How We Downsized – Using The KonMari Method

Because of the KonMari Method, we were able to tidy up and downsize for our sabbatical year!

Before we could begin to travel full time and live out of one car, we had to get rid of most of our stuff. Sure, we could have rented a storage unit and kept it all there while we traveled. But we weren’t attached to most of our belongings. In fact, it was more freeing for us to let go of these things and move on to the next chapter of our lives.

When we started the process of downsizing, I remembered the show on Netflix, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. I found her show while scrolling through Netflix, and I was hooked immediately! I loved how she focused on keeping what you value, or as she would say, “Spark Joy.” If they no longer sparked joy, thank the item for the great memories, and let it go. Genius!

She even trademarked her philosophy – The KonMari Methodâ„¢ – and has helped so many people worldwide tidy up their homes and their life.

In this post, I wanted to share how her 6 rules helped us to downsize to allow us to travel (note – I am not affiliated with the KonMari Method, I’m just a huge fan lol):

Rule 1: Commit Yourself to Tidying Up

It’s not just about saying that you’ll start tidying up. “…resolving to put in the time and effort required…”1 is the first and foremost rule of tidying.

For us, we had a timeline – we needed to tidy up and downsize before we could start traveling. But we found that having that timestamp really helped our case. We were also intrinsically motivated, as we have been waiting to travel for a while now. So we were excited to start this new chapter.

You may not be traveling like us, but maybe you just want to clear up some space. To be successful with this, you need to figure out the WHY behind your commitment to tidying up. If you don’t really know WHY you’re doing this, then chances are you will not fully commit.

Rule 2: Imagine Your Ideal Lifestyle

Tidying up your home isn’t just about having it look pretty. It’s a lifestyle change! This allows you to reflect on what you value and to live your life based on your values. For The KonMari Method, tidying up is a huge step in your life. Its purpose is to provide you life long changes for the better.

Our ideal lifestyle in this moment in time was to fully experience the world without too many distractions. The clutter in our home represented the distractions that did not allow us to really live the way we want to live our lives. Once we reflected on what we valued in life, the tidying up and decluttering was easy.

Now that we only have a handful of items to worry about as we travel, we can focus on being in the moment and creating memories. We have space in our minds, hearts, and our car, to enjoy every aspect of this adventure!

Rule 3: Finish Discarding First

The KonMari Method points out that discarding is not the main point, but still an important piece, as it allows you to “learn from your past experiences. If you let go of a belonging you never used, it taught that you have no purpose for something like it in your life.”

Reflecting on each item you possess, and how it aligns with your values, will allow you to start building the habit as you go on in life acquiring new items.

A great example of this is a photo frame we had with 10 photos of us in 10 different national parks. We still have the digital versions of these photos, and the memories we have from those trips are far more valuable that the physical copies. So we thanked the photo frame for giving daily reminders of our adventures, and for inspiring us to start this new adventure. Then we happily discarded it, knowing that it had done its job for that chapter in our life.

Rule 4: Tidy By Category, Not By Location

This is how we used to tidy up. Start in the bedroom closet, move on to the drawers, then tackle the kitchen, etc. But we found that this didn’t really give us a real sense of how much stuff we actually had of each type of item. By going through our stuff by ITEM, not where it was located in our home, allowed us to really see how much we had. And from here, we were able to slowly but surely tidy up our lives.

Living out of our car, we don’t have multiple places to store things. Because of this, tidying up by category made more sense. If we’re looking for something in our car, we know exactly where it is. This is because we have a place for everything. And since we have less, it’s much easier to find!

Rule 5: Follow The Right Order

Marie Kondo has a very specific way of tidying your belongings in this order: clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items) and sentimental items. This order starts with the easiest items, followed by the most challenging. By doing it in this order, your enthusiasm to complete the tidying stays upbeat. Kinda sounds like the snowball method for debt payoff, right? đŸ˜‰

I’m glad that we followed this order when we were downsizing, because the sentimental items were VERY challenging. If we had started with those items first, we probably would have been burnt out to complete the other items! But as we were downsizing and tidying up our clothes, our books, and going through the order, we found it surprisingly got easier.

Rule 6: Ask Yourself If It Sparks Joy

I absolutely LOVE this concept about the KonMari method. It’s easy to keep items because you “may need it in the future” or you’ll “probably use it again.” But these answers show that you have not truly reflected on WHY you want to keep these items.

Self-reflection on what makes you happy is crucial to the success of tidying up with the KonMari method. According to the KonMari method, “Only you can know what kind of environment makes you happy.”2 As you go through tidying up, using your feelings to make the decision of whether or not to keep these items is a great way to reflect on what you value and if that item aligns with your values. Ask yourself, “Does this item spark joy?” By selecting only those items that spark joy, you’ll find that you will have a more clear idea of what you value and will start to live your life based on those values!

We found that many items gave us wonderful memories, but did not spark joy in our lives anymore. As we get older, our values have shifted. And that’s okay! We thanked each item for the memories it provided us, and we kept the items that continued to spark joy within us.

I hope that you find Marie Kondo’s method of tidying up useful. If you want to learn more about the KonMari method, click here!

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