To Be KonMari Clean (Decoration: Vision Realized 2)

Visual tidiness = tranquility

What’s the point of all the KonMari work? Why fold and store clothing Konmari way? I first tried folding things my way then her way, the difference–much lower visual noise.

I was amazed how well visual tidiness brings tranquility to my life. I am more relaxed when I am in my room and in general. Then I applied the same principle to other categories.

Window shopping = energy to go on

Again, this started with my vision of a tidy built-in bookshelf. I didn’t know the exact items to buy but I know how they must work:

  • Must be able to hold heaver weight. The tiny stubs can’t hold much more than the shelf planks, not useful.
  • Must hold all I kept after Konmari sorting–mostly items from this bookshelf and the meditation corner (formally the clutter blackhole).
  • Must have colors that brings me joy.

konmari-ed shelving, storage visionIt was 5 months into the process, since I needed a break, I measured my shelf, armed with a tape measure, then visited various stores and web site for inspiration. Boy, that was fun and productive. Building this vision also pumped me up to finish the office supplies and smalls categories.

Then it was finally time to make my vision come true. (See the continuing post)

To Be KonMari Clean (Decoration: Vision Realized 1)

Vision that sparked action

If you read Marie’s first book, you know before you even sort a thing, you must envision the end result.

Mine was simple–have a meditation corner in my room, perhaps with a comfy chair. And if I have the desire and energy, I will put up my own oversized Zentangle art in turquoise blue, black, and white.

That vision powered me through to the end of the Konmari process. And trust me, this end vision is crucial to the process, even if the vision might change on the way, and the end result might be different.

Vision is not carved in stone

After 7 months of tidying up, I got my clean corner.

sprout toy boxesSorry, no before picture, all I cared at the time was getting rid of the corner clutter–dusty black metal shelves, an IKEA double hamper, and a bunch of this-might-com-in-handy-someday stuff. Trust me, no one needs to see that.

I also swapped out the comfy chair idea with two Made In USA toy chests because:

  • A decent comfy chair is expensive
  • The chair is bulky and permanent
  • I wanted something modern with clean lines

Instead, I bought some yoga gears on sale to fulfill the vision of the meditation corner.

sprout toy chestOne of the toy chests you see here holds those gears, the other holds my backpack and cloth I’ve already worn but not ready to wash. Once I put the lids down, no loose items, no visual noise.

This works so much better for me than my original vision.

Tips on vision and decorating

  • Figure out the essence of your original vision. In my case, I just wanted my own quiet, uncluttered space.
  • Be flexible and creative. Would following your original idea really spark joy? If not, look around, get ideas, change it. To suit my needs, I often find myself using/buying things that have different original purposes.
  • Be okay to wait and buy what you need. Only after I knew what I need to make a new home for the items in each category, I start looking for their “home”, starting with what you already have. If that doesn’t spark any joy, then start searching to buy.
  • To save money, use the boxes and trays you are not using/recycling for organizing things that will be inside drawers or closets. The point is to have a clean visual environment.
  • Listen to your inner voice–“Yes, this definitely sparks my joy”

More on the Sprout toy chests

  • If you put it next to a wall, you can prop up the lid as if there were hinges.
  • I used a plastic container (and I managed to sneak turquoise blue in there) to separate my backpack from my clothing since it’s more dirty.
  • sprout toy box greenFor assembly, it’s easier to have 2 people and a rubber mallet (I folded corrugated cardboard into a thick stack and used that with a regular hammer). And if you are a perfectionist, a level would be great, too.
  • Once assemble correctly, they are very sturdy.
  • The toy box come in many colors.
  • Sprout uses safe and recycled material. 100% Made In USA, from design to manufacturing. They offer good variety of kid’s furniture.

To Be KonMari Clean (Reorganizing & Spark Joy)

Cherish the empty spaces

After donating, recycling, and throwing away the rest of what I no longer need or love, I was surprised that I actually have shelves and drawers left empty. And I have to remind myself that empty spaces are the best medicine for my sanity.

