Spark or No Spark: The New Way to Declutter

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BY KARI HAAVERSEN kari.haaversen@go.mnstate.edu

Do you feel that spark of joy when you hold your favorite things? Or are they just items taking up space?

Storage space is limited when living in a dorm room. It can be hard to ditch the clutter and clothes you have not used or worn in months, but ask yourself this: do these things spark joy? This tidying trend makes it simple to declutter your small space.

Dorm Life

Many freshmen have a hard time putting together a list of dorm room must-haves. Another common struggle is assuming you have more space than you truly do.

“It was hard to think of the things that were essential and what things I could leave behind,” MSUM sophomore Dru Perry said. “I live in Oklahoma, so I had to travel light.”

Perry thought she had traveled lightly and with only the essentials, but once she arrived in Moorhead, she realized many of the items she brought were unnecessary.

“I packed so much clothing for warm weather because that’s what I’m used to,” she said. “I ended up having to go through all my clothes and decide what I wanted to keep and what I could donate.”

What Does It Mean To “Spark Joy?”

So what is the “spark joy” method? In this recent trend, organizing consultant and author Marie Kondo helps individuals go through each item they own one at a time. When holding each item, they decide whether they feel a spark of enjoyment or if they feel nothing. There is no reason to keep an item if the spark of joy is not felt, and these unwanted items are typically donated. This trend started by Kondo visiting homes and helping hands on, but now people have been going through this process on their own.

An explanation from the creator of this trend, Marie Kondo.


Simplified Marie Kondo Checklist

  1. Discarding by category comes first. Clothing, books, cooking supplies, etc.
  2. Break a category into subcategories as necessary. For example, clothing would be split into tops, pants, jackets, shoes, etc.
  3. Keep only those things that spark joy! Pick things up one by one and decide if they stay.
  4. After you’ve finished discarding, organize your space thoroughly and completely. Store all items of the same group in the same place.
  5. Do it all in one go. Tidy up in one shot rather than little by little.

Life After the Dorm Room Clutter

“I’ve moved every year I’ve been in school, so consistently going through all my things is key to making the move go smoothly,” recent MSUM graduate Noelle Berg said. “I started using the spark joy method last year, and it has helped me keep my space clean ever since.”

Berg shared that while it can be difficult letting go of items and clothing, she enjoys knowing that after donating, others will be able to use her belongings.

“It makes cleaning out my space that much more meaningful, and it also clears my mind when I have a decluttered room,” Berg said.

This way of organization can be time consuming. According to Kondo, the most effective way of decluttering is by finishing the process without pause. If someone is decluttering their closet, this entails taking every article of clothing they own and putting it on their bed. After this is done, they must go one by one through all of the pieces, deciding whether to keep it or not. Another important part of this process is by appreciating each piece of clothing for serving its purpose.

“This process does take a big chunk of time out of your day, but you feel so much better when it is all sorted into a ‘keep’ pile and a ‘donate’ pile,” Berg said. “I’ve also never thought about going through and appreciating each item, but it is kind of a cool experience.”

She shared that it brought a deeper meaning to what she owns and helps her decide what she buys in the future.

Returning For Another Year

Perry said she was more prepared for this year’s school year.

“I learned after my freshman year what was necessary and what was just taking up space.” Many followers of this trend end up with a minimalist look to their rooms. “I’ve always liked the look of a simple room, and this way of cleaning has helped me achieve that look,” she said.

This trend helps declutter small spaces, brings a newfound appreciation for the items you owns, and helps you feel the impact each has had in your life. So next time you are shopping, start this trend before you buy, and think, “will this spark joy?”

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