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  • Writer's pictureAlex Willis

Tidying the Wild

Some of you may know Marie Kondo’s book The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up, but more of you have probably heard about her series on Netflix. She’s the professional organizer that has the masses around the world thanking their t-shirts and asking their socks if they bring them joy.

Letting go of clutter is hard to do. I found myself many times adding nick-knacks to every nook and cranny of my room because I associated it with a memory and couldn’t bear to throw that memory away. I’ve been doing this for years. And although I had my first true purge a few years ago, I still held on to items I hadn’t touched in years, and still haven’t touched to this day. I would clean my room but fell into a trap where I repetitively rearranged the same clutter over and over again rather than actually cleaning up my space.

What my room and closet looked like:

I felt weighed down by all the stuff I had surrounding me. I wanted to create a space where I felt light and open where I could create freely. Not constantly looking around my room, unable to focus on what was in front of me because of all the things around me. Not only that, but I was itching for a spring wardrobe refresh and justifying it by getting rid of old items and selling clothes to offset the cost of new ones was another selling point.

I watched Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix and seeing the transformation that the families on the show went through and learning the true method behind the “joy of less” hit home.

I decided the following Sunday I was going to “Marie Kondo” my closet. Instead of my previous method of going through my items while they were still in my closet, I pulled it ALL out, creating a mountain of clothing on top of my bed. And, as per the KonMari method, I started taking each item in my hands and asking myself “does this bring me joy?”.

About 150 joys later my head started to hurt. Decision fatigue was setting in, but I trekked on – I needed to get through my clothes if I wanted to sleep on my bed that night. I’ll admit I started to keep things that didn’t bring me joy, but I knew I should keep anyways (like business clothes). I sorted into three piles: Joy, Donate, Sell.

Now folding and reorganizing --- I like to think my clothes were folded nicely and organized before (my hanging clothes were color coordinated, and like items were placed together), but I wanted to really follow through with Marie’s folding techniques. This ended up being fun. I can now see all my items at a quick glance, and in a visually pleasing arrangement.

TL;DR: I might now have the closet of an OCD serial killer. But IT LOOKS AMAZING and I love it.

From there, I went around my room organizing every nook and cranny. Check out my whole transformation! (If you just want to see the after pics, keep scrolling :) )

This took FOREVER. Something I thought was going to take me a Sunday afternoon took me two and a half weeks and several trips to Target, TJ Maxx, and Home Goods to complete. I still have a few things I want to do with my room, I have a pile of clothes I need to sell, and I know I’ll have a continuing battle with myself to keep up with my newfound super-organized life.


One of the biggest lessons I took from this was learning to separate my memories from objects. I don’t need to hold on to everything to remember the important moments. Though I’m not saying I will never hold onto anything again because of sentiment, I will definitely be more mindful about what I do decide to keep.

Who knew arranging my socks could bring me joy?

What is the KonMari Method?

I’ve summarized the organizing expert’s decluttering philosophy in 5 key points:

  1. Despite “tidying” in the title, this method is more about getting rid of stuff than about organizing your possessions. The more you can get rid of, the easier it is to tidy.

  2. It asks you to choose what to keep, not what to throw away. Hold each item in your hands and ask yourself “does it spark joy?” Yes? Keep. No? Donate. Clothing must not only “spark joy,” but be folded in a specific manner (you can learn her methods by watching her Netflix series or videos on YouTube).

  3. There is a specific order to tidying. You begin with clothes, followed by books, papers, miscellaneous items, and finally the sentimental things. This trains you to easily declutter your possessions as the items you question increase in their difficulty to part with.

  4. Tidy by category, not location. For example, sorting through your clothes is good. However, going through your closet first, then dresser, then the storage bins in the basement, limits your ability to declutter. You bring confusion into the decluttering process when you lose sight of the complete picture. To prevent this in the future, store like items together.

  5. It’s a mindset and you need to visualize. You learn how to declutter your house physically, but Marie Kondo’s tidying technique enables you to acquire the mindset needed to stay tidy forever rather than just doing a big purge once a year (or every few years). Imagine the life you want to live. Who do you need to be to live that life? Now, ask yourself, “does future me need this item?”

Social Impact

When decluttering I think its important to be mindful of where your unwanted items are going. Instead of tossing everything to the curb, see if it can be gifted, sold, or donated.

It’s also crazy to see how this simple method of “Sparking Joy” has created a bigger impact in our communities. Some pretty shocking stats:

  • Goodwill stores in Maryland have seen a 42 percent increase in donations since Jan. 1.

  • Goodwill stores in the Washington, D.C. area were up 66% in the first week of January, with one donation center seeing a 367% increase compared to the same week the previous year.

People are taking the opportunity to head to second-hand stores to go thrifting and taking advantage of the influx of donations, which I think is great.

Often, we are lured in with cheap prices and the thrill of a good deal, so we end up purchasing items we don’t need. We need to flip the behavior of buying more than we need, and not valuing what we have and bring into our homes. The mindset you learn through this process of decluttering is something to bring forward with you everyday - not just when tidying up. Be pickier when you go to purchase something, ask yourself if that item sparks joy and serves a purpose in your life.

I absolutely LOVE the space I’ve created and the new mindset I’ve learned. I am excited for all this new space will bring!

I highly recommend trying out the KonMari method, it has brought me joy and I know it will for you too. Check out Marie’s book or Netflix series and reach out if you have any questions. I can't wait to see your transformations!

Happy joy-finding!
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