Now I’ve lived with my KonMari-ed room, I am proud to not pile things up again. One empty shelf is now the holding place for things to be give away, either going to friends or for donation.

Reclaiming the joy of paper crafting

kvissle IKEAFor my desk, I have two metal boxes from IKEA, holding the most used items. The boxes come with cork lids but bits of cork fall out all the time. So, I decided to make lids my way:

  1. Instead of having to remove the lid, the new lid act as a hinged cover. It’s much easier to open and shut.
  2. paperBoxLidsNo more holes in the lids for dust to get in the boxes.
  3. Have my own design: I wanted white cover but found the contrast too sharp for my desk. I added a stripe of real cherry wood veneer. (By Arc Crafts on Amazon.com.)
  4. This process also helped me reduce my specialty paper collections. My collections are my sentimental items. I figured the more I used now, the less volume (i.e. pain) I would have parting with them.
  5. paperBoxInsertI had great fun making and designing the lids, therapeutic while productive, exactly how I roll.
  6. Since white dirties easily, I also made inserts to line the boxes. See the bright yellow poking out from the bottom of the black insert? Sparks joy everytime I raise the cover.

Repurposing & make it yours

You may not be a paper nut like me but try repurposing what you do collect. Marie did suggest to use what you have on hand to save money as you reorganize your items. You can’t buy read-made items to fit your every need anyway, why not make them your own?

To Be KonMari Clean (Documents)

After a 3-month interruption, I am back on the KonMari Clean horse. Here are some updates and document cleanup tips.

Living with less

With less clothes, I noticed changes in behavior:

  • Live with alternatives instead of buying more (living with less is my new default mode)
  • Donated more items I kept during the clothing cleanup (became even more conscious of the “sparks” of my things)
  • Buy only what I needed (better able to resist the lure of a sale)

Document Cleanup

I have never been so thankful for the digital age. Though being an “old school” writer, I’ll never be without pen and paper, I love that I don’t have to keep a hardcopy of everything.

Writers, don’t live in the piles of your drafts! According to Pam Binder of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association, you only need keep digital drafts and perhaps a hardcopy of the latest version.

Remember to shred your old drafts, just to be safe.

Sorting documents, what to keep?

Most of what I had were old statements and were almost all shredded after I read through these articles.

Shred your documents

Since I can recycle shredded paper with residential garbage collection and I have a cross-cut shredder (strip-cut is not as secured), I decided to shred as I sort. I tried to mix different types of documents when I shred, cautious or paranoid? Could be both, ha ha!

If you don’t have a shredder or you have a lot of confidential documents, look for free document shredding events in your area.

Learn the recycling rules

  • Can you recycle shredded paper?
  • How do they want it? Our collector asks us to put shredded paper into clear plastic bags. (I saved the dry cleaning protective covers from the “clothes on hanger” phase, tied the hanger ends and used it for hold the sheredded paper.)
  • Can photo paper be recycled with regular paper? In our area, you can recycle photos but only if they are shredded.

KonMari Methods, How to Fold w/ Marie

After I finished sorting through my clothes the KonMari way, I tried folding and storing her way and my way. In deed, her way is better because her way:

  • Ends up with a cleaner presentation (not showing folds and sort by colors are part of cutting down visual noise)
  • Keeps the spots for items removed (if you fold it right, it should stand on its own, which means when you take one item out, its place remains opened for restoring.)

How to fold the KonMari way

This video is in Japanese, but it’s by far the most instructional one I’ve found. Below, I’ve listed the important points in the video: (hopfully my translation is not too far off)

  • Smooth out your clothes, infuse your love and gratitude into the item.
  • First fold in half but keep the end unlayered, then fold in third so it’d stand up on its own.
  • When folding long sleeves, distritube the thickness before folding.
  • Note: in other videos, she mentioned that if it’s smaller you don’t have to fold it exactly the same way but never ball up your socks!

To Be KonMari Clean (Books, Magazines)

On my first read of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I realized my design career no longer sparked joy. And for the first time in many years, I stopped blaming clients for not letting me go because I was actually the one who couldn’t let go.

Little did I know, this revelation even helped me clean out my books, too.

