KonMari Method Update

Now that I’m mostly recovered from #BlogHer15, I’m itching to get back into the life-changing magic of finding joy and discarding all of the things. But, I’m also working a lot of hours right now and by the end of the day I’m way too tired to even think about tidying up. And TW, well… she’s still dealing with the shingles issue and is even more tired than I am at the end of the day. So, we’re at a bit of a stand still. I need a list or a written plan in order to get moving again. So… here it is.

– We’re going to Kondo the jewelry this weekend.
– We’re going to take all of the accumulated discards to charity drop-offs this weekend.
-We’re going to put all of these not-blank-what-the-hell-is-this dvd/cds into a player this weekend and finish discarding that category.
– I’m going to coerce RJ into Kondoing all of the things in her room … it’s pretty much this summer or never, since it’s unlikely she’s going to want to Kondo when she’s home for fall or winter break and spring break will be too late since we should be deep into packing up by that point.
– We’re going to de-clutter the extra bedroom because just tossing things in there while we Kondo is causing a huge problem in there, since there are still things we need access to in order to Kondo the categories.
– We’re going to make a plan to go through the rest of the categories, so we’re all set for Kondoing in August. (Answering questions like “What does accessories mean in our world? Can we just skip that category?” and “Valuables? What the heck?” and “Should we follow the suggested order and do electronics next, then household equipment and supplies, and then kitchen or should we tweak the suggested schedule in some way?” Should we go through the basic list of categories and when we hit “other” move to Kondoing specific rooms or continue to try to categorize or some combination of the two?”) See, it’s getting kind of complicated or it’s getting complicated in my head.

In other news, I joined a KonMari group on Facebook. Oh boy. That’s interesting stuff. Also interesting and very amusing, hahahahaha

The KonMari Method: Skincare, Makeup, Personal Care Items

We don’t have a lot of makeup or skincare products so I turned this category into anything remotely personal care. Everything from shampoo to lotion to medication to hair bands.

And, once we got going, it went pretty smoothly. We’ve needed to clean out the medicine closet for awhile now so yay for getting that done. And yay for throwing away a full bag of things that do not bring joy and finding a couple of grocery bags of stuff we can donate.

We’ve got a basket full of things that the little girls may use so that’s still hanging out, waiting for them to take a look. Once they’ve gone through it, we’ll figure out which of the stuff can go to the nursing home and which of it needs to go to a shelter.

All in all, I’m calling this a success.

I also will not be buying any of these items until after we move:
– Shampoo
– lotion
– bandaids
– tampons
– soap
– cough medicine
– hair bands (I may never buy any again, whether they’re free or NOT. Someone remind me of this at Christmas when I know they’ll be free again…)

Things we will need to buy before we move:
– Conditioner
– razors
– shaving cream
– advil, tylenol, allergy and cold meds that aren’t cough medicine

Next category appears to be jewelry. Hmmm… not much jewelry in this house, this should go quickly. Maybe we can even get it done this weekend.

KonMari Problems: Feeling The Joy

The thing about this KonMari Method is that it sticks in your head. Or maybe it just sticks in my head because I listened to the book about 10xs? Whatever, it’s in my head.

We’re doing a pretty good job of sticking to her suggested order for Kondoing stuff but I keep finding myself noticing odds and ends that are sitting in places they do not belong which leads me to ask whether these things bring me joy — and the answer has been no, no, no, also NO, so into the trash they go.

I can’t decide if that’s the correct thing to do or if I should leave that stuff be until we get to those categories. It probably doesn’t matter but I’m a stickler for rules unless I’ve pondered the rules and decided to make my own rules. Random rule-breaking is not my thing. Spontaneous rule-breaking, without forethought makes me anxious.

Still, it felt good to toss an old extension cord into the trash. And some random hotel-sized bottle of lotion into the trash. And that feed sack that I thought I was keeping for some good reasons but really just because I was temporarily nuts.

Also, every time I find myself throwing one of these random things away, I feel some urge to find something else to throw away. I really would like nothing better than to just take 2 weeks off of work and Kondo the entire house from start to finish. Make it all go away! Keep only the joyful things!

Seriously, I can hardly wait to start the next category. Except, we still have boxes and bags of books and other discarded things that we need to take to donation places. Or something. I did an awesome job of getting the discarded clothes out of the house but I’ve dragged my feet with the books (and now the DVDs/CDs.)

