While Spring is very much associated with cleaning I think a big Autumn clear out makes more sense. Over the coming months, as the nights draw in and the weather gets colder, it’s likely we’re all going to be indoors a lot more and how much nicer would it feel to be spending that time in a calm, clutter-free environment?

With this in mind on Saturday I bought The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Japanese decluttering expert and professional cleaner Marie Kondo. By Sunday I’d read the entire book and apparently my usual tidying and decluttering MO of tidying a room, or an area of a room, is wrong.

The last time I did a big clothing clear out I started with my wardrobe, tried on the items one by one and got rid of clothes that had seen better days, no longer fitted, or hadn’t been worn for over a year, but tbh there are items that fall into some of those categories that I’ve never been able to get rid of because, well, I’m not sure really, I still kind of like them, I spent a lot on them or they might fit again one day (and I have things that are too big, as well as other things that are too small, they’re probably not all going to fit me again). Then, some time later, I moved on to the storage boxes beneath my bed, there’s one for workout clothes, one for denim and one for jumpers and t-shirts, taking a similar approach. Job done, I thought. But however many times I’ve gone through this process I still have clothes that I never ever wear and I couldn’t really understand why. Until now.

Instead of a bit-by-bit approach the KonMari Method (as MK calls it, after the nickname she was given as a child) advocates putting all of your clothes in one big pile and then sorting through it item by item (and when she says all of your clothes she means ALL of your clothes – when she goes into client’s homes anything that doesn’t make the pile gets chucked out regardless). It made me realise that when I’ve attempted to clear out my clothes in the past there have been a whole bunch of items that haven’t been considered.

I have a suitcase on top of my wardrobe that’s filled mostly with off-season clothes. There’s a basket full of clean clothes in my spare room that mostly contains clothes that don’t really suit my life right now, things that have been gifted to me by friends that are more their style than mine and, well, I’m not sure what else but it’s overflowing. There are bags underneath my bed and hanging from various doorknobs. And hanging on the back of every door in my flat there are coats and jackets some of which I rarely, if ever, wear.

The book isn’t just all about decluttering clothes, but that’s where MK recommends you begin, working your way through starting with tops, then bottoms, clothes that should be hung, socks, underwear, handbags, scarves, belts, hats etc, clothes for specific events (eg swimsuits) and, finally, shoes. The important bit comes next, deciding what to keep, as opposed to deciding what to chuck out by asking yourself, item by item, “Does this spark joy?” And so, it would seem, I’ve been asking myself the wrong questions when I’ve been deciding what to hang on to and what to let go. Once you’ve decided what you’re keeping the next thing to do is to give it a designated place and always put it back there after you’ve used it. After clothing MK recommends tackling books, papers, miscellaneous items and, finally, things with sentimental value as for most people, these things get increasingly hard to cull but your decision-making skills will improve as you work your way through all your stuff.

Towards the end of the book MK started to lose me a little bit when she suggests you start talking to your stuff and your home. Thanking your things for being in your life (yes, even the stuff you’re getting rid of and even if you didn’t actually use it) and greeting your home with a jolly, “Hello I’m home!” But, and perhaps I’ve been brainwashed by MK, I can even, sort of, see the sense in this – when you start to appreciate your things you will in turn, look after them better and they’ll (most likely) last longer. Her claim, bold as it is, that tidying your space can change your life seems possible. I can certainly imagine I’ll have more time on my hands when I’m no longer spending time each day looking for whatever it is I need that I can’t find because I don’t know where it is.

So, thank you MK, I’m feeling inspired to finally get on top of my clutter and, hopefully in the not too distant future, find myself living in a flat that is filled only with things that I love. As for how my life will change, who knows, watch this space.

Has anyone else tried the KonMari approach to tidying? How did you find it? I’d love to know, as I begin KonMari-ing my life!

Photograph Hush