One of the biggest trends in 2019 was the art of the KonMari Method, which is a system of simplifying and organizing your home by getting rid of physical items that do not bring joy into your life. The creator of this method, Marie Kondo, gained popularity from her 2014 book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and became a worldwide sensation with her 2019 Netflix special “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.”
People everywhere began going through their possessions, wondering if their belongings really brought them joy. The fad of decluttering, tidying up and going minimalistic was truly inspiring to watch. The problem that many people faced (myself included) was the lack of being able to determine what brought joy or not. What if it had brought you joy in the past, or could potentially bring you joy in the future? What then, Marie??
The truth of the matter is, many of us struggle with letting go of our stuff, whether it’s the extra extra spatula hidden away in the kitchen or the blanket we like but haven’t used in years. I’m hoping that 2020 will be the year of less-extreme organization— something that borderline hoarders can use as a stepping stone to becoming a true KonMari expert. So, with that being said, I have gathered five of my favorite tips, tricks, and hacks for getting your stuff where it truly belongs— but that don’t require a full lifestyle change.
1. Do you already have another one?
And, if so, do you really need another one? Look, I get it. Having multiples of everything seems great when one or more get lost or dirty, which is why it’s ideal to have multiples of silverware, dishes, jeans, etc. These things we use repeatedly without even thinking about it.
However, it’s the less-useful gadgets and gizmos that take up the most space, specifically in kitchens, closets and junk drawers. Do you really need two whisks, when you barely even use one? Is having ten pairs of shoes sitting at the back of your closet really worth it, when you only ever wear the three you have by the front door?
Think of it as trimming off the excess. You don’t need to get ride of everything you barely use, but you should be getting rid of the extras of the things that are already a novelty in your routine.
2. Is it really that sentimental?
Or would you just feel guilty if you gave it away? There’s a big difference between wanting to keep a family heirloom because you love it and want to pass it down to your own children, and not getting rid of the Christmas gift your mother-in-law gave you seven years ago because you somehow feel that it would offend her.
It comes down to what it truly special to you, not anyone else. Most of the time, people won’t even remember what they gave you, so holding onto something you don’t want because they might find out is an irrational fear that takes up space in both your mind and your closet. And, if there are family heirlooms that you no longer want, consider giving them to another family member instead of donating them so that they stay in the family, but out of your storage.
Additionally, taking a picture of an object before getting rid of it is a great way to hang onto the memories, while also clearing up your space.
3. What condition is it in?
Is it full of irreparable rips and tears, or has part of the handle melted off? Such signs can be a good thing, showing that whatever it is has been well-loved and used. But when it gets to the point that you’re just hanging onto things that don’t serve their purpose anymore, it’s time to permanently retire them.
Yes, you will most likely want to replace these items, but the important thing is that you toss the old ones once you get new ones to avoid having the before mentioned excess.
4. Do you still like it?
Do you like how it feels, looks or smells? Similar to the last point, if you have something that doesn’t fit you anymore and you go buy a replacement, donate the old one. It’s tempting to hang onto clothing that doesn’t fit anymore because you might lose that extra ten pounds again, but that in itself can lead to unhealthy thoughts and behaviors.
There are some things worth hanging onto even if they don’t fit like sentimental t-shirts, wedding dresses and heirlooms, but those can be tucked away into storage rather than taking up room in your regularly scheduled programming. On the same note, if you don’t like the bath and beauty products you have, do yourself a favor and throw them out as you buy new ones. Otherwise, you will end up with 8,000 half-empty bottles of shampoo invading your bathroom like the British invading… well, anywhere, really.
Point being, if you don’t like it anymore, don’t keep it anymore.
5. Can you use something else for the same purpose?
This one seems kind of redundant, and while it is similar to asking if you already have another one, let me explain. There are some things you might have that come in handy once in a blue moon— for instance, I’ll use the whisk example again. You have a whisk, and you occasionally whip it out to make scrambled eggs (pun intended), but you could also easily just use a fork. Since you will always use forks and only use a whisk once every month, and you can replace one with the other, it makes sense that you don’t really need to hang onto that whisk.
The same goes for most gadgets and do-dads: if you barely use it, chances are you can find something else you already have to make up for it. Not in every case, but it’s a good rule of thumb to keep your drawers tidy.
Following these five tips is certainly not a way to become a full-blown minimalist, but they will help you rein in your belongings, whether you want to get out of being a borderline hoarder or you are a sentimental fool who has at one point or another kept everything anyone has ever given you (speaking for myself).
Once you have gotten comfortable with using these questions for your possessions, you can springboard into a more extreme principle like the KonMari Method, or you can simply sit back and enjoy your decluttered home. Whichever brings you more joy.