by Blake Meador
Focusing solely on throwing things away can only bring unhappiness. Why? Because we should be choosing what we want to keep – not what we want to get rid of.
– Marie Kondo
Last year was a little crazy for us – we moved out of our home for the past five years and into a much smaller apartment. The crazy part? After five months, we needed to turn around and move back to the home we just left.
Of course, these moves involved a lot of decision making – what kinds of things we could and should keep, what to do with five years’ worth of accumulated clutter, and how to even begin to tackle what seemed like an impossible task. The first move was less than joyful, to be kind.
But as we began to adjust to the smaller spaces in the apartment, we started to find a kind of groove. It became easier to make decisions about what to keep and what to let go. Each time a closet or a drawer or a cabinet felt less full and more open, it became easier to breathe and easier to smile. It felt a little joyful.
Another joyful effect – the move back to the house was a much more pleasant experience. We had a plan in place to never let it become what it had been just a few months before.
Not too long after the move, I was taking a well- deserved Netflix break and I came across a new series called “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo.” That sounded just the thing to give me some tips to get through the last few odds-and-ends boxes that still needed to be tended to, so I dived in. What I found was a little bit of inspiration mixed with an odd sense of déjà vu. It seems that we had been instinctively working toward her method in our own odd way through the move, but her explanations seemed to bring it into focus for me. I couldn’t wait to share it with my better half!
What was this exciting binge watch? “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo” is an original Netflix series based on the KonMari MethodTM. Marie is a tidying expert who began her business as a 19-year-old university student in Tokyo, Japan. Today, she is the author of a #1 New York Times best-selling book, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” has appeared on the Ellen Show, Rachel Ray and has been listed as one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people. Oh, and she’s absolutely, irresistibly adorable!
The KonMari Method moves away from the usual method of organizing by location – instead encouraging tidying by category. You tidy up beginning with clothes, then moving on to books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items), and, finally sentimental items. Keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy. Thank them for their service – then let them go.
Sparking joy is the mantra of the KonMari Method. Marie explains, “Do you know what it feels like when you spark joy? You feel it when you hold a puppy or when you wear your favorite outfit. It’s a warm and positive feeling. That is how it feels when something ‘sparks joy’ for you.
Some of you may not know how that feels yet but please do not worry. Your sensitivity to joy will be honed as you progress through the tidying process.”
This sensitivity comes to everyone at different times. As you go through the process, there will be an “aha” moment when something special – a favorite book, photo, coffee mug, t-shirt – will suddenly make it clear what it means for something to spark joy for you.
Just remember this is a process that focuses on being mindful, introspective, and forward-looking. Try to think of it not as a chore, but as way to open your spaces, your mind, your home. Don’t tackle it all in one day. Do it so long as it brings joy.
Get started by checking out www.konmari.com. Be sure to also watch “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” on Netflix. There are two great episodes with young LGBTQ couples, along with a great variety of folks in unique situations.
I wish you the best as you begin Tidying Up and Sparking Your Own Joy!
The method follows six basic rules:
Rule 1: Commit yourself to tidying up.
Rule 2: Imagine your ideal lifestyle.
Rule 3: Finish discarding first.
Rule 4: Tidy by category, not by location.
Rule 5: Follow the right order.
Rule 6: Ask yourself if it sparks joy.
The KonMari method moves away from the usual routine of organizing by location; instead you follow five categories in a specific order:
- Books: Shake to wake them up
- Papers: Pending, Important, Miscellaneous
- Komono (Everything) Miscellaneous (kitchen, bathroom, garage)
- Sentimental Items: Souvenirs, Photos, Gifts
One note about the order of the categories – feel free to break them if you find that you’re having a really hard time with one of them. If you’re particularly attached to your clothes and devil-may- care about your books, you might want to start with those to get going.
Separate items into smaller boxes in drawers and try to store things upright. Things look neater and they are easier to see and retrieve when you need them. The idea is to be able to take something out and everything else stays in place.
The joy we feel here and now is most important. – Marie Kondo