a person who totally rolled my eyes at mariekondoing based totally on the obnoxious quantities of STUFF Americans have, and how aggressively obsessed people were about it when it first came out. As someone who’s not really into stuff, lives in a wee house, and regularly purges things, I largely ignored the first round of popularity and definitely viewed it through the lens of other people’s takes on the book . Thanks for explaining the concept in a much more thoughtful way. When you started this on IG I was prepared to be annoyed but it’s super fascinating, and my next purge may have a little more Kondo input!

    • 7.31.20

      That’s so nice to hear—thank you for saying so!

  7. 7.30.20

    How interesting you’ve posted this on this day as this entire year is fucked up, in no part due to Covid 19 as you say. I’m trying right now to get creatively motivated and begin to monetize the blog and get my YT channel going, and hitting brickwalls and not gaining any progress at the moment.

    As to the whole Marie Kondo thing, I think part of it is the whole sparks joy sentiment, but also millinials and below have misconstrued it to mean, go minimalist, even though that was NOT Marie’s intent, but it’s been misconstrued as such. Also, the size of many homes in the US at least have gotten bigger and I firmly believe a lot of that is just to store the crap many accumulate but never get rid of. So they fill up their basement etc, then move to a bigger house and add MORE to their existing stuff in the thinking it’s easier instead of purging/getting rid of periodically before it gets bad.

    My best friend has been purging a LOT this summer. One area was to get rid of the storage container he’d been renting for 2 years or so, it’s been emptied and now it’s gone. He’s been taking trailer loads to the dump/lots of yard waste too.

    I have a small pile in the corner of my backyard of old and broken items that are best just dumped. I took my old CRT TV I bought new (open boxed) in 1996 to E-Waste, the rest of the donations went to the GW once they opened back up but I need to go through papers again and go through my HD’s to clean that up as it’s become kind of a mess (not all of it) and need more space but the real issue now is work, don’t know when I’m heading back to work and add to that, need to set up a side hustle (YT is one and monetize my blog but that’s been easier than said than done for that and I’m having to relearn Premiere Pro for editing to get the YT channel up so that’s been slow going. Oh a video is up, but it was spontaneous and I was able to quickly get it edited and got it uploaded last Sept when we had a major thunderstorm blow through with 200 cloud to ground strikes, just in Seattle alone that evening.

    Nothing since due to issues with Premiere Pro and getting it to upload and I think I know part of if not all of why, how Premiere stores unless you set all that up with each project.

    I’ve got a project that’s stalled due to sewing machine problems (a pillow for my office chair) and that room is a complete mess (disorganized and never sorted since I moved into my house in the summer of ’16). My studio is also a mess and part of that is it’s also my short term catchall room as I was settling in initially.

    I may have to just get the book and read it through but at the moment, I’m not motivated, feeling like I’m frozen mentally at the moment. I know disorganization is NOT helping one whit.

    I’m sure you’ve been there too?

    • 7.31.20
      Elena said:

      Minimalism has never bothered me in that it is out there, fine, but I like more stuff. What I do like in Marie’s book is that she teaches one how to sort things. For me that is the take-away. The trick about trash I feel is not so much the binning it-self, but the getting rid of stuff far away not to tempt one to get it back. She gives the example that if you give something to family or friends you may end up taking it back. Happens to me all the time. I discard something and who better to give to than family and a while later, I go: oh, this looks good,in particular if I cut the hem, dye it or remove the sleeves etc. Things I never did in the first place, because my list of repairing and upcycling us sooo long that it is quite refreshing to just give it away. I also try to sell perfectly good things, but the process takes so long that I think (for me) is not worth spending my time on it (which is a resource in it-self) that takes time from creatingsomething new and amaizing. But that is personal. It is entirely up to you to see what model works. :) Good job! Well done!

  8. 7.30.20
    Lizzie said:

    As a life long messy person, organizing by choosing what to keep rather than what to give away was a mind blowing realization for me. Choosing the possessions I love out of the giant pile (so necessary) of things I have accidentally accumulated gives me a sense of fulfillment in what I have, rather than always wanting more. It has made cleaning fun for me! It’s like I am visiting all my little things (oh no, can you catch kookiness from a book?)
    I’m glad you talked about the pieces of her method that have gotten lost in the general conversation. I think she is a really smart (if neurotic) lady, and you’re spot on about why people dismiss her. She has been a huge inspiration to me and totally changed the way I think about possessions, and maybe even life?! I would classify her more as an “essentialist” than a “minimalist.” She believes in keeping the most important and loved things, which most of the time, still ends up being plenty.

    • 7.31.20

      Hahaha, if that’s what we’re calling kookiness, guilty as charged!! That was a big game-changer for me, too.

  9. 7.30.20
    Dutch Girl said:

    As a person who finds emotional gratification in getting rid of things, I read through this blog with a big of smugness thinking I am all caught up on cleaning out my house – until I got to “You will never use spare buttons”. Guilty!! I have years of spare buttons! What’s that about?!

    Daniel, this is a fine piece of writing. Thank you so much for being so honest and so funny. I believe this post will help a lot of people.

    • 7.31.20

      Aw, thanks! I hope so! The button thing is so funny—I feel like it’s a universal problem, but I bet I’ve actually used spare buttons from the jar like twice in my entire life, haha! It feels so rare for a button to fall off in the first place, and when one does I don’t tend to lose them, so there’s no real need for a replacement!

  10. 7.30.20
    Barbara H. said:

    Yep, been there, made progress, stalled, need to get cracking again. The paperwork thing is my nemesis but I’ve made progress in the past so know I can do it again. Loved this post and especially your handy hints and suggestions and the pictures of the piles. Thank you once again for all you do for us.

