I actually finished this KonMari thing

Yes, I finished doing the KonMari thing before May 1st.

To be clear:

– I only went through MY stuff; I did not include stuff which is common to the whole household, nor my parents’ stuff
– I am interested in doing some de-cluttering in other specific parts of the house at some point in the future, but NOT NOW, and only if/when I can get my parents on board
– I did not do a digital KonMari (i.e. I did not apply the KonMari method to my hard drives, email, etc.). I don’t know whether or not I want to do a digital KonMari.
– There are still some changes I want to make in my room, but since those changes are not about what stuff I am going to keep and where I am going to place the stuff I want to keep, those changes have nothing to do with the KonMari method

Did you do the categories in the recommended order?

No, my order was: Clothes, Papers, Books, Sentimental Items, and Komono. (I actually started on komono before I finished papers, but since I finished the komono category last, I placed it at the end).

What was the easiest category?


What was the hardest category?

Clothes. Thank goodness I got that over with first.

Did the KonMari method change your life?

Of course it did, anything which changes my living space so much is going to change my life.

Errr, I don’t think that is what most people mean when they hear or say that the KonMari method is ‘life-changing’?

I think it is too soon to say whether it has been ‘life-changing’ in a profound sense, the dust has not all settled yet. And there will be so much dust because this house has been inhabited by humans who shed skin cells for more than a hundred years. But now there are a lot fewer surfaces in my room for that dust to settle on, and it is much easier to access those surfaces in order to remove the dust. I expect the dust levels to go down over time now that I can clean my room more efficiently.

What about the more profound kind of life-change?

Right now, I feel like it has been about as life-changing as getting a new ‘bed’. Which actually changed my life quite a bit, because changing my ‘bed’ was not just about the physical act of getting a new ‘bed’, it was also about changing my own attitude towards what I bring into my space and how I arrange it. It changed my life so much that I was inspired to write five blog posts about getting a new ‘bed’. My dad has said that, from his point a view, this KonMari thing I’ve been doing is just an extension of what I did when I replaced my ‘bed’ and… he’s not wrong.

But I doubt this will change my life as much as leaving San Francisco and spending a few years in East Asia did. There is life changing, and then there is LIFE CHANGING.

Are you going to post ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures?

I considered it, and then decided against it.

Why not?

I’ve seen some of the photos/videos depicting ‘before’ and ‘after’ for people who went through some home-organizing process. Those videos could have been good if they a) motivated me to put more effort into my own process or b) gave me specific ideas about how to handle certain things. But in practice, watching those ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos/videos never motivated me or gave me useful tips. In fact, they tended to bring out negative feelings or discourage me from continuing with my own process.

Different people define ‘tidy’ and ‘messy’ in different ways, and that is 100% okay, in fact, I think it is fascinating. But sometimes someone will make a video where they will talk about how they used to be so horribly messy, and they are so embarrassed about how their place used to look, and then when I finally see the ‘before’ footage it looks… tidy. I then I think ‘if they think that THIS is horribly messy, what would they say about my room?’

Now there are places that look messier than what my place looked like before the KonMari process. In some ways I think these videos/photos have an even worse effect on me. They invite me to be judgemental, and look down on whoever had the courage to reveal their messy place to the internet. I don’t think this attitude is good for my relations with other peoples, and I don’t think it is good for my relationship with myself either. Judging others in a negative way puts me in a judgemental mindset. When I am in a judgemental mindset, I am more likely I am to judge myself in a negative way, and the more I judge myself negatively, the more I want to avoid this tidying up thing. And that gets in the way of actually tidying up.

When I am conscious of how comparing my own space to other people’s spaces feeds into a judgemental mindset, I can detach myself. When I successfully detach myself and avoid comparing myself with others, I feel like I can actually listen to these other people and understand better how they think and feel about the tidiness/messiness of their spaces.

