Have you watched Tidying up with Marie Kondo, the newest Netflix sensation of the year? The show follows tidying consultant Kondo as she helps families of compulsive hoarders who are in dire need of some decluttering.
As much as we’re obsessed with the Kondo aesthetic, we know how hard it can be to follow through with her KonMari method. That’s why Spectrum, inspired by Kondo’s organizational witchcraft, has created a guide to not only decluttering physical spaces like your dorm room but also your mental and digital spaces, two equally important areas people tend to overlook.
Kondo’s main philosophy is that you should discard everything that does not spark joy in the life you envision for yourself. If an item does not spark joy, she suggests that you should thank the object for its service and let it go. Kondo also stresses that you should follow a specific order when you start tidying up: Start with clothing, then move on to books, papers, miscellaneous items, and finally, sentimental items.
Starting with clothing should be an easy step since a closet cleanse is something we all usually do twice a year to refresh our summer and winter closets. Kondo recommends piling up all your clothing in one area, going through the pile item by item, and then deciding if each piece is worth keeping or not. You’ll have to talk your roommate(s) into leaving the room for a couple hours for this one because you’ll definitely need some space to go through everything. Even better, you can rally them to help you sort through your clothes in exchange for gifting them some pieces that no longer spark joy for you.
Sorting through books is where it starts getting complicated. We can all understand that it’s pretty hard to justify keeping your physics textbook or Lit Hum novels when they certainly don’t spark any joy in your life. However, Kondo would argue that they serve a purpose in your current “student” lifestyle; they must spark some kind of joy in you because they bring you one step closer to the ideal postgraduate lifestyle we are all striving for.
When Kondo talks about organizing miscellaneous items, I don’t think she’s referring to the slew of half-full dining cups on your desk, random cutlery, and junk food sitting around in your room. Although stealing spoons from John Jay and binge eating a tub of ice cream during a Netflix marathon might bring you joy, does it really reflect the lifestyle you want to be leading in the new year? As you cleanse your room of these miscellaneous items, make sure to organize your desk as you go. You’d be surprised as to how much surface area is actually available to you now that you’ve cleaned off that heap of random stuff.
Sentimental items are a must-have in a college dorm room, especially considering how far some of us are from home. However, too many sentimental items may chip away at your morale as you start thinking more and more about home. While we’re not telling you to throw away your century-old family heirloom, it only makes sense to hold onto things you distinctly remember or that bring you happiness at the moment. Sentimental clutter can have a big impact on your emotional and mental health, so this is one of the most important steps in Kondo’s decluttering routine!
Studying at Columbia while also juggling extracurriculars and work can make you feel like your mind is in overdrive. Just like your college dorm room, your mind needs some periodic decluttering.
One important step to help you declutter your brain is to set goals and prioritize what matters the most to you. The KonMari method can be perfectly applied here since Kondo emphasizes the need to take time to envision the ideal lifestyle you want to have before starting to organize anything. Just like organizing your physical space is essential, so too is organizing your thoughts and setting your priorities straight. It will allow you to redefine your goals and hopefully make the path towards your future a bit clearer.
As Kondo teaches, decluttering also means being decisive—clutter, both physical and mental, grows due to delayed decisions. Delaying calls, emails, or assignments will only build up more stress. The two-minute rule can be helpful in these types of situations; if a task can be done within two minutes, then do it right away. This will clear up a good deal of time and anxiety from your daily schedule.
Another tip that many find useful is to start journaling. Keeping a journal allows you to set aside a certain amount of time every day to help you relieve stress by taking time to think through your day and filter out any intrusive or negative thoughts.
If you’ve been ignoring that “Storage Almost Full” message popping up on your phone or computer for months now, it’s time to come to terms with the fact that you’ll have to organize your drive, photos, and folders sometime soon. Think of all the old screenshots, textbook copies, presentations, and worksheets you have on your computer that you haven’t opened in years. There’s so much space to recover.
To declutter your computer, you should open a folder and sort files by when they were last opened. Then, you can scroll down and delete all the documents and pictures that you definitely don’t need anymore. Alternatively, you can invest in an external drive to store your old documents and photos if you really can’t bear the thought of getting rid of all those precious files.
For your phone, decluttering means not only sorting through your social media and other miscellaneous apps but also going through all your pictures and choosing what should stay and what can be deleted. On an iPhone, you can go to your General settings and click on iPhone Storage to see how much space each app takes up as well as when you last opened it. Android users can also use Files by Google, an app that helps you clean up space and back up certain items to the Cloud. For picture storage, the KonMari method can be useful since you can easily filter pictures based on whether or not they bring you joy!