Komono (miscellaneous items) - Tidying by category works like magic

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing - Marie Kondo 2014

Komono (miscellaneous items)
Tidying by category works like magic

Keep things because you love them—not “just because”

I pull out a drawer in a client’s home and discover a strange little box, just waiting to be opened—like a tantalizing book that promises some fascinating tale. But for me there is no excitement whatsoever. I know exactly what I’ll find inside. Loose change, hairpins, erasers, spare buttons, wristwatch parts, batteries that may or may not be dead, leftover medicine, lucky charms, key rings. And the list goes on. I already know what the client’s answer will be if I ask why these things are in that box: “Just because.”

Many items within the home are treated in the same way. They are placed, stored, and accumulate “just because,” without our giving them much thought. I call this category komono, a Japanese term that the dictionary defines variously as “small articles; miscellaneous items; accessories; gadgets or small tools, parts, or attachments; an insignificant person; small fry.” It’s no wonder people don’t know what to do with things that fall into such a vague and all-encompassing category. Still, it’s time to bid farewell to this “just because” approach. These items play an important part in supporting your lifestyle and therefore they, too, deserve to be handled one by one and sorted properly.

Unlike clothes or books, this category includes a diverse range of items, and the thought of trying to sort and organize them may seem daunting. If you deal with them in the proper order, however, this task is actually quite simple. The basic order for sorting komono is as follows:

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 (stationary 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.)

(If you have many items related to a particular interest or hobby, such as ski equipment or tea ceremony articles, treat these as a single subcategory.)

I recommend this particular order because it is easier if you start with more personal items and clearly defined content first. If you live alone, you don’t really need to worry about the order as long as you do one subcategory at a time. Too many people live surrounded by things they don’t need “just because.” I urge you to take stock of your komono and save only, and I mean only, those that bring you joy.