Out with the old, in with the fame. Or at least, that is how it goes for Marie Kondo – the woman who has gained international recognition for spearheading a revolution when it comes to tidying up.
Her KonMari method of organizing is simple. You throw out anything that is cluttering your home, and invite in the peace of mind that comes from keeping only items that make you happy.
According to Kondo, hold everything you own in your hands and physically “sense” whether or not it sparks joy. If yes, the item stays put. If no, out it goes – forever banished from your life.
“Tidying is a must. It is a step in raising one’s own awareness. When you are surrounded by items that make you happy, you can maintain an equilibrium at home,” she points out, in a past interview.
Kondo, 34, says that it is not just about removing unwanted physical clutter. A friendship or a love that does not do you any good or bring you joy, that should be cut out from your life as well.
“The perspective of a well-organised home gives us a clearer view of the things surrounding us. Therefore we are able to sort out our belongings, our thinking approaches and ideals in a better way.”
A simple enough philosophy, you would think. Yet it has taken the world by storm. The KonMari method is a global phenomenon, and Kondo’s books are celebrated in 42 countries as best sellers.
Japanese-born Kondo is said to have been a neat child herself. At the age of five years old, she apparently preferred to tidy up rather than play. This penchant for tidiness continued into her school years.
Whenever there was nomination for class roles, she did not seek to be the class representative or the pet feeder. Instead, she yearned to be the bookshelf manager to continue to tidy up books.
“One day, I had a kind of nervous breakdown and fainted. I was unconscious for two hours. When I came to, I heard a mysterious voice, like some god of tidying telling me to look at my things more closely,” she relates.
“Identifying the things that make you happy: that is the work of tidying.”
Kondo founded her organising consulting business when she was only 19 and a sociology student at Tokyo Woman’s Christian University. Since then, she has given many lectures and made several television appearances.
Her four books have collectively sold millions of copies – and translated from Japanese into various different languages, including Korean, Chinese, Spanish, Indonesian, French, German, Swedish and English.
Published in 2011, The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art Of Decluttering And Organizing (yes, ironically a mouthful to name) is however, her most successful to date.
The book has been published in more than 30 countries. It was named as a best-seller in Japan and Europe, with scores of readers singing praises for her KonMarie method of decluttering.
A Clutter Free World
If that isn’t enough, Kondo recently debuted with her own television programme. Produced by Netflix, Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, shows her helping clients clear out unwanted items and “makeover” their homes.
It offers viewers a further peek into her mind – which, presumably is as clutter-free as possible, but also cements her reputation as the ultimate guru when it comes to tidying up. Talk about world domination.
“My mission is to organise the world and spark joy in people’s lives. Through this partnership with Netflix, I am excited to spread the KonMari method to as many people as possible,” she states.
On screen, Kondo is seen to have her little quirks that make her unique. She taps old books to “wake them up”, folds clothes so that they can rest more comfortably and asks her clients to thank pieces of clothing for their service.
The cutest advice Kondo has ever given so far? She says that it is essential for a person to talk to their items. According to her, this will help discover the joy in keeping objects that are essential.
For example, to a remote control, you can say, ‘Thank you for supporting our family’s evening bonding time.’ Or ‘I appreciate your sleek design. Thanks for always being there to help me relax when I need a break,’” she points out.
“I have a secret for raising our joy level for things we know we need but that fail to excite us: shower them with praise. Let the items know that while they may not inspire joy, you really need them.”
There you have it. Want to really succeed at the KonMari method? If you can’t decide on which of your great many stuff to keep or toss away, then maybe you should try chatting them up instead.
Image: Marie Kondo
Writer | PY Cheong
PY Cheong has plied the trade of words long enough to recognise the difference between writing and storytelling. Believes in always dressing up his prose. Living and breathing the work he does.