    • 7.31.20

      Thanks Barbara! I was kinda overwhelmed by the paper thing at first, and then I got REAL into it and seeing the recycling bin fill up felt SO GOOD. I think I get a particular thrill out of losing heavy things, and that paper sure adds up to a lot of weight!

  11. 7.30.20
    Bavmorda said:

    I read Marie Kondo’s book shortly after it came out, and while I very much appreciate the method and philosophy, especially the joy aspect (something I already did!) the enormity of the category method completely overwhelmed me. I’m one of those people who has to break things down into their smallest components or I’m just too overwhelmed to even start. Add to that, I absolutely can not focus when I’m surrounded by mess (another hindrance to going full KonMari). So I guess it really depends on your goals on whether the KonMari method is the way to go. For me, it wasn’t necessarily about getting rid of stuff (I tend to get rid of things pretty easily anyway), it was about getting my house clean and keeping it that way.

    I got the ‘get my sh** in order’ bug two months ago while working from home due to COVID, and have been using my own little version of the Flylady.net method, which focuses on building small, realistic daily habits that add up to a clean and organized home over time. For some people this can take a month or two, for others, longer. She divides the house into Zones, with the goal being 1 zone per week, and recommends setting aside 15 minutes daily (except on weekends) to tackle clutter in that zone. Once the clutter is cleared, then it’s on to deep cleaning. You may not get everything done in that zone in that week, but you will get some of it done, and over time you’ll get it all done. Baby steps!

    2 months later, my house is CLEAN, so I can honestly say this method is working for me. I use bullet journaling to track daily chores and goals, which gives me a little boost every time I fill in the little box next to the chore. The chores I’ve assigned myself take less than 15 minutes in the morning, and the same at night, and another 15 minutes in that week’s zone. The key was being realistic and not giving myself too much to do. Sticking to it has resulted in a daily sense of accomplishment. I feel in control and organized! I no longer spend days on end glued to the couch and TV remote. I get sh** done! I’m even eating better and getting more exercise.

    • 7.31.20

      Thank you for the suggestion! Glad you found something that works for you!!

  12. 7.30.20
    Caitlin said:

    This is really inspirational! Will I tackle our basement of doom now? I feel like I should (but not as its own room… I will handle it as a part of the dumpster of memories/keepsakes it is become #learning)

    • 7.31.20

      Hear, hear! I had a couple of boxes of keepsakes stowed in the basement, and it’s so nice to not have them languishing down there anymore. Basement is for tools, wood, salvage, and utilities now—that’s it!

  13. 7.30.20
    Brooke said:

    Thanks so much for this thoughtful guide. I read the book when it came out and spent a few months getting my home in order thanks to it! Going through the process fully based on her approach helped me reframe my connection to my things and it stuck. I am a lifelong pack rat and naturally a very messy person and it was a struggle for me to break out of those habits – but once I had that feeling of relief after tackling my final category it was like a switch turning on. I still have things – LOTS of them. This is the only method that has felt manageable for someone like me who wants a lot of stuff but doesn’t want to be buried in it.

    • 7.31.20

      Yesssss! It really is like turning on a switch. I wish I had stuck with it past the clothes and books categories in past attempts, because I probably coulda felt that switch turn on before now! Better late than never, I guess!

  14. 7.30.20
    Meggan said:

    Thank you for addressing the backlash against Marie Kondo. I absolutely agree that her detractors (mostly) haven’t actually read the book or learned her methods and it is/was so frustrating to watch that play out online. She never said you have to get rid of everything! You can keep your stuff! Just make sure you love it.

    As a semi-reformed packrat, her book radically changed how I view my possessions and I will be forever grateful to her for that. Just the idea that you should really love the items you choose to keep was so transformative for me. What’s the use of having four “meh” items when you could have one great, high-quality one you adore?

    Congrats on what you’ve KonMari-ed so far – it’s a huge task!

  15. 7.30.20
    Alexandra B said:

    I’m struggling with finding places to donate because of COVID. Please please please update the post when you find places that still accept donations!!

    • 7.31.20

      Yeah, it’s tough! I think it just varies a lot by place—currently there’s one place in town that I know of that’s accepting donations here, but I think it probably just takes some calling around to your local options to find out. It doesn’t seem like there’s a consistent answer even among local shops!

  16. 7.30.20
    'col said:

    This is great, Daniel! Thanks for taking us through your thinking.

  17. 7.30.20
    Wilma Hovius said:

    All of that wonderfulness requires some before and after photos!! Let us live vicariously through your kondoing success :)

    • 7.30.20
      Carolyn said:

      Yes!

    • 7.31.20

      Coming up!

  18. 7.30.20
    Mom said:

    I have huge piles of stuff that will take me a lifetime (and maybe yours–but hopefully not) to clean up. But, how do you feel about smaller steps within categories that more generally might be bigger categories? Like, for instance, if clothes is just too big an item to even fit on the bed could you do: coats, dresses, pants, tops, shoes, handbags, etc. individually or does that just defeat the purpose? Because it literally feels like the only way I could ever successfully move forward. Thanks for opening my eyes but don’t you dare step foot to Marie Kondo ME! (I know how tempting that is!)

    • 7.31.20

      Nope, that’s totally allowed! Marie even suggests it in the book. I don’t have enough clothes for that to feel worthwhile, but since I have *just a little* perspective on your closet, I think you’d be best served subdividing. The key is to just follow the other parts—pull it all out, try to move fast, and only keep what you love! For me, the game-changer with clothes was realizing (duh) that you can really only wear one pair of shoes (or whatever) at a time, so am I *really* going to reach for that one when this one is an option?? It’s amazing how immediately you forget what goes in the donation bags when you like and actually wear everything that’s leftover!

  19. 7.30.20
    AnnMarie said:

    I’ve never felt the urge to read the book, but I do now! And I appreciated your tacking on a digital category — I agree, in this day and age, it’s extremely necessary.

