Published in 2014, tidying expert Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up has become a national phenomenon, riding the waves of what has become a recent obsession with minimalism.
However, Kondo’s KonMari method is much more than just minimalism. In fact, it takes the basic principle of minimalism to a new and — in my opinion — much smarter level.
The put it simply, the KonMari method can be summed in a single sentence:
Unless something brings you joy, you must get rid of it.
This can be applied to material possessions, however, it can also be applied to immaterial things such as your schedule or what you decide to spend your time doing.
It sounds simple but it’s deceptively complex and not at all as unrealistic as it might at first seem (I know what you’re thinking — no, you wouldn’t end up tossing all of your socks, but you will learn how to fold them effectively).
We’ll dive more into how to apply the KonMari method more in a bit. However, the more pressing question — given that it takes a bit of a hard commitment on your end to follow through with it — is this: should you consider the KonMari method?
The objective of cleaning is not just to clean, but to feel happiness living within that environment.
– Marie Kondo
Why you should consider the KonMari method
The KonMari method isn’t about decluttering.
On the surface, sure, it’s about decluttering your life in all possible ways.
However, when you reach further down to the surface — the heart of what Kondo is having you do — it’s about changing the way you look at everything in your life.
As Kondo puts it, “It is very natural for me to say thank you to the goods that support us.”
As Kondo puts it, it’s really about gratitude. It’s about realizing the joy that the things in our life bring us more than it is about creating joy or finding it. It was always there, we just never noticed it.
However, by paying attention to the joy that the things in your life bring you, you create a way of finding joy in everything and in every moment.
So, why should you consider the KonMari method?
I’m not a KonMari fanatic in any way, I already live very intentionally and in a similar fashion through my long-standing practice of mindfulness meditation. So, I’m not suggesting any of this because I have a preference or some idea that you must follow this specific method to find this same joy.
However, having said that, the KonMari method offers a reliable path to finding joy in everyday life — and a more intentional, purposeful life — with no prior training at all.
If you already lead a very purposeful life, if you know what your passion is and you’re following it relentlessly, or if you find joy easily in daily life and live a minimal, intentional lifestyle, I’d say you probably don’t need it.
However, if you don’t have either of those things or don’t consider yourself close to mastery on either (are any of us?), it has a lot to give.
How to apply the KonMari method
Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up offers a thorough explanation on how to apply her method.
However, for a concise explanation to get you started — or just to see whether you’re interested in giving it a try — you can use these simple instructions:
- Gather all similar things together at once (don’t do it by room): That means you should probably assess your schedule, clothing, furniture, and other categories all separately from one another, not all at once. And don’t do it by room as that’s far less effective and doesn’t get to the heart of the point of the exercise.
- Review those things and ask not whether it’s necessary (or useful) but if it brings you joy: This doesn’t mean what you probably think it does. The blinds you have in your bedroom that keep you from being woken up at 5:00 A.M. can, in fact, bring you joy if you really rather not wake up that early. Your socks can bring you joy if having no socks would leave your feet miserably cold. So, think of modern comforts of all kinds and not just video games, T.V., books, and bath salts.
- Designate a specific space for the item: A big part of the KonMari method isn’t just decluttering but also establishing a system that avoids falling back into a habit of cluttering moving forward (because, otherwise, what’s the point?). Kondo suggests simple storage solutions that make the item both easy to put away and easy to get to when you need it.
Ultimately, the only way to know how the KonMari method works for you is to try it. It’s definitely worth a try, no matter what you’re life is like and how much clutter you think — or don’t think — you have.