Traditional vs Alternative Decluttering: Is There Really a ‘Best’ Way to Declutter?

Put it off as you might, you’re going to have to tidy your house sooner or later. All that clutter can cause stress and anxiety. How you deal with the clutter is up to you entirely, but you have plenty of choice, from traditional methods such as room to room, through to modern ways such as the innovative KonMari Method™. The creator of the latter, Marie Kondo, believes that this is the best method of them all, but does this modern approach trump more traditional methods? Does a ‘best way’ really exist? Read on and decide for yourself.

What are the traditional methods?

The main traditional method is simply to declutter room by room. It’s possibly one of the methods that allows clutter to build up in the first place. You spend time decluttering one room, bagging stuff up and then getting rid of it — but then you’ve still got several more rooms to face and go through the whole process again.

Another method would be to do a little tidying or decluttering each day to stay on top of clutter. There’s an emotional wellbeing component to this approach as well because whereas feelings of stress may bring on a tidying purge, a little-by-little approach helps to minimise the stress or irritation that clutter may cause.

These are two main methods. Here are a few more:

The ‘Three Boxes’ Method

This method can be combined with the room by room method. It’s as straightforward as dividing your items into ‘Keep,’ ‘Throw away’ and ‘Give away’. You can add more variation by adding a fourth box — ‘Undecided’ — but, inevitably, this makes things even more complicated. If you’re not sure what to do with certain items, the ‘Undecided’ box could fill up and send you almost back to where you started.

The bin bag method

This approach has a whiff of purge about it. You take a bin bag and you declutter until the bag is full. You can turn this into a game and see how quickly you can fill it. The downside? You’re acting in haste. That sudden purge may feel most gratifying, but later, doubt could creep in and you end up going back through it all and, worse still, taking items back out.

Buy one, lose one

The ‘buy one, lose one’ method is a systematic approach and seeks to prevent you ending up with more than one of the same thing. This is a particularly good approach to clothing. As soon as you buy a new pair of trousers, blouse or something else, you should get rid of one that you already own. Normally, this will be a pair that has grown old or looks past its best in some way. Beware of the ‘clutter danger’ of holding onto something in which to idle around the house.

Out with the old, in with the new?

When it comes to tidying up, though, the new method on the block is the KonMari Method™. This method has taken the world by stormand the creator, Marie Kondo — who has become famous with her Netflix programme ‘Tidying Up With Marie Kondo’ and her book ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying’ — focuses on tackling decluttering by categories — namely, clothes, books, sentimental items, documents and miscellaneous — instead of places. ,

Ultimately, it’s the mindfulness, the change in perspective, which has made her approach so popular. It’s a way of life first and a method of tidying up second. You should picture the life you’d want for yourself, commit to this vision and keep the possessions that bring you joy. What about the ones that don’t? Well, you thank them for their service and then say goodbye to them.

Then there’s her ‘fold and stand’ approach to storing the items that have made the cut. Apply this approach and your items will occupy less space, whether they’re in a wardrobe or a much smaller space. It’s one in which furniture items such as Ottoman beds— which people often forget they even have as a storage space — can come in seriously handy. You can follow the approach and store away items in a visually neat, manageable way and still be able to track everything.

Is there such thing as ‘the best’ method?

The shift in perspective of the KonMari Method sees you dispense with items that you might have otherwise kept for no real reason other than maybe the quality of the items and that they were ‘too good to throw away’. The method is thorough and is designed to save you multiple purges, which some would say makes it more efficient in the long run.

Is this the best method? Marie Kondo seems to think so, whereas others out there disagree. Author and happiness expert Gretchen Rubin believes there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution when it comes to tidying and although she doesn’t reject the KonMari Method™ outright, she champions the value of a ‘little by little’ approach to tidying.

Others, such as author Snake in GQ magazine online, hint that although the approach is innovative and genuinely inspiring, it’s not quite as practical as it seems. It can be nice to have just one pair of jeans, but if you’re into fashion, Kondo’s approach can prevent you developing your own style. Snake also states that not everything needs to have an emotional value and suggests that when you implement the KonMari Method™, you’re assigning a value that didn’t exist before to items.

So, does ‘the best’ way to declutter exist? Well, no one seems prepared to come forward and advocate a specific approach as the single best way to declutter or tidy, except for Marie Kondo herself, of course. Google ‘best decluttering method’ or something similar and the search engine will return a myriad of pages with different tips, rather than one all-encompassing approach.

Regardless of whether the KonMari Method™ is the best or a more traditional approach can lay claim to the title, what is clear is that a lot of people have gotten a lot out of it — even those that claim to disagree with it aren’t really giving it a serious bashing. Search on the internet and you’ll find plenty of articles of how a bit of tidying wisdom from Marie Kondo has brought some magic into the writer’s own life in some way.

It’s a case of ‘try and see.’ Go traditional and see what happens. If you’re still not making any headway, call on the KonMari Method to declutter and store your belongings. Whichever way you choose, your home will be a little tidier than before and that’s always a win.