    • 7.30.20
      Kelly said:

      The H&M recycling thing is really cool. I didn’t know they offered that.
      Once a year I try to go through my house and pretend “you’re moving in a month- what do you not want to pack” & then donate that stuff. But I could stand to do a more hard core clean out like you just did..

    • 7.31.20

      Love that strategy!

  20. 7.30.20
    Lisa said:

    I highly recommend the book ‘secondhand travels in the nrw global garage sale’ by Adam minter. He looks at japaneycultire and gives more context for kondoing. And answers where everything goes!

  21. 7.30.20
    Loryn said:

    I also got bogged down at the Komono phase, so I think I may borrow your list. I will say, the categories that I did get done have never gone back to a messy state. My clothes are all still beautifully folded and organized, for example.

    I don’t know why people got so hung up on the spark joy thing. I took it to mean the really satisfying feeling you get when an object serves its purpose really well. I have some plain glass bowls that hold just the right amount of food, and are just the right size in your hands, and they even have lids. It’s just a little spark of satisfaction every time I use one.

    That idea also led me to think about how many of my possessions cause a low level of frustration every time I use them, like getting rid of the cute antique drinking glasses that require 100 refills and buying big insulated cups instead. Not as cute, but wow, always having a cold glass of ice water nearby (that doesn’t leave rings on everything) makes me so much happier for so little cost. Weeding out lots of little frustrations just makes life so much nicer.

    • 7.30.20
      Amy M. said:

      This is so perfect. Know yourself and build to suit. Great approach.

    • 8.3.20

      TOTALLY, yes!! The low-level-frustration thing is so real, and we’re so good at just getting used to stuff that we forget all those little tiny annoyances. As someone with a whole bunch of tools and things that don’t exactly “spark joy,” I definitely have to think more about how well things function and do their job than whether or not they make my heart sing, haha!

  22. 7.30.20

    For some reason I immediately clocked the stack of children’s books in the “keepsakes” photo. I too have a copy of ‘Oh, the Places You’ll Go!’ that I’ll have to contend with someday when all my stuff is finally in one place. (…Instead of two places, 1800 miles apart. Sigh).

    I wonder what Marie Kondo would say on the subject of inter-state storage. Probably that if you haven’t seen it/touched it/lived on the same side of the country as it for a couple of years, do you even need it?

    • 8.3.20

      Haha! I can’t speak for Marie but I think if those items still bring joy even if distance has rendered them useless for now, you should keep them! Weeding out things you don’t love definitely increases the likelihood of using the things that you do, so you might find that when you eventually get to integrate your things, you have stuff that’s been stored away that you prefer to things you have at hand. I get weirdly stressed about having things that are stored in another location (previously, my parent’s house and subsequently their storage unit), and it’s so nice when it’s finally all in one place so you can evaluate it all without wondering about all the things you’re NOT seeing because they’re far away!

  23. 7.30.20
    Kristina said:

    The “everything goes in the trash” is a problem of translation/culture; in Japan, people pre-sort their waste based on what it is for and so I think that got lost in an American context. Kind of like how we say “I need to take out the trash” but it includes the recycling because that is picked up the same day where I live.

    On her website she has more info about responsibly discarding: https://shop.konmari.com/pages/mindful-discarding

    Also, her second book (Spark Joy: An Illustrated Masterclass on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up) goes more into detail on how to discard responsibly (for example, electronic waste goes to store dropoff boxes or e-recycling). I refer more to the second book than the first when tidying as it breaks down the sections (especially komono) really well – her list is similar to yours. I’m still doing my tidying festival but I’m going to combine your list with hers as I too have accumulated many DIY supplies, so thank you for including it!

    Loved this write up not only for the detailed breakdown but also the analysis of why people May have dismissed the method and messenger. It is spot-on that people were quick to dismiss her expertise because she is Asian (and maybe even because English is not her first language?) and a woman. I am not sure if you heard of this but there was a big blowup a few weeks ago in food media when a food writer/author (who has since apologized – I hope sincerely) dragged down Marie Kondo and Chrissy Teigen for being “sellouts” and many people noted she only called out Asian/Asian-American women for having built home/food-based empires. (Or maybe the writer was scared of Martha Stewart’s wrath and didn’t dare call her out lol – and I say that with respect because I adore MS!)

    • 8.3.20

      Oh interesting, thank you for this!! I’m glad she addresses more of the waste stuff in the second book…I wish I knew that before I made my own Komono list, haha! Whoops.

      (I did hear vaguely on twitter I think about the writer going after Marie and Chrissy, but didn’t dive in very far. Love them both and I’m glad the writer apologized—I hate that shit, and that women (particularly minority women) so often have to defend their right to make money off what they’re good at. Makes my blood boil!)

  24. 7.30.20
    Carolyn said:

    I love what you did and need to do it myself but my real question is where’s Juliet?

    Did you KonMari her too?

    • 8.3.20

      Haha! She bopped back to Brooklyn for a bit now that the city is less of a total post-apocalyptic hellscape, but she also got a car and will be back and forth with some frequency (testing and quarantining before any trips up, of course!).

  25. 7.30.20
    Jeanna said:

    This post made me so happy! I love her little book, and the show. I’ve started getting rid of/and organizing things these last couple days, and your post has me all energized to get more done! I can’t wait for your home tour :)

  26. 7.30.20
    Rebecca said:

    Joining my local “buy nothing” facebook group has been so helpful for me in getting rid of stuff. Knowing it’s going to someone who wants it makes it psychologically easier for me to let things go.

    Lots of donations to thrift stores end up in the trash, because they don’t have the space to keep low-value items. But I’ve found takers for everything from opened toiletries to Sunbasket denim insulation to misc kitchen utensils in the “buy nothing” group.

