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Can Tidying Really Change Your Life? Marie Kondo Thinks So


If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, you’ll know that I’ve recently lost my mind and started implementing something called the KonMari Method. I’ve previously described it as comprising of two steps:

  1. Gather all your shit together in one big pile.
  2. Throw it all away.

While I still maintain that that’s a pretty accurate assessment, I thought some of you might want a more detailed introduction to what it is and what it involves.

The method is outlined in Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying” (or, in some versions, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”). It’s quite a quick read so, if you’re interested in doing a MAJOR decluttering of your belongings, then I’d highly recommend picking it up (it comes in Kindle format too).

Ms. Kondo is a young Japanese woman who is a self-titled tidying expert. She’s been studying cleaning and decluttering since the age of 5, and sounds like just my type of anal retentive. She used to run around cleaning her house and organising all her belongings, which I can only hope my own little girl does one day so I can put my feet up.

Long story short, she thinks that this whole ‘tidying a little at a time’ thing is bullshit and that you should man up and do all the hard work in one go. (She calls it a tidying “festival”. She sounds crazy. But in a lovely way.) For her, it’s “aiming for perfection just once”.

Her two steps are a little different to mine: “deciding whether or not to throw something away and deciding where to put it. If you can do these two things, you can indeed achieve perfection.”

She’s also not a fan of going room by room, or area by area. Nope, you have to go category by category, starting with clothes. So you drag every single item of clothing you own into one place. I guess it’s a form of shock therapy — you can’t deny how many black t-shirts and pairs of jeans you have when they’re all there, staring you in the face. Our clutter is “caused by our ignorance of how much we actually own”.

Marie Kondo. KonMari Method. KonMari Adventures. Decluttering. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
Here’s the lady herself in a client’s cluttered closet.

Once they’re all gathered together, you go through each one (yes, one at a time) and you ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?” (Look, I know it sounds silly, but don’t shoot the messenger.) You have to physically touch them; you can’t just look at them in your wardrobe or glance through them in your dresser. They all have to be pulled out and held. (Same with books; you can’t just look at the spines on the shelf.) She reckons this is the only way you’ll really know if you love an item or not.

The idea is that you decide what to keep rather than what to throw away, to try to eliminate some of the guilt associated with getting rid of things. You decide what you really love, and let go of everything else. And you thank the latter for serving some form of purpose in your life. Once you’ve discarded everything that doesn’t “spark joy”, you organise what’s left by designating an official place for it in your home, so that you always know where everything goes.

It starts off quite structured, with clear, definable categories, but then descends into what she calls “komono”. So it’s clothes, books, papers… EVERYTHING ELSE IN YOUR ENTIRE HOUSE. It’s like she got a few categories in and thought, “Fuck this shit. You’re on your own, bitches.”

And, to top it all off, even though she describes it as tidying “all in one go”, she estimates that the process will take an average of 6 months.

So yeah, not daunting at all. *gulp*

Clothes mountain

But I’m up for the challenge. I mean, she claims that following this method means never having to tidy up again, bar the daily ‘putting things back in their place’ routine. But no more frantic shoving of things into cupboards before guests arrive, or tripping over the trousers you threw on the floor, or frenzied searches for items that never seem to be around when you need them. Like pens. And passports. It’s supposed to eliminate the “rebound” effect, whereby you spend hours and hours tidying, only to find that everything’s messy again a few days later and you’re back to square one.

I can also see how, having spent all that time tidying and organising, you’d be loathe to undo all your good work by letting it all fall down around your ears. It’d be like attending an intensive exercise bootcamp to achieve the body you’ve always dreamed of, and then feasting on burgers and chocolate thereafter.

“All you need to do is look at each item, one at a time, and decide whether or not to keep it and where to put it.” If you think about it, how much of your life have you already dedicated to cleaning up your junk? I’d wager it’s been more than 6 months. So why not spend the next 6 doing it all together in one go, and then being free of the mess monster forever?

Sound too good to be true? Only one way to find out!


{ I’ll be posting pictures of my progress over on Instagram (@HowToGYST) if you fancy following along. I’ll also be documenting the process on YouTube, so head on down that way if you want to see me talk about how I’m getting on (and, presumably, see me tear my hair out). }


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16 Responses

  1. Just watched your wrap up video and it echos how I have felt. I have just started the KonMari method with the clothes category and it has made me so so happy. Every morning the speed in which I can find my clothes, select what I want to wear and be out of the bedroom gives me a little jump for joy. Thanks for sharing your feedback on the entire process. 🙂

    1. Thanks for watching! Yes, getting dressed is now a MUCH simpler process for me too. And starting the day on a happy note helps the rest of the day run a little smoother too. =) Best of luck on your KonMari journey!

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