The KonMari method

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The KonMari method

Post by jacob » Wed Apr 06, 2016 2:14 pm

I read the book. I think it's better in that it has more ideas than most other decluttering books and it's still nice and short. However, it seems to be mainly aimed at people with lots/average amounts of stuff. Examples include disposing of dozens of garbage bags worth of stuff or downsizing the closet from an average of 160 *shirts(!)

The general idea is "one place for everything and everything in its place" and "store like with like". This is standard advice. The new thing here is the emphasis on the crowbar method and a heavy dose of Shintoism, that is, imbuing objects with a spirit asking if the object sparks joy and thanking objects for their service. The latter is normal Japanese practice, at least once a year, but she recommends doing it daily. I suppose this practice develops some kind of deeper connection with one's things. The general recommendation is to start with clothes and then systemically go through books, documents (receipts, manuals, ToS, ...), misc (utensils, tools, extension cords, sports stuff ... ), and ending with sentimentals (pictures, letters, gifts, ...) ... in that order under the theory that it gets harder and harder to discard the further down the line. Each discard-fest begins with dumping all the like-kinds in the house on the floor and then going through it all. So it's not a room by room approach or a drawer by drawer approach. It's a class by class approach.

Overall, I didn't gain so much from it. I can't think of very much I own that sparks joy except when it turns out that I need it for something in which case the joy is in the fact that I already own it and don't have to go and buy it. Almost sounds like the diametrically opposite philosophy. I consider almost all acquisitions carefully, I have few things, and I wear things out. The KonMari method seems designed to deal with the opposite problem!?

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Re: The KonMari method

Post by polaran » Wed Apr 06, 2016 3:20 pm

Thanks for the summary. I have seen a lot of praise for this book in various spheres recently, but admittedly didn't read it as the synopsis seemed a little to "woo" for me. I cut my possessions down to the point of fitting in the trunk and half of the backseat (the other half was occupied by my dog) of a Honda Accord before moving across the country last fall. Yet, it still seems that my space is cluttered and I own a lot of unnecessary and infrequently used things. It may be time for a new round of "have I used this since moving here?" and subsequent decluttering

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Re: The KonMari method

Post by JL13 » Wed Apr 06, 2016 3:48 pm

Setting my condo up for Airbnb recently has forced me to get rid of most of everything. I continue to whittle things down further. Eventually it will just be furniture, pots and pans, cutlery, glassware and plates, sheets, paper towels and toilet paper.

I'm getting down to all my personal items fitting into a 4-drawer dresser. Not there yet, but getting closer.

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Re: The KonMari method

Post by jacob » Wed Apr 06, 2016 4:22 pm

I'm wondering whether I should modify the idea from "does this spark joy?" to "does this annoy me?".

It does bother me [a lot] that the default end destination seems to be a land fill. That might be okay for old clothes I don't think it's okay for a fully functional telescope and the likes. I'm sure someone would take them in if posted out front with a free sign on them. Perhaps a solution to this is to mentally depreciate everything to $0. Ugh! Fine if done once, but make a regular habit of it, and we're back to consumerism.

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Re: The KonMari method

Post by steveo73 » Wed Apr 06, 2016 4:43 pm

I started reading this but I gave up on it. I also didn't think it really applied to me.

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Re: The KonMari method

Post by jennypenny » Wed Apr 06, 2016 5:10 pm

jacob wrote:I'm wondering whether I should modify the idea from "does this spark joy?" to "does this annoy me?".
We're *not* minimalists. We're preppers/pseudo-homesteaders, so I aim for "Is this a part of the plan or vital to the functioning of team jennypenny?" Some things are cumbersome but necessary for accomplishing what we want to accomplish, like gardening supplies, sports equipment, supplies for my altoids tins, etc. Other things are part of our prep plan, so as long as they clearly check a box on that plan, I find a place for them. My plan is specific though--so many months of food, which kinds, a list of tools and dups, a list of supplies and how much of each I want--you get the idea. If I want three months of stored water and five years of water purifying ability, then I have to find a place for the bottles and the berkey supplies. I don't fret as long as the plan is clear. Where I struggle is with the 'just in case' stuff. I keep old blankets and bedding in case we ended up with a house full of family in a Sandy-type emergency. Same with old clothes that are functional (like coats and shoes).