    • 8.3.20

      Amazing!! It never even occurred to me that the Sunbasket insulation would be a thing I should post, but that’s brilliant! It’s not recyclable here and I hate tossing it. Thank you!!

  27. 7.30.20
    Amy M. said:

    When I get rid of things (and yes, I’m due for another round) I ask myself, “Am I still this person?”

    I acknowledge that I have changed, and that I can still love and respect who I was without holding on to remnants. I can appreciate that I am an evolving, growing person and be happy to let things go in order to make room for who am today. It’s emotional but satisfying.

    • 7.31.20
      Jill said:

      “Am I still this person?” is a BRILLIANT question to ask. You very suddenly made me realize that I do not need the vast majority of my books.

    • 8.3.20

      Hear, hear! Great way to think about it.

  28. 7.30.20
    Jen said:

    YESSS TO THE FULL HOUSE TOUR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can’t express how much I want that!! Also, love Marie Kondo, love this post!!

    • 7.31.20
      Miruska said:

      Me too!! I had really hoped there will be some before/afters in this post (half of the fun of the good clean up is to look at the before and after and pat yourself on the back for days) but he redeemed himself with an amazing writing and a promise of a full tour. So here for it and Marie Kondo.

    • 8.3.20

      Haha, thank you friends! I figured when the post went past the 4,000 word mark, I should probabbbbbbly not tack on a house tour too, haha. I have my work cut out—lots to share!

  29. 7.30.20
    Jill said:

    I am a chronic and enthusiastic purger. It’s a neuroticism built out of being (a) unable to focus when surrounded by visual clutter and (b) getting irrationally stressed when it is not effortless to take a thing I need out or to put it away. Like, if when I go to get or put away, I have to move other things first or jam the item in or accidentally knock stuff over or whatever – then I feel like my house is fighting me. My grandmother called it the “perversity of inanimate objects,” and I cannot STAND it.

    As a results, I am in a perpetual state of getting rid of stuff, which has made me exceptionally cognizant of just how much work is involved in ousting items. The act of figuring out what goes, plus the act of getting rid of the items responsibly is minimum two hours of work for most things except if you just toss it in the trash. And it involves a shocking amount of exhausting decision making and executive function to keep the effort up all the way out the door.

    I have often wished there were a service like a computer’s recycle bin or your gmail’s trash folder. As a homeowner, any item I want to get rid of, I would put in a physical version of my trash folder, and every thirty days, some human version of an operating system would empty my trash folder responsibly. Sell, donate, give away for free, whatever.

    Wouldn’t you pay for that service?

    • 7.30.20
      Jean said:

      Omg, yes, would totally pay for that service. You nailed it with the executive functioning taxing nature. :)

    • 7.31.20
      Rachel said:

      Oh my goodness, yes. I currently use the outbox system whereby I put stuff I don’t want in a box in the garage, but I’m very bad at emptying the box and donating/recycling/whatever, so it’s just getting bigger and bigger (and there’s now three overflow boxes). I would for sure pay someone to just deal with that lot.

    • 8.3.20

      Ummmmmmm, I think you just launched a business, Jill? Brilliant! And you’re absolutely right–I used to approach procuring stuff (especially cheap/found stuff) as a kinda neutral thing…like hey, if it doesn’t work out, I’ll just get rid of it! But getting rid of stuff takes the same, if not more, effort than bringing it in in the first place! To me, that’s totally the most overwhelming part of the whole thing…time to make some facebook market/buy nothing posts, which I will procrastinate forever unless I force myself to do it.

  30. 7.30.20
    Romi said:

    I’d just like to add my thoughts on the “trash” from a Japanese perspective. In Japan, the concept of donating or reselling is still quite foreign or new. We tend to think that new is better in every aspect. Take for example the real estate market. Less than 40% of the houses in the market here are resales (meaning more than 60% are new builds!) whereas over 70% of the housing in American markets are resales. Same goes with cars, furniture and appliances. There are small thrift shops here and there, but it’s not very common to actively go and sell/buy things there unless you are strapped for cash.

    • 8.3.20

      Interesting, thank you for this insight Romi! I wonder if that’s also related to how differently Japan seems to manage waste and recycling. There isn’t a ton of consistency about recycling between places in the States—for instance NYC can recycle any rigid plastic, but two hours north we can only recycle a limited variety of packaging. Some places have done away with recycling altogether since it can end up being more inefficient and wasteful to sort and send the recycling where it needs to go than just throwing it all away. But it seems like Japan is super careful about sorting and limiting the things that truly become garbage.

  31. 7.30.20
    Sam said:

    You’re my favorite blogger ever. Period. Full stop.

    • 7.30.20
      Amy M. said:

      I second that emotion.

    • 7.31.20
      Alison said:

      Oh, 100%.

    • 7.31.20
      Miruska said:

      1,000%

    • 8.3.20

      Haha! Well thanks, guys!

  32. 7.30.20
    Jason said:

    I can identify with a lot of these thoughts… keeping a history, how will I have room for and wanting someone else in my home… I also find my house is going to become the central house for the family in some ways and for various reasons, so I need to have room for important heirlooms…

  33. 7.30.20
    Jean said:

    The digital category is so necessary, and I know deep down I’m the worst digital hoarder. Decision fatigue sets in so fast for me; the anxiety of wondering why I can’t seem to part with 28 past versions of the same resume, for example. I’ve even considered trying to hire a TaskRabbit helper or someone to tackle it, but then I get embarrassed thinking about someone else seeing my digital hoard. Like I’m pretty sure I have a McConaughey_hot.jpg file downloaded from when I was a teenager and I’m definitely an old-ass late 30s mom now who no longer find McConaughey, well, _hot. Not to mention the idea of organizing 6000+ photos of my tiny human! I wish you luck in your digital adventure; take copious notes because we all need them!

