I was vaguely aware that The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up was trendy a few years ago, but it wasn’t until author Marie Kondo guested on The Tim Ferriss Show that I became interested in “the KonMari method” detailed in the book. For the uninitiated, the KonMari method is Marie Kondo’s tidying and home organization system. A dedicated organizer for her entire life, Kondo developed what I would call a philosophy of things that transcends storage systems or practical tips for organization or storage. While she includes in the books practical steps, her overarching philosophy is that (1) you should keep in your home only items that currently spark joy and (2) that all of your items should have a home within your home.
What are the benefits of such a system?
“A dramatic reorganization of the home causes correspondingly dramatic changes in lifestyle and perspective. It is life transforming,” Kondo writes. This is because determining which items give you joy forces you to “put your affairs and your past in order, too.” Once that is done, you are surrounded only by the things you love.
How does one determines what sparks joy? Kondo provides a few broad categories of items and an order in which the homeowner should consider each category. Each item is gathered in one place and then the homeowner must hold each item and determine whether it currently sparks joy. If it does, the item is kept and given a place in the home. If it doesn’t spark joy, it is thanked for its service and discarded.
While some might say that Kondo is elevating objects to sentient status by thanking them, I actually found this tactic useful. Thanking an object for a thrill it gave in purchase, for fond memories in years of service, or for serving as a gift (a tool of conveying love) makes it much easier for me to let go of an item. It also reminds me that things I used to treasure may not be important to me now.
“No matter how wonderful things used to be, we cannot live in the past. The joy and excitement we feel here and now are more important,” Kondo advises. In this way, your home becomes about who you are and what excited you now – not who you were or who people wish you were. That’s part of why it’s so comfortable. It’s you.
If you’re looking to make a dramatic change, I’d say that you should go forward full steam with the KonMari method. Half-way doing it makes the method just another self-help book and weakens it greatly as a philosophical instrument. I’m doing it in chunks but YEARN to do it all in one big sitting.
If you need some inspiration, follow Marie Kondo on Instagram to see lots of great before/after shots as well as adorable pictures of her family.