Declutter, make money, donate

amazon_trade_inI found out many of my design/art books are worth pretty good money. So before you throw your books out, do the following:

  • Check the trade-in values on Amazon.com
  • Sell to local secondhand bookstores
  • Donate to your local library (in our area, most branches sales book to raise funds)
  • Recycle (hardcover books might not be accepted for residential pickups, check with your garbage company)

Combining the sales to Amazon traid-in and secondhand bookstores, I made almost $100. That is more joy for the rest of the KonMari process.

General (books for fun)

  • Kept 0. Lucky for me, our library almost always has what I am looking for and more.

Practical (reference, cookbooks)

  • Kept 2 for writing novels
  • 2 dictionaries (Japanese, English idioms)
  • 3 Adobe CS books (running an old version, so best to keep on hands)
  • 1 Mac OS book (can’t search for answers if the Mac dies)
  • 4 Computer language books (still running WordPress sites)
  • A box of reference books for my next book/series, not in English, items not easily found here
  • 1 baking book

Visual (photographic, art)

  • Kept 0

Design related books

  • Since I finally decided to end my design career for good, I was able to let most of them go. It felt like I am telling myself and the Universe that I’ve declared my intention to move away from design and focus on writing
  • Kept only what I love the most, patterns, graphics from old catalogs and products.
  • Paper swatches and print samples. Be sure to remove metal bindings before recycling the paper. The metal binding might contain unknown combination of metals that can not be reversed into pure forms again.

Magazines

I only had ones for graphic/web design, so I didn’t keep any but these are what I’ve tried.

  • Sold on ebay before, expensive to ship because of the low price point. And it’s a lot of work to package them. Unless you do this for a living, it’s not worth the effort.
  • Local secondhand bookstores didn’t want them
  • Recycling them turned out to be the only option

All my books fit into one single shelf with space left over.

To Be KonMari Clean (Interruptions)

This may be a long term project

Before I go into tidying up my books KonMari style, I feel it’s important to say that this is turning out to be a long term project. After all:

  • It took years to accumulate all that I have.
  • Doing what I can to throw as little as possible into the trash (i.e. recycle/reuse whenever I can) takes up good amount of time to search and organize.
  • Demands from family and work often interfere with your cleanup plan.

Expect life’s interruptions

After I finished cleaning out my clothes, I discovered that my city was doing free electronic recycling and paper shredding that weekend. Since this only happens once or twice a year, I broke Marie‘s rule and skip ahead to documents and electronics that I’ve already set aside.

More space on my desk, more space to create

The paper I had shreaded are old drafts of my past and current work. I called my writer’s association and learned that I don’t need to keep every scrape of notes and drafts as I was told years ago. All I need to do is keep electronic versions of my books. If you want to be extra careful, print a hard copy of the latest in case your hard drive died.

Now have more space on my desk to work through the book category.

To Be KonMari Clean (Smaller Clothing Items)

socks to donate after konmar cleanupDon’t have many pictures here, the rest of the clothes subcategories are mostly small items too numerous to record. It was getting in the way of the KonMari cleaning process.

Socks/Underwears

Bags/Accessories

  • socks to keep after konmar cleanupeverything in this subcategory fit in one box, placed with the unmarked side out. Marie said any text or decoration on the box would add visual noise. Try it, it’s true.
  • donated all trinket jewelries. Though they are still cute, I don’t wear them anymore.
  • gave away most hair accessories, only kept the claw clips that I always use

Clothes for events

  • own 1 dress, I chose it because it would work for all events. If you care about having the same dress in all different event photos, then I don’t recommand it.

Shoes

  • donated all pumps excpet for one black pair that my feet love
  • Kept 5 paris of sandals, so I have a least a pair for my flat feet when I send the others out to be resoled. All the “inactive” sandels are packed into one box. To avoid seeing text (visual noise), I placed the label/item list under the box.
  • I’ve been living with 1 pair of running shoes (my everyday shoes) for a long time and have no need to get other kind of shoes

Other

  • kept two sets of beddings (need to clear these out so I can put things back into my closet) for rotation

Use what you have, keep what you’ve earned

As I’m posting this a month after the clothes cleanup, I have more tops and socks to go to the donation. When I was sorting, I thought I needed them but as I live with my “renewed collection” of clothing, I find myself finding ways to use what I already own and often there is no need to buy more.

