Minimalist in DC

The Quest for Less "Stuff" & More Time

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Marie Kondo’s Missing Miscellaneous Categories

Miscellaneous

A few weeks ago, I wrote about discarding items from Marie Kondo’s Miscellaneous Category. This category, which Kondo describes in her popular book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, has taken me quite a long time. Not because it’s as difficult as finding and sorting all of the paper around the house, but because there are a lot of hidden “Miscellaneous” categories that you need to discover on your own.

Everyone’s Miscellanea is Different

In her book, Kondo lists the following sub-categories with which you should start:

  1. CDs, DVDs
  2. Skin care products
  3. Make-up
  4. Accessories
  5. Valuables (passports, credit cards, etc)
  6. Electrical equipment and appliances (digital cameras, electric cords, anything that seems vaguely electric)
  7. Household equipment (stationary and writing materials, sewing kits, etc)
  8. Household supplies (expendables like medicine, detergents, tissues, etc)
  9. Kitchen goods/food supplies (spatulas, pots, blenders, etc)
  10. Others (spare change, figurines, etc)

I’ve found a few extra categories that should also be considered.

Marie Kondo’s Missing Miscellaneous Categories

After I’d finished Kondo’s categories, I walked around the house and visited every drawer, looking for items that I hadn’t yet considered. Do these “spark joy”? Are these part of a whole new category I need to consider? Here are my additional categories.

  1. Holiday decorations
  2. Wrapping paper & ribbons
  3. Kids’ toys
  4. Wall furnishings (framed photos and paintings)
  5. Furniture
  6. Pet supplies
  7. Linens/blankets
  8. Towels
  9. Magnets (yes, we have a ton of magnets)
  10. Craft supplies
  11. Sports/Hobby equipment (each sport and hobby needs to be considered separately)
  12. Outgrown baby/children’s supplies
  13. Games/Cards

These are my missing miscellaneous categories. What are yours?

Four Ways Decluttering Gets Easier Over Time

I’m just two months shy of my minimalist project anniversary and there are some tasks I’m starting to do for a second time, albeit on a much smaller scale. This weekend, I sorted through my daughter’s art from her second year of preschool. Unlike last year when sorting took me several hours, this session took me 15 minutes. Decluttering gets easier over time and here’s how!

Before

Last year, I saved every scrap of paper my daughter so much as doodled on and then waited until the next school year started before sorting through it. I took pictures of EVERYTHING (pictures that I haven’t done anything with, by the way), and finally kept only five of the most special pieces of art.

O is for Owl

After

For round two, I still didn’t sort throughout the year (which is what I should have done). However, this time I quickly sorted my giant art pile into two: memory-worthy pieces and those that went straight into the trash (no pictures). I ended up with 15 pieces, took pictures of each one, and saved the best five.

Stegasaurus

Stegasaurus

Four Ways Decluttering Gets Easier

#1 – You’re Not Afraid to Get Rid of Things

After nearly a year, I’ve realized that there’s nothing inanimate that you can get rid of that’s irreplaceable. I also haven’t needed anything I’ve thrown away (I missed a couple of things, but realized I’m much better off without them). I am much more confident in my decisions.

#2 – There’s Less of Everything

It took me two evenings to sort through toiletries last fall and less than 30 minutes to do it two weeks ago. Everything in the same category is located in the same spot in our house and there’s a LOT less of it.

#3 – Nobody Questions Why You’re Doing This

Your whole family gets used to your purging and, if you’re lucky, they might even start to look forward to the cleaner living space.

#4 – You’ve Already Learned The Hard Way

Never, ever save artwork with marshmallows on it. They only get stickier with time. I’ve also personally decided that trying to sell items worth less than $25 is not worth my time. It’s far easier to donate them or throw them away. There are a hundred other lessons you learn through decluttering and they make future sessions much more smooth!

Craft Table Before

Craft Table Before De-owning & Decluttering

Craft Table After De-owning & Decluttering

Craft Table After De-owning & Decluttering

So, get out there and get started! Decluttering gets easier from here.

Discarding Komono: Marie Kondo’s Miscellaneous Category

I’ve found the KonMari Method of organization, invented and popularized by Marie Kondo in her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, to be an easily-followed breath of fresh air in the organizing world. For one, she emphasizes that you must first discard the things that don’t “spark joy” (which helps you on the road to rational minimalism). Secondly, she describes a method of organization that doesn’t require you to buy a bunch of fancy storage units from the Container Store. I’ve been having (yes, I’ll admit it) fun going through each category and experiencing the real difference it’s making in our house. I’ve done clothes, books, and papers (part I and part 2) so far. Now it’s time for the “Miscellaneous” category which Kondo calls komono. It’s really a dozen mini-categories wrapped into one.

I am halfway through discarding komono.

