Decluttering the KonMarie way – It works!

I’ve been trying to declutter for months.

No, more like years.

I tell my kids not to horde their stuff, and we spring clean every year-end. They don’t have a problem with letting go and pass on their clothes, bags, toys and whatnots to their younger siblings or cousins.

For me, I allocate time to clear out 1 cupboard or shelf at a time but end up getting rid of a miserable 10% and repacking (more like reshuffling) the rest. Of course, everything falls into a huge mess almost as quickly as it took me to put them in order and I feel so defeated I give up soon after, and leave it till the next year.

After hearing so much about the KonMarie method, I was skeptical but decided to give it a go without much expectations of success.

And the verdict is, it works!

Hang some, fold some

Start with clothes. As instructed, I attacked my wardrobe first. The big difference is, instead of clearing by location, we are supposed to clear by category.

This meant taking every single piece of clothing from all parts of your house and dumping it in one place. By the time I finished emptying out my 3 closets and giving it a nice wipe, I was ready to head down for some ice-cream and call it quits.

But the rules read: Do it as quickly and completely as possible.

No turning back. I mustered up all my energy and set my mind to tackle the mountain of clothes on the floor.

Yup, the declutter guru is right. It does give your system a shock to see how much clothes you have, and how much you don’t actually wear because it’s shoved so deep in the depths of your closet that it has almost disappeared into a black hole.

Showing the ugly side of things…

Embarrassing reality

That’s what happens when the mess starts, and you are too busy to maintain anything in order and it goes downhill from there.

Excuses, excuses!

When we moved to our new place, I asked the hubs for ample closets which he acceded to. What I found out however, was that no matter how much storage you have, your possessions will increase to fill all that extra space!

Does it spark joy? One main criteria that Marie Kondo proposed, was asking ourselves if the item sparked joy.

What kind of packing criteria was that even? However, it does make so much sense. To be surrounded only by things which make you happy and bring delight to your days. The only exception she makes is if the item is a necessity, you can keep it even though it may not spark joy.

Well, I cheated a bit and did not run my hands over every single piece of clothing as much as I was supposed to do.

What I did was to take every piece in my hands, make a quick decision and either tossed it to the keep or remove pile, all the while bearing in mind if it sparked joy.

No space? Just pile

Guess what?

I managed to pare it down to about 60% of the original volume! Achievement.

The trick for me seems to be not allowing myself to dwell on each piece. My past attempts have proved futile because with every item, I would try to decide if I would wear it again, lament about how much I spent buying it, or perhaps one of my teenagers would want to take it over soon, and most ended up in the keep pile.

This time, with this take and toss method, with “Does it spark joy?” running repeatedly in my head, I managed to go through the giant pile in less than 2 hours!

I decided what needed to be hung (jackets and work blouses) and folded the rest in the extraordinary KonMarie way, where they were supposed to stand, once folded properly.

Interestingly, this way of displaying a portion of my clothes allowed me to see at one glance every single item I owned, which made getting ready in the mornings a breeze.

Kate was eyeing my wardrobe, wondering why it looks different. I asked her if she would like her clothes folded in this special way and she said yes.

This was her drawer before, which was full, and I invited her to go through her clothes and decide if she was ready to hand any down to her younger cousins.

She flipped through them one by one and got rid of 70% of her clothes in less than 10 minutes! I was astounded how kids have a natural ability to declutter! I asked her a few times if she was sure, and she firmly said Yes. I didn’t dare open her dress closet for fear she would throw out most everything as well, which would leave her with barely enough to wear when we needed to go out!

I quietly hid the clothes she discarded in another cupboard (just in case she kicked up a fuss for a favourite piece later on) but it’s been more than a week and she seems to have totally put them out of her mind.

So much to learn from kids. It’s me who’s been having attachment issues!

Kate’s minimalist drawer

The next day, I was so inspired by my brand new ultra tidy wardrobe, I moved on to my shawls. Previously, I stacked them in 2 piles on the shelf but it becomes untidy really quickly even if I lift them carefully to retrieve those from the bottom of the pile.

I decided to fold them and tried fitting them into a drawer and this idea worked perfectly! Not only can I quickly choose the right one to match my outfit, pulling one out does not mess the others in the pack.

Surprisingly, folding them this way also did not result in creases. As Marie Kondo explains in her book, it is not the folding which cause creases, but the weight which is put on it.
Shawl drawer

The last bit to tackle under my clothing category were my accessories and make-up. Again, I told myself not to dwell on it, and simply picked the items up one by one, make a quick decision if it was going to serve me well (or spark joy), and place under the keep or remove pile.

I threw out a whole lot of make-up that I hardly use (which is probably close to expiring) and decided not to buy anymore on impulse.

These see through pull-out boxes are from Muji and I love them because I can see everything in clear sight without pulling out every drawer to check what I wanted.

The fact that I can get dressed and ready to go in under 10 minutes keeps me motivated to maintain everything in order.

Finally, the bathroom. Kate showers in our bathroom and the counter gets over-run with odds and ends really quickly. The hubs empties his pockets before showering, and between the both of them, you can find anything between toys to receipts on our vanity counter.

Following the rules, I removed every single item onto the floor, gave it a good clean, and only replaced the necessities.
Our bathroom

After such success, I finally have the courage to attack Kate’s toys. She had acquired the older girls’ toys and I’ve been trying to give them some semblance of order by storing them in see-through boxes.

The last time I decluttered her toys was during our Chinese New Year spring clean, but I have to be more ruthless this time.

Toy storeroom

Over the past few years, I have been quite diligent in only keeping ‘good’ toys. These include construction toys such as blocks, open-ended toys, craft materials and games.

This time, I tried to abide by the “Does it spark Joy” method, and managed to put 30% to the ‘give away’ pile.

This has been my most successful declutter operation to date, and I shall take a break and tackle the other half of the house another time!

Toy shelf

There’s something else very interesting I discovered from the book. She mentioned that some of us have an urge to declutter when we are faced with deadlines. I have been doing that since I was a teenager! When faced with exams or assignments, I feel the need to de-clutter, but couldn’t understand why.

That’s what I have been experiencing these past few weeks. The more I’m feeling like I have so much to do with so little time, the more I feel I need to declutter my space.

I do feel calmer and more in control now that my environment is less cluttered.

Additionally, I have been able to practice more restraint when I’m out, and before buying an item, I will think of all the stuff I have thrown out and the piles on the floor, and will think twice about even buying a book.

Hope things stay this way.

Try it! Declutter and experience the magic.

~ – a blog on parenting 6 kids in Singapore ~

3 Replies to “Decluttering the KonMarie way – It works!”

  1. Hi Jun Xi,

    I donate it to church. These days there are several other charities that accept used clothes, just google "where to donate old clothes"!

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