To Be KonMari Clean (Clothes on Hangers)

Continuing with my KonMari process, I tackled the “clothes on hangers” sub-category.

For me, they were the old business outfits and dresses that I’ve stored away in another closet that I couldn’t possibily fit into my own.

clothes on hanger before konmari  cleanupOther then the volume of clothes, this was very easy. They were too small but still in very good condition so all of them went to my favorit 100% volunteered local charity. And of course, there were many other ways to give your old clothes second lives.

In my previous post, I mentioned how I thank my out-going clothing by folding or arranging them nicely before I delivered them to charity shops. A lady at the shop mentioned how nice it was to received them this way. Not only my old clothes got more appreciation, it brought the volunteers joy while they work.

Back to clothes on hangers. Here are my notes:

  • I had bought a bright yellow, waterproof, stylish jacket with a hoody to fulfill my promise to my designer cousins. I love the jacket but never wears it. Now it has room to breath on the hanger, it sparks joy every time I see it. I wore it on walks in the fall rains and very happy to find out that it’s warm and really waterproof (Style to me often means impractical.)
  • I wished I’d donated these quality garments much sooner. I found some spongy padding on hangers turned to sticky dusts because they are so old, I worried that the charity shop might not get as much money out of them.
  • Do keep the dry cleaning bags for until you are done with the entire cleanup. Use them as light garbage bags (tide the hanger opening). Or in our area, home shredded paper are required to go into a clear plastic bag, so I saved it for the document clean up phase.

clothes on hanger after konmari cleanupAfter the clean up, there are only three things left on hangers that I don’t wear often.

  • 1 long coat for super cold winter
  • 1 jacket (mentioned above) for rainy spring/fall days
  • 1 dress for all formal occasions

I love that I can actually see the backwall of my closet now.

To Be KonMari Clean (Clothes-Tops, Bottoms)

As instructed in Marie’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, I started with clothes.

From one of her Japanese tv appearances, I learned that you should never take anything out of your room for this. I decided to work by the subcategory so I’d have the room to sort and fold. And again by the order suggested in the book.

The check list here is posted in my room and I gave myself a sticker as I finish each subcategory. The the gold stars you get when you were a kid.Tops pile before KonMari sorting

And no worry about not being overwhelmed enough that I’d go back to my old way again. I thought I did a “deep cleaning” last year yet I saw I still have so much more.

Pick What You Love 1st

When I saw all these clothes, I didn’t know where to begin. Then I saw the corner of my favorit summer shirt peaking out and remembered I need to pick out what sparks joy.tops pile after KonMari sorting

When to Take Short Breaks

There were moments I wanted to give everything away and moments I worried I’d have nothing to wear when the weather tunes.

bottoms pile KonMari sortingThese were the irrational moments I took breaks. I also remind myself that if I didn’t keep going, I won’t be able to sleep in my bed then I got right back to it.

Showing Gratitude to Not-Keeping items

It felt funny literally thanking each item because it feels like an empty gesture (it’s a very Japanese thing to do but I’m not Japanese). But I also didn’t want to skip this step, especially after thanking so many times.

donate and recycle excess clothingTo show my respect, I folded every piece as if it’s going back into my closet (also very Japanese but this one I can do with sincerity.) Even if it’s going to be recycled, I still folded it.

This is also a good opportunity to inspect each item for it’s proper destination. More explanations in Holey Cloth Are Still Holy.

Storing

I’m going to wait until all of my clothing are sorted out so I can position them logical, accessible way so I’d never have to “remember” where I put what.

My room is a mess right now but the vision of my dream room is fueling my effort.

Notes

  • When Marie says keep what sparks joy, I think that includes the items you need.
  • Remember to do this by yourself in the room, you need to be the one making the decisions.
  • Do this in silence, it will help you stay mindful and being in the zone.

Side Effect

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