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A little over a year ago I started a journey to minimalism, and drastically reduced the number of things we owned. Almost immediately I started to see a difference in our lives – I was spending less time cleaning, I was spending more time reading, going for walks, and less time in front of the TV, and a calm came over our house. There is no better feeling than coming home to a neat, orderly home. Today, I am including a few of my Instagram pictures of rooms and areas I have decluttered in my home.
During this time I read a lot of minimalist blogs, like Nourishing Minimalism, and Becoming Minimalist, but I also read the book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. While both of these ideologies center around ridding your life of clutter, they are distinctly different in many ways.
Minimalism is about simplicity. The more stuff you own, the more your stuff owns you. The Konmari method, which is laid out in Marie Kondo’s book, is the pursuit of your ideal life, and only keeping items in your home that “spark joy” for you. Some people get their possessions down to a minimal number, because that is what sparks joy for them, and brings them peace, but some still live in relatively cluttered environments by a minimalist standard.
Is Konmari or Minimalism better?
So which method is better for decluttering? I don’t believe that one size fits all, and I know people who have been successful with both, so let’s take a look at the similarities and differences.
The underlying principle of both minimalism and Konmari, is that stuff does not equal happiness. As a matter of fact, you may be trading a great deal of happiness to own all that stuff in the currency of time spent to organize and maintain it, as well as actual money spent doing the same.
The question of what you want to own, is actually the question of how you want to live your life. – Marie Kondo
Konmari is centered around the idea of only keeping things that “spark joy.” She suggests that you physically touch everything and see whether or not you want to keep it. While her method definitely encourages getting rid of things, it’s not as focused on ending up with less as minimalism. For some people, a lot of things spark joy. There are tons of Konmari groups on Facebook where people share their finished houses, and to me, a lot of them still look cluttered and busy.
Minimalism is focused on living with less. Less stuff, making our calendars less busy, and focusing more on life’s experiences than possessions. There are varying extremes of minimalists, from people who still live in big houses, they just prefer to keep them clutter-free, to people who live in tiny houses, to people who count the things they own.
While I neither live in a tiny house, or count my possessions, I tend to gravitate more towards minimalism. I have written about it before, but a great minimalist rule of thumb for decluttering is can I replace it for less than $20? Then get rid of it.
Using Both Methods
I may be about to irritate die-hard minimalists and joy-sparkers alike, but I have gleaned things from both methods which have helped me to find the sweet spot of minimalism in my life. I really like Marie Kondo’s ideas about items serving their purpose in your life, but then you get rid of them. The purpose of a letter was fulfilled when you first read it. The purpose of a gift was the joy you felt when you received it. This eliminates a lot of the turmoil and guilt that can surround decluttering gifts and sentimental items.
On the other hand, keeping everything that sparks joy for me can still leave my shelves cluttered, and I know myself well enough to know that I need uncluttered and orderly space to function at my best. Minimalism has given me permission to somewhat ruthlessly declutter things that I may have otherwise agonized over. Coffee sparks joy for me, but I don’t need 4 different methods to make a cup, so the french press and mochi pot had to go.
I am currently re-reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and I think I will use some of her decluttering principles. But the idea of dumping all of my clothing (or any other category) in the middle of my living room to sort through, piece by piece, gives me a small panic attack. Marie Kondo is vehemently opposed to decluttering room by room, and has some sound logic behind why, but going room by room works better for me. At least for my first go-round through the house, which is also a method she discourages.
Its hard for me to be a true minimalist in some areas of my life because I work in several creative professions. I am working on re-opening my Etsy shop, which requires me to stockpile some inventory. Which requires me to have some raw materials on hand. It’s not exactly minimal, but compared to the stash I had before – well, let’s just say it’s a productive amount now, instead of overwhelming.
Do you want to declutter your home but are overwhelmed by the different options, and subsequent opinions of their camps? I would recommend you start by reading two books: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Simplify by Joshua Becker. Also, keep your eyes peeled for a new book release by yours-truly covering my journey to simplicity in the next month or so.
Whether or not you intend to implement the practices these books outline, I think there is something to be said for simplifying our lives and learning what is truly important. Where is you clutter level? Are you a hoarder or a true, enlightened minimalist? Tell me in a comment below or join the conversation on my Facebook page. Happy decluttering!