It’s been years since Marie Kondo wrote her now famous Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and a little while since her Netflix series which led to thrift shops getting deluged with donations. There’s not a new book out (or a new TV series) but her ideas continue to circulate, with plenty of official and unofficial “KonMari” consultants offering to help you go through and sort your stuff. Yet, with all her success, some people still continue to resist her ideas and experience. With all our experience visiting and cleaning homes, we wanted to share our perspectives on why we think Marie knows what she’s talking about.
1. Method to the Madness
Just talking about decluttering and sorting our things sounds exhausting and stressful. That’s why Marie’s method is so helpful. It doesn’t require you to do everything in one day but still allows you to build momentum. Instead of going room by room, she has you work in categories.
For example, she recommends starting with clothes. You would grab all the clothing from all over the house and bring it into several piles. You then work through all those clothes with a simple “keep” or “donate/give away” mentality. This doesn’t mean that this task won’t be challenging or time consuming, but it does mean that once you’ve completed it, you’ll be able to check the clothes box off your list and will start the snowball of momentum you’ll need to keep going through other categories, like books, paper, sentimental items, etc.
2. Joy: Sparked
There’s a tremendous mental load that makes many people avoid dealing with the decluttering issue altogether. Marie is challenging people to think about the objects they have in a way that they are not used to: do they spark joy? This phrase that she has become known for can polarize people, as they mistakenly think it means that you have to have strong emotional feelings about the things you want to keep, but part of what she’s really pointing to is the place the object occupies in our lives at this moment.
Perhaps it’s a book you once wanted to read but no longer have interest in. Or it’s a jacket you thought would look good when you bought it but have never worn. Whatever the object, you should feel a desire to use/keep it, and often that will manifest as contentment or joy when you see it.
3. “Key” Tips
Something we see many of our clients do that makes a lot of sense not just in a vacation rental, but in a regular home, is to have a consistent “place” for everything. Keys always go in the same place, or all tools go in a certain drawer, or all office supplies are found on a certain shelf.
Such routines not only prevent losing items, but they allow us to see if we have unnecessary duplicates that can be more useful to someone else.
4. Method for Maintenance
Once you’ve gone through a full KonMari decluttering, you have the template for maintenance: periodically do it again on a schedule that makes sense to you. Maybe that’s as frequent as once a quarter or as rare as once a year or every two years. Once you’ve done it once, you know that maintenance will only take a fraction of that time.
5. Challenges Our Relationship With Stuff
The reality is that owning things doesn’t just take up physical space, it takes up mental real estate as well. The fewer things that we can own, the more mental real estate we can free up for more important things.
Marie’s not against having stuff. She’s against having things you don’t care about, need, or want. She wants to empower you to dump those things.
6. Happiness Matters
Sometimes we can get intellectual or abstract about happiness and forget the joy that comes from wearing a t-shirt that has a special memory attached to it, or from using a wallet that has a design that you love, or from re-reading a favorite dog-eared book for the umpteenth time. The things we own don’t have to own us. We can leverage them to add bits of happiness to our everyday lives.
You don’t have to agree with everything Marie Kondo preaches, but a lot of her advice is worth trying at least once. In all likelihood, you’ll be glad you did.
This content originally appeared in our monthly Open Calendar Club Newsletter.