Marie Kondo’s Miscellaneous Categories

They’re called “komono”, or random things you keep for no apparent reason. Here’s what Kondo specifically calls out:

  1. CDs, DVDs
  2. Skin care products
  3. Make-up
  4. Accessories
  5. Valuables (passports, credit cards, etc)
  6. Electrical equipment and appliances (digital cameras, electric cords, anything that seems vaguely electric)
  7. Household equipment (stationary and writing materials, sewing kits, etc)
  8. Household supplies (expendables like medicine, detergents, tissues, etc)
  9. Kitchen goods/food supplies (spatulas, pots, blenders, etc)
  10. Others (spare change, figurines, etc)

What Else?

As you can imagine, everyone’s komono categories are different. In addition to Marie Kondo’s official categories you’ve also got to be savvy and figure out what you haven’t discarded yet that’s not sentimental. Do you have a hobby that wasn’t covered? Or a sport? What about your furniture, does it spark joy? At the end of this list, in my opinion, you’ll still need to walk around the house and uncover a bunch of categories that haven’t been touched. Throughout this book, I get the feeling that Americans just have WAY more excess stuff than the Japanese, which is why I suspect that we’ll have WAY more komono categories.

What I’ve Done

Kondo doesn’t go into a lot of details on komono. So far, I’ve gone through numbers 1-6 and here’s what I did.

CDs, DVDs (“Joint De-owning”)

I sat down with my husband right after we did books and went through DVDs together, because DVDs seemed like a logical next step and many of our movies are shared. He looked at them first and if they didn’t spark joy for him, then I got to decide whether it stayed or went. This “joint de-owning” technique actually worked quite well and Nathan ended up continuing to de-own a large set of his own books after that. I was thrilled.

My CDs were a bit different. I’d already gotten rid of all of their packaging. Now, I just looked through them and got rid of the ones that truly didn’t spark joy. I also made a mental note to upgrade my music player so I could completely get rid of my CDs in the future.

Discarding CDs

Skin Care Products & Make-up

I did skin care products and make-up together with medicines because I felt they were basically all one category and I didn’t think I had very many left. Boy, was I wrong.

Products & Medicine

Products & Medicine

I not only kept the things that “sparked joy”, but also kept the items we were actively using and discarded items that had expired. I wrote the year on all of the sunscreen that I know we bought this year and threw away the rest. I have no idea how we accumulated so many half-used sunscreen bottles.

Accessories

What is this category? Didn’t we already de-own accessories when we worked through the clothing? I have no idea what Kondo meant by accessories in this context and so I just skipped this category.

Valuables

Passports, credit cards, and other things that are important fall into this category. I basically went through all of these during the paper purge because many of these are kept with my valuable paperwork.

All I had to do was go through my wallet and make sure I didn’t have any old cards. I suppose if you have an excessive amount of credit cards, you should cut some of them up at this point. I only have three: my VISA, my back-up VISA that I keep around mostly because it’s my oldest account, and my Target card. Purge the expired cards and sell the gift cards you know you’ll never use.

Electrical Equipment & Appliances

This category took longer than expected. First throw away broken appliances and appliances that don’t spark joy. Then, throw away any leftover boxes your appliances came in. Finally, go through your cords. If you don’t know what a cord belongs to, throw it out. It’s easier to go buy a cord you really need than to search for it in a heap of useless cords. Label the cords you use.

How Long Does This Take?

All of this took me an afternoon. I’m halfway through the list. My house is in much better shape. Now, if only I could get my kids to embrace KonMari too because the largest pile of uncharted “stuff” left is quickly becoming toys.

Discard Books with KonMari

I love the KonMari Method, which Japanese cleaning guru, Marie Kondo, outlines in her very popular book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. I’m following her technique as closely as possible and that means starting with a giant pass through all of my belongings, category by category, to discard items that don’t “spark joy”.

Last week, I started with my clothing. Even though I’d been discarding items as part of my minimalist project for months, I found the KonMari Method to be, by far, the most effective way to shrink my wardrobe. Not only that, but I’m incredibly happy with what I have left: just the essentials, but the essentials I love. The next step after clothes is books.

Steps to Discard Books

  1. Gather all of your books from every corner of your house.
  2. Handle each book, one-by-one, and decide whether it sparks joy.
  3. Discard those books that don’t spark joy.

It’s so simple. Don’t try to tackle photo albums or other mementos yet. Leave those for after you’ve gone through every other category.

Reasons to Keep Books

Unlike many other techniques that urge you to discard books you won’t ever read again, Kondo recognizes that books can bring you joy even if you never intend to read them again. It’s OK to keep them if you look at your shelf and are happy to see them. In fact, she lists out the following two reasons to keep a book:

  1. It belongs in the hall of fame. These are the books you truly love. Books that you read over and over.
  2. It inspires pleasure. This list of books might change over time, but keep the books that spark joy now.

