Will decluttering your home make you happier?

Posted on February 7, 2019 | Information, Property

The first months of a new year always feel like an appropriate time to start setting fresh goals and establishing good habits – hence our endless preoccupation with resolutions. Cue the flurry of commitments around losing weight/taking up exercise/cutting back on alcohol. But this year, we’re also being persuaded of the power of decluttering – thanks to the advice of so-called ‘clutter therapists’ like Marie Kondo.

The KonMari method

Marie – and others of her ilk – are tapping into an increasingly popular philosophy that extols the virtues of living a simpler life. A backlash against the evils of rampant consumerism, this approach champions the less-is-more strategy and calls on its followers to chuck out all the bits and bobs that are supposedly contributing to rising levels of tiredness and depression. Kondo’s ‘KonMari’ method is outlined in her bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying, wherein the author clearly outlines her path to enlightenment, starting with thinning out your wardrobe before progressing to books, ‘komono’ (file under miscellaneous) and – perhaps most difficult of all – those things with sentimental value.

There’s a lot of sense in travelling a little lighter through life – especially if you’re planning a move into a brand new Russell Armer home! None of us really need the piles of old travel magazines, stacks of CDs from the 1990s or a copy of every book we’ve ever read stuffed into all the available nooks and crannies of our homes. The advent of digital media means that many of the physical items that would have once been mandatory – VHS cassettes, anyone? – have already been consigned to the rubbish heap. But it’s often much harder for parents to throw out their children’s artwork, school certificates or baby clothes, even when they’ve become adults themselves.

Design for life

In some ways, there’s nothing new about Kondo’s advice. More than a century ago, the designer William Morris was dishing out his own aesthetic advice by exhorting people to avoid cluttering their homes with anything they didn’t ‘know to be useful or believe to be beautiful’. Similarly, Kondo invites readers to ask one simple question when deciding whether or not to keep an item – ‘Does this spark joy?’

Some tips to take from Kondo’s method:

  • It’s not just about being tidier – you really do need to get rid of stuff, not just organise it all more neatly!
  • Tackle your initial declutter as a single, one-off event and then maintain the tidy approach so you don’t revert to your original cluttered state.
  • Think about it as picking those things you want to keep (the ones that spark joy) rather than deciding what you want to throw away.
  • Visualise the kind of (tidy) life you want to live.
  • KonMari is a personal activity – do it on your own without involving other members of your family (and don’t throw anything away that’s not yours!).