But does it spark joy? blog graphic

Cleaning out our closets is something that seems like it “should” be easy. And while it might not be rocket science, it’s certainly easier said than done. There are tons of criteria you can use for deciding what pieces of clothing you keep and what you don’t keep. An incredibly popular criteria is, of course, the KonMari Method’s question of “does it spark joy?” 

But how do you clean out your closet when you aren’t sure what sparks joy? Here are two ways to declutter even if you’re not sure what sparks joy for you.

Two ways to declutter even if you’re not sure what sparks joy for you.

Disclaimers first, I’m not a KonMari expert or organizer. On the other hand, I also help people clean out their closets. It’s not uncommon to hear “I tried the KonMari method, but…” 

Here are two options I’ve found can help when you’re decluttering your closet and dealing with a “I tried the KonMari method, but I’m not sure what sparks joy for me” situation. 

Option 1 Find Your Spark Joy Benchmark 

From my (non-KonMari-expert) understanding, one of the first steps to using the KonMari sparks joy criteria for decluttering is creating a benchmark of joy. 

So option one, if you’re having trouble determining what sparks joy enough to stay in your closet is to double check the piece of clothing against your joy benchmark. 

Ask yourself: 

  • Does the sparks joy benchmark item truly spark joy for you? 
  • Are you coming back to it each time you have a question about if something does or does not spark joy? 
  • Might it be that you’ve started “shoulding” yourself about what “should” spark joy for you?
  • Have you gotten overwhelmed and started second guessing what joy even means?

If choosing to keep only items that spark joy for you has, on the whole been working, you might not need to toss out the whole method. You might just need some recentering and adjustments to keep moving forward on your decluttering. 

But if not, consider a different solution. 

Option 2 The Maybe Pile

Not every decision is one that can be made as soon as you decide to start cleaning out your closet. It’s possible you pull out some clothes, ask yourself: “does this spark joy?” and truly not know. 

You can compare it to your joy benchmark and still not have a clear answer. 

Some decisions take more time to come to than others. This can be true for a lot of reasons:

  • Maybe you’re a very detailed and deliberate person, you consider decisions from every angle, you don’t rush decision making based on your first feeling. 
  • It could be that the piece of clothing is highly sentimental and it takes time to work through the feelings and memories associated with it. 
  • Or maybe you know right away if a piece of clothing should sparks joy for you, but it takes more time to accept that that’s truly how you feel.

Regardless of why, it’s okay to take the time you need to make decisions about your clothes when you’re decluttering your closet. Don’t think you have to make a snap judgement just because you “should.” 

This is where The Maybe Pile comes in. 

When you’re cleaning out your closet and you run into a piece of clothing that makes you think “I’m not sure if this sparks joy for me” put it in a dedicated pile of maybes. Maybe you’ll declutter it. Maybe you’ll keep it. 

Then you keep moving, and cleaning out your closet. You’ve already made a decision about the piece of clothing that had you stumped. You have decided that it goes in The Maybe Pile and you will come back to it. 

You do that for every piece of clothing you run into this problem with. 

When you’ve gone through everything else in your closet, then you come back to The Maybe Pile, and go through it again.

The power of The Maybe Pile is it keeps your momentum moving forward. 

The key to The Maybe Pile is to actually come back and finish it. 

To sum up tackling your “does it spark joy?” moments of doubt

When you’re cleaning out your closet, it’s easy to get bogged down and let your momentum stall. So whichever option you choose to tackle your “I’m not sure what sparks joy” moments, keep moving forward on your closet declutter. 

Whichever option you choose, know that it’s ok not to have a snap decision about every piece of clothing you own. There are a lot of skeletons hanging in our closets, and a lot of decisions we’ve put off. 

Once you know that you don’t know what to do with that decades old t-shirt, we can come up with a plan from there. 

Because once you’ve cleaned out your closet, the real fun of uncovering and living your personal style comes in.