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Marie Kondo’s methods have probably inspired millions of people around the world to clean out their spaces and look for the things in their homes that spark joy. But it can be hard for some people to know what joy looks or feels like, or how you feel joy for the things you just need to have in a household like Band-Aids, cleaning supplies or electronics cords and cables.
Cary Telander Fortin and Kyle Louise Quilici take a less prescriptive, more personal approach in their book New Minimalism: Decluttering and Design for Sustainable, Intentional Living. Their focus is on the idea of “enough”; what constitutes enough of an item or category to suit your lifestyle and what you want for your space?
Of course you should keep the things that make you happy, but that doesn’t mean you have to keep all the things.
The New Minimalism Decluttering Process
Like Kondo, they suggest going through items by category (they, too, start with clothes), gathering every item into one place and touching everything as you decide what stays and what goes.
They aim to get readers — and their clients and blog readers — past some of their mental blocks around decluttering with the introduction of archetypes, categories of behavior and thinking that people tend to fall into when they undertake decluttering.
I’m practical, for example, which means I’m not particularly sentimental but I do tend to want to hang onto things that might be useful in the future.
Understanding your archetype and the areas of your home that might trip you up are helpful in preventing blocks as you go.
This book basically represents my philosophy toward decluttering in that it has you focus on the kinds of space you want for the life you actually live (or want to live in the very near future), without being stuck in the past or preparing from some imagined future in which you make all your own clothes and take up scrapbooking again.
As I continue to clear out my spaces I will keep these suggestions in mind.
New Minimalism’s Take on Crafts
The book does briefly address supplies for hobbies by noting there should be a defined space for such supplies and projects and that you should only keep items related to the crafts are hobbies you are actually enjoying right now. So maybe it’s time to get rid of that roving you bought 12 years ago when you thought you were going to take up spinning.
What it doesn’t do a great job of is discussing how to approach communal stuff (other than asking other people their opinions when redecorating a shared space) or how to encourage kids or others in the household in their decluttering efforts, other than by your own good example and setting boundaries for the physical space their stuff needs to fit in.
Also the emphasis on how much easier it is for people to declutter when going through a major life change almost discounts that people might want to do it at other times in their lives, and it doesn’t cover how you might get to a more motivated place without having to go through the divorce or death.
Still, if you live alone or have spaces that are under your control that you can declutter yourself, this is a good approach, and you can encourage other adults in your household to read the book as well so you can join forces in your vision for other spaces in the house.
New Minimalism is a quick, inspiring read you can use to guide your thinking and actions around decluttering, from setting yourself up for success to ideas for where to donate your items.
If the Kondo method hasn’t worked for you or is a little too woo-woo for your tastes, New Minimalism might be just the thing to bring order, peace and, dare I say, joy back into your home.