Monday, March 7, 2016

Minimalist Monday: Updated KonMari Drawers & Tidying Up Q&A

It's been about a year since I first purged my clothing according to the KonMari method and I thought we were due for an update. You can click here to see what my dresser looked like back in May, when I decided to document it for all of posterity, and some things have changed a little since then. I just finished another round of more intensive decluttering a few days ago (as a consequence of reading Marie Kondo's newly released second book, 'Spark Joy' - would you like a separate book review?), so again I'm all fired up on the subject and full of different insights. I had this idea of doing this post as a Q&A - not that anyone has actually asked me these questions, though just for clarity's sake, this format may be easier to follow. But first things first.
The basic organization of my drawers hasn't changed all that much in a year's time - except that I now own even less clothing, so I've shifted stuff to make the drawers look fuller, but not stuffed. I'm not showing you my underwear drawer, but I have arranged all my bras the same way they stock drawers at Victoria's Secret, and I've put in a small divider for panties. I've made some room in my sock drawer so that I was able to fit in another box with my thights and stockings; I used to keep them in a separate bag deep in our closet, which made me never wear skirts or dresses in the cold season. The organization of this drawer makes a lot more sense now, and everything is easy to grab in the morning.
I also culled even more tops from my t-shirt drawer and thus decided to transfer my pjs into it as well - I keep sleeveless and short sleeve tops on the left, long sleeves in the middle, pjs and camisoles on the right. I have also recently color-coordinated them, keeping lighter colors in the front and darks in the back, and while I felt quite silly doing so, it does make the drawer look a lot prettier.
My sweater and scarf drawer has changed the least - I gave away a few more scarves and decided to store my belts in that free space (top right of the photo), but it's nearly the same.
The second drawer from the bottom, which used to house my sportswear and pajamas, now contains... some empty storage boxes and a basket. Sure, there's plenty of things other than clothing I could store in it now - back-up skincare, nail polishes, or purses - but for now, I'm happy with having that one empty drawer. I don't recall ever having an empty drawer, and it feels luxurious and full of possibilities.
Lastly, the bottom drawer contains jeans, pants, lounge leggings, and sportswear. This is my fullest drawer, and while I would like to have some more space in there, for now it's alright. I'm sure I'll find some more stuff to get rid of down the line... :) Now, for the Q&A part:
1. Have you rebounded?
If you've read 'The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up', you may remember that Marie boasted an absolute zero rebound rate after helping her clients tidy up their homes (although in her second book, she does admit that there is now one client - a participant in her TV show - who went back to their messy ways). I was personally extremely skeptical about that perfect score; how many times have you discarded unloved items and reorganized your drawers only to find them reverting to their cluttered selves only a couple weeks later?

However, this time I must have done something differently - I can honestly say that since my large tidying up session a year ago, I have kept probably about 90% of my possessions organized and clutter-free. I still struggle with some trouble spots; leaving dishes in the kitchen sink instead of putting them directly into the dishwasher, amassing piles of mail in the doorway, draping clothes over chairs; but all in all, my home remains quite neat and tidy.

2. Have you replaced the discarded items with new things?
Generally speaking, no, I haven't. I've decided to upgrade a few things - mostly cooking utensils, some basic layering tops - but I haven't been shopping much at all. It's been one of the things I've been very conscious of, because I really didn't want to fill all those carefully organized drawers with stuff again, and I wanted to prove to myself that all the extra things I used to own were just that - extraneous. And it worked.

3. Why did you need to do another round of decluttering? Shouldn't you have done it just once and for all, in 'one fell swoop', like in the KonMari method?
Well, yes, if I was following Marie's advice more closely, I definitely should have been able to do just one big decluttering marathon and be done with it ever since. HOWEVER. When I first purged our stuff before moving to our current apartment, I got rid of a lot of stuff, but I did not get rid of everything that didn't 'spark joy'. Things that I was hesitant about, things that I've had 'just in case', things I wasn't crazy about that I had bought or been given not too long ago - I kept all of it at that point. Why?
Bags of stuff we donated to Goodwill on Saturday: mostly clothing, books, some kitchen stuff.
Because I felt too guilty and/or scared to donate them at the time. Deep down I knew they were probably things I wouldn't be using, but I just couldn't part with them at that point. Which is why I've been decluttering in smaller increments since, and just completed a somewhat bigger declutter a few days ago - I keep getting better and better at discerning what I love and find useful and what just sits there with absolutely no purpose. I've gotten rid of a mixologist set we got as a wedding present (we love making cocktails at home but for whatever reason, this set contained tools we've never found a need for - a special knife for slicing citrus fruit, anyone?), our spare snowboarding pants (like we need spares now that we go snowboarding once a year...), a whole lot of books we were never going to reread.

Another aspect is that as time goes on, our perspective may change, and consequently our enjoyment or our decisions about the usefulness of things, may change as well. I think I will probably now always be vigilant about weeding out clutter, and I'll continue to do a larger purging session about once a year. It just sounds reasonable to me.

