Does anyone else out there have a grandmother who had an old coffee can full of spare buttons? I’m betting a lot of you are nodding your head. Now, how many of you have your own stash of spare buttons? Still nodding I bet, and that’s okay because I am too. But when was the last time you ever actually used one of those buttons? Can’t remember? Me either…and I’m guessing that’s because the answer is NEVER. How about the spare piece of yarn (thread, fiber?) that comes with some woven items? I’ve got those too, but honey, if I’m not sewing on a button, I’m darn sure not going to repair a pull in a sweater! So why do we keep these things? Typically, the answer is “just because”. Because why?
The buttons, the items in the junk drawer, the innumerable pens you picked up at the last convention you attended – all of these are a part of what Kondo refers to as komono – miscellaneous items that don’t fit neatly into any of the other categories. And komono is everywhere. Just sitting here at my desk I see that I have three pairs of scissors (all the same size), half a dozen flash drives (no idea what, if anything, is on them), and Sharpies in an array of colors. I can easily get rid of the flash drives – they probably contain old work info and I’ve been retired almost a year now – and two pairs of scissors can go too (besides, there are two more pairs in the kitchen!) None of these items spark joy, and I no longer need the flash drives, but scissors do come in handy. Those Sharpies bring me joy, however, so they are staying!
That’s the thing about the miscellaneous stuff – some items you just have to keep because they serve a distinct purpose; you can’t be running out to buy a new pair of scissors every time you ditch an old pair for not bringing you joy. But do I need six pairs? Probably not. To me komono is one of the more challenging categories because it encompasses so much, and it is in every room of the house. How many times have you cleaned out your junk drawer only to have it fill up again? Folks, there’s a reason it is called a JUNK drawer – and you probably do not need ninety percent of what it contains. I can sort of envision the whole KonMari process as cleaning out the junk drawer. If you tackle that drawer once and for all and never put anything back into it that doesn’t belong there, you will never have to clean it out again. The same goes for tidying the KonMari way; if you do this massive tidying one time, you should never have to do it again. That’s the goal, though it will be a while before I can test that theory.
So, I’m moving on to komono and junk drawers and who knows what I’ll find. The key is going to be to keep only those items that serve a purpose or spark joy. I’m sure there are probably a lot of items that were kept “just because” – but that’s how you end up with a can full of buttons…or ten tubs of t-shirts.