    • 8.2.20
      mimi said:

      I know you may feel some embarassment– but hire the person from TaskRabbit– use their expertise and value your time with your humans and get the “someday I will get to that” DONE.
      I speak from experience…. I’m 20 years older than you and I just don’t have it in my personality to get some things done on your list. I would welcome someone to do it for me for pay.

    • 8.3.20

      I feel this so hardddd! I’m awful with the digital clutter, I think in large part because I find dealing with it SO SO SO much more tedious and boring than physical objects. The only tip I can really offer from experience is that last time I got a new computer, I resisted the temptation to just transfer the whole hard drive from the old one and transferred things manually and much more intentionally. That was like 6 years ago, though, so plenty has gotten reallllll messy in the meantime. Oh, also there are some third-party apps out there that can assist with a few things, like truly un-installing apps (lots of them will leave a lot of weird files behind if you just drag the app icon to the trash), and identifying duplicate/near-duplicate photos, which is a problem for me. I have 65,000 photos in my photo library, and that is not hyperbole!

  34. 7.30.20
    Rachel said:

    I LOVE THAT YOU DID THIS!!! And your preface/rant about how misconstrued KonMari has been was spot on. I always say anyone who thinks Marie is some kind of prescriptivist asshole clearly lacks reading comprehension. And I also firmly believe that the process isn’t for everyone–and she even says that not everyone needs or wants to be tidy to be happy!

    It’s also interesting to hear how the “woo” stuff didn’t resonate with you as much but you still liked the method, because I love the “woo” :) You’ve inspired me…my own KonMari effort fizzled out halfway through my seemingly interminable list of komono categories last summer and I really need to finish it! But I’ve definitely noticed that the categories I got through have been much easier to deal with going forward. It’s COMPLETELY changed the way I decide to buy and/or get rid of clothes.

  35. 7.30.20
    sharmeela mediratta said:

    Daniel, I have been following you for YEARS (like before you left Brooklyn). My responses to your posts range from snickering to laughing out loud – and it makes my day to follow you on IG. You’ve renewed my KonMari interest. I think my mountain of stuff is what is blocking my enthusiasm to do ANYTHING (what’s the fun when you have to move everything around just to get the one thing done?) So yeah, I think I’ll pop some Vitamin D and use next week’s staycation to wend my way through piles o’ stuff, and look forward to your next post. Be very well!

    • 8.3.20

      Good luck with it!! I know that feeling very well, and chipping away at that mountain already has me feeling so much better and more capable of getting things done. Thank you for the kind words and sticking with the blog all these years! <3

  36. 7.30.20
    Nicolette said:

    I was so ready to do this and tackle my 10×40 storage unit full of dead relatives stuff for my towns annual city wide yard sale then fucking Covid!! I am not motivated to do it now because then I would just have boxes and bags everywhere full of things I want to sell. Like you, I could use the cash for up coming renovations and always make a good amount during the city wide event. Fucking Covid ‍♀️

    • 8.3.20

      Seriously—for so many reasons!! I’m not thrilled about my mountain of boxes but it does feel good to have things ready to go for whatever sale/donation path I figure out.

  37. 7.31.20
    Isabella said:

    I have not read the book but am generally aware of the concepts. I have never really had a problem with clutter. The adage, “One thing it, two things out” has pretty much ruled my adult life. I am hyper-sensitive to my environment, and too much stuff just raises my anxiety!

    That said, there was one area I needed to address, and that was my photos. I wanted to keep actual photos and not digitize them. First, I was ruthless in pitching photos of peeps no longer in my life, duplicates etc. I also mailed many photos to people who would like them. I took everything out of bulky albums and put them in photo boxes by category. My four children now each has his/her own boxes, and when I am gone, nobody has to sort through a thing. The space my photos took up was more than halved. It felt great, and now I can put my finger on any photo I would like to see. I loved your de-cluttering summary!

    • 8.2.20
      mimi said:

      Isabella, thank you for sharing what you did.
      I have had printed photo paralysis and you just gave me some ideas. I really do appreciate you sharing it and someday my two will be grateful as well.

    • 8.3.20

      Nice, that sounds like a great solution! And that’s a real gift you’ve given your kids, even if it feels a little macabre. Photos are so hard to deal with regardless, and after a death of course it all becomes immeasurably harder. Both of my grandparents left behind thousands of photos, and my parents are still dealing with them a decade later.

  38. 7.31.20
    Valeriafigs said:

    You know what? I was hella skeptical about the konmari thing because it got so hyped up on social media but after reading your take on it I think I’m going to actually give it a shot

    • 8.3.20

      Love that! I’ll be expecting updates!

  39. 7.31.20
    Jacqui Bennetts said:

    very cool, and you did her proud.

  40. 7.31.20
    Maureen said:

    Hi Daniel, well done you! I can’t wait to see the house tour. I have been following you since 2011. Love what you did in your make-do kitchen and all the other things.

    • 8.3.20

      Thank you, Maureen! And thank you for being here for the last near-DECADE! Where did the time go??

  41. 7.31.20
    Thel said:

    Daniel,

    I, too, read Marie Kondo’s book several years ago. It helped. I got rid of some stuff.

    But what really, really changed me, and the way I go about shopping and, more importantly, living, is another book: Goodbye, things by Fumio Sasaki.

    I got rid of most of my furniture after that. I streamlined the clothes and shoes that I buy. I donate the books that I buy to the library after reading, and read the ones that others have donated (English books, since I live in Germany).

    But slowly, slowly, this book has had an affect, not only on my physical space in my flat, but also where I spend my time, what I’m doing with my time, and how much that’s ‘costing’ me in terms of energy.