None of my preps 'spark joy' but they definitely give me peace of mind. I can't imagine what Kondo would say about it though. Does a gas mask spark joy? Extra magazines? A hazmat suit?? :lol:

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Re: The KonMari method

Post by Ego » Wed Apr 06, 2016 5:32 pm

jacob wrote:I'm wondering whether I should modify the idea from "does this spark joy?" to "does this annoy me?".
The 'spark joy' idea never felt quite right to me. I think it has something to do with the fact that it is essentially teaching people that things make them happy, an idea that resides at the core of consumerism.

The whole 'imbuing objects with a spirt' thing is also troubling. At least it is for me. My boat and many VW vans all had names. I've since come to realize that this can be unhealthy.
jacob wrote:It does bother me [a lot] that the default end destination seems to be a land fill. That might be okay for old clothes I don't think it's okay for a fully functional telescope and the likes. I'm sure someone would take them in if posted out front with a free sign on them. Perhaps a solution to this is to mentally depreciate everything to $0. Ugh! Fine if done once, but make a regular habit of it, and we're back to consumerism.
Yeah, my friend who has this book on the top of a pile of junk in an overstuffed house with an overstuffed storage unit, is ready to take it all to the dump.... to free up space for more stuff.
jennypenny wrote:Does a gas mask spark joy? Extra magazines? A hazmat suit?? :lol:
Jenny, ten minutes into TEOTWAWKI.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdyMOngSKrQ

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Re: The KonMari method

Post by jennypenny » Wed Apr 06, 2016 6:08 pm

You know it!! :lol:

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Re: The KonMari method

Post by cmonkey » Wed Apr 06, 2016 6:31 pm

Overall I feel pretty good about my in flows. I don't really buy anything these days outside of rennovation/home maintenance category, chicken, cat and people food, personal care products and a few seeds/plants for the garden. I suppose if I thought hard I'd find something....but its like 1%. I have gotten pretty good at 'feeling the spark of joy' of saying NO!! to purchasing things.

It takes a lot of discipline to not let things come in faster than they go out. Its just really easy to buy! Swipe of the card and its one more thing in the door. Aside from tossing in the trash or giving away, its very difficult sometimes to get rid of stuff. We bought an elliptical right after we moved here, and have gotten fair use out of it over the years but we're done with it now and will never purchase anything in that realm of 'what do I do with it now' category. It's been on craigslist for nearly half a month and I've only had one guy contact me. Then he stood me up on the day we were to meet. That was right as Monty got sick so it just added to the hell that March was. Now it's just sitting in our sitting room near the sliding door....waiting to be sold....

We have also been piling stuff in our attic in preparation for garage saling. I have no faith that much will be sold, but I told DW I'd give her a year to try selling it all. She won't let me get rid of any of it!! I try and try.....and sometimes sneak it out. I do have faith she's coming around though. She has been commenting on it being nice having less stuff and more room.

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Re: The KonMari method

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Wed Apr 06, 2016 6:39 pm

I once read a weight loss book that offered similar advice on letting go of your body fat. For instance, you might say "Thank you for cushioning me through the stress of attending law school while raising hyper-active twins."

The clutter control method I've used most often requires that everything you own must either be useful or beautiful. However, I am becoming more into thinking about modularity and multi-function within the larger system. There are all sorts of resources I may make use of without owning, and all sorts of vectors or flows that nobody can properly own, and this is true on every scale. I know I have the right sort of combination of resources at my disposal when the next thing I acquire tends towards making many things I already own even more useful or beautiful etc. and/or I can almost randomly pick a circumstance or desire and not have to go to too much trouble to deal with or fulfill it. IOW, I want to be minimally but confidently prepped for all sorts of wonderful things that might happen as well as more terrible things that might happen. For instance, I recently acquired a large pair of Fiskar loppers from a junk store and a little yellow 100% cashmere vintage sweater from the everything-is-$1-thrift-store and I have already gotten service out of them worth more than 10X what I paid because they fit my needs so well.

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Re: The KonMari method

Post by Dragline » Wed Apr 06, 2016 10:06 pm

Ego wrote:
jacob wrote:I'm wondering whether I should modify the idea from "does this spark joy?" to "does this annoy me?".
The 'spark joy' idea never felt quite right to me. I think it has something to do with the fact that it is essentially teaching people that things make them happy, an idea that resides at the core of consumerism.

The whole 'imbuing objects with a spirt' thing is also troubling. At least it is for me. My boat and many VW vans all had names. I've since come to realize that this can be unhealthy.
Yeah, I'd rather not have any attachment to things. Sometimes I succeed more than others. I still have way too much junk, but its kind of out of sight, out of mind.