My new goal is to get those things out of here by the end of July. MUST do that. MUST. (I’d give myself a shorter deadline but I’m not an idiot, it’s BlogHerCon time, after all.)

The KonMari Method: CDs, DVDs, Video Games, Etc.

So, I thought we’d just go ahead and go through this entire category and just get – it – DONE. Silly me.

I ambushed myself within about three minutes because I’d forgotten about the 45s. The moment I put my hand on the 45 case, I knew there was no way this category was going to go smoothly. There’s so much “sentimental” carry-over with this stuff that it just… yea. No. It did not go well.

KonMari Problems… Oy

A photo posted by Denise Tanton (@dtanton) on

I immediately put the 45s into the sentimental category, made the decision that albums would wait ’til the end, too, and moved on. I waded through CDs pretty quickly and TW went along behind me and we had quite a lot of CDs to discard. Except, TW put them in a bag to send to the nursing home for her sister. I’m not sure that was a smart move, we’re just going to end up with them again, aren’t we?

TW released her old cassettes with not much trouble — we don’t have a cassette player, after all.

Then we got to the DVDs and VHS tapes and we were lost. I left behind hundreds of videos when we moved here and I was having a very hard time releasing any of those this time. The ones I kept 7 years ago were the BEST ones. They’re still the best ones. So, I kept most of them and will let my big kids go through them at Christmas and maybe we’ll be able to discard some more.

Though we kept a lot, we also got rid of a lot but we sent most of them to the nursing home.

Then, the little girls looked at the Wii games and RJ said discard them all. Elly took a few back to her father’s house and would like our Wii controllers because theirs are broken (so when I find those, I’ll be sure to pass them on.)

In the end, we were able to discard 15 Wii games, 73 videos went to the nursing home and we have a bunch of VHS tapes to donate (probably around 20), 50 music cds were discarded and we have a whole spindle of black cds/dvds we can donate. We also have a half dozen discs that we’re not sure of. They have stuff on them but we’re not sure what’s on them, so I need to find a laptop with a CD player (or use TW’s laptop) and take a look at those before we discard.

All things considered, I’m OK with how we did with the discards (as long as the nursing home giveaways don’t come back to us!) We’ll revisit the category again in December and again when we do sentimental items and I’m sure a few more things will go, then. Probably.

KonMari Problems: Scissors

A long time ago, we had a house full of kids and constantly missing scissors. TW, being TW, ordered a gross of scissors from ebay — a mix of all kinds of scissors, probably those confiscated at an airport by TSA or something. It was a glorious thing to see all of those scissors. To have them all inside of this wonderful metal box that belonged to TW. To always know that if you needed scissors and none were immediately at hand, you could just head to the metal box of scissor joy.


Fast-forward 10 (or more?) years and we still have the metal box but it’s a lot less full of joy than it used to be. Scissors have disappeared to wherever scissors go. Or, scissors have been thrown away because they don’t actually do the job of cutting any longer. Or, I don’t know. They’re just gone.


Which is fine. Really. We’re no longer a house full of children and we do have more than enough scissors to bring us joy. I cannot see us buying any more scissors in our lifetime. Really. TW’s purchase was a great investment on our future. Truly. If they still sell these huge boxes of scissors on ebay and you have a house full of kids and constantly missing scissors, you should consider just such a purchase. It will serve you well.

But, here’s where I’m having some KonMari joy problems.

1) Some of the scissors in this box really don’t bring much joy. I can’t see us ever using some of these types of scissors, ever. They’re just not the kind of scissors we actually use or need. We definitely need to Kondo these. Immediately.

2) Worse yet, we’re notoriously bad at putting scissors back to the place that they belong. (I’m sure we blamed the kids all those years ago when TW bought all of the scissors, but it’s clearly a shortcoming of the adults in the house, as much as the kids.) Putting items back to their proper place is a clear mandate of the KonMari system. Determine where items belong and put them there. Keep them there. Always return them there. That’s how you prevent clutter and prevent yourself from buying more things that you don’t need. If your things are always in their proper places, you will always know what you have and not find yourself buying more of things that you ultimately do not need.

