I'm a Certified KonMari Consultant, Here's How to Spark Joy in Your Life
College Break Day, what a luxury. If you’re wondering what to do with your glorious three day weekend, I’ve got the answer. KonMari. For those of you who aren’t aware, KonMari is an organizational method made viral by the lovely fairy-woman Marie Kondo. She has three books, a Netflix series, and a veritable army of Kon-verts preaching the remarkable effects of tidying up and sparking joy.
I am one such KonMari evangelist. I may have taken it a bit too far when I went to her seminar and completed 50 hours of consulting to become the youngest certified KonMari consultant, but my obsessive behavior is your gain. A college-student customized KonMari guide written by one of your own.
Below I take you through the basic KonMari process and provide some more detailed tips and tricks I’ve found especially helpful.
1. Imagine your ideal lifestyle in detail
This is a key step so don’t skip it! It will help you to have a vision in your head to strive for as you discard and store. Go deep! Find a picture to encapsulate your ideal aesthetic, think about your routine, diet, study habits, everything! This is your fantasy sesh.
2. Acquire a large number of trash bags
You will probably be surprised at the amount of stuff you find to discard, so be prepared.
3. Tidy by category not by location
This means that you search your room until you have found every pen in your possession, rather than tidying your pencil case pens, backpack pens, closet pens, bookshelf pens, and desk pens separately.
4. Gather all items in one place before discarding
This means taking out everything in one category and piling it onto your bed or floor before starting to discard. Yes, even books, papers, and off-season clothing have to be taken off shelves and out of drawers to be tidied.
5. Does it spark joy?
Hold each item in your hands and ask yourself if it sparks joy. Sometimes it helps to start with something obvious. Pick out an item that you know sparks joy or that you know you want to get rid of.
Some questions you can ask yourself when you’re still unsure are:
Does this give me more guilt than pleasure?
Why do I feel an attachment to this item?
How does this item fit into my ideal lifestyle?
Is this something I want to take into my future?
Would I pick this out if I saw it in a store today?
Finish discarding before thinking about permanent storage. The KonMari method advises against overly complicated storage systems, and instead advocates the use of small boxes to store your things. Shoeboxes are an excellent candidate as are the packaging for apple products. Try to store things upright as much as possible. There are plenty of examples online. Keep similar items together and focus on how easy something will be to put away rather than how easy it is to get out.
7. Getting rid of the stuff
I have found this part particularly difficult as a college student. At home I know how to donate, recycle, or sell the things I discard. Without a car and familiar surroundings this gets more difficult. The University of Chicago has a recycling program directory that tells you where to drop off unwanted items. The tech department collects e-waste and there’s a second-hand store called Encore on 53rd that takes clothing. Alternatively you can list items on the Facebook page “Chicago Free and for Sale”, give items to friends who will appreciate them, or organize a clothing/stuff swap with your friends.
Pile all of your clothing onto your bed in a mountain, including outerwear and out of season clothes. If all your clothes don’t fit on the bed you can subdivide into smaller categories like blouses, jewelry, outerwear, shoes, etc. Fold everything that can be folded and watch this video on the KonMari folding method:
A particularly challenging category for university students. Books are not there to make you look smart, they are there to convey information to you. If you have read the book, you have absorbed the information. You can get rid of it. Sometimes means never. Get rid of books you haven’t read. Make room for ones you will cherish.
The basic idea here is to throw everything away (except stuff you are currently using for class). You probably won’t look over old class materials. If you want to be able to pass them on, take pictures of the most important materials and put them in a Google Drive folder so you can share easily. Put everything you’ve kept that you aren’t using for class in a clear folder and store upright on your bookshelf or in a magazine holder.
Komono (aka everything else):
Split up into categories (food, crafting, electronics, bath products, etc). Think about what you find useful and enriches your life. Take an especially close look at all those things you were told you needed to buy for college: a coffeemaker, microwave, first aid kit, mini vacuum, etc. These things are bulky and difficult to store. Chances are you can borrow any of it from your neighbor or RA when you truly need it. Post it on “Free and for Sale.”
Do this category last so it doesn’t slow you down. If you find sentimental items while tidying, set them aside to save for last. The best way to store these items is to display them in some way. Paste pictures or display tchotchkes inside your closet, or on your bookshelf. If you’d prefer them to be tucked away you can create a memory box and store the items altogether here. Try to find a box that you really enjoy.
If you want some more guidance on the method I highly recommend binge-watching the Netflix series or checking out this folding video for guidance on your underwear drawer.
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