The KonMari Method and my February Decluttering Challenge


You may recall that I started a decluttering challenge last month. The rules were simple: for each day, I would get rid of (or donate) the amount of items that matched the date (e.g., February 5 I needed to get rid of five things). The math adds up quickly, so here I am a month later and 500 (give or take) items lighter.

At the same time, I read the new decluttering cult classic, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. If you’ve never heard of the book, but have seen your friends chatting about the “KonMari” method, that’s what this book is all about. The KonMari method is basically a set of rules to go by in order to declutter, clean, reorganize and … well, change your life.

Fellow aSweatLife writers Catherine Toupin and Mary Mack read the book with me and we all tend to agree about three main things:

  • The writer might be crazy. We remain skeptical about the way she talks to clothes. We also find her obsessively organized childhood habits to be a bit strange.
  • No one is reading this book or praising this book for its writing. Not that I can judge, as most of my posts include #hashtags and reflections on my donut eating habits, but we did find that a lot of the wording and phrasing was dry and repetitive.
  • Regardless of the first two points, this book did help us out in many little ways. It helped us learn how to FINALLY let go of clothes we had held onto for a *little* too long. The book ended up being a helpful tool in the process of eliminating excess. It preached to keep the things we love instead of getting rid of the things we hate.

We are all a little unclear as to why the book reached cult status the way that it did. Regardless, we all admitted that we are glad we read it. As it turns out, decluttering and tidying us is a bit magical.

Here’s the top five things I noticed since my decluttering adventure:

I feel lighter.

I know that sounds like a silly thing to say, but the mental burden of so many material things, stimulus and information was wearing me down more than I thought. I feel like my morning and night routine have been simplified, and along with that, a little bit of heaviness has left me.

I feel grateful for what I have 

This is mainly because I’m much more aware of all I have. One of the main takeaways from Marie Kondo’s book is to find the things you own that bring you joy. Those are the items that you want to keep and surround yourself with; everything else is unnecessary. While I don’t believe that is completely true (nude bras are never going to inspire joy, but they are very useful to keep around), I think there is something great to being surrounded by (mainly) your very favorite things instead of just a bunch of stuff.

I will never need to buy toothpaste, chapstick, bobby pins or razors again (or at least not for a very, very long time).

It turns out, I’m totally stocked up on these things, so if you need any of them, holla. There’s plenty to go around. Oh, and beauty samples. I could have probably run my own Birchbox operation from all the product samples I found (and then I subsequently canceled my subscription).

I bought a lot of dumb s#*%.

Nothing says, “I made a mistake” like finding something in your closet months (or years) later with the tags still on it. I do believe the decluttering exercise alone has made me think twice before making any purchases going forward. That’s a win for my chi and a win for my wallet.

If you do it well the first time, tidiness isn’t very hard to maintain.

I figured that I would be back to my old habits really quick. Granted, it hasn’t even been a month, so the verdict isn’t out on this yet. However, now that most things have a designated spot and purpose, I’ve found that it’s a lot easier to keep the tidiness up than I thought it would be. I even (kinda sorta) look forward to putting laundry away now (er, as much as one can). I look forward to coming home to a room full of stuff I love.


With spring cleaning season upon us, we wonder: have you tried the KonMari method or any type of decluttering lately? If so, how has it changed you? Let us know in the comments!

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About Cass Gunderson

Cass hails from the southwest suburbs as a proud White Sox fan and a graduate of University of Illinois. By day, Cass is a full-time student at the University of Chicago's Booth Graduate Business School. Before deciding to throw away all her money to go back to school, Cass worked for a private equity firm that buys technology companies. Raised as the youngest in a family of older brothers, Cass grew up a tomboy and remains active in sports. To her mother’s satisfaction, Cass learned how to embrace her feminine side in college and has developed an interest for fitness activities that require spandex as opposed to knee-length basketball shorts. In her spare time, she runs a lot because it is cheaper than paying for real therapy. Cass has completed four marathons and one ultramarathon (she claims she'll never do this to herself again, but that's TBD). She can still be found on the basketball courts in Lincoln Park wearing knee-length basketball shorts.