Sometimes people seem to look for spirituality in all the wrong places. But it's hard to knock it if it works for some. Certainly a step in a positive direction for people who just keep mindlessly accumulating.

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Re: The KonMari method

Post by Olaz » Wed Apr 06, 2016 10:25 pm

jennypenny wrote: We're *not* minimalists. We're preppers/pseudo-homesteaders, so I aim for "Is this a part of the plan or vital to the functioning of team jennypenny?" Some things are cumbersome but necessary for accomplishing what we want to accomplish, like gardening supplies, sports equipment, supplies for my altoids tins, etc. Other things are part of our prep plan, so as long as they clearly check a box on that plan, I find a place for them. My plan is specific though--so many months of food, which kinds, a list of tools and dups, a list of supplies and how much of each I want--you get the idea. If I want three months of stored water and five years of water purifying ability, then I have to find a place for the bottles and the berkey supplies. I don't fret as long as the plan is clear. Where I struggle is with the 'just in case' stuff. I keep old blankets and bedding in case we ended up with a house full of family in a Sandy-type emergency. Same with old clothes that are functional (like coats and shoes).

None of my preps 'spark joy' but they definitely give me peace of mind. I can't imagine what Kondo would say about it though. Does a gas mask spark joy? Extra magazines? A hazmat suit?? :lol:
It's interesting that my current way of "prepping" includes not owning a prepped homestead (a solid strategy if you'd like to purchase the space), but owning everything needed to survive indefinitely in a 60L backpack, and walking around in nature or built spaces to meet my needs for food and supplies (anyone ever play Fallout III or IV? :D). More risky, but also un-cumbersome during non-apocalyptic periods (I use and own most of the things in the back pack on a day to day basis anyway).

I think one does not need to own a large homestead to be able to survive off it for a year or longer. I wouldn't be surprised if a space-optimized 20x20 house could provide ample storage for food, water, electricity production, and more for a year or more, especially if you add a cellar, small tool shed, garden for two, etc. I wish we didn't have to think of prepping for apocalyptic scenarios, though. It'd be nice if most humans stopped worshiping GDP (climate change) and started looking at the long term sustainability and interconnectedness of the human species.
Last edited by Olaz on Thu Apr 07, 2016 7:24 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: The KonMari method

Post by FBeyer » Thu Apr 07, 2016 2:58 am

jacob wrote:...Overall, I didn't gain so much from it...
The KonMari method is not really about decluttering, it's about discovering who you truly are and how your belongings used to keep you away from that knowledge. You wrote a philosophy book on that topic, of course you didn't gain anything from The life Changing Magic; you reflected on that a long time ago.

When you examine the things in your life that spark joy, you should be able to sit down and reflect on that. We can all claim whatever we want about being detached from our possessions, but the things we do own, DO say a lot about us, whether there are a lot of them, or not.

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Re: The KonMari method

Post by FBeyer » Thu Apr 07, 2016 3:32 am

jacob wrote:I'm wondering whether I should modify the idea from "does this spark joy?" to "does this annoy me?".
I just thought about this; and if you change the premise of your selection criteria, you are effectively framing (psychology) your attitude to your belongings towards one of hostility and not one of joy.

You know what Epictetus would say about that...

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Re: The KonMari method

Post by Ego » Thu Apr 07, 2016 8:18 am

FBeyer wrote:We can all claim whatever we want about being detached from our possessions, but the things we do own, DO say a lot about us, whether there are a lot of them, or not.
Guilty! I agree, they do. But is that a good thing?

If not, we have to figure out how to get from the place where we are defined by our things to a place where we are defined by.... what? Our character? Our relationship with others? Our faith or belief system? The size of our investment account? What we do for a living? Our place in the planet's ecology?



Here's what the high-priest of branding had to say about it....
Mr Olins recognised two great truths about the modern capitalist economy. The first is that the most precious resource in a noisy, crowded market is people’s attention. The second is that consumers are not just looking for utility in the things they buy. They are also looking for meaning. “In the absence of a spiritual mentor,” he once declared, with his signature nonchalance, “the idea of what the brand stands for—‘Just Do It’, or whatever it is—is a substitute.”
Hat tip to Dragline.
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Re: The KonMari method

Post by Scott 2 » Thu Apr 07, 2016 8:32 am

My wife did this book when she stopped working. I'd say it halved the number of items in our house. Almost none of what was eliminated was mine, but I found it freeing!