    I also regularly read The Simple Dollar, all the posts from the founder Trent Hamm, because he also makes a lot of sense to me. Also posts from Zen Habits, and very interesting posts from Be More With Less about giving up alcohol for good. Very thought provoking, in a few simple comments.

    • 8.3.20

      I’ll check out these recs! Thank you, Thel!

  42. 7.31.20
    Ellison M Heath said:

    Thank you! Love your writing and thoughts. You always manage to make what could be mundane interesting and enlightening!

  43. 7.31.20
    Susan said:

    I rehab houses for people who are getting ready to move. Every SINGLE time I wrap up a job I want to rush home and get rid of shit. What I notice 100% of the time is how stressed the client is about what to do with all of their STUFF. Every time. You break it down better than the millions of other blog posts I’ve read on this topic. And it really is about feeling good in your space, not minimalism per se. So well written Daniel. Makes me want to do it today!

    • 8.3.20

      I do the exact same thing!! nothing gets me in the mood to go home and purge shit then spending a day messing with other people’s stuff. so funny!

  44. 7.31.20
    greta said:

    your linens look so peaceful in the armoire

  45. 7.31.20
    Cici Haus said:

    We’re planning a potential move to another country, so my process has been “would I want to pack this and ship it at incredible expense to keep it with me? No? Buh-bye.”

  46. 7.31.20

    Great, great post!! I actually teach people how to do this with their home offices and I use so many of the principles that Marie teaches.
    While I loved the TV series, I think they did the public a disservice by veering away from purging by category and instead focused on rooms, and often dealt with the sentimental stuff too early in the process.
    I also feel that people have distorted sense of ‘minimalism’ and what it means (keep only what you love and use, release the rest). When taken at its meaning, Kondo definitely is a minimalist, although she doesn’t call herself that.
    The truest statement you make in this post (besides about the buttons!) is that organization is actually 90% about purging, not organizing!! I love it!!
    Thank you for your amazing blog, just discovered you and have spent hours reading back. I enjoy your honesty, humor and your work! I tell everyone about you!

    • 8.3.20

      Yes! Yes! I hope that the TV series helped some people but I really just don’t think it represents the method well at all. Thank you so much for the kind words!! Welcome to the blog!

  47. 7.31.20
    kmkat said:

    We have accumulated, and past renters have left behind, an enormous amount of electronic stuff. My husband loves to take apart VCRs, amplifiers, computer towers, etc., while he watches TV. The metal cases go into the metal recycling, and the plastic cases go into the trash, and the circuit boards go to the county recycling center where he is charged by the pound. 100 pounds of electronics ends up as 5 pounds of circuit boards. But beware televisions; they are full of hazardous materials and must be recycled whole.
    Oh, and spare buttons? The button box was one of my favorite toys as a child, and I inherited my MIL’s. I just used some buttons from my current one on a child’s sweater I knitted for charity. My buttons are staying with me! (When I posted about my button box on my blog, I got a lot of comments affirming the button-box-as-childhood-toy.)

    • 8.1.20
      Jess v said:

      I found the childhood button box at my mom’s house a couple years back and it was thrilling to see all my favorites again. It’s a thing. I’m with ya!

    • 8.3.20

      Haha! I haven’t thought about that in years, but you’re so right! I loved the little button hoard as a kid…I would organize and reorganize mom’s sewing box all the time. Admittedly I kept the majority of my buttons but I thought Marie’s blanket statement was too funny to not include!

  48. 7.31.20
    DH said:

    I’ve got a massive purge looming in my future…books, clothes, random “stuff”…but since I only have a small NYC one bedroom, I kind of have to wait for the thrift stores to open back up…

  49. 7.31.20
    karen b said:

    I haven’t done the actual process or read the book (though I did enjoy the Netflix series), but having done a sort of intense amateur konmari thing when I moved into a 16-foot trailer about seven years ago. And your thoughts here are great, insightful ones. Persuasive, too. I’m in an interesting place where post-trailer (5 years of that) I’m appreciating some things about having more stuff, but as you make clear that’s not contrary to Kondo’s philosophy. It’s more about what you have & how it works for you and your life, and that can change. Yes the end result is often less stuff, but it’s not about minimalism unless that happens to be your own best path.

  50. 7.31.20
    Pam in NH said:

    We did this three years ago.
    I do not want to frighten anyone but, I feel the need to do it again. Need to go deeper this time!

    • 8.1.20
      Rebecca Bulos said:

      Do happy to see you on my newsfeed. I have always enjoyed reading your take on things, insightful, witty and unbiased. Kudos to you and more power to your blog.

  51. 7.31.20
    Sarah said:

    Your insta-stories inspired me to check out her book. As a person with little kids, and not a ton of free time, I’m not feeling able to do a full-scale KonMari clean out, but I’m appreciating her insights and it’s definitely making me rethink how I address things like kids artwork, etc. I tackled my kitchen the other day and it was incredibly satisfying. We’re gearing up for a big reno this fall, and desperately need to pare down what’s in our house ahead of time.

    • 8.2.20
      mimi said:

      Sarah, I recently discovered a blogger- who does youtube videos and has a blog & etc…
      before you do your kitchen renovation — if you don’t know how you best want your items– and maybe you DO KNOW, so please excuse me in thinking you might not know– check out clutterbug.me It has truly helped me organize for me and realize that others in my house can’t do my organization- they have to have it their way for it to be successful- ie- their bedrooms & their stuff. Good luck on the renovation! May you enjoy your kitchen for many years to come.

  52. 8.1.20
    simon said:

    OMG!!

