Spark Joy

Donating vs. Selling - getting rid of the things that don't spark joy.

Photo by  Jazmin Quaynor  on  Unsplash

When we're decluttering & organizing, getting rid of the things that don't spark joy isn't exactly easy, because what do you do with it?

Do you put things out with the trash? Recycle them? Pass things to friends & relatives? Donate? Sell? Just thinking about what to do is overwhelming! But you haven't actually decluttered until the unwanted objects are out of your life. (Shoving things in a closet doesn't count.)

Some things are obvious - the broken things, you recycle or toss; the things your friends love and want, you pass along to them.

But what about the rest? Donate or sell?

The case for selling: it makes back some of the money you spent buying all the things, and who doesn't appreciate an extra money in their pocket?

The case against selling: it takes a lot of time, and energy - you have to deal with listing, shipping, and lots of trips to the post office.

The case for donating: it gets everything out of the house in a couple trips, if feels good, and there might be a tax write off.

The case against donating: finding organizations to donate to can sometimes be tricky, especially for less common items.

So, which should you choose? Instead of trying to logical it out, try asking "which sparks joy?"

Would you get joy from selling your things and seeing them go to people who very much want what they're getting, acknowledging and being ok with the fact that it might take a little longer to get everything out of the house?

Or would you get more joy in donating the things you no longer want, passing them along to a charity and trusting the things find their way to people who want/need them?

Marie Kondo answered this question in an "Ask Me Anything" on reddit, she says, "I am sure there are several different ways to get rid of books, by selling them or donating them. You should figure out which way sparks joy, makes you happy. If it sparks joy to sell them one-by-one, go for it. But it takes so much time and energy, if it does not spark joy, maybe you can donate them to a library or sell to one organization."

I think it's amazing that the question "does it spark joy?" is so telling, and can be applied to so much more than just deciding what possessions to get rid of and what to keep - it can also clarify how to declutter in a way that works and feels good to you.

What if we started decluttering our lives by tossing everything first?

What if we started decluttering our lives by tossing out all of our stuff first, and then brought back into our lives the things we loved the most?

If we start decluttering by asking "what can we get rid of?" we're starting by assuming that we'll be keep most of our stuff.

If we start decluttering by asking "what can we keep?" or put another way "what sparks joy?" we're starting off by assuming that we'll be getting rid of most of our stuff.

"Focusing solely on throwing things away can only bring unhappiness. Why? Because we should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of." -Marie Kondo The Life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing

The more "stuff" we have, the harder it is to organize. The more "stuff" we eliminate, the easier it is to organize. And the higher the ratio of "stuff that sparks joy" to "stuff that doesn't spark joy," the easier it is to stay organized.

Organizing your home is one thing. Staying organized once and for all, is another thing entirely.

A new decluttering mantra - 'You only have to do this once.'

Photo by  Annie Spratt  on  Unsplash

"If you don't like where you are, change it. You are not a tree." -Jim Rohn

Most cleaning advice goes something like "toss out five thing every day for 30 days" or "spend fifteen minutes tidying up every day" it's all about cleaning & organizing in small, consistent, continual burst forever and always (at least that's what it feels like).

But the KonMari Method is completely the opposite - in one fell swoop get rid of everything that doesn't "spark joy" and then organize what you're left with. It turns out that most of our possessions often don't "spark joy" and can be gotten rid of - which makes organizing much easier.

Of course, you have to get through the process of going through each and every possession individually first.

If you're anything like me (or most of us) you have a lot of "stuff" most of which doesn't spark joy - in my closet I only have one or two pieces that really, truly sparked joy. You'll also probably have categories of stuff that are much more daunting to get through - for me that was art supplies.

Going through everything you own, just to get rid of much of it can be quite a daunting task. What helped me was repeating "Jane, remember, you only have to do this once."

10 Fabulous Articles about Marie Kondo (if You are an Organizing Geek)

Marie Kondo: We Should Be Choosing What We Want to Keep, not discard.

Marie Kondo: We Should Be Choosing What We Want to Keep, not discard.

I'm a huge fan of Marie Kondo, and her organization method. I've talked about her book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" before, and got the chance to meet her in person at the beginning of her US book tour. She is thoughtful, delightful, and full of joy.

There have been a plethora of interesting articles about Marie Kondo and her KonMari method recently, so I thought I'd gather some of them together all in one place.

“Keep only the things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest,” she [Marie Kondo] advises. “When you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order, too. As a result, you can see quite clearly what you need in life and what you don’t.”

Her “KonMarie method”, as she calls it in the diminutive and illustration-free volume, encourages a rapid, dramatic and transformative one-time organising event completed methodically and lovingly in no more than six months. It is not an ongoing battle against clutter.

