The KonMari Method and Organizing Photos and Sentimental Ephemera

Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, is an international sensation with legions of ardent fans. Locally it seems as though most of Seattle is just as excited about the KonMari Method judging by the months long wait for the book at the library. I too wanted to read the adorable, neat little book and see what tips I could glean for myself as an organizing professional.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that Ms. Kondo discusses organizing photos too.

Her ideas are admittedly a bit kooky but her method largely rang true for me. Ms. Kondo recommends a large-scale purge of any and all possessions that do not “spark joy”.  This practice of individually holding and evaluating each personal item to assess whether it brings one joy has been scoffed at, but this is a key tenant to her organizing success. Only by surrounding yourself with those items that are most special to you, by ridding yourself of emotional and clutter “weight”, will you be able to live a calmer life.

Ms. Kondo recommends moving through her process of decluttering in a specific order and she explicitly recommends saving photos and other emotional keepsakes for the very last.  Photos and other sentimental items can be an emotional landmine and this approach should ideally prepare one to confidently make the decisions on what to keep and what can be let go. Many people fear losing the actually memories these items personally represent, but her approach gives people permission to part with items that may be keeping one from moving forward in life. This resonated with me as I always make a point to give clients permission to delete or discard bad photos and duplicates. Ideally we only keep the very best photos to remind us of a special time. Again, the goal of tidying is to reduce clutter, and even printed or digital photos can be clutter.  

Ms. Kondo makes an excellent point about the ubiquitous box of unsorted photos that so many of us have from a loved one who has passed on. These photos are saved by our loved ones throughout their lives but then so often they die before anything is ever done with it. The box of unsorted photos will stay that way unless we take the time now to enjoy them again. It can be painful but it can also bring so much joy.

I may not have the energy to fully implement the KonMari Method at home but I certainly got some excellent tips just as I expected. I have plans to recycle all the nice boxes I have am guilty of stacking up in my office “just in case” but I doubt I will become a KonMari clothes folding convert. Tidying can change your life and I enthusiastically agree that organizing your precious family photos and sentimental ephemera can bring great joy to you and your home. 

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