For example, in this video about decluttering sentimental items, the speaker says that she used to be a hoarder, and in the description she says “My childhood Bedroom: Not kidding about the hoarder part.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rteZK1K-8mA“. The first time I looked at that video showing her childhood bedroom, my thoughts were something like this: ‘isn’t this a minimalist bedroom, it’s so tidy and there is so much open space, oh wait a minute, this is supposed to be a “hoarder” bedroom, does this girl have no sense of perspective, if she considers this to be horribly messy than she must really look down on most of the people I have ever known, how dare she’. The second time I saw the video, I deliberately avoiding comparing the appearance of her bedroom to any other bedroom I have ever seen. I pretended I was an alien from outer space who had never seen a bedroom before. Then I was finally able to see all of the emotional attachments she had to the objects in her room, and how her attachments made many of these items really pop out to her, and how from her perspective, this room is ‘cluttered’ with emotions she had not yet resolved. (UPDATE: that particular YouTuber has a video called “Break the Comparison Habit”. I agree with her; breaking the comparison habit is a good idea).

But the easiest way to avoid comparing myself to them is to just not look at the before/after pictures/videos.

Given my reservations about seeing other people’s ‘before’ and ‘after’ pictures, I am not comfortable with posting my own. I don’t want to read comments like ‘my place looks tidier/messier than what I see in your before/after picture’ and I don’t want to encourage my readers to compare the appearance of their places to the appearance of other people’s places. If someone is curious specifically about my space, they can ask me questions (which I may or may not answer). If someone just wants to see general ‘before KonMari’ and ‘after KonMari’ pictures, there are already plenty of them on the internet.

The book says that when you tidy up, other people in your household will start tidying up too. Is that true for you?

Yes, though my parents are not tidying up to the same degree I am.

My father not taking the tidying/decluttering to the same extreme I have, and he is going at a slower pace, but he is definitely doing it. And the motivation has been coming from him, not me. Though I have made suggestions/dropped hints, I also make it clear that I am willing to back off. It’s when I say things like ‘if you don’t want to bother, then-‘ that he has the most negative reactions, saying things like ‘I should bother, I want this stuff gone, it oppresses me.’ He has in fact cleared quite a bit of his stuff from the infamous basement room, and combined with my stuff being all cleared out, it has made a major difference. It is much easier to move around the basement room now than it was a few months ago, and because it is more accessible, it is easier for my dad to find even more of his stuff (and yes, a bit more of my stuff has also been uncovered).

I also took a coffee table from his room, which temporarily caused his room to explode in messiness as many of his items lost their ‘homes’ (sorry Dad). But it also led to him discovering lots of stuff he had forgotten about. The explosion has been contained by now, and he is still going through that stuff and deciding what to keep at his own pace.

Since he helped me with my process, I am willing to help him. Though he can carry heavier weights than I can (which is why I need his help when I move heavy furniture), I have more agility and energy. It’s generally easier for me to do the ‘get things out of the house’, especially if it is not going to be picked up from our curbside. He also experiences physical pain when he bends down to reach the floor, so when things end up on the floor of his room, they might stay there for a long time. I’ve been helping him simply by bending down and picking up some of those things on the floor and putting them in a place where he can easily reach them.

My dad is not interested in reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up because he wants to do it his way, not what some book tells him to do.

I have prompted my mother to get rid of most of her newspaper stash, and she did! Yay! I actually asked her to relocate the newspapers, not to get rid of them, but instead she let go of most of them. I would still prefer to have the newspapers relocated, but having just a small newspaper stash in my way instead of a large newspaper stash in my way is an improvement.

She has also been doing some decluttering on her own, without me saying a word. Her kind of decluttering is putting things that belong in the recycling bin which have been sitting in our home for a long time (such as empty bottles) into recycling. It’s not as much as what my dad has been doing, but even ‘get things that belong in recycling/landfill/compost to the recycling/landfill/compost bins faster’ makes a difference. And honestly, as long things which belong in recycling/landfill/compost get there promptly, it’s okay if she keeps the rest of her stuff. She has a lot of stuff which she never uses but *shrug* we have enough space to do what we want to do, we don’t really need to get more space by clearing out her stuff, and I don’t think my parents would want to bring in roommates again even if we did clear space (when I was a young child, we had roommates living with us).

Are you going to continue blogging about this now that you are done?

YES! I still have thoughts! So many thoughts! I want to blog about at least some of them.

I also find the meta of how people tidy/organize their homes fascinating. I browsed/skimmed/read so many organizing/tidying/decluttering books not because I needed more advice (I got all the advice I needed in the first month), but because I find it interesting to see how different people approach this. It’s a different way to get into other people’s heads.

But, even though I really like the meta, I’ve had enough of actually decluttering/tidying/organizing my own space, I’m glad that the active phase is done and I can downshift into maintenance mode.

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