The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying

Marie Kondo is a Japanese tidying expert, whose method of clearing away clutter for good is a simple two step method.

  1. Only keep the things that spark joy within you.
  2. Give everything a home, and store each item so that you can see it easily.

She is a fun combination of sweet and kooky, and psychologically intuitive and rather bossy. And she’s written a book called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying.”

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying: A Simple Way to Banish Clutter Forever, Marie Kondo

Her Japanese Shintoism means that she anthropomorphises objects and houses: handbags need a rest when they come home and houses express their pleasure when you greet them with thanks. Even though I’m not animist by any means, I do think there is value in recognising that we humans anthropomorphise our belongings anyway, and we feel guilty for throwing things out. So, for example, saying “thank you for making me feel beautiful in the past” can help us let go of the pretty dress that we never wear anymore.

How it works

Kondo recommends tackling your stuff as quickly as possible, in a series of categories for sorting, discarding and organising. The order of the categories is based on whether we tend to find those things easier or harder to discard. It begins with clothes, as she believes they are the easiest! So yesterday I began the process with all my clothing.

I went through every piece of clothing I own (except for those waiting to be washed) and holding each one asked myself the question “does this spark joy?” The conclusion I quickly began to draw was that almost none of my clothes do. There are a rare few, but none of my pyjamas, none of my vest tops, about two pairs of my socks spark joy. Things that I really can’t get rid of all in one go without replacements!

It also became clear that the items that spark joy in the abstract, aren’t necessarily the ones that actually look good on me. I think that may well be a flaw with her method. So I started to adapt the method, and tried putting on some of the clothes to help me make the decision.

Konmari drawer of tights

Once I was done, I also organised my underwear drawers the Konmari way, and my newly organised tights drawer is incredibly joyful thing! It used to be two drawers filled with a complete tangle of tights. One drawer for black ones, and one for other colours. I’ve gotten rid of the colours I never wear, and now there is one neat drawer of carefully organised tights. Delightful!

Konmari undwear drawer

So I now have two organised drawers of socks and things, three bags of donations, one bag of rubbish, and a box of clothes that possibly spark joy in me. I’m going to go back through the box (and possibly a few of my donations) with a fresh mind later to see whether I still agree with myself.

Konmari method clothing to discard

The whole exercise has really got me thinking. For example, how should Kondo’s method intersect with a Christian perspective on the blessing that is God’s good and abundant creation, and a holding lightly to possessions and the things of this life? I’m not sure I know the answer yet, but as I go through the process I’m sure my thoughts will begin to coalesce.

It also made me wonder why I’ve not bought new vest tops, socks or pants for so long! Just because nobody ever sees them doesn’t necessarily mean that I should wear clothes that make my heart sink because they’re really showing their age. Even on my tiny budget, I’m sure that I can replenish these items over the next few months, so that getting dressed is a more joyful experience.

… I’m really looking forward to completing the rest of this process!

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