'Don’t Ask Yourself Whether it "Sparks Joy!"' — Try this New Mantra to Finally Help You Declutter for Good

Instead of relying on Marie Kondo's mantra of 'sparking joy', this pragmatic approach makes way for less emotional and more practical decluttering

A minimalist living room with no curtains
(Image credit: Chango & Co)

Having seen several decluttering techniques come and go, one that's stood the test of time has been the KonMari method. And while we tip our hat to Marie Kondo and her clever tagline of keeping anything that 'sparks joy' we recognize that decluttering isn't one-size-fits-all.

Different techniques work for different people and our personal habits and ways of thinking play a huge role in the way we declutter. If you're sentimental like me, then you'll probably find that even the silliest of things spark joy in one way or another, so Marie Kondo's 6th rule might not be all that helpful, after all.

So, when we came across this new decluttering mantra that rejects Marie's maxim, we simply had to find out what the experts think. It's simple, straightforward, and honestly quite clever. And if you're wondering how to start decluttering, this little question might be the first step to employ for a tidier home.

Less emotional and more practical decluttering

A living room with clever storage

(Image credit: Nicole Franzen, Styling Rosy Fridman. Design Homework)

As seen in the video above, courtesy of Tessa Hughes (@spatialawareness____), she recommends swapping out Marie Kondo's famous question 'Does it spark joy?' and instead asking yourself 'Do I want the job of managing this item?'.

In the caption of her reel, Tessa points out that everything needs maintenance, management, and organization, making everything a job. She goes on to say that just because something sparks joy, that doesn't mean it's helpful to keep it around. The reasoning behind Tessa's method is that sometimes it’s good to let things go just because they’re making your home too difficult to manage.

Kevin Connors, founder of Inspired Organizers, tells us that he has never felt connected to the KonMari method because it can negate other legitimate reasons for discarding specific possessions. 'I'm a minimalist, but I often keep certain things because I know that I may use them at a later time,' he notes. 'As I routinely purge throughout my home I think the "Do I want to manage this item" question is a more honest one to ask.'

Kevin tells us that it's important for people to recognize that holding onto 90% of items that you never use actually contradicts any claim to the significance they hold in your life. 'The contents of storage areas like garages, closets, and even those high-corner cabinets in your kitchen are excellent places to ask this question when you're cleaning out their contents,' advises Kevin.

When it comes to items professional organizers almost always throw away, we also find that it's most often possessions that are tough to manage that end up taking over a space that could be home to more useful things.

A mid-century modern kitchen

(Image credit: Arterberry Cooke)

Melissa Simon, founder of Home Refresh, tells us that this new mantra is a fresh spin on organizing your home and keeping it clutter-free. 'By asking yourself, if you want the job of managing an item, you're taking accountability and ownership of every item you bring into your space,' she says. This sense of accountability is what has been lacking in past popular decluttering tricks.

Professional organizer Ben Soreff also finds Tessa's mantra to be a great improvement from past organizational tactics. He tells us that while aspirational mottos are nice to hear, they don't always have real-world applications so, if you're into decluttering and minimalism but haven't been making any progress, this is probably why. 'Another reason it doesn't work is that a system needs to be easy or you won't keep it up,' notes Ben. 'This mantra embraces that philosophy.'

Put simply, our organizational systems need to be simple to follow or the habit will likely never lock-in. 'Asking if "I can manage" this item is a polite way of saying is it easy enough that I will actually do it,' Ben says. And that's pretty much all that matters when it comes to taking control of your living spaces.

So, if you're looking for things to let go of for a more organized home but you're stumped on where to start, try out Tessa's motto and watch as you declutter your whole home for good.

News Writer

Amiya is the News Writer at Livingetc. She recently graduated with a Masters Degree in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London and has lent her words to beauty, fashion and health sections of lifestyle publications including Harper’s Bazaar and Women’s Health. Her experience as a research analyst has equipped her with an eye for emerging trends. When she’s off the clock, she can be found reading, listening to music or overanalysing her latest Co-Star update.