Mental Health Moments: Step One: How to KonMari When You’re A Sentimental Packrat

By Kaylin R. Staten

Marie Kondo is taking Netflix and the world by storm. I must admit, I am also not immune to her “Tidying Up” charms and the innate desire to only keep items that spark joy in my home and office.

As many people already know, I am sensitive by nature. That is no exception when it comes to a cluttered atmosphere around me. When there’s too much clutter, I feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start cleaningI love keeping a tidy house, but honestly, who has the time to clean things over and over? It’s easier to just avoid cleaning altogether — although that mantra never solves the true issue. That is why I was attracted to the KonMari method and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

You’re able to dispose of, donate or keep items in one fell swoop. The sentimentalist in me is screaming, “No! I want to to keep that because you never know when I’ll need it in the future.” The ever-growing pragmatic side of me is saying, “But, do you USE it? And WILL you use it?” This is the angel-and-devil scenario that plays in my head as I sort through items. But, I will say, you learn so much about yourself when you start to tidy your house! There are a plethora of psychological benefits to cleaning your home and not rebounding, including lessening anxiety/depression, motivation/productivity and more.

For me, 2019 is the Year of Reclamation. This includes conquering the clutter in my home and office. I work from home, so this is especially important. Too much clutter translates into subconscious (and conscious) anxiety, so here are some of my KonMari adventures from #behindthehourglass:


Who knows what will happen in the sentimental item stage because I teared up getting rid of some clothing. Honestly, though, I really am not going to wear my middle school cloth shorts with “Tennis” on the butt when I can hear the ancient elastic ripping. I decided to go through my pajamas and loungewear first and then segue to underwear, purses, wallets, tights, glasses, swimwear and everything in my walk-in closet (shirts, pants, hoodies, jackets, shoes, etc.). I had items in three different places. Voila. My clothes are now in one dresser and one walk-in closet, along with all of my purses and shoes! And folding my clothing the KonMari way has helped me maximize the space I always wanted to have in my dresser and closet.


OK, so I actually started with this stage. I know, I’m a “bad” student of tidying. I started in my home office, because, let’s face it, I don’t have clothes in that closet. I’m a writer, so I love books. This is a challenging category for me. I want to keep all. the. books. I had to sit down and have a genuine conversation with myself. While I will most definitely keep more than the 30 recommended books, I did get rid of some that I knew I would never read. These included books I had to read for college, hand-me-down books from my younger sister, old magazines, sale books and more. Marie Kondo states in her book that you should get rid of seminar papers, for example, because if you haven’t retained the information yet, then you most likely won’t use the paper item. So… instead of perusing my magazines and industry publications (and taking up way too much time), I plan to just *gasp* throw them away or recycle them. *sad face for eternity*


Ugh, this is the stage I will hate the most because of the monotony. I keep old bills, receipts, etc. I keep them for my business, of course, but I also hoard paper items on a personal level. I’m trying my best to digitize notes and other essential information to make room on my desk and other areas where paper likes to live in my home. For us, this is the kitchen table, coffee bar area, kitchen counters, ottoman, side Paris-themed ottoman, fireplace, my office floor, my desk, hidden away in my office trunk/closet/on my ottoman/in baskets. This will be a tremendous task, my friends. But, with clothing and books mostly out of the way, I will tackle this hardcore. Anyone have a paper shredder I can jam with all of my papers?

Miscellaneous (Komono)

I also broke the rules with this category, too. So much for being a perfectionist, right? I had makeup and other items in both bathrooms and my vanity. So, I streamlined the half-bath closet. It’s where I keep all nail polish, extra items (toothpaste, deodorant, soap and so on). It actually wasn’t too bad. I like to organize it when I’m stressed, so many things were in baskets and containers. I did find my four wisdom teeth randomly in a Paris box. You never know what you will find. I also started cleaning out the kitchen drawers and organizing food. Just doing this halfway makes me feel better already. We had six sets of measuring spoons. SIX. I’m still working on this, so the results will come later!

Marie includes the following in the Komono category:

“1. CDs, DVDs

2. Skin care products

3. Makeup

4. Accessories

5. Valuables (passports, credit cards, etc.)

6. Electrical equipment and appliances (digital cameras, electric cords, anything that seems vaguely “electric”)

7. Household equipment (stationery and writing materials, sewing kits, etc.)

8. Household supplies (expendables like medicine, detergents, tissues, etc.)

9. Kitchen goods/food supplies (spatulas, pots, blenders, etc.)

10. Other (spare change, figurines, etc.)”

Sentimental Items

I dread this part. I love everything, so it holds a sentimental place in my heart. I tell stories for a living, so I may get a free pass if I plan to chronicle it in the future. (Trust me, I do have plans to record everything.) My particular problem is that I store sentimental items (photos, notes, scrapbooks, my writings, travel items I don’t want to display) everywhere. I need to have them in one or two places and not 45 within my office and home. My goal is to have them in labeled boxes in my office closet, office trunk and attic. I will definitely make videos of my journey through Nostalgia Land. This will take the most time, I imagine!

The one thing I disagree with is her statement of perfection. In her book, she states:

“Many people may protest when I use the word “perfection,” insisting that it’s an impossible goal. But don’t worry. Tidying in the end is just a physical act. The work involved can be broadly divided into two kinds: deciding whether or not to dispose of something and deciding where to put it. If you can do these two things, you can achieve perfection. Objects can be counted. All you need to do is look at each item, one at a time, and decide whether or not to keep it and where to put it. That’s all you need to do to complete this job. It is not hard to tidy up perfectly and completely in one fell swoop. In fact, anyone can do it. And if you want to avoid rebound, this is the only way to do it.”

As a perfectionist, the use of the word “perfect” is dangerous territory. My method? Use pieces of Marie Kondo’s advice and meld it into your own perfectly imperfect space.

Please note: These blog posts are not clinical, although we will provide symptoms and other information. These posts are based on my experiences with anxiety and mental health in general.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit a website like Mental Health America to learn more.

Mental Health Moments blog posts are every other Tuesday of the month. Our CEO and contributors highlight what it's like to live with a mental health disorder and continue to fight the stigma through storytelling.

Copyright © MMXIX Hourglass Media, LLC

Kaylin R. Staten, APR is an award-winning public relations practitioner and writer. She owns Hourglass Media, a consulting company based in Huntington, WV.