Getting My KonMari on! – By Sarah Barnett

Participating in yard sales are a great way to purge items from your home
Participating in yard sales are a great way to purge items from your home

Manassas Park Parks and Recreation Operations Manager Sarah BarnettLast year at this time, I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo in the hopes of de-cluttering my life. My house, car, and office are all NOTORIOUS for being extremely cluttered and somewhat disorganized. I spent a whole weekend sorting through my house deciding if something brought me joy. I then placed items into three categories: Keep, throw away, or give away. I then gave everything that I was keeping, a specific space to “dwell”. I told myself that my life was forever changed; that I was going to maintain my hyper-organized lifestyle. Fast-forward a year, and here I am in the same cluttered mess as I was a year ago. So here begins KonMari 2.0.

What is the KonMari method? The KonMari method is a decluttering and organizing method designed by Japanese organizing consultant, Marie Kondo. Per her instructions, you are supposed to set aside a few days in a row to thoroughly knock out the organizing and purging process. It is not recommended that you do a little bit of decluttering over several days. Instead, she recommends that you make a big event of the process, even dressing up for the event. I do not think this means you should wear your wedding dress while sorting through piles of old clothes, bills, photos, and housewares. But she does suggest that you take the event seriously and get your mind in the right place. (I think this time around, I will wear my wedding dress! I mean, why not? It’s not doing any good just sitting in my closet!)

The next step is to go through one room at a time and get rid of items that are no longer needed or no longer fit. For items that you are not sure whether you should keep or not, the KonMari method suggests that you hold the item in your hands and decide if it sparks joy. If it does not immediately spark joy, then you should get rid of it.

Once you have decided on all the items that you want to keep, the next step is grouping them. Lay everything out from each group and see how many items per group you have. This visually encourages you to purge more items. When you store items, do so by group label rather than by room. One example group is bed sheets. Many people store bed sheets in the same room as the bed they fit. When you store all your bed sheets in one place, it’s a constant visual reminder of how many bed sheets you have for your whole home.

Where do you even begin? The KonMari Method recommends that you start by sorting through your clothing. Once you have decided which articles of clothing that you wish to keep, you should lay them all out on the floor. You should sit on the floor with the pile of clothing and touch every piece. This is where you ask yourself, “Does it spark joy?” As you are touching and sorting through each piece of clothing asking yourself that question, you may remember that a particular pair of pants in the pile is too tight and therefore reminds you that you have gained weight…not something that sparks joy! You should not hang on to those pants in the hopes that they will fit better soon. Let them go. There will be other pants.

After you have completed sorting and organizing your clothes, you should continue the process through your books, papers and bills, miscellaneous items, and sentimental items. If done correctly, you should have a large assortment of items to give away or throw away. Do not put these items in your basement or garage and wait to discard them. Try to purge them as soon as possible. (I am also notorious for driving around with donations for the Salvation Army for months, before I actually stop and drop it off!)

Some items do not fall into one of these categories. Household and everyday items like vacuum cleaners and coffeemakers may not spark joy in you, but they are necessary. Try to gather these items up and place them in a convenient location, which also simplifies putting them away. For example, try to keep all your cleaning items in the same location along with your vacuum and all of its attachments. All these necessary household items need to have their own place to “dwell”.

Finally, and most likely, where I KonMari failed over the last year, it is important to continue to monitor your clutter and remove items that do not spark joy. You need to stay in the habit of returning items to their designated location. Let everyone who lives in your home know about the new expectation and ask for their help in reducing clutter. If you are like me and have children who insist that every worksheet that comes home is important, try implementing a rule where they get to pick out 2-3 pieces of artwork to keep each week. Then have them place those pieces in a designated folder or box. At the end of the school year, go through the saved pieces and keep a few that SPARK JOY! Everything else should go in the recycling bin.

If you have items of value that you wish to get rid of, try selling them at the Spring Yard sale held here at the Manassas Park Community Center on May 12, 2018. Reserve your space now for just $7! If selling your used goods isn’t your thing, or you don’t think they are of value, donate them to the Salvation Army or Goodwill! No matter how you purge your items, you should feel relieved to now live in a de-cluttered home. Once the home is tackled, move on to other spaces like your office or your car.

You can learn more about getting organized at our next Coffee Klatch on February 27th. This popular active adult potluck program brings in guest speakers on various topics, and the next speaker specializes in organization. For more information, contact Sue Jurjevic at

Sarah Barnett is the Operations/Aquatics Supervisor for the City of Manassas Park, Department of Parks and Recreation. She can be reached at 703-335-8872 or via email at

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