Marie Kondo‘s name has quickly grown into a global phenomenon over the past couple, which culminated in her making it to the Time magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. In the unlikely event that you have not heard about her, she is a a Japanese organising consultant. Her book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing has become an international best seller and the foundation of a new cult around decluttering.
So you might ask (and quite rightly so), why on earth I am writing about tidying up on a health & fitness blog, especially as being someone who is a self-confessed grinch about household chores of any kind? The clue lies in the underlying thesis of her book, namely that if you put your home in order first, then your life will follow. She is a firm believer that tidying – if done properly – changes people’s perspectives and approaches, therefore it puts our personal affairs in order as well as a direct consequence. At the core of this is that order is dependent on our personal values i.e. how or what we want to live with, therefore by creating order around ourselves in the physical sense will help reset our lives. Her approach to tidying called the Konmarie Method is therefore radically unique, because it promises not only to transform our physicial environment, but it also addresses our mindset.
“The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life”
By her own admission, she has dedicated most of her life to the “art of organising” and has launched her own business. She has eventually become a very successful consultant, boasting a three month client waiting list. To me, this clearly suggests that she must be doing something right and therefore I am willing to listen to what she has to say. In fact, some of her clients reported that as a result of following her technique, their relationships have improved, their small businesses and careers have started to thrive and their overall wellbeing started to improve and some even lost weight or got fitter! And the good news is, especially for such an undomesticated wife like me, her technique only requires a one time intervention, in one go, as quickly as possible. People who use this method supposedly never revert back to clutter again but continue to improve their space and their lives, and are only surrounded by things they love. Sounds pretty good to me – sign me up, please!
So without further ado, here are the 8 key principles of the Konmarie method:–
- Discard items first – show respect and appreciation for these objects for serving you, as you send them off on their final journey.
- Tidy by category, not location.
- Tidy in one go, as quickly and as completely as possible. Make it a one time, special event – so you may even want to dress up for the occasion!
- The selection criterion for what to keep and what to discard: hold each item in your hand and as you examine them, ask yourself the key question “Does it spark joy?” Keep only those things that speak to your heart.
- To gradually hone your decision making skills, the suggested order of tidying is starting with simpler things and finishing off with the more difficult ones: clothes, books, documents, miscellaneous items (komono), mementoes with sentimental value. (On Pinterest you can find many print ready lists made by fans of the Konmarie method to supoport your endevour.)
- Do not let your family see you tidy as this may be distracting or invoke guilt/upset over what you are keeping and what you are discarding. And it goes without saying that you should only be tidying away your own stuff – not your spouse’s, sister’s, mother’s etc (!)
- Visualise the end result/your destination – what is your ideal lifestyle, what do you want to be surrounded with, what gives you joy?
- Try to tidy in quiet and without distractions to allow yourself to hear the internal dialog between yourself and the objects. It is best to start early morning with a fresh mind and when your discernment is the sharpest.
The book itself has a number of chapters that explain the rationale behind the above principles and guide you through in detail on the steps in a very practical way, so you do get a lot of handholding. A few chapters even go into granular details such as how to fold your socks and stockings etc. (After going through the book, I came to the shocking realisation I was doing these things completely wrong apparently!)
After digesting the book, I do think Marie’s principles and approach are infused with a lot of wisdom that is easy to understand and apply to your life almost immediately. I would have never guessed that the art of tidying can be a valuable life-coaching tool for self- empowernment! Go figure.
I have distilled down below what I have learnt from Marie Kondo:-
- A messy room equals a messy mind – visible mess often distracts us from the true source of disorder/underlying cause of negative feelings such as anxiety, frustration, depression, anger etc. When we declutter our physical space, we create an inner psychological space and have no choice but to examine ourselves and our inner states.
- Clutter is not just physical stuff – it can be old ideas, toxic relationships, bad habits etc. Clutter is anything that does not support your best self so you may want to look further than your wardrobe!
- Why can it be so hard of discarding things – when we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, it boils down to two things: an unhealthy attachment to the past or a fear for the future. Tidying can help confront yourself and force you to be very honest with yourself.
- Surround yourself with the people and stuff you love and that spark joy– Using the above mentioned tidying method will help you realise what matters the most to you (try to notice the patterns and themes coming through the items you decide to keep). This way you can find more happiness, satisfaction, and even discover what you really enjoy (often leading you back to your childhood roots). Life can become exciting again when you take stock like this through tidying. On the whole, this can bring more empowernment in your life and fill you with confidence in your decision making skills.
- A tidy space can also have a positive, detoxing impact on the body as well – after decluttering you are likely to end up with more space and fresher air to breathe in. When it comes to cleaning, you will be able to move around more freely and probably much more, turning this into a good workout. Some of Marie’s clients reported losing weight after tidying up!
- Tidying up so wholeheartedly is likely to reduce our cravings for accumulating lots of material stuff – and help us focus on imperishable things/people with eternal value that really matter and we want to keep.
I don’t know about you, but I am feeling ready to do some tidying now!
Finally, I have left the best bit to the very end – you can listen to the full version of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing on Youtube.
What and who sparks joy in your life?
What does your ideal life look like?
Is there anything or anybody you need to part with?
What sort of things or people are you struggling to let go of?