I’m an Obliger.
According to Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies framework, that means I need external accountability to get practically anything done.
In fact, it took some major external accountability to complete my own KonMari journey.
Three years ago, I was a member of the first class of trainees to begin the KonMari certification in New York. And of course, as part of the certification, I was required to complete the KonMari process in my own home first.
Most people attending the training were KonMari devotees who had completed their journey long ago and were still raving about the benefits.
Not me. I was just an overwhelmed working mom who was looking to make a career change. My house was not joyful. It was cluttered and stressful, despite all my efforts to stay on top of things.
Thank God for that external accountability. I had three months to complete my journey and send my “after” photos. I tackled each of the five categories with a vengeance (Clothing, Books, Paper, Komono - miscellaneous, and Sentimental).
I sent my husband and daughter out for long outings on Saturdays. I tackled smaller categories during naptime. I hid under my covers hoping all of the paper would magically disappear. She did promise magic, right?
After three months of HARD work, I found my magic. The house was transformed. I felt lighter, dare I say, on top of things.
It’s hard to capture ALL of the changes that occurred. If I had to summarize, I would say it came down to three big changes: Overall Feel, Clothing, and Cleaning.
I could find things. Oh, I could find things! No more running in circles, wasting precious time. (We spend an average of 55 minutes a day just looking for things!)
The things I loved started to “pop”. No longer buried, our favorite things suddenly had a more prominent place.
I could plop down on the couch after a long day and not look around in dismay. I could make myself a cup of tea and just relax.
We cooked more! No more old kitchen gadgets getting in the way. We had what we needed at our fingertips.
I started viewing EVERYTHING through the lens of “does it spark joy?”. Relationships, invitations, magazines, social media. EVERYTHING. I started saying no a LOT more often. (See my video on the KonMari website where I talk about JOMO - The Joy of Missing Out.)
Clothing was a huge change.
I condensed my wardrobe down to one small closet. I was able to install some simple shelves in the other closet and turn it into a multi-functional space to store so many things that never had a good home in our small townhouse - wrapping paper, the printer and printer paper, office supplies, a small filing cabinet.
I began wearing a “uniform” of sorts and started investing in fewer, more high-quality clothes. I watched The True Cost documentary on Netflix, which dramatically changed the way I thought about clothing and waste.
Most importantly, I let go of how I “should” dress and focused on how I wanted to dress. After 20 years in the corporate world, my wardrobe had started to get a little bland. Black pants. Top. Necklace. Snoooooozefesssssst. I started playing around with colors and shapes and got a little groove back.
My husband also wanted in on the action! We did his clothing, and he felt liberated letting go of years of unloved and ill-fitting clothing. And, he decided that his fire-engine-red pants sparked major joy. (Though he’s still too shy to wear them out too often.)
And finally, cleaning. Cleaning became so much faster and easier. We were now able to get most of it done in little spurts during the week so that the weekends weren’t sucked up by cleaning sprees. (I can thank Clean Mama for those tips!)
Statistics say that by reducing clutter, we can reduce the time spent on household chores by 40%. I totally experienced that.
Less clothes to wash. Less stuff to dust and vacuum around an under. Less food waste because of easier cooking. Less. Less. Less. YESSSSS.
I share my story for two reasons:
Knowing ourselves and knowing what’s required to motivate us can be a game-changer when it comes to getting stuff done. If you haven’t already, take Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies quiz to find out your own tendency. It may give you that needed kick-in-the-pants to get something done (like you own KonMari journey!).
It’s about finding YOUR version of joy. Life is not Pinterest. I want people to know that it’s not all puppy dogs and rainbows. I wasn’t born organized. Even today, my house does not look like the cover of Martha Stewart magazine. But it works for us. It’s OUR version of joy. And I want other people to find THEIR version of joy.
What would YOUR version of joy feel like?