Marie Kondo: A Year Later

As you might remember, in January of last year I started the new year off with a HUGE clean out of my apartment using Marie Kondo’s KonMari method. I used her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up as a guide and ultimately gave away 3 car loads of things and threw away dozens of bags of trash.

It was a success in many ways. Obviously it led me to get rid of a lot of things that I didn’t need and helped me downsize in preparation for a move, which was great. But the whole 5-day process helped me understand my relationship to things in new ways and gave me a new perspective on items’ purposes in my life.

A year later, I still feel the effects of that process. And in honor of Marie Kondo’s new Netflix show I wanted to write a little bit about what aspects of the method stuck with me (and which went out the window).

‘Sparking Joy’ doesn’t just apply to objects.

This is definitely the most powerful lesson I think people take away from the KonMari experience: find what sparks joy in all aspects of your life, not just the items in your home. When I finished my clean out, I remember looking at the food in my fridge, the events on my calendar, and even the people in my life differently. During the clean out experience, you fine tune your internal barometer for joy and it’s impossible not to take that into other aspects of your life.

I’ll be honest and say that this sense of what sparks joy has dulled quite a bit from last January, but there are still elements of it there. Of course there are always going to be things/people/events that make you unhappy because it’s life, duh. But being able to tap into that internal sense of joy is a nice tool to have in my toolbox when I’m making a decision. I know I can trust my gut feeling about what will make me happy and that’s huge.

My shopping habits have majorly improved.

I used to be a HUGE bargain hunter and would def buy things just because they were good deals. (“I MUST buy this cashmere sweater because it’s 75% off!”) Now the only time I buy things I’m not 100% certain about is when I’m thrifting in a “dig” type of situation since there’s really no way to try things on and I know I can just re-donate it right away.

I find it easier to put things down and walk away from them because now I have a policy of “if it’s not an emphatic yes, it’s a no.” I’ll go months without buying new clothes, I’ll wait ages to buy furniture that I clearly need, and I don’t feel the pressure to buy things because they’re a “good deal”.

I can tell how objects make me feel.

So, this sounds weird I know, but after doing KonMari I have a better understanding of my emotional relationship towards objects. In my first clean out I remember being astonished at how many objects in my house I actively resented. I had shirts, cheese graters, and furniture that I hated. I never realized how much emotional energy I was expending on STUFF. It was wild.

Now, if I have a kitchen gadget or a piece of clothing that I loathe it’s easier for me to realize that and simply get rid of it. I don’t feel beholden to items in the way I did before. I don’t have to keep anything! It’s entirely up to me.

I didn’t stay organized after I moved.

I moved twice in 2018 – once back into my mom’s house and again to my own apartment in Madison – and all my KonMari organization went out the window with those moves. It was great that I had less stuff as a result of the clean out, but suddenly I had no idea where to put anything! I feel like Marie Kondo’s method works really well for spaces that have been lived in for a long time and will continue to be used in the same way, but it didn’t stick so much with me moving and inhabiting an entirely new space that I’m not even sure I’ll be in 6 months from now.

I need to do another clean out.

After writing all this down, I’m realizing I need to do another clean out. In Marie’s book, she says you’ll only ever do a true KonMari clean out once but you may find yourself checking in with your objects every year on a smaller level. I definitely think it’s time for me to check in because I can already think of some objects in my house that make me feel anxious or guilty. And that’s the beauty of the method: it honors the way you feel about things and takes those emotions seriously.

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