A few days ago, I rounded up all of the scissors I could find in the downstairs part of the house (again, I’m not touching the girls’ rooms upstairs and I’m not touching TW’s mom’s room.) I’m sure there are more scissors that I have not found but I rounded up dozens of scissors from all over the place. The only scissors I did not remove from their existing locations were a) a pair of scissors on my art table b) the broken kitchen scissors, which I repaired and left in the drawer, (though I suspect these are more broken than I’d like to think and will ultimately be discarded.)

kitchen art

Since the day when I rounded up all of the scissors, during a conference call at work (I’m one hell of a multi-tasker), scissors have found their way back to a variety of places where they’re somewhat useful but… they do not actually BELONG in these places. Or do they?

Is that my problem with scissors? I think they should always live in the big metal box but maybe the excess scissors should always be in the big metal box but other scissors should live in other places?

Some people think that you should keep items where you’re most likely to use them. Marie Kondo says this is wrong. That when we need something, we do not mind the effort it takes to go to the location where the item lives to get the item that we need. The problem lies in the putting the item back. If it’s difficult to return a thing to its proper place, we will not do so. We need to make the item easier to return than to retrieve. Is that making sense? It makes sense when she says it, trust me.

The metal box is not super easy to get to, in its current location. It lives on the bottom shelf of a Billy in the office. There are often things sitting in front of it or on top of it. It’s less than 10′ from where I’m sitting right now, typing this. I can see it on the shelf. Yet, there are three pairs of scissors sitting in the coffee cup on my desk. Why didn’t I get up and put the scissors back in the metal box when I finished using them? I retrieved them from the box when I needed them. Three times! What made it so much harder to put them back?

Is it because I have this coffee cup sitting on my desk that’s full of pens? If that coffee cup wasn’t on my desk, would I be more likely to put the scissors in the box? If I move the box to another location, would I be more likely to put the scissors back?


How do I explain the scissors that are even closer to the metal box, on TW’s desk? A desk she does not use… as a desk. At all. Ever.


Or the extra pair of scissors that found its way into another kitchen drawer?


Or the scissors that are on the dresser in the bedroom?


Did someone retrieve all of those from the metal box? Was it me? Or were they “found” not in their proper place, the metal box, but somewhere else and I just missed them on the first pass? And, where should the big metal box live that would make it easier for all of the people in the house to put all of the scissors away all of the time?

Or, should I just stop thinking about this and put one pair of scissors in all of the places scissors are often found and get rid of the surplus of scissors that live in the box, even though they mostly still bring joy (they’ll all bring joy, once we go through the box and toss out the really dumb scissors.)

Surely other people have scissor issues? But if that’s true, why has nobody recorded a KonMari scissors video? Maybe it’s just me? Maybe it’s just us?

I Made Toast For Dinner and I Liked It!

Remember how I said I don’t really like toasted bread? Well I also said I was going to make something from that cookbook and if it went well, I’d let you know.

I made something. It went well. I’m letting you know.

I made the Nectarine Caprese Toast for dinner last night, except I left out the tomato (which makes it not so much a caprese, right?) I thought the tomato might be too much? Or maybe I was just feeling lazy and unsure of how the dinner was going to go? I couldn’t really wrap my head around the nectarines and the basil and then there was the whole pan toasted bread thing… that freaked me out. Oh, I also used sourdough instead of a baguette because I just felt like having sourdough. And, there were no white nectarines at the grocery store so I used plain ole nectarines.


I mean really yummy. I over-toasted a slice of sourdough and was annoyed with myself, but it was ok — TW and I just ate extra slices of nectarine, mozzarella and basil without that piece of toast and we were happy.

I will totally make this again. I’m kind of sorry I don’t have more nectarines because we have plenty of cheese and basil and sourdough — it could be an awesome breakfast. Heh.

If I could just remember to take pictures of food I make (and also maybe learn how to take a decent food photo) I could become a food blogger! hahaha.

The KonMari Method: Office & School Supplies

Ooops. I know I said we were going to do videos, cds, albums, etc next but plans changed. TW reminded me that Melisa, who we were re-homing some “third grade” books to, would probably be able to use some of our no-joy school and office supplies. TW was right — it’s expensive for teachers who are setting up their first classroom (or setting up any classroom, really.)

So, we switched gears and I wandered around the house gathering up all of the writing utensils and scissors and notebooks and glue and paper clips and staples and thumb/jump/usb drives.

Luckily, the earlier tidying up made this a little easier than it would have been if we still had all of that PAPER all over the darn place. I had already put most of the notebooks and notepads in a box, while pulling paper out of our desk drawers and such and every time I’d seen a usb drive in recent weeks, I’d put it in a pile on top of TW’s desk.

