Declutter to spark joy like Marie Kondo!
Whether you’ve been on a Netflix binge lately or not, it’s very unlikely that the Marie Kondo phenomenon hasn’t introduced itself to you yet. The soft spoken, almost ethereally calm decluttering guru enters eight homes and lives, promising to help them tidy up, prioritise and live better.
Already a best-selling author with her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Kondo’s ‘KonMari Method’ relies on a simple question for everything you own: “does this spark joy?” If it doesn’t, hold it to your heart, thank it for its existence and set it aside.
In every episode, Kondo is first taken on a tour of each cluttered room in a house. She admits “I love mess!” Next, Kondo greets the home, kneeling down with her eyes closed. Her philosophy that inanimate objects also have feelings helps people dispense of things with gratitude, not angst. Once her guidance and advice are taken in, the people living in the house are left to follow it themselves. When the rooms are sparkling and organised, we see Kondo’s trademark ‘Ching!’ move, kicking her foot in the air with a finger pointing upwards. It’s entertaining and quite satisfying!
Go all in
Tidying up should ideally be in a big, focussed way, not in tiny steps. While Kondo splits the decluttering into five main phases (clothing, books, papers, kitchen/bathroom/miscellaneous and sentimental items), each phase is a mammoth achievement in itself. Don’t just clear out one drawer of clothes, you need to tackle the mountain of clothes from everywhere in your home. The same goes for papers. This way, the chances of postponing the task are lesser because the huge pile can’t really be ignored!
Get everyone involved
The gender roles discussion is an ongoing one and even in the show, women are vocal about wanting more family members pitching in with tidying up. Kondo, in her own quiet way, is a believer of everyone being responsible for his or her belongings and chores. This is far more efficient and has long-term relationship benefits. For kids, involve them in smaller tasks like her technique of folding clothes in thirds, maybe as a bedtime ritual.
Aesthetics create joy
‘If it looks good, you feel good’ is a great philosophy to spark joy. It’s how we created our clutter-reducing and stylish VertiPlay toys as well! Kondo has multiple tips on making things look better and more organised. Use small boxes and drawers to store miscellaneous items neatly. Arrange shoes by weight, heavier ones on the bottom of the rack, lighter ones on top. Hang clothes from left to right, in order of long to short. Neat drawers with her trademark vertical stacking of clothes make it easier to grab what you need.
Don’t pressure yourself
In particular while cleaning out items with sentimental value, if you can’t bring yourself to discard something, it’s all right. Store them in a more efficient way and revisit when you’re ready to, her approach is not strict. Though for functional items that don’t spark joy but are certainly useful, it might be better to ask yourself how often you’ll use it, not how happy it makes you.
The basic idea of the show is indisputable. We have a lot of stuff and not all of it makes us happy. Her more positive spin on tidying doesn’t go down the route of “this is useless”, but rather “this is no longer integral”. Marie Kondo’s show may not be packed with the gasp-inducing drama that reality shows usually have, but it addresses the stress that clutter can create and how it can affect relationships.
The KonMari Method seems to be taking the world by storm, and while it may not instantly tidy up your life as the show wants you to believe, it certainly can tidy up your closet. And we’ve all got to start somewhere to achieve that “Ching!”