Are you a fan of decluttering and keeping your home organized? Do you pin with envy photos of rooms that are neatly-put-together and wonder how other people do it?  Perhaps you feel that you lack space in your home and often think that getting new baskets, bins, and labels are the solutions you need.

If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, then you are at the right place! Read on because you may find what you are looking for in the KonMari method.

It’s not just about ‘organizing’.

During a live conversation with Helen Yeun, a certified KonMari organizer, we talked about this widely known organizing system and how to use it to spark joy in us. Like many others, I also thought that what Marie Kondo teaches is about organizing and folding clothes in a certain way. However, Helen shared with me that while it is a ‘way’ of decluttering, it is more a ‘tool’ that helps us lead a more joyful life.

She added that KonMari is “a way of organizing our homes so it can support us to live the life that we want”. For example, if reading books, baking cookies, or practicing yoga is what brings you joy, then we owe it to ourselves to create and organize spaces for these activities. Having everything in its place will not only make us more productive but will help us feel more at home as well. Undeniably, our surroundings play a big role in fostering or hindering the lives we are trying to create for ourselves. So, let’s be intentional about it!

One of the things that resonated the most with me as a designer, was when she said that  ‘the world is your oyster and your home should not be an obstacle to it’. I could not agree more! When we focus on those two main keywords ‘joy’ and ‘support’ we are on the right path to designing an environment that enhances our happiness, a home that supports us in leading the life that we want. Now, who wouldn’t want that?

The “if’s” that are not serving you.

I know letting go is hard! Accordingly, Marie says that the reason why it is so is because of our attachment to the past or our fear of a future without them. Do you often find things at your home that you no longer use but you just can’t let go of because of the memories attached to them? Perhaps one of them is gift from a loved one? Are you the type of person who keeps extra supplies, old books, or craft remnants in case they are needed in the future? Have you ever wished you hadn’t donated that box of Legos before your child’s new school project? 

You are not alone! The KonMari method recommends staying away from the “what ifs”.  The all too familiar questions creep in: 

  • What if I need this?
  • What if I have time to bake and I need this specific tray?
  • What if I find time to start that sewing project?

To those of us who may find it difficult to detach ourselves from certain items, Helen asks, “Why do you think you will suddenly need it if you haven’t used it for the past 5 or 10 years? …Almost everything is replaceable so there is no reason to hang on to something since you can easily find a replacement if you ever need it in the future?” Please notice the emphasis on the IF.

Our ‘what ifs’ can really prevent us from moving forward. They take valuable space, both physical and mental, and slow us down from creating happier homes! In other words, keep only what brings you joy.

Focus on the ‘now’.

So, how exactly do we focus on what sparks joy in us? The answer from Helen is to concentrate on the ‘now’. Take for example the person who has bins of beautiful fabrics waiting for the time when she finally has time to sew. To her, Helen encourages to ask the hard question and answer sincerely: “if you had the time, would you actually want to sew?” If the answer is yes, then choose the material that you like the most and store them accordingly. The KonMari method is “not a keep-all, throw all-situation”. She continues, “How much space can you dedicate in your home for your ‘what ifs’?” The answer is not in the amount of space you designate to them but how you feel about it. Consider the fact that bins full of future projects may take space for other activities that you can be enjoying now. On the other hand, keeping a box of favorite fabrics tucked away in a corner may provide that same level of joy to someone else

Before and after. Do I really need all those trays and vases?

Not a ‘one size fits all’ approach.

There is not just one way to organize and declutter. This is not a ‘one size fits all’ matter. Every one of us has a different lifestyle, so what works for me may not work for you. One person may need lots of baking sheets because she likes to bake, but the next person who rarely cooks at home may not even need a single one. Likewise, a maximalist person living in a minimalist-designed home would probably experience anxiety instead of joy because it does not fit his/her lifestyle. Rather than forcing a lifestyle that looks good on paper, choose to surround yourself with things that spark joy in you, and intentionally create spaces for the activities that make you happy. If you are unsure about what your lifestyle is, I suggest you click here where you will find questions that will help you identify what kind of home supports you better. 

Before and after. Store like items together.

Don’t focus on storage, focus on joy.

Like many others, you may wonder if keeping an organized home is only a matter of using our spaces more effectively. Or is it more about creating better storage solutions? Helen´s response surprised me. While I was hoping to talk about how to maximize our homes, this organizing-pro believes that instead of focusing on the lack of physical space, concentrate on deciding what to keep. Since Marie Kondo teaches that “we already have enough storage at home”, Helen encourages a mindset shift. Otherwise, we can keep adding storage solutions, move into a bigger home and even rent storage units, but we would still run out of space unless we change our consumer´s habits and our attitudes toward keeping stuff. 

So, get rid of the “what-if-I-need-it-later-on”, keep only what sparks joy now, and be intentional in designing a home that supports your lifestyle and the life you want to create for you and your loved ones.

Jessica Velazquez designer

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