4. Has your husband joined you in tidying up?
Uhm, I wish. I love my husband dearly, but a) he's not naturally a tidy person, b) he has a tendency for hoarding. What saves us from drowning in clutter is that I balance him out with my OCD of having everything neatly put away and organized, and the fact that he hates shopping in actual stores - although Amazon browsing is a danger zone. He doesn't see a problem in clothing sprawled on the floor, overstuffed closets, books no longer being able to fit in our bookcase - and when I ask 'Can we get rid of this?', he usually counters by 'But why?! It's perfectly fine!'.

So yes, dealing with my husband's things is a bit of a challenge, and instead of this being his problem alone if he can't find a specific pair of socks or can't put away his laundry in a drawer, the problem is purely mine - I do all the laundry and I put it away, I strive to keep our books tidy on the shelves, I despair over a full closet where I can't see anything. The gist of the issue is that I care, and he doesn't. I wish it were different, but it's not, and it's most likely not going to change. So.

All that being said, I haven't had to resort to secretly discarding his stuff, and we've so far avoided a huge argument over keeping or throwing away a particular T-shirt. Most of the time, I let it go. If I truly think some stuff needs to go, I'll ask nicely if I can donate it, and if he doesn't want me to, I'll ask nicely again. And again, lol. I think that he has started to realize that the space in our apartment is limited, and if he wants 10 new programming books, or a new bike, or a hiking jacket, something else needs to go.

5. Has tidying up your home brought more joy to your life?
Yes!!! Two main aspects have contributed to my feeling happier at home - firstly, my level of anxiety has gone down, and secondly, I've been more motivated and able to focus on other areas of my life that are important to me.

Seeing a cluttered living room and kitchen first thing in the morning definitely makes me feel grumpier and less energetic, and consequently I do NOT look foward to the day, regardless of what I have planned. But getting up and seeing all the things I love put away where they belong, or clean and uncluttered counters in the kitchen, makes me feel more peaceful, and optimistic, and grateful for the new day. Really, the difference is night and day - you should try it!

Those tidy kitchen counters, and an organized fridge well stocked with supplies for the week, also makes me more motivated to prepare tasty meals and try new recipes. We only eat out about once every two or three weeks, and I'm responsible for all the home cooking - I'm also quite passionate about eating well (I like good food, people), and about eating right (clean, unprocessed food, lots of full grains, lean proteins and veggies). This resposibility of planning and executing our meals every day can get boring and repetitive really fast, but having a clean, well designed space that's peaceful and inviting makes it feel so much less of a chore. I may show you our kitchen some time, if you're interested - but cooking has been much more pleasant and enjoyable once I've sorted our space out. I've even started baking some quick and easy desserts again. Who would have thought?

Alright, I think I've waxed lyrical about tidying for long enough now. I AM still planning to show you our small walk-in closets, and like I said, maybe some of our kitchen cupboards and drawers if you're curious. Have any of you been inspired to declutter or change your storage after reading Marie Kondo's book? I find looking at other people's closets and storage spaces absolutely fascinating - you can see a tour of Claire's lovely closet and drawers here - they look beautiful, don't you think?


  1. Monika, I absolutely love your tranquil and tidy dresser, complete with the personal touch of perfume bottles, masks and the fluffy bears!! Thank you for the link to my post as well, always an honor to be included in the discussion of minimalism.

    I agree with what you said about not rebounding/keeping things tidy. It IS getting easier and easier, it becomes almost like a second nature. I was considering of doing a follow-up post to my home but then I thought, what's new, really? I have not added anything much, and things have been working for me just the same.

    One thing I may throw in the discussion for everyone out there is watching the documentary "The True Cost." I've had this on my Netflix queue and I finally watched it (fair warning: esp for moms, or really, anyone, the movie can be graphic at times at the depiction, no violence/gory detail per say but there were a few points in the movie when I was actually weeping, maybe just because I have a child and I wish nobody with children to be in that same dire situation as the protagonist). This movie really cemented my resolve and strengthen my value in using and consuming things mindfully. I highly recommend this movie to anyone: this is not just about clothing or the fashion industry, but it permeates to pretty much every *thing* we own. I've never looked at things the same way again. It does not make me feel "guilty" per se but it provokes something deeper in me that I feel, as a responsible person, I should act on, in whatever small way that I can.

    You know how passionate I am in this topic, I can go on and on. I hope to see many more people jumping into this discussion and perhaps follow suit.

    P.S. Yes! Please do the kitchen, I love to see how you organize your kitchen/keeping the essentials.

    1. Thank you, Claire - I'm on my part jealous of how you're able to keep your dresser in your closet as well, it would be nice to have the extra room in our bedroom, but our dressers are waaay too big to fit in any normal closet :)

      You know, I've had this documentary on my 'to watch' list for a long time, but I'm a little afraid of watching it - I know it's going to be touching, and would probably make me never buy anything made in China/ Bangladesh/ other developing countries ever again. I have looked into just US made/ ethical clothing in the past, but I'm not prepared to spend $100 on a single t-shirt. I'm hoping more balanced approaches will become available, but for now, like you, I just try to refrain from shopping for clothing and accessories as much as possible.

