There’s a storm sweeping the nation...no, the world! And it was all started by a diminutive yet wildly influential Japanese professional organizer by the name of Marie Kondo. Kondo, author of the bestselling book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, as well as the follow-up book, “Spark Joy”, has incited a flurry of “tidying up” all throughout the West.
Kondo promotes a specific and intense process of organizing (she calls it “tidying”) your entire house in one short time period and doing it all through the lens of one thought-provoking question:
“Does it spark joy?”
When you pick up an object, whether a t-shirt or a muffin tin, you ask yourself the same question... "does it spark joy?" If it does, you keep it. If it doesn't, you let it go...
Her signature “KonMari” method has people both inspired and outraged, but across the board, she has people talking!
And for me, as a professional organizer, that’s a profoundly good thing. Interestingly, however, there seems to be a deep suspicion of Kondo among many American professional organizers. There’s not room or reason to get into why that may be in this blog post...ultimately, what matters is that for many “regular people”, KonMari works!
I cannot tell you how many people--when they learn I’m a professional organizer--want to talk to me about the “tidying up” book and the KonMari method.
If you haven’t read the book yet, fasten your seat belt. It’s unorthodox, unsettling even, and in some respects, it seems over the top. Take what you need from the book and leave the rest. KonMari works!
1. SHE’S AN ACTIVATOR
Whether you love Marie Kondo or you detest her, she incites you to ACT! Her matter-of-fact style may be off-putting, but that’s precisely what makes her impact you. She speaks with authority.
2. SHE ADDRESSES YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH STUFF
Disorganization runs deep. It’s truly NOT about the stuff. Kondo forces you to think about your relationship with stuff...she gets down to the root level of things. For many people, she’s too out there for their comfort. And yet...if you are trapped in a mound of clutter, it is a healthy exercise to consider how that clutter is serving you, or perhaps more accurately, not serving you.
3. SHE ENCOURAGES APPRECIATION
Kondo has a very keen sensitivity and awareness of the essence of a thing. She references the feel of a thing on your fingertips, the scent it carries. Again, for many, this is a bit far out. However, when you hone this kind of sensitivity in yourself, you gain a greater clarity. This honed sensitivity gave me the clarity I needed to know what items I actually wanted and which ones were just taking up space in my home and life.
4. SHE FOCUSES ON JOY
When beginning an organizing project, many people have anxiety thinking about what they have to get rid of, how much they have to let go. Kondo turns it around, encouraging you to think about what you want to KEEP, what sparks joy. She talks about the “thrill” that you get from certain items. Just like you increase your sensitivity to the essence of a thing, you can increase your sensitivity to joy. You find that you have a much easier time letting things go because they simply don’t spark joy.
5. SHE CONTINUES TO EVOLVE
When Kondo wrote her first book, she was single. Her critics noted that her method and style are not easily applied to family life.
Her follow-up book, "Spark Joy", is a poignant response to that criticism. She shares about the things she’s learned from her husband and her overall demeanor is a bit softer and more flexible. She talks about how her Dad asked her to help him organize for the first time in her life and describes a touching story of going through family photos with her sister to put together a beautiful album for her mom’s birthday.
These personal stories helped me relate to and resonate with Kondo much more. I also greatly appreciate a person who has a growth mindset.
P.S. I first read “Tidying Up” in April 2015. I was in California at the time and couldn’t wait to get back home to Hawaii to try it out on my own home.
Result: After applying KonMari’s Spark-Joy method, I got rid of 2 large black garbage bags of rubbish and 13 grocery bags of donations from my tiny house.
After reading “Spark Joy” earlier this year, I had another smaller, yet no less cathartic, tidying spree.
Here were my donation items for United Cerebral Palsy after my April 2015 tidying. The proof is in this organizer's pudding...KonMari works!
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