If keeping things organized were a superpower, then Marie Kondo is the Supergirl of home tidying. The renowned author and organizing consultants book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing exploded into mainstream consciousness and inspired people to only keep what “sparks joy.”
Even if you haven’t read her book yet, her show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix will give you a good overview of her cleaning philosophy, a.k.a. the KonMari Method. In a nutshell, her patented way of tidying up is this: you sort your items by category, keep the stuff that still makes you happy, and discard the items that don’t. Her approach to decluttering isn’t just about creating a better living space for everyone.
After gleefully watching her highly anticipated Netflix series, we jotted down some of the things we learned from Marie Kondo. Here are five life lessons you can apply to your everyday life.
1. The KonMari Method works
Unlike cleaning up your house room by room like a SWAT team, Kondo encourages you to sort all your things in five categories: clothing, books, documents, komono (miscellaneous items), and sentimental items.
In addition to following this category, you should also follow the said order. Kondo advised people to go through sentimental items last. “If you encounter sentimental items while tidying, I recommend that you address them last when your sensitivity to joy has become sufficiently heightened,” she says.
2. Keep the things that make you happy
At the heart of Marie Kondo’s tidying philosophy is joy, which sounds silly if the reason you want to get into organization is to take back some control in your things. However, the more you explore her lessons in cleaning, the more you are inclined to agree.
Once you’ve sorted through your items by their categories, you have to pick them up one by one, see if they still spark joy in your body. If you get that warm and fuzzy feeling while looking at a piece of clothing, then you should still keep it. If not, it’s time to go full Ariana Grande and say “thank you, next.”
Why is joy a crucial part of the process? It’s easy to fall down the spiral of needlessly holding on to things, but why should you keep something that doesn’t make you happy anymore?
And it’s not just applicable to the items that you own. You can even KonMari your job, friends, and even your significant other. When the spark is no longer there, thank them for their service—and let go.
3. A cluttered home can lead to a cluttered life
Despite his punk demeanor, the late Anthony Bourdain wrote in his book the importance of a well-tended mise en place: a culinary worker’s battle station where everything is in place. According to his book Kitchen Confidential, a chaotic “meez” is a reflection of a person’s mental state and “you’ll quickly find yourself spinning in place and calling for backup.”
For Marie Kondo’s cleaning ethos, the same also rings true. During the course of the show, the tidying wunderkind would go through a messy home, help them sort through their stuff, and let the people figure out how to declutter their homes.
By the end of the episodes, it wasn’t only the houses were cleaner, but people’s lives also became better. There’s no explosive ending that is typical of your reality TV shows, but when you listen to people’s testimonials as an episode wraps, people have been changed for the better. In addition, their relationships have also improved. Indeed, a messy home is a reflection of a messy mind.
4. Pile up your things before you sort them
Kondo believes that the first step in putting your house in order is to gather the things under the same category and stack them on top of the others until they form a huge pile. This way, you can see the scale of your problems and you’ll be forced to go through each piece of accouterment one by one.
This may only seem like it’s just a nifty way to systematically arrange your items. Fortunately, there’s more to that.
When you take everything out and put them all in a big pile, not only your cleaning habits are being put into perspective but also some of your problems. Sometimes, there are redundancies in your life you have to address. Meanwhile, there is just so much clutter that you need to cut down your fluff just to make your life easier. It’s your way to face your problems and finally deal with them once and for all. It may seem like you’re facing an insurmountable enemy, but eventually, you’ll emerge.
5. Say thank you even when you’re parting ways with something
Like joy, gratitude is one of the recurring values being taught by Marie Kondo to the people she KonMari’ed on the show.
Before she touched people’s lives with her magic, she would invite people to pause for a bit and say thank you to their homes for giving them protection every day. She tells people to offer their appreciation to the things they have to discard. It’s amusing how these simple rituals she started kept on surprising people throughout the show.
Saying thank you has become a lost art in this day and age. Now that everything is instant, we have become accustomed to getting things our way, only to lash out when they go otherwise.
By expressing our gratitude whether or not things still work our way, you are making sure that people will still do things for others because they know they’re being acknowledged. Let’s make the world a little kinder, one “thank you” at a time.