  53. 8.1.20
    Jess v said:

    I did a pretty thorough (or so i thought) KonMari run through the house in Jan/Feb. Everything except the keepsakes anyways. Fairly quickly stuff got out of control again, so now I’m doing the 8 week challenge with Marie holding my hand. Anyways, the whole point of this comment is to let you know i got rid of my yearbooks, finally, a couple of months ago. (Gasp!) I did however, rip out the photos of me, my siblings, and the one school friend I still keep in contact with.

    • 8.3.20

      Nice! I didn’t have the strength for the yearbooks…joy is a strong word but I do find myself referencing them every now and then to remember a forgotten classmate or teacher, and I was always on the yearbook committee so they feel kinda personal!

  54. 8.1.20
    Randall said:

    I donated my yearbooks to a prop house. High school was not great for me so no need to dwell on it. I did keep my senior year book however and after 5 years or so if this have not opened it once. Otherwise when I move it is just a few Ikea bags. I have WAY fewer but nicer things. I do recommend. I mean how many iPhone cords does one need ? Always enjoy Daniel’s take on things.

  55. 8.1.20
    lena said:

    My daughter embraced Marie Kondo/KonMari several years ago IN FULL and is a Platinum Certified KonMari Consultant in the Phoenix, AZ area. Her skills are crazy amazing. She KonMari’d my kitchen on move-in 2 years ago and I STILL have an organized kitchen, it’s so simple to care for. She especially likes the emotional support she enjoys with her clients and sharing in their happiness and satisfaction of homes they enjoy again. I LOVE her motto “You can tidy anything with the proper system and support.” Daniel, this post is ANOTHER brilliant piece of writing, humor, and helpfulness. Can’t wait for your ‘new’ house reveal. When I see a new post from you in my inbox, Woo Hoo! I do a happy dance of joy in my heart. Yeah, you are Marie Kondo for my soul.

  56. 8.1.20
    Sharon said:

    First time commenter and a relatively new Patreon supporter! I am now inspired to renew my organizing and purging in our house. We moved 4 years ago and it took me 3 years to actually start that process but I only got about halfway down that road. During the pandemic is the perfect time for me to do something productive. My linen closet alone could donate half of it to various thrift stores for others to benefit.

    Thanks for the info on Earth911 and Buy Nothing as I’d never heard of them. Blankets can also be donated to domestic violence shelter groups and sometimes to child protective services as they are often needed for children when they arrive and may need some comfort. I am a GAL a/k/a CASA in my county (Guardian ad Litem / Court Appointed Special Advocate) for kids involved in neglect and abuse cases. Many times they or their sister organizations that support them can use donations like this.

    You have done a spectacular job at this! Looking forward to your next projects and the accompanying wit and sarcasm we’ve all come to know and love.

  57. 8.1.20
    Cathy said:

    First time reading anything you’ve posted. Laughed out loud numerous times! Thanks for bringing a big smile to my Saturday!

  58. 8.1.20
    Vicki said:

    What a great post. I read Marie when the book came out and I have been folding my clothes her way ever since. But it is time to revisit and now is the perfect time. I think you have captured her message perfectly. Keep what you love, no need to get rid of it if you use or love it. BTW, I do use spare buttons. I’m a sewist :)

  59. 8.1.20
    Chris said:

    Well, you have once again convinced me that if someone gifts me one of her books I should immediately pass it on to some other sucker. 1. If you don’t use your spare buttons, get someone to teach you how to mend your clothing. With your passions, it’ll spark joy, I promise. 2. While I can and occasionally do weed my book collection, for me, every point you made in the book section is horrifying and wrong. (Mind you, I’m a librarian, I suspect my relationship with books is different from yours.)

    So, yeah, I am glad her methods work for you! But it isn’t a good fit for a lot of us.

    • 8.2.20
      Sally said:

      Daniel this is great, thank you x
      My home is a small Victorian semi, I’ve lived here for 22 years, 12 with my ex and the last 10 with my lovely children. I find I have inertia round objects, as if I am not allowed to dispose of them because they’ve always been there! Over the last few years I’ve really been able to make fantastic progress one room at a time including the outdoor areas. I find giving myself extended time on one particular space really motivating as I can see the space opening up and it’s so joyful to be able to work out how I WANT to use the space. I do use Marie’s categories as I go and have found them really really helpful. The exciting thing now is as I move (glacially slowly) through the house storage and usage solutions open themselves up to me and the house sort of shows me where things go. I read MK a while back and completely agree with you that her message has become twisted up into Do this, don’t do that whereas really it’s a lot more personal work that is called for. For example I reread books multiple times and so I keep them all but have reorganised them in a way that DOES spark joy for me.

      Thank you

  60. 8.2.20
    MC said:

    I hadn’t heard of Buy Nothing, but I use Freecycle a lot, which sounds very similar!

  61. 8.2.20

    I feel you so hard on this! I think MK is right on the money, and it works. When it’s super-hard (I have so many “collections” I don’t want to break up), I’ve found that putting them all together and then choosing the pieces I absolutely love, and then the ones I kinda hate, helps me make faster/better decisions about the pieces in the middle. Last month, I did a little Marie Kondo on my guest room, which was also full of craft supplies, articles from my journalism career and other keepsakes, and a dumping ground for old furniture, future projects, etc. I was astonished–and relieved–by how much I was able to recycle or rehome.

    In other parts of the house, I’ve also swapped out furniture for more functional pieces. I had a console in the entry room that I loved, but it had zero storage and I felt a little anxiety every time I came home to see the baskets underneath it overflowing with blankets, etc. After Marie Kondoing that space, I bought a great credenza on CB2 which just looks cleaner and stores so much stuff, like my collection of 45s, extra candles (so many extra candles!!!), and all my purses, which I am currently trying to winnow down.

