Of all the health fads and lifestyle trends that have come and gone recently, perhaps one of the most surprising is tidying up. Tidying has always been one of those things that we know we should really do but can never motivate ourselves to get around to.
The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life. Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle. That’s what Marie Kondo Tokyo-based organizer and consultant trying to convince us with in her bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
Kondo’s book contains some useful ideas about the relationship between our values and our possessions, and how something as simple as keeping a tidy environment can have a big impact on our sense of confidence and wellbeing. It also offers common-sense practical suggestions that run counter to the usual tidying/decluttering advice. And Who doesn’t need a little magic in their homes, works, and life??!!
“My clients always sound so happy, and the results show that tidying has changed their way of thinking and their approach to life. In fact, it has changed their future. Why? This question is addressed in more detail throughout the book, but basically, when you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order, too.” Marie Kondo introduces her book.
This decluttering guide — I believe –is a bit of inspiration to live a tidier life which can certainly motivate you in the right direction. And there are some excellent tips contained within that really can help give you a kind of ‘psychological detox’. Let’s take a look at some of them
The “KonMari” Method
Mainly the author encourages people to start discarding all unnecessary items with a tried and true method called the “KonMari” method. You only get to keep what’s worthwhile! It can help you become ruthless in purging your possessions so you’re only surrounded by the things you love.
Marie Kondo recommends that you shouldn’t try and tidy a badly unclean room in lots of little fits and spurts. She believes that instead, it’s better to have one BIG go at getting your home in order so that life will be easier going forward and so you can devote some real time to organizing your things.
Her advice is to line everything on the ground; all your clothes, the books you own, the kitchen utensils, the documents, the tools, accessories, everything; in one spot and then sort them through. Do this to every category of items you own, but just one at the time. “Tidy a little a day and you’ll be tidying forever.”
Discarding Is the Priority
When you start on your big clean, the first thing you need to do is to get ruthless and start discarding items. She says you should do this before you start tidying, as it will help give you more space to work. You stop the discarding process at the point when you find yourself questioning whether you can fit an item in your drawer.
“The true purpose of tidying is, I believe, to live in the most natural state possible. Don’t you think it is unnatural for us to possess things that don’t bring us joy or things that we don’t really need? I believe that owning only what we love and what we need is the most natural condition.”
Use the “Joy” Test
When deciding what to keep, Marie keeps it simple. Her test is just this: “Take each item in one’s hand and ask: ‘Does this spark joy?’ If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it.” That’s it! You need to be really honest with yourself about whether something is really necessary and whether it really adds any value to your life. “Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.” There is one slight issue with the system though: there are certainly ‘grades’ of joy. At which point should you decide an item is not joyous enough is something you’d need to work on.
Storing items by Category, Not Location
Once you chose your favorite belongings, now it’s time to designate a storage place for each and every item. It’s now the time to put everything into place, where it’s visible, easy to grab and then put back. Kondo advises a vertical folding technique instead of stacking items on top of each other, and storing in drawers which makes everything easy to spot and hard to mess up. Folded this way, clothing looks like fabric origami, ready to line your drawers in neat rows.
This ordering of the process is the most important aspect of the KonMari method. “Start with clothes, then move on to books, papers, finally things with sentimental value. If you reduce what you own in this order, your work will proceed with surprising ease. By starting with the easy things first and leaving the hardest for last, you can gradually hone your decision-making skills so that, by the end, it seems simple.”
Respect Your Belongings
It’s very important that you consistently return items to their assigned places every day. So after a long day of using those items, you need to unpack your bag and put them back where they belong. Marie does have a point about respect. She believes that you should treat your items like an athlete treats their equipment, or like you might treat an ally or friend.
Once you take this attitude, the hope is that you’ll start to be more careful with your things and treat them with a little more respect. And in doing that, you should find you’re able to keep them in better condition and prevent them from becoming damaged, cluttered or ‘stuffed’ into little spaces where they don’t really belong. Stop balling up socks and cut the labels out of your clothes!
What Inspired Me The Most!
Marie helps us cherish the things that are important to you. We learn to discard items that have outlived their purpose. “To get rid of what you no longer need is neither wasteful nor shameful.” It’s okay to let go! Keep your focus on the things that you know are worth keeping. “You’ll be surprised at how many of the things you possess have already fulfilled their role. By acknowledging their contribution and letting them go with gratitude, you will be able to truly put the things you own, and your life, in order.”
It is the same with people. Not every person you meet in life will become a close friend or lover. Some you will find hard to get along with or impossible to like. But these people, too, teach you the precious lesson of who you do like, so as to appreciate it.
“When we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: attachment to the past or a fear for the future.”
What I Didn’t Personally Like About The Book!
I have some profound disagreements with Marie Kondo. There is no magic, one-size-fits-all solution. Just because something works for you — or Marie Kondo — doesn’t mean that it will work for me. We can all learn from each other, absolutely, but there’s no one way to achieve anything.
Also the method of purging and discarding mentioned in the book is great for a single woman who lives alone, but actually the process may not be realistic for larger spaces or families, especially when there are kids in the picture. The sorting may not be as effective if you have 3+ people in the family, because each and everyone has their own books, clothes, etc.
All in all I love Marie Kondo’s tidy manifesto. I found it thought-provoking, helpful, and engaging. So let’s join Japan’s guru of tidiness and fight our own war against clutter. Wish you Happy Tidying!
By Marwa Hasan