Kondo sees tidying as a cheerful conversation in which anything that doesn’t “spark joy” is to be touched, thanked and ceremonially sent on its way towards a better life elsewhere, where it can discover a more appreciative owner.

“The objective of cleaning is not just to clean, but to feel happiness living within that environment,” Kondo said,

Like any lifestyle guru, Kondo has rules... The central law of Kondo’s method is to keep items that “spark joy” in an owner and dispose of items that do not.

Kondo's promise is about more than just stuff. It's about intentionality and mindfulness, with a sprinkling of Zen philosophy.

Marie Kondo has built a huge following in her native Japan with her “KonMari” method of organizing and de-cluttering. Clients perform a sort of tidying up festival: time set aside specifically to go through belongings. Each object is picked up and held, and the client needs to decide if it inspires joy. If it doesn’t, it needs to go.

Many experts say to declutter 15 minutes a day, working one room at a time. According to Marie Kondo, if you do this, you’ll be decluttering forever. She recommends that you make clutter clearing a special, once-in-a-lifetime event.

“When we take our clothes in our hands and fold them neatly,” she writes, “we are, I believe, transmitting energy, which has a positive effect on our clothes.” She proposes a similarly agreeable technique for hanging clothing. Hang up anything that looks happier hung up, and arrange like with like, working from left to right, with dark, heavy clothing on the left: “Clothes, like people, can relax more freely when in the company of others who are very similar in type, and therefore organizing them by category helps them feel more comfortable and secure.”

"Although this approach contradicts conventional wisdom, everyone who completes my private course has successfully kept their house in order—with unexpected results. Putting their house in order positively affects all other aspects of their lives, including work and family. Having devoted more than 80 percent of my life to this subject, I know that tidying can transform your life."

"During the selection process, if you come across something that does not spark joy but that you just can’t bring yourself to throw away, stop a moment and ask yourself, 'Am I having trouble getting rid of this because of an attachment to the past or because of a fear for the future?' It’s important to understand your ownership pattern because it is an expression of the values that guide your life. The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life."

 I love finding these articles about Marie Kond--I am curious if elements of the Kon-Mari Method were lost in the translation (yes), and more importantly: just who is this person whose seemingly simple method has been transforming lives in the United States.

Let's change the question from 'what can I get rid of?' to 'what sparks joy?'

Photo by  Roman Kraft  on  Unsplash

Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

Ever since I was first introduced to Marie Kondo's book and the KonMari Method I was enamored by the possibility of organizing my home (and my clients homes) once and for all.

Most of the time we start cleaning/organizing/decluttering by asking the question "What can we get rid of?"

What can we get rid of? When was the last time we used it? Do we have multiples? Do we really need it?

We focus on the "getting rid of" aspect.

The KonMari Method asks "What sparks joy?"

Does this spark joy in us? - This question focuses on the "keeping & fulfilling" aspect.

What would life feel like if everything in our home sparked joy? How amazing would it be to come home to that? And what would you do to keep that feeling?

Once you have the feeling of walking into a home where every object sparks joy, would you ever again tolerate objects that didn't spark joy?

Let's change the question from "what can we get rid of?" to "what sparks joy?"

Joy was Sparked when I met Marie Kondo, the Creator of The KonMari Method!

Marie Kondo + Jane

How did so much time pass before posting this photo of Marie Kondo? Marie Kondo started her U.S. Book Tour almost two weeks ago, beginning at BookPassages at the Ferry Plaza Building in San Francisco. I like the fact that she does not speak English (or as someone pointed out, maybe she does but unless it was perfect she would not use) and all questions and answers were through a translator--which reminds me, I can post a quick little video, later.

I must say that I was impressed with Kondo's thoughtful and joyful demeanor--and she was as cute as could be! Kondo giggled when someone said everything she owns sparks joy, "Then you are lucky!"

I wanted to meet up with Marie Kondo, if at all possible, and thank her for her life-changing book. Once I entered the bookstore I knew no way, as it was standing room only. The only option was to raise my hand during the Q & A Session. Believe me, I am a shy person in crowds, but I knew I would have to get over my fears and "Do It Anyway!"

Luckily, I was the last person called upon. I was kind of joking, but not really: "I want to go to Japan and study with you, Marie Kondo--is it possible to be "certified" in your method?" There was a bit of laughter and then, "Funny you should ask, we are just starting to certified organizers in Japan and we hope to start in U.S. soon (or something to that effect)." I talked briefly to Ten Speed Press, Kondo's publisher, have sent them an email--time to follow up on that one. 

There is a reason for the title: "the life-changing magic of tidying up//the Japanese art of decluttering" I want to spread this joy to as many people as possible. 

But first, I need to check in and let you know how The KonMari Method has worked for me and where and how I stumbled, so you don't have to.

xoxo

Jane