I Tried To Declutter Like Marie Kondo - Here's What Happened
Braving the KonMari decluttering hype, our Graphic Designer puts her sanity to the test as she finds out if tidying up her disastrously messy study can (really) bring joy.
As a designer, I'm all for order and minimalism when I work, but as a person? I'm the last person you would call tidy. Which is why I've somehow managed to live the past few years with this overwhelming heap at home.
I don't even work on my desk anymore. Sometimes, I look back with a mixture of awe and horror and wonder, 'How did it (or I) get to this state?'. It's unsightly. Terrifying, seeing items crammed and teetering on the edge. But I'm reminded of how easy and convenient it is to have everything - my makeup, files, food - within reach, and I digress.
However, this peaceful co-existence has become a matter of contention. My desk was quickly becoming a literal rubbish pile; I was running out of space, and suffocating - physically and mentally. In need of a clean up, it was go big or go home. And what better way than to follow the footsteps of ultimate decluttering guru Marie Kondo?
With her book 'The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up' in hand (and my game face on), I decided one day that today was the day I'd tackle my desk and feel happy about it.
Except it only happened about 3 days later, because trying to get myself to start decluttering was actually harder and less exciting than I'd expected. Each day passed as I took a glance at the massive pile and decided that nope - my mind and heart wasn't ready for it.
It sounds easy kickstarting your decluttering journey on paper, but unless Kondo herself is going to be with me 24/7 pushing me off my bum like an overenthusiastic gym trainer, I think I'll need at least three days to get myself mentally prepared, thank you very much.
Okay, This Time I'm Really Purging
Finally, with an impending editorial deadline breathing down my neck, I sat down and started purging; I had been reading up to get a solid idea of Kondo's organising process, and it's no less ingenious (and borderline crazy. Who talks to their stuff?!). Anyway.
In the book, Kondo has an order of tidying by category rather than location. But I don't think she realises how much time it takes just to sort out the dregs of stuff (makeup, jewellery, stationery, papers) on my table. It was painful, but I stuck through it like any decent hoarder looking for salvation would.
Then, she advises to only keep items that spark joy. In order to do that, I had to pick up each item and ask myself if it sparked joy. It was a bit nutty - I had to ask myself if my CPF statement from last year sparked any joy in me.
Yet, the whole process seemed like it would never end, especially because I have a strange attachment to ALL my stuff. Even the CPF letter. I guess I take comfort in the fact that it’s there if I ever need it. This brought up a ton of conflicting feelings - knowing that it's there brings me joy, so shouldn't I keep it?
Ultimately, it was a little embarrassing seeing the amount of useless crap I’ve amassed because I felt guilty - and I threw them out. Kondo talks about dealing with this by talking to the item and thanking it for the role it has played in your life. It sounded batshit crazy at first, but it actually gave me a sense of closure knowing I’ve bid a proper goodbye.
I got the hang of not romanticising every little piece of junk and ended up with a large bag of rubbish. However, somewhere along the way I stopped asking if the piece sparked joy or not - it was more of being practical and opening my eyes to the fact I need to throw because these things are literally expired, no matter how happy they make me.
To be honest, I did feel liberated and satisfied getting rid of the things I didn’t need. It was like hitting a new milestone in life -
finally (FINALLY) the desk hoarder gets a chance to wipe her desk clean. My mom would be so proud.
I woke up the next morning expecting that wave of happiness from being proper and organised yesterday to wash over me.
In fact, I felt as empty as my desk looked. It was almost like my voice was taken away. Maybe the mess was a way I expressed myself and seeing all of it gone just made me feel hollow. It seemed foreign, like it wasn't my room anymore. I'm not sure if that's how I'm supposed to feel after the Marie Kondo Treatment, is it?
The KonMari method has proven to be successful for many people, but I’m not sure if I’m ready to be a full Konvert yet.
I guess it all boils down to what kind of person you are. Are you ready to make the change? I definitely thrust myself into the whole idea, and even though I'm glad to admit that it did do the trick of decluttering my desk - I didn't feel that infinite amount of joy that Marie Kondo has for a squeaky clean room.
Then again, to each his own. Tidiness isn't a moral obligation - but your personal choice! If you feel at home and content with a bit of clutter, why not?
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