No matter how solemn promise we make to ourselves to keep our homes shipshape and shiny, it just manages to retrograde into the clutter that it was—it’s like having our own personal-and-perennial-Mercury-retrograde-situation. Jokes aside, clutter is definitely not a state that is conducive to creativity and productivity. And tackling it has always been a challenge, so how do we get to the ‘neat and organized nirvana’ that a few of us seemed to have mastered? By following a simple two-pronged approach to tidiness as put forth by the Japanese cleanliness commando (albeit a petite one)—Marie Kondo.
The said approach is refreshingly fuss-free—the first step of which involves taking the things you own in your hands and asking yourself if it ‘sparks joy’ or not which then leads to the second natural step where you discard those that don’t spark joy and organize those that do in ways that make locating and grabbing them easier. Sounds easy peasy, isn’t it? While it is—there are a few potential areas where you might hit an emotional impasse especially when you have objects of sentimental value but Marie offers a clever solution to that as well.
Here are a few key takeaways from her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, which we can’t recommend enough—
TAKEAWAY #1: PICTURE IN YOUR MIND WHERE YOU WANT TO BE
Before you launch yourself full-fledged into the tidying process, Marie says it’s important to ask what is it that you are trying to achieve through this activity? Do you want to live minimally? Or do you want to nail a clean aesthetic that enables you to function optimally and live beautifully? Having a clear goal in mind will keep you motivated throughout the process.
TAKEAWAY #2: START WITH CATEGORIES, NOT THE LOCATION
What this means is that unlike the traditional MO where we begin by decluttering our home room-wise only to find the same object or item in a different room again (clothes, for example), we take categories head-on. The order for tackling the categories, as Marie suggests, is clothes followed by books followed by papers followed by miscellany followed by sentimental items.
For every category—round everything up in one place so that you know how much you own. You then take each item in your hand, ask yourself if it sparks joy or not. The ones that you decide to part ways with, you thank them for fulfilling the purpose for which they were bought. Discarding with dignity, as they say.
TAKEAWAY #3: ALWAYS KEEP THE MEMENTOS FOR THE LAST
We couldn’t agree more with Marie as this is one tricky area that can impede your speed even before you have made decent headway into your decluttering mission. What happens when you stumble upon an old photo album? You spend hours thumbing through it, reliving sweet memories that are now frozen in time.
So now imagine going through your photo albums with the purpose of discarding them, where do you think that will take you? To cherished episodes of your life but nowhere close to your intent. Which is why sentimental objects like albums, scrapbooks, diaries, letters, greeting cards, etc. are best left to be tackled at the end because when you follow the order of discarding items as recommended by Marie you will have honed your decision-making, which in turn will help you bid adieu to your sentimental objects.
TAKEAWAY #4: TIDYING IS LIKE A MEDITATIVE ACTIVITY
We like how Marie’s method which is also known as KonMari has a spiritual slant to it. Marie encourages readers to say a little prayer before they hurl themselves into the tidying process. She is strictly against the idea of playing loud music while you are evaluating what to keep and what not to.
She considers tidying as a type of meditation in which one can have a deep dialogue with oneself about the activity they are undertaking and feel in sync with the objects they own. There’s no guessing that Marie is an early riser and prefers channeling the freshness of the early morning to launch into the process.
We hope you find Marie’s method as helpful and insightful as we did and that you are filled with enough motivation to clean your space.