      I'll try to do the kitchen some time soon - when I catch in one of its cleaner moments, lol :D Husband doesn't share my passion for loading things into to the dishwasher immediately and wiping the counters after himself ;)

    2. Monika, I totally understand what you are coming from about the documentary, this was partly the reason why I, too, had it on queue for so long and didn't watch it. Partly because I know the portrayal was real and lately I'm easily disturbed on bad things that can happen to children (apparently a normal reaction once you become a mom), but also because I cannot afford "green clothing" regularly on our budget, certainly not for my son who outgrew things literally in a few months! But what I came out of the documentary, like I mentioned, is not guilt, but just more awareness. Even the H&M T-shirt that I bought for $10 from two years ago, if I wear them and keep taking care of them and buy them for the right reason (aka, not because it is BOGOF, impulse buy, etc.), I too, in some way, honor the hard work of those people who helps produced this item, their blood, sweat, tears.
      People then may argue if us, consumers, keep supporting fast fashion, then their practices will never stop. Maybe, but maybe if enough of us who buy fast fashion not buy as randomly, not discard things as quickly, demand will shift!!

      I always believe in personal responsibility, doing things that I can instead of thinking way too big, too large. If there are enough people who do this, I know things will change.

      Thanks for posting things that makes discussion like this possible. Love your blog as always.

      P.S. Oh, don't even talk about loading things in dishwasher, etc.. my kitchen is always a mess!! :-)

  2. This is some good motivation for tidying my space. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Great post, Monika!

    After I reorganised my drawers by the KonMari method, I also had an empty drawer O_O It was a really good idea to change the way of folding though I am not yet used to it. I think that my t-shirts and pullovers are folde like a mess but I don't know how to do it better because the seams are curved. I have realised my amount of clothes and I have tried to wear other stuff since I have changed my drawers. Thank you so much for sharing this method!
    Due to my exams and my thesis I have not yet found the time to declutter my stuff. I have planned to catch up on it in my easter holidays. If I got rid of all stuf that did not "spark joy" (or are a bit damaged, old etc.) my drawers would be up to 80% empty and I would lack some essentials. Even if I bought some essentials, it would cost a LOT of money. I am struggeling, whether I should first declutter or buy new stuff... What is clear, however, is that I would like to own about 40-50% of the stuff I own now.

    The decluttering of cosmetics came to its end. There are only a few items that I want to use up instead of trashing. My box of decluttered make contains about 20 items, all set up on internet platforms for changing and selling. Currently I am just looking for someone who wants to have the whole box or big parts of it.

    1. Thank you, Lila! I' m so glad that you tried the vertical folding to organize your drawers - I also found I can store much more in them this way. You could search on YouTube for KonMari method folding tutorials; I believe there are even some that feature Marie herself. Her new book, 'Spark Joy', also explains her techniques in a lot more detail.

      Definitely don't stress yourself out if you don't have time to declutter now - it is quite a big task. You know, as for feeling anxious about being left with too little after decluttering, I felt that way in the past too but in the end, I've never missed a single piece I've decluttered. Claire said in her post too that she decided to get rid of most of her long-sleeved tops and was only left with four, but as it turned out, she actually didn't need any more than that amount.

      My advice would be to purge as much as you can bear to part with now - you can always go back and get rid of more as the time goes on. The other thing to consider is how often you do laundry, and how many pieces you need to last in between washing; since I wear my tops and bottoms more than once and do the laundry at least once a week, I actually need very few pieces of clothing for the week - but I keep more on hand to have variety, and to account for weather changes/ travelling and what not.

      Congrats on finishing your make-up declutter! I probably still have some things left here and there, but I'm content with it for now. I can completely understand preferring to sell in one go; selling things separately can be very time-consuming.

    2. Thanks for your reply and your advice. Of course I have tried some of those youtube videos, but I'm missing someone who is folding long sleeved long t-shirts and shirts. After folding the sleeves, i get the impression that all is accumulated in the middle. Therefore the folded shirts feel like a roll or bundle instead of a book like shape. If I try to avoid the unevenness, my package is too big.

      The experience Claire made is astonnishing! I have seperated a huge shopping back full of pullovers and worn out t-shirts and I have only missed one of it.

      Yep, I've been selling lots of make up items seperately. Have you finished your make up decluttering yet?

  4. Loved reading your experience. I bought the book nearly a year ago and STILL haven't read it. Maybe i'm avoiding it? LOL! At any rate, one day, I'll do this!

  5. Fack... and I thought I was tidy! But this! This is a whole new level of organized, I love it.

  6. Thanks to this post, you've re-motivated me to declutter! I've been decluttering my nail polish for months, but it didn't seem like I was getting anywhere so I felt unmotivated for a bit. But I'm reenergized now!