We ended up with more writing utensils than I can count — many still in packaging and/or unsharpened.


– I went through these first, looking for anything that was obviously broken/dead and threw all of those into the trash.
– Then I touched each pen/pencil/marker and asked whether it sparked joy. Generally speaking, not much sparked joy. Any Micron or Pitt pen sparked joy, most Sharpies but after you’ve touched 5 black Sharpies, how much joy can the sixth one really bring you? Some pens due to how they felt in my hand, the design of them, or a memory of how they wrote.
– After that, I tested each item from the joy pile to make sure they all wrote and/or still brought me joy when writing with them.
– Then, in my no-joy pile, I looked for things that were obviously new and never used, things I thought Melisa could use in her classroom, and things that I knew would bring TW or a kid joy.
– TW walked through at this point and I asked her to go through the no-joy pile — I don’t think she added a single thing to our joy pile.

Which left us with a pretty small pile of pens, pencils and markers.


It also left Melisa with a pretty good size pile of pens, pencils and markers. Yippee!

I did pretty much the same thing with various other categories of stuff. All the crayons, colored pencils, kids’ markers. All of the staplers/staples/paper clips. All of the glue, glue sticks and tape.

Then we got to the paper and note pads. I want to know why we had so many different packages of mailing labels, business card makers, and other weird papers for the printer. We NEVER use that stuff. NEVER ever. NO JOY, none, zero zip.

I did save quite a few notebooks but almost no notepads. I’m a list-making doodler so I need some sort of paper on my desk all of the time. Notepads are fine but I much prefer an actual notebook — even a smaller than average notebook is better than a notepad.

And, did I mention we have (HAD!) a ton of post-it notes? I haven’t even gone through them all because I have an entire container of stuff like that in my Filofax supply section — but OMG all the post-its and flags and gah. I was pretty amused (also, annoyed) — TW didn’t really feel much joy for any of the stuff in this category but when it came to post-its and flags, she wanted to keep everything. She was sure one of the children would want/need/feel joy for all of those things. I reminded her of just how many we had. Just how few the children took to school with them last year. And, we purged. Melisa got anything brand new and unopened. The rest went into the recycle bin.

There are two items in this category that I haven’t really talked about — USB drives and scissors. I think they deserve their own KonMari Problems post. For now, I’ll just say… we have enough. More than enough. Ugh.

We started this task with a rubbermaid bin, two of those cardboard storage boxes from IKEA, a half dozen drawers and shelves full of office and school supplies and ended up with one IKEA cardboard storage box and one rubbermaid bin, neither full, of supplies.

I’ll admit to not being obsessive about making sure all of our office and school supplies were gathered. In the 24 hours since we finished this task, I’ve already seen two pairs of scissors and three pens that never got rounded up. (I discarded them.) I’m ok with that. I know what we have, now. I’m pretty sure that 99% of what we find lurking in the hidden corners of the house can be discarded without any problem at all. Excluding the stuff upstairs in the girls’ rooms. I intentionally saved their supplies until they were home — I’m really trying not to Kondo their stuff without at least SOME feedback from them. So, we’ll do theirs the next time they’re here for more than a couple of hours.

Next up is CDs, DVDs, Albums, Video Games — and cassettes, lol.

The KonMari Method: Paper

Well that went well. Mostly. We had paper everywhere! We definitely still have paper up in the girls’ rooms but we’re ignoring that until they’re both here and can participate in the Kondoing of their paper. I’m sure we’ll also find more paper tucked away in various places as we move through the process but the bulk of it is DONE.

I gathered up the paper from our desks, from our bedside tables, from the cubby in the bedroom, from various junk drawers throughout the house, the two plastic file boxes jam packed full of “important papers”, and from the drawers of TW’s dresser in the cold room.

We ended up with three bags of trash and a bag and a half of paper to shred. We also have a box of “sentimental papers” to go through at the end.

One of the file boxes is completely empty and the other isn’t even close to being full. We also stumbled upon dozens of gift cards and I’ve gone through the annoyingly tedious process of checking to see if any of them have balances — most do. The ones that didn’t, were cut and thrown away so we don’t have to go through that process again. I’m pretty sure there are more gift cards in the “sentimental” box because our sorting piles got a little confused for a few minutes and I was not going to go back through the box to find a few darn gift cards. We’ll deal with them later.

