Instead of bringing you joy, does your home stress you out? Do you wish for it to be a haven and a harbinger of joy and prosperity in your life? Would you like your cupboards to bring you calm instead of internal chaos?
If yes, KonMari might just have the answer for you.
Who is KonMari aka Marie Kondo?
Catapulted into worldwide fame through her Netflix series Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, and her bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo is a Japanese organizing consultant and author. Her revolutionary idea: tidy up category-by-category and not room-by-room, keeping only the items that spark joy.
Her method of tidying up, which has changed the lives and homes of millions of people worldwide, is partly inspired by the Shinto religion – where each object holds spiritual value despite its monetary worth.
The KonMari way
So how do you go about this magical way of tidying up that promises eternal joy and the elimination of stress?
1. Tidy all at once
Tidying in bits and pieces never works. Devote an entire day or weekend to cleaning up so there is no space for clutter to gather again and raise your cortisol levels.
What with all of our jobs and schedules, this might seem like an impossibility. But just committing to one weekend or a few days of religiously cleaning up will change the face of your home.
2. Visualize your destination
3. Know why you want to go there
Why do you want a clean home when you can live in a cluttered one, too? ‘Because I want only the most essential items to be there’. Why do you only want the most essential items? Do this back-and-forth questioning with yourself 3-5 times until you arrive at a concrete and confident answer of why you want to tidy up. This will supercharge and motivate your cleaning process enormously.
4. Tidy by category and not location
Traditionally, we tidy by location. ‘This drawer first and then the cupboard and then the bed box.’ Marie Kondo has a twist to this. You tidy by category and location. Here are the categories:
- Komono (miscellaneous items)
- Sentimental items
You would have multiple items in these categories in multiple rooms. So you pick a category and dump all of its items in one place to begin the keeping-discarding process.
To make the process more manageable, you can divide a category into sub-categories. For example, ‘papers’ can be broken down into ‘business papers’ and ‘grocery lists’. Clothes might be subdivided into ‘sarees’ and ‘western’. The latter can be further broken down into ‘jeans’ and ‘tops’. This allows the process to feel manageable and lets you savor the small wins as your closet and drawers keep getting more spacious.
Also, you are not to move to the next category before the present category is entirely tackled.
5. Keep what sparks joy
The main leg of the entire method. What you focus on, grows. So instead of focusing on what you can throw away because you don’t like it, Marie Kondo has a twist here and advises you to focus on what brings you joy so you can cultivate more of it.
And there is a very specific way that you do this. Hold the item close in your hands and then ask ‘does this bring me joy?’ This is not an intellectual process but a felt experience. Not used to such an experience, it might seem unnatural or woo-woo to do this. But once you have gotten used to it, you’ll see results very quickly. Her clients who haven’t gone back to their decluttered ways are proof of this fact.
For clothes that you keep, KonMari suggests a folding method which lets you see all your clothes easily and makes them look like pretty envelopes.
6. Thank each item before you discard it
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, the KonMari method is semi-inspired by the principles of Shintoism where each object has a spiritual value. Once you separate the items that bring you joy from the ones that don’t, you thank each item before you throw it away. This maintains the dignity of the item.
Another important point: everything that is to be discarded can be either donated or stored away somewhere else for future use. If you have a 3-year-old child and plan to have another one, you might not want to throw away the crib. Store it somewhere else for future use.
The next step in the KonMari method is to organize what you do keep. Marie Kondo has specific guidelines for how you can store each item in its proper place so that you don’t fall back into your old ways of cluttering.
You do not have to be perfect at the KonMari method the first time you try it. Our relationship to clutter and what we choose to bring into our homes is very habit-driven and it can take 2-3 runs of this method to become comfortable with changing that relationship.
Also, while following this method, you might discover that you are a hoarder. Meaning you collect and save items because ‘you might need it one day’. This is a very common case in Indian households since our elders and those around us follow the same way of operation.
Even if the item doesn’t bring joy or isn’t monetarily valuable, a hoarder will have trouble letting go of it. This is where you need to be slow but consistent with the method.
While seemingly new and unconventional, the KonMari method works 100% as evidenced by its ardent supporters. When you let go of things that you have been meaning to use since the last 10 years, you are freeing up energy for newer, lighter, and more spacious experiences to come into your life. You are cultivating a new relationship with your belongings and your home – one of pure joy and lightness.