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Culling The Clutter With The Help Of Marie Kondo

home marie kondo sock drawer
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Here’s what happened when I tried to emulate Marie Kondo’s famed KonMari Method™ in my Hong Kong home!

Japanese tidying expert Marie Kondo has become a household name since publishing her book “The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up” in 2011. Now she even has her own Netflix series “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo”. For those of you who don’t know, she uses her KonMari Method to encourage people to clear out their clutter (making sure they thank an item before discarding it) and “choose joy”.

She’s been a regular topic of conversation in the Sassy Mama office in recent months, so I decided I needed to give it a go and as they say, there’s no time like the present. I was curious to see if it could help me organise our flat a little more. Marie Kondo bases everything around the following six rules of tidying:

  1. Commit yourself to tidying up
  2. Imagine your ideal lifestyle
  3. Finish discarding first
  4. Tidy by category, not by location
  5. Follow the right order
  6. Ask yourself if it sparks joy

home marie kondo konmari method

Read more: Your Guide To Donation Resources In Hong Kong

Let the culling begin

I started with the task of discarding. I’ve never really been a hoarder and have always been pretty good at taking stock of my wardrobe and doing a clear out once a year. But moving to Hong Kong made this an essential, rather than voluntary, task. The majority of flats here just don’t have the storage space for us to hold on to items that “no longer spark joy”. I sorted out my shoe collection first, and was pretty ruthless. I had been holding on to several pairs of pumps that had really seen better days but, for some reason, I was reluctant to throw out. They were the first to go (after I thanked them of course). I must say that thanking my discarded items is the part of the KonMari Method™, that I felt more a little ridiculous doing. My mutterings certainly prompted a few rather bemused looks from my husband, but I carried on regardless.

I found items in my wardrobe that had survived last year’s cull but hadn’t been worn since. I asked myself, why I was holding on to them if I hadn’t been tempted to wear them in the last 12 months? I ended up splitting things into two different piles: one for clothes that were still in a decent state and could be donated to charity, and the other for the clothing recycling bank (consisting of things that had gone a bit threadbare or were too well worn for someone else to get use out of them). It took me the best part of an hour to go through my wardrobe and drawers, and by the time I was finished, I had filled six medium-sized binliners. Don’t ask me how! I have no idea how everything actually fit in there in the first place.

home marie kondo discarding items

Time for folding

My wardrobe now looks much more organised and, rather than having things thrown in there in a random order, I have grouped things into categories so all my tops now hang together etc. Maybe I took things a little far by also trying to colour code! I am trying to be more mindful when shopping as well, so the next time an item catches my eye in a shop window, rather than considering a purchase, I’ll ask myself if I really do need it.

Read more: How To Recycle In Hong Kong: Hassle-Free Tips For Reducing Waste

After completing the discarding stage, it was time to sort out my drawers and get folding. Now, this has never really been my forte so I tend to use the rolling method to save space. But after having seen plenty of pictures of Marie Kondo’ed drawers I was curious to give it a go. I followed her basic folding method and got to work. She encourages you to feel an emotional attachment to your clothes and communicate your gratitude to them as you fold them up. Unlike Marie, I don’t have a large rectangular table to carry out folding on, but my round one did the trick just as well. She says when a piece of clothing is folded correctly it will stand up on its own, which is all very well in theory. However, it took me several goes to perfect this and quite a few things fell over in the process! But once I got into the rhythm, I found it quite relaxing and therapeutic.

Does it work?

The place where I found her method made the most difference was more in my husband’s drawers than my own. His t-shirt drawer is normally stuffed full, but when I folded things this way, it freed up a lot of extra space. I’m not going to lie though, I did find this took up more time than my regular rolling method and to be honest, I can see myself returning to my old habits over time (there is definite truth in the “old habits die hard” saying). But for the moment, and at the risk of sounding like a bit of a nerd, I do get a sense of satisfaction every time I pull open a drawer and see how orderly it looks.

home marie kondo organising drawers

This leads me on to talk about the dreaded folding of a fitted sheet. Actually, I think this was the thing I was most looking forward to trying in my Marie Kondo experiment. Who hasn’t wrestled with a fitted sheet at some point? I’ve definitely been guilty of shoving a freshly washed fitted sheet into a drawer because, no matter how hard I try, it refuses to cooperate. Marie’s method involves folding the sheet into thirds to create a rectangle, before folding it in half width wise and rolling it to store. I followed the video and I must say it wasn’t really a life-changing moment for me, despite my high hopes.

But I did come across another good tip for storing bedding recently, courtesy of Mrs Hinch of Instagram fame. She recommends storing your clean bedding inside a pillowcase to keep it together. She also puts a fabric softener dryer sheet (like Bounce) in there too to help that freshly laundered smell linger a while longer.

Final thoughts

After finishing my experiment I would say that I do admire Marie Kondo’s method of sorting and I think I will commit to trying to do a clear out twice a year from now on – especially because the Hong Kong humidity can play havoc with clothes (I’m always on the lookout for telltale signs of any dreaded mould setting in!). I do find her folding method a little more time consuming, but I’m hoping to speed up as I get more used to it, so I’m not going to give up just yet.

I’m also not going to pretend I’ve sorted out my whole flat, I haven’t even begun to tackle the kitchen cupboards, and believe me when I say they need some attention! Why is it the item you need always seems to be hidden at the back, under various cheese graters, cake tins and lemon juicers?! That can be a task for next weekend (or maybe even the one after)!

Featured image courtesy of Sassy Media Group, image 1 courtesy of Marie Kondo via Instagram, images 2 and 3 property of Sassy Media Group.

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