We all have stuff that we need and want and love in our lives, and stuff that’s hanging around our homes because it’s junk that we haven’t yet realised is junk. For Marie Kondo, asking “Does this spark joy?” is the way to tell the difference. If that doesn’t work for you, try these questions instead:
Would I wrestle this out of Marie Kondo’s arms if she tried to take it away?
Kondo doesn’t actually do this; she’s very clear in her books that these decisions are personal and that you should not let anybody else’s rules override what you know in your heart.
But she also once wrote that if a client is having trouble deciding whether to keep something, she suggests that it be discarded. It’s a test: If they object, the item stays, no questions asked.
If I were moving across the country, would this be worth the trouble and expense of bringing it with me?
If you’ve done a big move, you know this one: the closer you are to your move-out date, the fewer things in your life spark enough joy to be worth packing up, labelling, hauling, and finding a new place for.
No need to actually move anywhere to put this rule to use. An imaginary relocation will do.
What would I do if I needed this and didn’t have it?
I find this rule helpful for being honest with myself about duplicates. If I didn’t have this particular tote bag, I would use one of my other 15. On the other hand, I might not wear a business suit very often, but I’d hate to have to run out and buy one on the next rare occasion I truly needed it.
Have I used this in the past year?
With the exception of a few special-purpose things (like that emergency business suit), if you haven’t worn an outfit in the past year it probably doesn’t need to be taking up space in your closet. Same goes for kitchen gear and pretty much anything that’s meant to be useful. Those spare bedsheets you kind of hate? If you’ve gotten along fine without them all year, you can probably let them go.
Our tech editor David Murphy says that when he finds cables or electronics accessories, he asks himself, “How many devices do I have that support this?” If the answer is none, it should probably go.