I’m pretty pleased with our progress. Now I just have to decide if there’s a community shredding event scheduled in the near future at a time that’s convenient for us to go shred. Or, if we should just buy a shredder… I’m leaning toward NOT buying a shredder but I want this stuff out of the house ASAP. It defeats the purpose of sorting it and bagging it if you’re just going to leave the crap sitting around in bags. Hmph.

Next up: DVDs, VHS tapes, CDs, albums and video games… those are all over the house, too. (What isn’t?)

The KonMari Method: Books (Part 4 and DONE)

We did it. We made it through the books category without killing each other or ourselves. (Or having the kids kill us.)

TW went through all of the cookbooks last night. I went through them after her — twice. Elly indicated she wanted to go through them and then she didn’t. Turns out she wasn’t attached to any specific cookbook (though she probably is and we were smart enough to feel joy for those anyway) but was attached to the idea of all the cookbooks, always and forever, amen.

Which is pretty much how we feel about all of our books, which is why we really did need to take each one off of the shelf and hold each one in our hands and THEN make a decision about a book.

It worked well and here’s our final talley:

We have a total of eight full-size billy bookcases. Five have height extenders. We also have two corner Billys with height extenders. There are five small bookcases upstairs in the girls rooms. Before we started, all of the shelves were full plus we had books stacked in other locations around the house. And, a big rubbermaid bin full of books.

Now, we have 13 full-size Billy shelves that are completely empty. There are four corner Billy shelves that are empty. The bookcases in the girls rooms upstairs are mostly empty. There are no piles of books anywhere (except in boxes and bags to donate, lol) and the rubbermaid bin is empty of books. I have one stack of magazines that bring me joy.

The donation pile/recycle pile looks like this.

5 kitchen-sized garbage bags were recycled.
33 grocery shipping bags were filled.
14 boxes full of books (most are UHaul book boxes but some are amazon boxes of different shapes and sizes, a box for copy paper, and a flat for some sort of fruit or veggies from Costco.

I’m really pleased with how well we did. I also think we’ll be able to discard some more when we pack out next year. I don’t think we’ll discard a lot, at that point — but some more things will go.

One other note — there are 12 shelves of OLD books/series that mostly bring us joy. They’re sentimental favorites and so we did not really touch them at all during this phase of KonMari. We will revisit them at the very end of the process, though I suspect most, if not all, will bring us joy.

KonMari Problems: We Just Can’t Let Go

We’re pretty much through all of the books and magazines — though I’m very sure there are some lurking in corners and drawers and all the places that we will stumble upon later — and I’ve learned a lot from this exhausting process.

There are some things that bring us joy, things we just cannot let go.

Children’s books, obviously. We knew that going in. I, however, was more ready to let go of children’s books than TW was. I was more likely to keep books that I knew my children loved, because they’ve said so or because I have strong memories of them reading those books (or asking me to read them aloud.) TW was more likely to keep children’s books that brought her joy… whether they brought the children joy, or not. I let go of a whole lot of Newberry winners that brought ME joy but never brought my kids any joy at all. TW retrieved them from the discard pile because they brought her joy. I get it. That was me the last time we discarded a lot of books. lol

I had trouble letting go of orange books… but not nearly as much as I’d expected. I love orange. I love Penguin books. Turns out I was ok letting go of a whole lot of orange that really didn’t bring me joy except that they were orange and they were Penguins. Hah. I can always buy more Penguins later. 😉

We both had a whole lot of trouble letting go of non-fiction. Anything about women or children or minorities in general, we seemed to keep. Anything American history related, we seemed to keep. TW has a fondness for math and science books — me, not to much lol. Children’s non-fiction, oy. Don’t even get me started. I think we’re going to have to weed some more of those out later. How many visual dictionaries do we need?

Poetry. I was more likely to discard poetry anthologies but TW plucked them right back off of the discard pile. We have all the poetry in the world. If you need it, we have it.

Last, but not least, lesbian fiction. The good, the bad, the ugly — we have it and we are keeping it. It’s hard to let that go. You never really know if a library will have lesbian fiction, and certainly not old lesbian fiction. There’s also the question of what would happen to those books after we donated them. I’m ok with the fact that once books are donated, anything might happen to them. They might be recycled, they might not. I just don’t want to think about all of these lesbian novels landing in a recycle bin or worse. All of the Naiads, oh the Naiads. Sometimes you just want to read lesbian fiction. Sometimes you just NEED to read bad lesbian fiction.

There you go, a look into which books bring us joy… and why.