I think it depends on how you are wired. I already had very little. But my attitude is one of "what do I need a picture in the wall for, I won't notice it after a day anyway..."

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Re: The KonMari method

Post by SilverElephant » Thu Apr 07, 2016 8:59 am

jacob wrote:I'm wondering whether I should modify the idea from "does this spark joy?" to "does this annoy me?".
I find that for the, the question is not one of joy but satisfaction, i.e. if I own something that is of some use on a regular basis and it performs its services well and I feel like I didn't blow too much money on it, I will feel satisfied. There's some satisfaction in my wardrobe because it both clothes me well and is still minimal-ish and well-structured. There's satisfaction in the $200 home-build cloud backup server because I didn't but the components on a whim, but thought about it for a few months, learned a considerable amount of Linux server administration from it and it now performs automatic backup of pretty much all my family's data.

Interestingly, I feel no satisfaction concerning some things I bought on a whim or things that didn't provide enough use compared to what I paid for them, or crappy gifts I get from people who felt like they just had to get me something and are now accumulating dust in my appartment.

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Re: The KonMari method

Post by jacob » Thu Apr 07, 2016 9:26 am

@FBeyer - Figured you'd weigh in :)

Yes, I think I already know who I am---and it's a good point, especially given how the book was very focused on clothes, books (I want to learn that someday) and seminar-certificates. I can see how that focus would obscure things, in the following sense ...
“You are not your job, you're not how much money you have in the bank. You are not the car you drive. You're not the contents of your wallet. You are not your fucking khakis. You are all singing, all dancing crap of the world.”
I'm someone who likes to be able to fix/build things in my near environment. This requires a lot of tools and parts to be effective. My problem in this case is organizational. I'd like to have (build of course) a clever toolbox system instead of having an assortment of injection mold plastic cases and cardboard boxes sitting on shelves, on the floor, and in plastic totes. Alternatively, I need to accept the current system.

I'm also someone who tends to jump in and out of hobbies (short attention span) and since it's easier to acquire equipment than to subsequently dequire it, I have a trail of equipment (hockey, fishing, sailing, hunting, weight lifting, martial arts, bikes... ) in my wake. These things definitely don't spark joy anymore(*). However, it would spark a lot of non-joy to simply throw them in the trash. The solution here is either to lower the threshold for dequiring (not demanding that they are sold for anything near the cost (e.g. eBay auction starting at $0.25) or given to someone who will appreciate them) or not acquiring new hobbies.

The projection/self-image here is someone who likes to do things and someone who has done things. Unfortunately, such activities come with a baggage (boat anchor) of stuff that either needs to be organized or gotten rid of and therein lies the problem. That stuff does not spark joy. It's an annoying side-effect/consequence of doing things.

(*) Except in the rare cases where they are needed if e.g. someone invites me on a hunting or fishing trip or whatever. That's the flip-side, I note that hardcore minimalists (the "37 yoga mats in a carry-on"-crowd) often have to avoid activities for that reason, so there's a [fine] line of optimization somewhere.

Otherwise, I think I have a pretty good handle on clothes (except suits and jackets of which I have too many), books, documents, and memorabilia.

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Re: The KonMari method

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Thu Apr 07, 2016 9:26 am

The second is that consumers are not just looking for utility in the things they buy. They are also looking for meaning. “In the absence of a spiritual mentor,” he once declared, with his signature nonchalance, “the idea of what the brand stands for—‘Just Do It’, or whatever it is—is a substitute.”
But, if we consider what we learned about the history of money originating as "collectables" and often ornamentation, and the fact that this sort of behavior may actually be genetically encoded, then the marketeers are just tapping into something that already existed, not creating something new within us.

Also, as an individual you are, perhaps to your detriment, choosing to not dwell within the social reality if you completely ignore the importance of this. "Vestis Virum Reddit " etc. For instance, my number 1 focus right now is my permaculture project, and my number 1 focus within my permaculture project at the moment is helping with a political action to stop expansion of nearby toxic processing plant. Because I put my hair up in a neat chignon and dressed myself in my vintage cashmere cardigan, I was able to present myself in a manner (aging Hitchcock blonde) that allowed me to ask for direct meetings with people with some power and make some significant progress towards my goal. IOW, if you are not asking yourself what instant judgments other people are likely making about you based on your appearance and your "stuff" then you are doing yourself a serious disservice. Figure it out and then transcend or subvert it for your own benefit.

