Marie Kondo offers us such a simple statement: choose joy. Seemingly straight forward yet joy and happiness become a lifelong pursuit attained by some and forever fleeting for others. When it comes to our possessions many of us fall victim to the excessiveness of materialism, continuously buying stuff we don’t need, always running out of storage space, filling up our garages with items we aren’t using (let’s be honest, haven’t used in ages), and paying more and more money to store all of that excess in storage units. That underlying, insatiable desire to own nearly everything in sight not only drains us of our money and space, but also desensitizes and erodes our judgment. How do we know what we need and what makes us happy when we don’t allow ourselves any real thought or consideration when buying thing after thing, stuff followed by more stuff? The fact is we don’t, but Marie Kondo teaches us this can be rectified.
There are many experts and authors that claim to be masters of organization, and in part they may be, but most only focus on organizing. Perhaps they make it a bit easier to locate the three or four boxes that may or may not contain that one specific gravy boat with the gold detail that only every makes an appearance on special occasions. The root of the problem is overabundance. Even the thought of tracking down a specific item now lost to the heaps of stuff is draining; or even worse, we forget what we own so we buy the same item again! Out of sight, out of mind which results in more and more and more and more...
Even just writing about SO MUCH STUFF is anxiety inducing (having recently confronted my own excessiveness), which is one of the unfortunate side effects to exorbitance. When we allow ourselves to be overrun by our material possessions, we leave no time and space to focus on what really matters. We devote more energy into maintaining or expanding our stockpiles than into creating memories, spending time with our loved ones and being truly present in the moment. Marie Kondo’s method is about much more than simply tidying or organizing, it is about “transform[ing] our cluttered homes into spaces of serenity and inspiration”.
Marie’s method differs from other’s organizational methods in that it encourages tidying by category instead of by room. First is always clothes- the first test of “does it spark joy?” Marie’s phrase “does it spark joy” asks us to reflect and introspect upon each item. Things to consider might be “do we love the way it fits”, “do we wear it often”, “does it hold high sentimental value?” If the answer is a strong yes to most or all questions, then the item may stay. If it’s that one yellow cardigan you bought 10 years ago because it looked good when we tried it on in the fitting room, but once home you could never quite decide whether or not you loved it and then completely missed the window to return it and now you realize you hadn’t thought about it in 9.5 years, then you should probably thank it for its service, however brief it may have been, and let it go. The same method and thought process is then applied to the other categories: books, papers, miscellaneous, and sentimental items. Again, do they spark joy? No? Thank them and let them go.
Perhaps what draws so many to this method is the aspect of mindfulness. As much as it is strategic and organized (literally), it encourages us to look inward as well as forward, acknowledging our past but focusing on making room for the future. Still, this cannot be achieved without a few ground rules that all must obey.
Rule Number 1: Commit Yourself to Tidying Up
This is not a do-it-when-you-can or feel like it kind of deal. Part of the process is acknowledging and truly recognizing our hoarding tendencies by forcing ourselves to confront our enormous piles of stuff. We cannot underestimate the power of shock value. Committing ourselves to seeing the process through is what will prevent us from falling into old habits. We’re responsible for the mess, we must clean it up.
Rule Number 2: Imagine Your Ideal Lifestyle
If you’re considering the Marie Kondo method, then you must be struggling amidst your physical and metaphorical obstacles. We all want neater, less stressful lives and picturing that ideal, more serene lifestyle is what will propel us to the finish line.
Rule Number 3: Finish Discarding First
Before we begin the organizational aspect of Marie’s tidying method, we must first get rid of all our excess. The discarding phase can be an arduous one, difficult and tiresome, but once that is complete, we can develop a clear and purposeful method for organization.