Do you love your small home, but find it frustrating when you find your cowgirl boots squished underneath a guitar case, because there just isn’t enough room for both? Does the purchase of new items, whether as small as a spice jar or large as a bicycle, throw you into confusion because WHERE is this going to go? On top of the other spice jars? Maybe in with the cans … and why is there a bike helmet on my books???
If you love your little abode, but find it difficult to keep it organized, because really the only thing that could possibly help is another closet, then let me tell you, the KonMari method of organization is for you! (Old news, I know, I get it. But just give me a sec to share how excited I am about this method.)
I found the KonMari method of organization to be truly magical, and ideal for small house dwellers in particular, because it is based on simplicity and shows you how to work with what you have. It is this simplicity that allows you to keep your eyes on the bigger picture and find peace, instead of frustration, in the process of ordering your home.
I love the KonMari method so much, that I want to share a series of KonMari posts with you, addressing each of the aspects of KonMari that I found so magical. I’ll start with simplicity, but first, a little background…
Last summer, I was determined to finally organize my ENTIRE house, once and for all. And I wanted to spend the least amount of money possible in the process, to work with what I already had as much as I could.
Now our house is only 320 square feet, and while this very small space in some ways simplifies things, in other ways it does not. (Think: zero storage. Ok I’m exaggerating. We have one closet.) I googled “how to organize a small house” and the results varied from blueprints for actual “tiny houses”, with awesome built-in magical sliding closets and under the stairs storage for everything, to organizational tips from people who should honestly be ashamed for calling their sprawling American dream houses “small.”
While I knew that with planning I could design and build cool storage into our house, my impatient self wanted a quick fix. I found a few posts containing helpful advice and many ideas for organizational gadgets I could buy that would apparently solve all my problems. But a single trip to the Container Store left me in shock. No way was I going to spend all that money on a few shelves!
It was a total act of grace that I then stumbled upon “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo. And I know that I’m completely late in the game in bringing this up. I’d heard plenty about the KonMari method, seen the memes, felt the buzz. But this was the first time I picked up the book for myself, and it was exactly what I was looking for. For so many reasons.
This little nugget of joy (it really is just that) was the key to organizing my little home, and through doing so, taking a step forward toward a more intentional, joyful life.
Simplicity is a theme that runs through the KonMari method, and I found it to be key given the small space I was working with. And this simplicity, in my experience, extended from the method and flowed beyond the purging and sorting and organizing, and into my whole life. I’ll give you a few examples:
No Stashing/Stocking Up:
Marie Kondo tells a few hilarious stories about people she encountered who had outrageous stashes of random things in their home. Boxes and boxes of plastic wrap. Toothbrushes enough for an army. These examples are funny and extreme, but Kondo had a good point. The people who kept these stashes were often acting out of fear for the future, and it was weighing down their lives as well as cluttering up their homes. That may sound surprising and/or unhelfpul. At first I thought, “Oh those poor hilarious people, luckily I don’t have that problem.”
Then I looked at the three bottles of almond milk squished in between the frying pans and the colanders. I drink like a tablespoon of almond milk a day.
And then I remembered how I thought we were out of dental floss the other day so I bought a two-pack, only to find an unopened two-pack when I got home.
In an effort to be on top of my stuff, I stock up. I tell myself I need to be prepared and then my life will be easy, but then I trip over everything and wonder why I can’t keep my budget under control. And then my family says why are we out of peanut butter there is nothing to eat and I say there are like 10 cans of diced tomatoes and 3 bottles of almond milk what are you talking about there is nothing to eat. I stock up because I am afraid of running out. And then I run out anyways and the world ends. Just kidding. Absolutely NOTHING happens.
In this fancy first world life that I live, running out of one particular item seems like the most frustrating thing, but that’s only because I forget how blessed I am to be able to eat whatever I want and have whatever I need in my home. And if I run out of something, I can get in the car and go get it. That seems so inconvenient, but only because my life, overall, is soooooo convenient.
So I don’t stock up anymore. I buy what I need for the week, because I know that I will be back at the store next week. Eliminating the need to think too far in advance is so freeing. And now I don’t have to wonder where I’m going to shove this extra pack of pens.
Keep What Brings You Joy:
Does it get more simple than that? Marie Kondo talks you through the process of finding what things you really love, and gives you permission to get rid of all the rest. (Except your social security card and immunization records. Gotta keep those, sorry.)
When it comes to gifts, Kondo has some thoughtful things to say about keeping only those that bring you joy without feeling guilty about the ones that don’t. I get what she is saying, but I want to throw a different perspective at you:
Sometimes the gift in itself doesn’t bring me joy, but the relationship that I have with the giver brings me so much joy that I keep the gift as a token of that relationship. Because, so often, the gift is given as an expression of the givers love for you. It just seems weird to judge the gift only by my personal tastes, when the gift isn’t really about just me. It’s about the relationship between me and the giver.
Now I understand that I can’t keep every gift. Sometimes I need to choose the one most significant out of several years worth of gifts from an old friend. And a gift from my secret santa at work, who was socially obligated to buy me something, doesn’t represent a relationship the same way a gift from my grandmother does.
My life is more rich and more full because of my diverse and wonderful relationships. I love that the things in my house reflect this.
Don’t Purge Just to Buy More:
One of the best things about keeping just what brings you joy is that you really start to appreciate what you already have. In the past when I went on cleaning sprees I would find myself thinking: “oooh if I get rid of all these clothes I never wear then I can buy new ones!” But what’s the point of cleaning out your house just to fill it up again?
I don’t need more stuff. I have so much already. Simplicity, baby.
I got rid of the extra in my life. And now every time I put on my blue shoes, I tell myself out loud how stoked I am about these blue shoes. I love them. I don’t need to think about what pair of shoes I’m getting next, because these shoes I have right now are just so stinkin’ awesome.
Being grateful out loud is definitely a part of keeping my little house in order.
See how simple it can be?
Don’t stock up: just think about the time in front of you now.
Keep what brings you joy: and don’t forget about those relationships.
Appreciate what already have: you don’t need more stuff!
Honestly, maybe I should have called this post “The Key to Organizing a Small Home: Gratitude.” Gratitude is totally at the heart of all this. Gratitude for the relative convenience of our first world lives, Gratitude for precious relationships and the gifts that flow from them, and Gratitude for what we already have.
This book is magical, I’m telling you.
Have you guys read this book? What did you think?
P.S. I borrowed the book from the library, and I highly recommend doing this. You can of course buy it for a good price if you plan on using it for a long period of time, but borrowing it is more in the spirit, in my mind.