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I'm now partway through decluttering the most baffling meta-category, what Marie Kondo (in her Life-Changng Magic of Tidying Up) calls komono. I've already done several of the categories within it -- the ones that were easiest to select items that belonged within them -- and am about to embark on the more difficult ones.
Many items within the home... 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; gadget 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:
- CDs, DVDs ------ Done
- Skin care products ------------ Done
- Makeup -------------- Done
- Accessories -------------- Done
- Valuables (passports, credit cards, etc.) -------- Skipped; already well organized
- Electrical equipment and appliances (digital cameras, electric cords, anything that seems vaguely "electric") ------------- Done
- Household equipment (stationery and writing materials, sewing kits, etc.)
- Household supplies (expendables like medicine, detergents, tissues, etc.)
- Kitchen goods/food supplies (spatulas, pots, blenders, etc.)
- 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 just did one of these, because I decluttered all the school supplies.
00So, I'm up to #7, "Household equipment."
I had to stop for a while and think: What exactly does this encompass? When I have collected all my "household equipment" together, what items will be in the pile? In what way should they be similar to stationery and sewing kits, but not to medicine, spatulas, or figurines?
By looking at the rest of the list, I could deduce a few things.
o "Household equipment" doesn't include JUNK. ("These items play an important role in supporting your lifestyle.") Or at least, it's time to get rid of the junk that may be hiding among the equipment.
o "Household equipment" includes some kinds of tools, but not ALL tools. The sewing kit is given as an example -- and a sewing kit includes scissors, seam rippers, needles. Writing supplies are an example -- and that means things like pens. But kitchen tools are excluded, as well as anything that's part of a large hobby-related collection. (Presumably if your hobby is sewing, most sewing items go outside "household equipment" and in with the hobby items -- I think she's thinking of a small mending kit that's employed as needed for maintenance tasks, like replacing buttons, repairing seams, and adjusting hems.)
o "Household equipment" excludes most consumable items, but not all. Food, detergent, medicine, tissues -- all things that get "used up" -- belong to other subcategories. But "stationery" is also something that's used up, and it is included, along with the thread that is presumably part of a sewing kit.
o "Household equipment" excludes items already sorted: the other types of komono as well as clothes, books, and papers. It also excludes sentimental items.
What I'm seeing so far is that "household equipment" means durable tools, kits, and other things that are useful. Consumable goods are part of this only insofar as they are part of a kit or set, like the thread in the sewing kit. Kitchen items are not included, I presume because kitchen items are a big enough category on their own in any household; whereas in smaller households, "household equipment" might be a small enough category the deal with all at once.
So: useful items for household tasks, but not kitchen items, not sentimental items, not related to a specific hobby, and generally not consumables. I went through my house with a clipboard and pen and wrote down the kinds of items that I thought fell into this category, to see if I should do it all at once or if there are some subcategories to break it into. Here's what I came up with:
Baby care items. Cloth diapering paraphernalia, child carriers, portable changing pads.
Clothing care. Laundry baskets, hangers, lingerie bags, eyeglass and jewelry repair kits, mending kit.
Cleaning tools. Brooms, mops, totes, scrub brushes, rags, dishpans.
Linens. Bedding, towels, napkins, tablecloths.
Quasi-furniture. Folding chairs, stepstools, little-kid workbenches, rolling carts.
Travel items. Suitcases, backpacks, toiletry kits, picnic coolers.
Board games and other gaming paraphernalia. Cards, chess timers, extra dice.
"Tool" tools. Hammers, pliers, screwdrivers, twine, etc.
Containers and organizers. Boxes, bins, racks, bookends, baskets.
Excluded from all that: homeschooling paraphernalia, camping gear, athletic gear, fishing gear.
In our household, most of the "tool" tools are also excluded from my responsibility, as they're stored out of sight in Mark's shop and he knows better than I do what is extraneous and what is necessary. I can find most anything I need in there, if I look long enough. But you will find others here and there throughout the house -- needle-nose pliers in a kitchen drawer, wire cutters in my guitar case and in the school science box, a small screwdriver that lives on my dresser, a couple of pocketknives and a set of Allen wrenches -- things I've squirreled away so that I won't have to hunt for them in Mark's shop should I need them.
What order should they be attacked in? Marie Kondo:
[I]t is easier if you start with more personal items and clearly defined content first.
The "personal items" won't help me organize them since by now we've gotten to things that belong to "the household" rather than to any one person, although in my role as homemaker some of them (clothing care items) fall more under my domain than others (board game paraphernalia).
So (prior to publishing the post here) I roughly sorted them from "mostly my domain" to "mostly someone else's domain." And then I stuck "containers and organizers" at the end, because it strikes me as ridiculous to get rid of any of those until you've finished organizing everything. I think those come right before sentimental items.
So... I guess that's what I attack next. Baby care items. It's about time to get rid of some of those anyway, I think.