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Re: The KonMari method

Post by JasonR » Thu Apr 07, 2016 9:36 am

I use the Mon Calamari method wherein everything is a trap.

I used to be a minimalistish person until I wasn't (house/spouse/kids). Now I have to sometimes move a thing to get to a thing and it makes me quake with rage. Shelves are one item deep, not two items deep no matter how deep they appear. But my wife who is fond of making good points that refute my intj perfection mentioned that whether you have 0 or 1 or 100 things in a closet that can hold 100 things you still have the closet at the end of the day. So what is the point of an empty closet when it could contain useful items? Rip out the closet? Remove the empty drawers from the kitchen? I couldn't think of anything...

We encountered this specific point last weekend. We had guests over and had to break open the ziplock baggie that holds a multiverse of cutlery that I had previously removed from the silverware drawer and hidden. Hidden so well that a year from now I could descend upon her and exclaim with righteous indignation that we had failed to use said cutlery and therefore it's mine to smelt in my gingery forge where it will be reborn into a two-handed +10 spoon of doom (We need a shovel). Being a wife she knew exactly where it was the whole time and broke it out to save the embarrassment of not having enough forks for the jerks in my house eating all my food. The point was that keeping the baggie of silverware didn't cost us anything (money, effort, time, old testament sackcloth wearing anguish) but not having it would have been awkward. Do I bum a fork from the neighbor I didn't invite?

After finishing our basement before crapfactory #2 came along I have many tools that sit on shelves in the now much smaller storage room in the basement (she's a clever girl!). I adhere to the alpha strategy though and won't relinquish them. Being married with kids and owning a house has taught me that having the thing is often better than not having the thing and if I have space for the thing (good organization) why discard it ? I don't have the luxury to ask about joy. WTF joy? Chop wood, carry water. There's your joy. (Wait, does that mean that an ax and a bucket are the necessary components of...)
Ego wrote: to a place where we are defined by.... what?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethics
Many options. But who is doing the defining? I define myself by my actions (consequentialism/deontology) but others may define me by how many plastic kid toys are in the basement or my belief system/lack thereof. Does it matter?

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Re: The KonMari method

Post by jacob » Thu Apr 07, 2016 9:45 am

@JasonR - I see what you did there :lol: :twisted:

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Re: The KonMari method

Post by Dragline » Thu Apr 07, 2016 11:14 am

Yeah, that's pretty much where I am, too.

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Re: The KonMari method

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Thu Apr 07, 2016 11:25 am

@JasonR: ROTFLMAO. I well remember the invasion of the affluent grandparents years. I think I could barely shut the door on the play room by the time they were 3 and 5, and there are many photographs documenting the fact that at one point my son was in possession of more than 3 little Lord Fauntleroy suits inclusive of bow-tie, even though I generally allowed him to run around half naked. I eventually was able to persuade them to distribute their largesse more in the form of educational travel adventures, ballet lessons and taking my kids to see every Disney movie the second it appeared in theaters. I like playing hostess, so that has been a bit of a conflict with my simple life fantasy too. My future plan is to have my usually unheated greenhouse space double as my party space.

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Re: The KonMari method

Post by jacob » Thu Apr 07, 2016 3:43 pm

Another issue I found lacking was the lack any consideration for systemic integration of one's stuff. It was as if each item was considered for sparks of joy independent of all other items.

Example: You have a suit that sparks joy. The shirt and the tie spark joy too. However, the Oxford shoes do not, so you get rid of them. However, now you only have joggers, and so you can no longer wear your suit without looking like an art designer.

Maybe this example is too simple and maybe the solution would be to go out and buy new shoes (yay?!) or maybe it's presumed that one has enough substitute dress shoes so that such actions don't break any systems. However, I can easily think of more complex systems that are more optimized and where missing items would break the system.

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Re: The KonMari method

Post by jennypenny » Thu Apr 07, 2016 4:10 pm

I think that's my biggest issue with her method. The 'sparks of joy' thing sounds good, but if a person is strict about it they could end up with 10 pieces of artwork and no underwear.


Maybe my INT*ness is the problem. I see beauty in a well-oiled machine or a well-functioning plan, where all the bits and pieces are working together (like jacob's web). Maybe a better word for me would be 'harmony'. If something integrates seemlessly into my system and enriches the harmony instead of detracting from it, then it stays.

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