    I eventually recycled my high school yearbooks. I’m still friends with the people I wanna be friends with, and they were in the laundry room gathering dust, and one day I just wanted to feel more FREE from the negative memories I had about those years. Every once in awhile, I feel this breathless shock that I tossed them (high school was actually pretty fun most days), but overall it feels good.

    Keep on keeping on!

  62. 8.2.20
    mimi said:

    Daniel, Many thanks for writing this post on how you successful you were with Marie. I really enjoy the way you write & I love all the details…really I do!! Question, I still can’t figure out how to subscribe with this new format and I’m not see the button to subscribe. Help me out, please, if you have time? I always read all the comments as well, because your readers give some of the best input, too. Enjoy the upcoming week!

  63. 8.3.20
    MB said:

    This is so great! I’ve always kinda of loved sorting and organizing, and I’ve moved frequently which kinda helps. You get really annoyed unpacking those candlesticks for the 3rd time that you haven’t used and whatnot.

    Not sure if she talks about it in her book, but the biggest change for me was to be mindful of the stuff coming IN to the house after the cleaning out. Especially when I’ve had more space. Just so easy to “find a spot for it.” Now, in a smaller space, we’re forced to consider where something is going to go and if it’s good enough to go through the effort of finding a spot.

    Good on you for getting through so much and finding homes when possible!

  64. 8.3.20

    Thank you SO much for this post Daniel!! As a certified KonMari consultant, this is the best breakdown and unfiltered synopsis I’ve read. I was nodding my head along the whole time, love it!
    I can’t tell you how often I talk to folks that *think* they know what the KonMari Method is because they saw a news blurb or watched the Netflix series. It’s my job to teach them of course, but it can take some additional time to “unlearn” people before moving forward. I appreciate how open you are about your experience and what you learned.
    Also, Marie is a total badass!! People definitely don’t give her the credit she is due for all the reasons you mentioned.
    Love your work, and thanks again!

  65. 8.3.20
    Sara said:

    This really, really struck me:
    I’ve really used the physical space of my home to hang onto SO MUCH from the past, like some kind of weird monument to my personal history. For what? What space am I reserving for new experiences, new stories, new people?

    YES. Yes to all of that. Off to dust off my copy of the book.

  66. 8.3.20
    bean said:

    Before Marie Kondo, there was Shannon Lush, and before that there were a bunch of other women who wrote about household management. The earliest I can think of is Mrs. Beeton, with the whole Victorian cleanliness-is-next-to-godliness thing, but I’m sure there were others. I doubt that Kondo is getting push-back for being small and Asian and female (those features are probably assets)–the reason is more likely over-saturation of market, Kondo-fatigue, and the desire of other people to tap into the same lucrative market.

    My problem with Kondo is that she has nothing to say to people who don’t hang onto things because they bring them “joy” but because they are poor–those things are all they have–and they can’t afford to replace them. In fact, she may be making the lives of such people more difficult just as she is making the lives of people who run charity shops more difficult. But, for those with the privilege of worrying quite so much about their internal life and less about simply getting by day-to-day–I am sure that Kondo can be useful.

  67. 8.4.20
    Beth said:

    Great post. And thank-you for the rant about people not taking her seriously or misunderstanding whilst also not reading the fucking book. I remember feeling slightly embarrassed after reading the book and doing the purge, people reacted to it like I was some incompetent fool who couldn’t figure out how to organize my shit and had joined a cult or something. Their loss.

    As far as the throwing away: that part actually helped me think about the stuff I acquire in a new way. I am 1000% for reuse and recycling, but it’s been invaluable to look at things I’m considering buying as potential future trash. Completely changed buying decisions for me.

  68. 8.4.20
    Alena said:

    Thank you for sharing this. Somehow when you say it, it makes more sense than when others say it. I. LOVE. TIDYING.

  69. 8.4.20
    Joanna Morrison said:

    I can’t believe no one’s mentioned the student council pencils. So did you win?

    • 8.6.20

      hahahahaha, i was wondering if someone would notice!!! We did not. It was quite a race but Sara and Amanda cinched the election after our custom campaign pencils were deemed “bribery” by Mr. McVey-Finney, my nemesis and 6th grade english teacher, and we were prevented from passing them out. Somehow our competition’s cookies distributed to all voting students were not a problem at all. In the spirit of democracy, i did not sue.

  70. 8.5.20
    Emily said:

    I’m inspired by you. That’s a huge task to go thru aaaaalllllll the categories. I feel like I would run out of steam by the time the komono category hit. Now more than ever I want to purge my stuff (art supplies I’m just never realistically going to get to these days). With a toddler and newborn that seems like a far off vision though. Kudos to you!! And for adding the digital realm!! You rock. Thanks for taking the time to explain the nuance to the system she created.

  71. 8.7.20
    S said:

    I’m late to the party, but in terms of donations – check your local schools and school-aged childrens programs! They’re always in need of functioning electronics, art supplies, etc. I just recently donated a 3D printer to my YWCA’s STEM program, and their reaction was completely worth it and amazing.

  72. 8.7.20
    cc said:

    Just want to leave two hopefully helpful tips. (I wouldnt say we live in a shoebox, but when the a/c company didnt even carry a unit small enough for your last house, and you have since downsized…)

    After you have decluttered, split your space into 12 sections. Each month, go through that section and check for any clutter creep. In January, start over – and tackle anything you didnt get done last year on those icy, stay at home days. This really helps keep the clutter beast at bay!

    Zone your life. Pay close attention to what your daily and weekly and monthly routines are, and prioritize organizing to make the more frequent activities easier. In our house, its a pain to get to the ladder (which we only need monthly) but our dog leashes and protein shake ingredients/mixer are always accesible! Dont be afraid to break the rules – yes, we store vitamins with the coffee and toothpaste/toothbrushes in the kitchen because it just works better for us.

    And we agree – she should be considered a national treasure. Her methods work!