Books to Throw Out

  1. Books you haven’t read. “The moment you first encounter a particular book is the right time to read it.” Otherwise, you likely never will, so toss it.
  2. Books that inspire “moderate pleasure”. While only you can decide what to keep and toss, Kondo has noticed that she doesn’t need books that only inspire “moderate pleasure”. She never looks at them and they don’t spark enough joy to justify a space on her shelf.

How To Get Rid of Books

 Once you’ve figured out which books to keep and which to pitch, you have a couple of options for disposal.

  1. Sell them using Bookscouter or Amazon.
  2. Donate them to a local library or a non-profit.
  3. Give them out to friends.
  4. Throw them out. Kondo doesn’t outright tell you to just pitch everything, but she implies it every time she mentions filling up garbage bags with your discards. Most books can be recycled after you remove the covers and bindings that contain glue, so I urge you to pitch them responsibly.

The whole process, for me, took far less time (around 30 minutes) than my clothing project last weekend. I’d already done a great job getting rid of books, but I still found more to discard!

Discarded Books

Discarded Books

I kept about the same number of books as I threw out. Most notably, I ended up with Spanish reference books (which remind me of my semester in Spain), a couple gardening books, and a few of my favorite books on starting your own business (which I’d like to do someday). If everyone else in the house would do this too, we’d be getting a much smaller bookshelf!

Now it’s your turn! Which books would you keep?

Discard Clothing KonMari Style

Last week, I wrote a review on Marie Kondo’s new book: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I wasn’t kidding when I said I couldn’t wait to try her KonMari Method, in which you first discard all items that don’t “spark joy”, then organize completely. She recommends starting with your clothes, then within that category to evaluate them in this order: tops, then bottoms, things that should hang (like jackets, suits, and dresses), socks/underware, bags, accessories, clothes for specific events, then shoes.

On Sunday morning, I woke up early and pulled every piece of clothing I owned out of my drawers, closets, coat closet, laundry, and other miscellaneous places where clothes inexplicably live. I laid them all out in the living room.

Before KonMari

The “Before KonMari” Pile

I was a bit nervous to get started. What if I threw out something useful and then regretted it next week? What if I accidentally kept something I hated? What if I just couldn’t tell? I finally decided to trust the process and see how it went.

Clothing KonMari Instructions

Kondo recommends the following when discarding:

  1. Start when you’re fresh (early morning is best in her opinion).
  2. Pull ALL of your clothing items out of every place they are kept.
  3. Pick up each item individually and ask yourself if it sparks joy. If it does, you generally know right away. If you have to think about it, it’s likely it doesn’t spark joy.
  4. Thank the items you’re discarding for their service, fold them, and put them in a trash bag.

Wait, what? That’s right. Remember how I mentioned Kondo’s affinity for treating household objects like humans in my book review? Thank your items for their service and send them on their way.

Maybe I’m just drinking the KonMari kool-aid at this point, but that isn’t as crazy as it sounds. Those who are grateful, tend to be happier people. I actually found that thanking my clothes for their service made it easier to part with a few of the items for which I was on the fence. However, I have to admit that after a while, I completely forgot to keep thanking things until hours after I was already done. Hopefully my socks aren’t offended.

Getting Started

I started with a few things that I knew would spark joy to get the ball rolling. My favorite shirt was folded and put in the “keep” pile first. After about 10 items, I could figure out whether something sparked joy rather quickly.

“Maybes”

There were a few items that I wasn’t sure about.

Maybe Pile

The “Maybe” Pile

I tried these items on and found it was easier to decide whether they sparked joy when I saw them in the mirror. Over half of them were easily discarded.

Keepers

The whole process took about 2-3 hours, but in the end, I had a LOT fewer clothes. I wasn’t surprised by what was left. These were the things I wear all the time; the things I really love.

Keepers

Keepers

I filled an entire garbage bag with everything else.

Discards

Lessons Learned

My best advice is to do this somewhere you can be alone. Once my kids woke up, they started asking to help and broke my concentration. Kondo also recommends not letting your family see what you’re discarding because it can be stressful to see you trash a gift or other item they liked.

Also, don’t be afraid to throw away things you think you need. I ended up with a list of four items to replace:

  1. Suit
  2. Rain jacket
  3. Two bras
  4. Running shorts with pockets

I don’t need these items right away, but I will eventually. I practically hated the old versions and now, a week later, I’m really glad they’re out of my life. This serves as a forcing function to replace things I should have replaced long ago. Kondo says if you are using the item right now, hold onto it until you find something you love to replace it.

Conclusion

I enjoyed the process and I REALLY enjoyed the outcome. In fact, this was the most effective way of whittling down my clothing that I’ve tried all year.

Post-KonMari Closet

This side of my closet was filled when I started my minimalist project in September.

Next up: Books!

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