“The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.” — Marie Kondo
If you have yet to hear about Marie Kondo, she is a Japanese organising consultant who has become the star of Netflix’s hit show, Tidying Up With Marie Kondo. She is also a recognised author who has written 4 books about organising — including the global best-seller titled The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
Through her books and show, she has inspired many to begin living a minimalistic and clutter-free lifestyle, by asking people to only keep things that spark joy. This does not mean you should throw away your entire shelf of old comics, but rather, Kondo is asking you to put more thought on whether or not a certain possession serves you any purpose.
So, as an ode to Kondo’s spectacular organisation methods, we’ve compiled some of the most effective ways for you to begin the process of decluttering your space!
#1. Use the four-box method
If you’re just beginning the process of decluttering, you can start with this. Prepare four boxes (baskets, bins or bags will do too) to separate your items in your room — trash, give away, keep or relocate. Then, examine every item and carefully consider which of the four boxes you want to put it in.
Once you’ve managed to get everything sorted, be sure to put them in the right places straight away. This means putting your long lost sock back in the drawer, immediately donating the clothes you can’t fit anymore and instantly binning unwanted things of no use. This is to prevent you from stalling and thinking twice about your unwanted belongings.
#2. Commit yourself to tidy up
Sprucing up and spring cleaning can take up a load of your time from a span of a few hours to even weeks, depending on the severity of the mess. As a student, you probably don’t have weeks to spend on organising your space — so it’s more efficient if you dedicate as much time as you can to tidy up your entire space in one go, instead of doing it a little bit at a time as you may not have the “mood” for it later.
But if you have a lot to do, don’t give up! Stay committed to tidying your space and give yourself a few days to get everything organised if you need more time.
#3. Don’t be dragged into the nostalgia doom
Ever come across an item that isn’t particularly serving its purpose, but you still keep it due to sentimental reasons? Perhaps it was given by someone close to you or maybe you bought it with your first pocket money?
Unfortunately, diving into your memories isn’t an efficient way to declutter as there are probably lots of items with fond “memories” attached to them. So the next time you catch yourself not discarding an item, follow Kondo’s advice by deciding whether or not the item “sparks joy” within you. If it doesn’t serve any purpose, most likely it will not make you any happier.
#4. Tidy by category instead of location
Sometimes due to our lazy nature, we tend to keep things of the same type in multiple locations of our homes to avoid inconveniencing ourselves. As a student, this has probably occurred way too often and it’s almost too frequent that your pens or pencils always end up being everywhere else but on your table or in your pencil case. This often leads to frustration as you never seem to be able to locate an item when you urgently need it.
If this sounds like you, then another way you could go about decluttering is by organising your things according to categories (e.g. clothes, stationery, books, accessories). By doing this, you’ll be able to recall where you last placed the item of the same group and can keep them in the same spot instead of placing them in a different section — which may eventually lead to another treasure hunt session (yikes!).
#5. Don’t buy things you don’t need
It’s indeed a common habit to prepare for rainy days; for the “just in case” moments. However, this is exactly why you end up with double or triple of what you actually need.
More often than not, you’ll end up spending more than necessary because the item was on discount. But when you go on your next shopping spree, you end up purchasing a different brand of the same product as you either have forgotten you had an extra one waiting at home or you’re tired of using the same thing.
We know that stopping yourself from making impulse purchases can be extremely hard, especially when moderate shopping can lift your mood. To help you avoid doing this, think twice before buying anything and ask yourself if you really need that RM35 mini pouch embellished with an image of a cute kitten.
#6. Tidy smart
Do you ever get annoyed looking for something on your desk and then everything but what you were looking for falls out of place? Or when you’re trying to remove a shirt, and the entire pile of folded t-shirts just collapse into a mess? Yes, we know how frustrating that can be, especially when you’re pressed for time and need to head out of the house soon!
The solution? Keep your most used items in convenient spots where you can easily reach for them, instead of hiding them in a drawer with a clutter of other things. For example, to keep a tidy workspace, make sure that every object on your table can be seen so you can find it easily. You should also follow Marie Kondo’s advice by designating a spot for every single item on your desk and always remember to put an item back where it belongs on the desk after using it.
As for keeping your clothes tidy, you can allocate different drawers for different types of clothing. For example, you can reserve your top drawer for only your shirts and avoid messing up the entire folded pile when you grab one by keeping them upright following the KonMari vertical fold.
#7. Clean and tidy up regularly
This may sound like a contradiction to point #2 (tidy everything once and for all) but hear us out. What we’re trying to say is, once you have organised everything in your space, you need to tidy up consistently so you don’t end up back where you started. So instead of letting your belongings pile up and gather into a gigantic heap of a mess, try to prevent the clutter from happening in the first place. After all, prevention is better than cure.
The general rule of thumb to follow to achieve this: Always place your things exactly where you got them from or clean them immediately after use. The “I’ll do it later” concept usually never happens.
#8. Get rid of the freebies!
Does the thought “Aiyoh I got this from the Royal Park Hotel, it’s so nice… Just keep lah” sound familiar? But fast forward to 5 years later and you find that your cool complimentary gift has been stashed hidden in the cupboard — and has never been used.
Let’s face it, who doesn’t like getting free things? From education fair goodie bags brimming with notebooks and pens to free hotel room slippers and tiny bottles of shampoos — it’s hard to resist free stuff. However, it’s important to ensure that you don’t keep things you don’t need as this is a bad habit which could turn you into a serious hoarder.
As innocent as grabbing a handful of freebies may seem, these items will eventually take up loads of space and cloud your room. It’s nearly impossible to use up that many notebooks or pens in your lifetime, so, if you find yourself not utilising any of the things you have, you can donate them to charity organisations or orphanages.
Decluttering and getting rid of your belongings can be a big challenge and may even be overwhelming for a lot of people. But you’ll soon find that the more you do it, the easier it gets and the end result is definitely worth it!