Moving abroad: Declutter using the KonMari Method

Before moving to Japan, or anywhere else for that matter (whether it be abroad or in your own country), it is important to reevaluate pretty much everything in your life. You have to determinate what is important to you, because you can only bring so much with you to this new place. That is why it is the best time to sort your belongings.

After graduating, I lived at home again with my family, which also meant that I moved all of my stuff from my dorm back home. I noticed two major things about this move: 1) I did not have room in my closet for all of my clothes, and 2) I always felt stressed when I had to open my closet because I knew that it was too full and that I would have a hard time finding something to wear. This feeling sparked the interest in me to start reading a book that I had bought a few years ago: The Life-Changing magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I always found myself to be a very tidy and clean person (my friends and boyfriend will know how intolerant I am to a messy room, haha), therefore I did not think this book would teach me anything. But boy, I was wrong! This book contained so many original and inventive tips and tricks for decluttering and tidying. The second I finished this book I flew right into it.

The main gist of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is: keep what makes you happy and get rid of anything that doesn’t. To do this, you must declutter by category, and not by room. The order in which you have to tidy up is first clothes, then books, administrative papers and whatnot, small stuff that you have lying around, and then you end with belongings that you keep for emotional reasons.

I started this journey by sorting my clothes. The book recommended to fully empty your closet on the floor (I put everything on my bed) and then hold every item in your hands one by one to see if it sparked joy. If it did, you keep it. If it did not, you put it into a bag to throw away/give away/donate. I first divided my clothes into two piles: keep and must go, before putting the “go” pile in bags. I still had so much stuff from my secondary school years that I kept because it might be useful as sleepwear or active wear. However, I had not worn these pieces to the gym once. And as for sleeping, I always went back to my same pyjama’s/T-shirts. There was absolutely no point in keeping them. Thanks to this book I had gained some new insights about these things and it made it easier for me to finally say “bye-bye”. I ended up donating twelve bags of clothes to charity. TWELVE. These were clothes that were still in good shape, but they were just hogging my closet. I still own a lot of clothes, but now they all fit into one closet and I actually love every piece that I own. Also, the new folding methods I learned from this book were amazing.

After two days of sorting through my clothes, I started sorting my books. Since I lived with my family, we shared most of the books that we read. That is why I did not have many books that were only mine, which also meant that there was not much to get rid of. Literature I got rid of were old magazines that I would never read again, books that I started reading but did not like and ended up never finishing them, and books from my secondary school years that were mandatory to read but to which I don’t have a fond memory or I am not planning on reading ever again. I donated these to a school library.

After cleaning up my books and being very satisfied with how my bookshelf looked, I started rummaging through the little bits and bobs that I had lying around in closed drawers that I hadn’t opened in ages. Again, I poured all these items on my bed and began sorting. Before I knew it, I just sat there on my bed, not doing anything, and staring at the mess I created for a good few minutes. I just could not progress at this stage. I had not realised how mentally draining this decluttering process had been for me. Don’t get me wrong. After I sorted my clothes and books I felt amazing. My wardrobe was filled with only things I loved and everything was organized in a very useful and beautiful manner. My bookcase had never been more aesthetically pleasing, with no more books I would never read and random stuff lying on there. HOWEVER, after a few days I felt drained. Why? Because I’m a very sentimental person and I have a memory attached to everything I own. Getting rid of all that stuff was indeed a relief, but it took me a while to get there and understand that. That is why I deterred from the book’s advice not to take breaks and clean up everything in one go, and I did. I took a break for a few days. I did not give up, but I just needed a break. At this point my room looked perfect. It’s just a few drawers that needed to be sorted. So I allowed myself a break.

Finally I ended up decluttering all the little bits and bobs that were left in my drawers. These things were mostly beauty products that were overdue, makeup that I would never use that was still in the packaging, hair accessories and jewels. Of these things I only threw away what had gone bad, kept the things that I still used every day, and gave the things I did not need anymore to family and friends.

I’m going to be honest: I never got to the items-with-emotional-attachment-category. Mostly because I was very satisfied with everything I owned at this point. I liked the look of everything in my room, and I did not mind having some old posters on the wall or framed pictures of when I was fourteen years old or some kitsch little memorabilia from a trip . Since I was moving abroad, I still wanted this room to look like “me” when I come back to it.

To conclude, I would like to say that this book did change my life in some way.

  • I have attained better skills in what I need and what I can easily get rid of. I will no longer keep cute tags from clothes because they might go into an inspirational collage book that I will probably never make.
  • I put everything away and do not postpone it. This means that when I come home, I will not hang my coat on a chair, but hang it away in the closet immediately.
  • My closets will be tidy forever because the KonMari folding method does not allow your closet to get bulky or messy. I see everything I own in one glimpse.
  • Packing has become a lot easier because I do not have to go running around, looking for stuff that might be here or there. Everything has its place. All my electronics are in one drawer, all my important files are on the same place on my desk, my beauty products are in one bag and not a million different ones, etc.
  • This method of tidying has saved me a lot of time because everything is already in the right place.
  • I never have “nothing to wear” anymore.

I am sure that there are many more benefits to applying this method to your life, but these were the main ones for me.

I hope this article has sparked some interest in you to give The Life-Changing magic of Tidying Up a read. If you have already read it, please let me know if you used any of Marie Kondo’s tips and whether it worked for you or not.

5 Comments

  1. After moving overseas, ive had to live in sharehouses and tiny studios as a couple, and im so glad i adopted a more ‘have less shit around the house’ lifestyle as inspired by marie kondo. Its definitely helped me to free up my mind for more important things in life, and its crazy to think how just having less physical possessions helps with that!

    Like

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