The Magic of the KonMari Method: What to Do with Hoarded Items
Author and cleaning consultant Marie Kondo declares war against those “little extras” that you keep “just because”
Raise your hand if you still have an old cellphone circa 2000, hoard free hotel toiletries, spare buttons and stationery sets! Where do you usually keep these items? Are they taking up precious storage space? If you haven't organized these things for quite sometime now, maybe it's best to move on and let go.
Komono is a Japanese word that means “small articles, miscellaneous items,” and Marie Kondo finds it in every house she goes to. It’s those drawers, cookie cans, and the like that have a random mix of buttons, spare keys, electric cords, pieces of paper, and coins—you get the picture. She finds that giving these small items a place in your home is a waste of valuable space—space that could be given to something else that sparks joy.
When it comes to going through your own Komono, Kondo suggests you follow this order:
- CDs, DVDs
- Skin care products
- Valuables (passports, credit cards, etc.)
- Electrical equipment and appliances
- Household equipment (stationery, writing materials, sewing kits, etc.)
- Household supplies
- Kitchen goods / food supplies
- Items related to an interest or hobby
How can you let go of these things—especially those with sentimental value? Let me walk you through my organizing journey:
Starting with music CDs, it was easy to get rid of everything, except for an autographed CD that gave me a feeling of excitement, remembering how I rubbed elbows (and dodged bouncers!) to get that autograph.
When it came to VCDs and DVDs of movies and TV series, Kondo is silent on how to purge and organize it, but I did it the way I imagined she would ask me to do—take it out one at a time, touch it, and ask the usual question.
I feel like I failed to do this properly, because I kept reasoning out that these movies and TV series aren’t just for me anymore; what if my parents or my daughter would like to watch them someday? I ended up following my own system; the one I’ve been doing for years—throw out the cases (except for special ones, like my original DVD set of The Godfather series), and stash them alphabetically in CD album cases. I felt that this was a good compromise between the KonMari method and me.
Kondo didn't give exact pointers on how to dispose of toiletries and makeup but she did mention that you can always go to the store and buy whatever it is that you need, rather than storing space products at home. She shared that some of her clients now get a thrill in knowing how long a particular product can last, how it can be extended or used until the very last drop of swipe.
I felt aimless on what to do with the products that I have. What do you do with eye shadow palettes, extra bottles of shampoo, and tons of lipsticks? I decided to weed out the ones that have expired, looked unusable, and kept everything else. I pared down my makeup to only the products I use daily, and half of my lipstick collection (yes, I still need to cut back, but they all sparked joy!)
Discarding is made more difficult when you don’t know the proper way to do them, which is what I found out when I discarded valuables and electronics. How do you get rid of old IDs and passports? Do you burn them? Cut them up until it can’t be pieced together? For safety reasons, I kept my old passports with me, and cut my IDs up.
As for electronics, I kept just my digital camera, an Instax camera, a digital photo frame, two hard drives, and my laptop. Everything else was kept to be discarded properly in discard bins in malls (be on the lookout in a mall near you!).
But how about the manuals? What if you need to troubleshoot your gadgets?
Kondo suggests that it would take more time to find and read the manual, compared to going to an expert to fix it (which is true for me), or you can always find it online.
For your stationery, notebooks, and other writing materials:
When I finished throwing out the obvious ones (leaking pens, broken crayons, dried up craft materials), I took a moment to sort through my stationery collection. I started when I was around grade 3, and stopped collecting when I graduated to buying notebooks when I was in college.
Discard items that no longer sparked joy in you. If you still have materials from an old hobby and if you don't have plans on working on it again, it's best to let go of these materials and anything associated with it.
As for the rest, my mother took care of the kitchen goods, food supplies, household supplies, and like any Filipino household, we use every pan and every drop of oil to its fullest, so I was confident that nothing was being wasted or taken for granted in the kitchen.
Do you love to keep loose change and coins?
Kondo suggests you keep loose change in your purse as soon as you have it in your hand, rather than in a piggy bank. The author says that keeping money in a piggy bank for no particular reason than “just to save for a rainy day” is a waste, so rather than that, give the money a purpose (perhaps a vacation, or a new MacBook?), or when it’s filled up, head to the bank to deposit it ASAP.
Finishing this category made me feel a bit frustrated, but more of light and happy. I felt frustrated because it seemed like Kondo wasn’t giving importance over perfectly usable things, since they were spare products or “just because” items. For me, it gives me peace of mind and a sense of accomplishment to know that I always have what I need on hand—that I’ll never be lacking.
Photo from OneShopLove via Etsy.
Perhaps that’s the whole point of Kondo’s insistence with getting rid of “just because” items. Rather than sparking joy, you keep it or buy it because of your fear of losing something you need. Maybe that’s why you hold on to things that are barely or never been used, or are breaking apart—because you’re scared you’re throwing something good away, or you might need it someday and regret throwing it out. But if you think about what you’ve given up, were there particular things that you wished you had back? Maybe—but the feeling of regret eventually fades, and is replaced with happiness because something better comes along.
So the next time you hoard those free hotel toiletries, take a moment and ask yourself: Does this spark joy? If the answer is “No, I just want free stuff and I might need it someday”—then leave it be. If the answer is a resounding “Yes!” then go for it. Let that “Yes!” come from a place of happiness, rather than fear of lack, and you won’t go wrong.
(*Ed's note: This story is the sixth in a ten-part series of articles on the KonMari Method).
Photo from PopSugar.
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