As a digital nomad and journalist, I travel the world while logging around 70 articles a month. To effectively manage a country-hopping lifestyle while also building my bylines and clients, I turn to the advice of seasoned movers-and-shakers who have developed habits and strategies for success. Each week, I’ll highlight the daily routine of influential professionals, making for the right kind of fodder while you down your coffee.
Unless you’re one of the rare breeds who hasn’t adopted a healthy addiction to Netflix, you’ve likely seen at least one episode of the new hit series, Tidying Up With Marie Kondo. Her advice, inspired by the south pacific, has swept the nation, encouraging singles, couples and families to rid of items that no longer spark joy.
The Kondo method has certainly brought bliss to Marie, a Japanese-born author and organizing whiz, who has sold millions of copies worldwide. Her hit novel The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up has been published in more than 30 countries, and was not only an American best-seller, but in Japan and Europe, too. The mom of two and her husband currently live in Los Angeles, as Kondo beefs up her show and publicity, as well as many speaking engagements globally.
In addition to her unique perspective on how to rid of clutter in an abode, Kondo also practices other rituals and habits that allow her to accumulate an impressive net worth of $9 million. Here, a few you can incorporate into your day-to-day, perhaps creating less chaos and fostering more happiness:
She focuses on her life and happiness — not things.
As millennials occupy more and more of the workforce, the balance between social and professional obligations has blended together, especially since this generation is said to value experience and life over income or items.
Kondo also adopts this approach and stands by this mindset, writing in her book, “It is not our memories but the person we have become because of those past experiences that we should treasure. This is the lesson these keepsakes teach us when we sort them. The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.”
Part of her so-called magic for cleaning up is connected to where she puts emphasis. In fact, she told Japan Society that by facing our things — from towels and clothes to knick-knacks — we face ourselves. This forces us to really examine what makes us feel fulfilled, and more often than not, it’s not items — but people and adventures.
She lives in the present.
Part of the reason many people hang onto t-shirts from college or a gift from an ex-lover is the memory that it holds. Even though we rarely wear any of these decade-old items, the thought of giving them up means also giving up that part of our lives. While difficult, countless psychologist and behavioral therapist stress the importance of living deeply in today — not in tomorrow, or in yesterday.
Kondo has this mindset too, writing in her book, “No matter how wonderful things used to be, we cannot live in the past. The joy and excitement we feel here and now are more important,” and “Your past will become a weight that holds you back and keeps you from living in the here and now. To put things in order means to put your past in order, too. It’s like resetting your life and settling your accounts so that you can take the next step forward.”
If you consider what could be holding you back from going for that promotion, asking that person out or taking the next step in your life, it’s likely a fear that’s rooted in the past. When you let go, you make space for growth. Or in the advice of Kondo, physical space for other things that could make you even happier.
She takes time to be gracious.
Kondo rises early — usually around 6 or 6:30 a.m. — sans alarm. She has a ritual of opening the windows and lighting an incense before turning to her kamidana, a traditional altar in Japan. Here, she’ll tidy up salt, rise and evergreen fonds, before getting a jumpstart on her day.
This is where she practices one of her most important rituals, according to an interview with The Cut: praying for friends and for life. It’s something inherently important to her, and something she’s practiced for a while. “This is not a religious thing really at all. It’s just for me to take this time every morning to feel gratitude,” she shared. “It’s a practice I started when I was still single, maybe about seven years ago.”
She sets priorities — and adheres to them.
If you follow the advice or read the wisdom of any successful entrepreneur, you’ll find many stay the course of their careers by setting goals, maintaining priorities and keeping a schedule. For Kondo, the most important to do’s on her list change daily, forcing her to be flexible on a whim.
“The structure of my day really depends on what I’m focusing on at that particular point in time. I might reassess my priorities at the start of a new year or on my birthday, but it’s not fixed like that,” she explains. “My husband and I will talk about where we’re at now and ask ourselves, ‘How much do we need to be working? How much time can we devote to family?’ Right now I’m focusing on work. I’m starting this new project. This is where I’m at now, so I’m looking ahead to making that happen. Until recently though, I was putting all of my energy into family.”
This open-minded mindset allows Kondo — and her loved ones — to shift with change and adapt easily, depending on whatever demands are thrown their direction.
She resets — with tea.
Everyone needs to exercise a ‘pause’ button from time-to-time — even the motivated and wise Kondo. As a way to center herself, or reset, she’ll grab a cup of tea and take a breath.
“After I’ve accomplished a few things or start to feel tired, I’ll get up and make another cup. I probably have about 15 different kinds of tea in my cupboard at any given time. I usually have herb tea when I wake up in the morning, green tea with breakfast, black tea in the afternoon, and herb tea again in the evening,” she shared with The Cut.
No matter if you take a moment to get up from your desk for a cup of tea or coffee, take a walk around the block or do a 10-minute meditation, regular breaks can spark your creativity, teach you to refocus and well, be the breath of fresh air you need for… joy.
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