There’s a few basic principles in Marie Kondo’s method of tidying up your home. One that is fundamental is deal with your own stuff and your own self (my paraphrase).
In the book, she talks about her childhood obsession with organization. When she became bored with organizing her own room, she took liberties with common areas shared by her family. She disposed of possessions belonging to other family members that she observed they didn’t seem to use or need any longer. While the shocking question, “Who would even do that?!”comes to mind when reading her story, how many of us want-to-be-organized people sharing a home with want-to-keep-everything people, have been guilty of disposing of something that doesn’t belong to us, on the sly?!
My hand is raised.
So Marie says, deal with your own stuff. Her method has you sort items in your home by category, rather than by location. Large categories have smaller sub-categories, to keep things manageable. The first category is clothing. Your own clothing. Not your spouse’s clothing, or your children’s clothing. Your own. You gather ALL your clothing from EVERY location where it is stored – your closet, your husband’s closet, the attic, the garage, the coat closet, and you bring all YOUR clothing into one spot, and begin to go through it.
She also emphasizes each person in the home have an area of the home that belongs to them, such as their own closet, or dresser, or desk. Each person should keep their own things in their own area.
Your stuff. In your spot.
Any home occupied by more than one human, has shared areas, and shared items. She instructs you not to mess with items outside your domain. She says not to nag other home occupants to follow her method, not to dispose of their things, and not to insist they tidy up, simply because you are tidying up.
Keep your hands to yourself, as we tell children, and deal with your own items. The shocking result, is your stuff begins to change, you begin to change, and your household occupants take notice.
This concept – your stuff, in your spot (my paraphrase) – is one of the life-changing parts of KonMari for me thus far.
I used to internally blame my husband and children for the mess and clutter in our home. As I’ve worked through the KonMari process, I’ve had a humbling discovery. The shoes on the living room floor are mine. The bottles covering the bathroom counter are my herbs. My clothes were stored in my closet, my kids’ closet, my husband’s closet, the coat closet, the attic, and the garage. Many of the excess items and excess spending – was purchased by me. When I thought we needed something, I would buy three varieties, just to be sure one of them worked out. We would keep all three. When I found something else we needed, I would buy two identical ones, so we would have a spare.
I shopped too much. I stored my things all over the house in everyone else’s space. I am the culprit. (Well, one of them. There are four culprits living in my home. And I am definitely one of them.)
Many folks new to the KonMari method struggle with stuff that belongs to their spouse, children or other household members. Depending on the age of the children, it may be appropriate to do some categories for them, and other categories together with them. But for adults, her answer is this – leave it alone. And for anyone beginning the method, for now, as much as possible, focus on your own items. She has you begin with two categories that are clearly personal – clothing, and books. There are clothing and books in your home belonging to other people, but it should be obvious which ones are YOURS. Do them first.