How to Declutter the KonMarie Way
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying-Up
I was intrigued by the popularity of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Marie Kondo has written several books about tidying and cleaning, but none have matched the success of this her first book. It contains many practical ideas as well as some more esoteric philosophy (more of which later) and evokes an almost religious fervor among its followers.
The book is an international publishing phenomenon. It continues to remain in best seller lists around the world even though it is now some years from its original publication date. It’s sparked thousands of articles about self-help and has helped millions of people make changes to their lives.
What is the KonMarie Way?
The KonMarie method is the brainchild of Japanese lifestyle guru Marie Kondo. She offers advice on the best way to clean and declutter. She believes that her method of house cleaning and tidiness leads to an inner tranquility. Her teachings are akin to mindfulness and result in a kind of spiritual renewal that will enable you to reorder and change your life.
Decluttering your life and home the KonMarie way has a spiritual quality that has been likened to the contentment obtained by the followers of Zen Buddhism. Whether or not you agree with this analogy, there is no doubt that has touched a nerve for her many millions of fans around the world. Marie Kondo’s method
Marie Kondo Wants the World to Feel Joy
You’ve hoarded surplus stuff for years. Each time you move, you hide it in the attic or in a spare closet. And you never get around to unpacking all these things until the next time you move home. Marie Kondo’s philosophy encourages you to tidy your life and living space by only keeping the things that you need and give you pleasure.
She introduces the concept of your feeling joy from your possessions. If you enjoy your surroundings, she says, you will become more joyful and at peace with yourself.
Before and After Extreme Decluttering
Mindfulness and the Art of Folding
The philosophy of the KonMarie system has something in common with that of mindfulness. The program relies on concentrating on being in the moment. She says you need to be aware of the feel of the fabric as you fold the clothes.
She believes the action of folding is a way of demonstrating your love for the clothes and the protection and happiness they bring you. In her view it is almost a secondary effect that by folding clothes neatly you can save space and store them compactly.
My Experience of Decluttering with the KonMarie Method
I found many of Marie Kondo’s tips useful. I didn’t expect to be touched by her magic, but I was. Her way of sorting possessions category by category, makes a daunting task more manageable. She has some good ideas about how to make the most of limited storage space. And I like the way she focuses on creating a calm home environment.
However, I found the spiritual aspect of her system less captivating. She talks about deciding whether items spark joy and thanking discarded items for their contribution to the household. This may be helpful for some people, but I find the concept of treating items as if they had a soul slightly spooky. I prefer to use my common sense when deciding what to keep and what to give away. I know which items of clothing I feel good in and which books I enjoy reading. I don’t need to make those decisions based on sensing joy.
On the plus side, reading this book has motivated me to have a good clear out, a kind of Spring-clean out of season. It’s a novel way of approaching domesticity and cleaning, but in all honestly, reading the book has not changed my life. However, there were many gold nuggets of useful information hidden within its pages and I found it a good read.
Marie Kondo’s 5 Tips For Tidying-Up
- Tidy by category not location. Think big, not room by room.
- Easy things first then more difficult. Tidy-up in the following order; clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous stuff, and finally, sentimental items.
- Be organized. Collect every item from a particular category and put it into a big pile.
- Feel the joy. Hold each item and feel your reaction to it. Only keep items that spark joy; does the item make you feel happy?
- Be thankful. Before discarding anything, thank it for being a part of your life.
A Good Choice For Book Clubs
I read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up because I kept seeing items about it online and in magazines. I'm a member of a reading group and each month we take it in turns to choose the next month’s book. It’s a great way to meet old friends and make new ones. Discussing a book you’ve all read makes even the shyest person come out of their shell. I enjoy being introduced to novels and non-fiction that I would not otherwise have read.
In order to keep the group's conversation going, it’s useful to have a few questions prepared ahead of the meeting. I give a few suggestions below and I’m sure you can think of some more for your own discussion.
Reading Group Questions
Good questions provoke lots of discussion and differing views. Be prepared to have your views challenged, and think about how you will explain your opinion of the book. There are no right or wrong answers and you may be surprised at how varied the views of this book are within your reading group.
- Did you enjoy reading this book? Explain why or why not.
- Is this a book about cleaning or is it about a way of living?
- Did the book encourage you to review your own life goals? If so, what will you change?
- Would you recommend the book to others?
Marie Kondo and Netflix
The original bestselling book has now become a popular Netflix series. Aired from January 2019, each episode shows the diminutive Marie helping someone make changes to their life by removing the clutter that’s holding them back.