Elite AgentProductivity & Best Practice

Kondo: The Joy of Decluttering

The rebound effect of cleaning: it happens so frequently people don’t notice. You (or your vendors) have tidied the home – again – but everyone has lost count of the number of times. But, when we talk Marie Kondo, we are not talking about simple dusting or polishing, we are talking about a revolutionary type of decluttering that is game-changing. Shantelle Isaaks has done the research so you can prepare your vendors for sale this spring, or simply give your own home or office a ‘spark of joy.’

Kondo says tidying must happen before moving house. Not only does a well-maintained home become more attractive to buyers, but it also helps clients find their next perfect home based on what they really need to take with them. After reading Kondo’s best-selling books, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying and Spark Joy, I’ve condensed her main principles into five steps that can be shared with your vendors in preparation for a sale – and a new lifestyle.

1. VISUALISE THE RESULT AND COMMIT
The first step to tidying is envisioning the end product and imagining the lifestyle a tidy environment would bring. Kondo says by doing this you are clarifying why you want to tidy. Remind your vendors to declutter in preparation for OFIs and listings, and to think about the kind of ideal home buyers want to see. If they need inspiration, direct them to interior design magazines and Pinterest boards. Show them ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos from others who have adopted the KonMari method.

Ensure your vendors stay committed and put the time aside. Kondo recommends tidying at the beginning of the day when your brain is most alert and refreshed. Decluttering on consecutive days is also key. For example, the last thing your vendors should do is discard one item per day. The problem with this is they’re accumulating new things at a faster rate than discarding them. Tidying too little per day means you will be tidying forever.

2. CATEGORISE THE ITEMS AND FOLLOW THE ORDER
Kondo is notably adamant about the order in which you must discard and store your items. The KonMari order for tidying is:

  1. Clothing
  2. Books
  3. Documents
  4. Miscellaneous items (or ‘komono’)
  5. Sentimental items.

If your vendors sort through sentimental items, such as photographs or family keepsakes, before anything else, uncertainty could dissuade them from tidying the rest altogether. Start with things that are accessible or of commercial nature because they’re easier to let go.

You can get your vendors to gather every item of each category and lay them out. Kondo says this is more efficient than decluttering by room or area in the house. They will be able to identify what they have an excess of in their home. Something to note during this step is if your vendors suddenly remember they have misplaced items at the last second. If possessions are so forgettable, it’s highly likely they need to be discarded straightaway.

3. DO YOUR ITEMS BRING JOY?
Learning to choose your belongings will leave you with only the things you need. Kondo suggests focusing on the feeling you have when you hold the item you plan on discarding. Does it bring you joy? If it does, keep it. If not, discard it.

If the item you’re trying to discard was expensive, is in pristine condition or was a gift from someone, it can make this decision-making difficult. A good way to get around this is to either donate the item to their local op shop, have a garage/ moving sale, or sell the item via eBay or Facebook Marketplace.

By the way, we’re not suggesting that you get rid of everything that doesn’t spark joy, for example a toilet brush. It’s not likely to spark joy, but if serves a purpose obviously you keep it.

4. DESIGNATE A SPOT FOR EVERYTHING
To avoid the rebound effect of finding yourself disorganised after tidying, Kondo says to assign specific locations for certain items. Keep your jeans or trousers in the same part of the drawer. Hang your coats on the same section of your wall. This way, you prevent yourself from misplacing items somewhere else in your home and gives you the incentive to return things where they belong.

Convey this to your vendors, because it will prepare them for any unexpected drop-ins by a buyer. They will be more efficient with any last-minute tidying that happens in preparation. When moving, packing will also be more effective when you know where your belongings are sitting in your home.

Kondo also discourages stockpiling, but there are exceptions to this rule. Your vendors could be large families, for example. In this case, keep quantities of the same kind in one place, taking into consideration the KonMari categories mentioned earlier.

5. SIMPLIFY YOUR STORAGE
Storage should be kept simple. Kondo illustrates particular ways to fold clothing and compartmentalise belongings in her book, Spark Joy, describing her methods as like packing a bento box or folding origami. You can find her techniques everywhere on YouTube.

There is an abundance of other solutions or ‘life hacks’ to adopt for decluttering, so the important part here is to allow vendors to make it their own, but work towards a home that brings joy. The aesthetic of our home is one of the only places where we have total control. Experiment with existing storage solutions in the home before deciding to buy new ones. The less gimmicky, the better.

Kondo also says to avoid piling your items; instead, arrange them vertically. When moving, you’ll reduce the number of containers required by folding and vertically arranging your clothes into boxes, for example. The same goes for storing them after the move; you’ll need fewer elaborate drawers or wardrobes for them.

Marie Kondo is a self-confessed tidying freak. If you pick up her books for your vendors before they move home, don’t be too surprised by her strong passion for putting things into order. If anything should be taken away from the cult of the KonMari method, it’s to show appreciation for what we own.

The framework of the KonMari method can be applied to life, too. Kondo reiterates throughout her books that our belongings reflect our state of mind. Clinging to things we have no use for is a likely indication we’re better off without them. Encourage your vendors to declutter, but it’s worth doing some self-reflection and ‘Kondo-ing’ your lifestyle.

Focus on discarding what’s no longer of use and keeping what brings you joy. The results will be life-changing.

TIPS FOR EACH CATEGORY

CLOTHES

  • Avoid downgrading clothing to ‘loungewear’. If you’re already reluctant to wear them outside the home, you might be better off discarding them.
  • Folding your clothes eliminates the issue of lacking storage for them. Fold thinner items tighter and thicker items looser. Keep coats and delicates on the hanger.
  • Avoid using storage containers for off-season clothing like coats or sweaters, because you’ll forget about their existence in the long term.

BOOKS

  • Categorise them as the following: general (books read for pleasure,such as fiction), practical (references, cookbooks, and so on), visual (photobooks and scrapbooks) and magazines.
  • The moment you first obtain a book is when you should be reading it. Saving it for later or ‘sometime’ likely means ‘never’.

DOCUMENTS

  • Only keep papers that are needed for a limited time, currently in use or needed indefinitely.
  • Keep warranty documents in a single transparent file.

MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS (‘komono’)

  • This category includes CDs and DVDs, skincare products, makeup, accessories, valuables (passports and credit cards), electrical appliances and household or kitchen supplies.
  • Label your cords and cables, and avoid keeping excessive amounts of them.
  • Some things to discard straightaway may include spare buttons (otherwise sew them to the tags or linings of your clothing), free novelty items from events and product boxes (unless they’re of high enough value to resell).

SENTIMENTAL ITEMS

  • Not many of these will be discarded. Be especially careful with family heirlooms or keepsakes; they are still important to others if not necessarily their current owner.
  • Photographs are the last thing you must tidy. Keep those that bring the most joy in photo albums or get the kids to create a scrapbook.

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