Monday, September 19, 2016

Will Konmari make you a Minimalist?

Isn’t that a question! Well, before I can even attempt to answer it, I want to set out what I mean by “Konmari” and “minimalist”.

Konmari is a Japanese decluttering method created by Mari Kondo and outlined in her book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Possessions are subdivided into categories. For each category of items, you round up all of those items from around your home and pile them in one massive pile on the floor. Then you touch each item and ask if it “sparks joy”. If so, keep it. If not, it goes. Once you’ve worked your way through each category, you’ll have touch each object in your home and then you can organize what’s left.

I’ve been through the decluttering process once and am currently working through it again and I can say from personal experience that you will jettison a lot of stuff during this process! It truly is life changing!!

What a minimalist is a bit harder to tie down. Typically, you think of bare white walls and a mostly empty home. Konmari will not turn you into this kind of minimalist unless almost nothing in your home sparks joy. A more general definition would be a person who strives to live with a minimal amount of things. (The exact amount of items will depend on the person and their life.)
Using this definition, Konmari will not make you a minimalist. Sparking joy and having a minimal amount of items aren’t mutually exclusive but also don’t go hand in hand. For most of us, many, many items will spark joy so we’ll end up with a decluttered home full of things we love after Konmari rather than with a minimalist home.

My personal favorite definition of a minimalist, however, is a person who is intentional about the things in their life. This resonates with the Konmari ideas of keeping only what sparks joy (intention in choosing objects) and by the end of the process, you will have gone through each item in your home and they will now “intentionally” be there. Where Konmari fails this definition of a minimalist is that there is no mention of changing the inflow of items to the home only increasing the outflow. Also, most minimalists would agree that sparking joy is not a good enough bench mark for whether an item stays or goes.

In my own experience with Konmari, I found that while I had hit my spark joy click point, I still felt like I had too much stuff! That’s one of the reasons I decided to do Konmari again. Minimalism really changes your relationship with things and goes beyond the bounds of Konmari decluttering. It’s really on a whole different level.

So, the real answer is no, Konmari will not make you a minimalist.

Having said that, I do recommend the Konmari process. It is a great way to declutter your home-wannabe minimalist or not. If you are looking to start a minimalism journey, it’s a perfect jumping off point. While there are plenty of other decluttering methods out there, Konmari really shines is in going by category rather than room so you really have to face how much of each type of item you really do own, in the idea of spark joy as a requirement (why do we keep so much stuff we don’t even like??) and in the organization of categories from easiest to hardest so you don’t get bogged down with the hard stuff at the beginning.

If you are looking for a well-organized, rapid process for decluttering your home, Konmari is for you. If you are seeking a minimalist life, you’ll have to continue to dig a bit deeper to find your “enough” below all the stuff that “sparks joy”.

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