Why decluttering is an experience...

Before you embark on your marathon cleaning session, sit back and visualise the life a clutter-free space will give you. Then, you dive in.

Confession no 1: I own too many clothes, shoes, bags and pieces of jewellery.

Confession no 2: I end up using one-third of my wardrobe.

Confession no 3: My cupboards are messy. Fraying lingerie, yellow-stained shirts, clothes that don’t fit right (but will, once I lose 10 kilos), styles I will never wear (hello, boyfriend jeans and spaghetti tops), broken jewellery, faux-leather shoes with peeling surfaces, bags with broken clasps, giving off a musty pong... I am guilty of it all and more. And I have still not gotten to my bookshelf, stuffed with ancient Blytons and photocopies of textbooks, or my cosmetic bag filled with 2007-purchased lipsticks and curdling face cream. Which perhaps explains the frequent self-actualisation crises I am prone to.

Quit the clutter

“Clutter is a mirror that reflects the clutter inside your mind and heart,” says expert declutterer and professional cleaner, Marie Kondo, who helps her clients transform their cluttered homes into beautiful, peaceful ones. “Living in a tidy space allows you to use your time more efficiently, by reducing time spent looking for things,” believes Tokyo-based Kondo.

Why decluttering is an experience...

Enter the KonMari Method (KonMari is her nickname) of tidying, the principles of which are captured in her best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, published in 2011, but still relevant, especially at the beginning of the year. It is an all-or-nothing approach, so if you are the cautious sort who prefers discarding things item by item or finds frequent cleaning a therapeutic activity, this may take some getting used to. And though the entire process takes a little time – about 6 months or so – you will never have to grapple with chaos again. “I believe that tidying is not simply organising your house. It is a once-in-a-lifetime project of facing your sense of values and making your life a happier one,” says Kondo.

The cleaning queen

Marie Kondo’s interest in tidying began early. “I became interested in tidying when I was five years old,” says Kondo. She pored over books and women’s magazines, gathering as much information about tidying as she could and, “began serious research on the topic by age 15. I spent my whole adolescence studying the subject,” she says, with a flourish.

Greatly inspired by Nagisa Tatsumi’s The Art of Discarding: How to Get Rid of Clutter and Find Joy, she became obsessed with discarding things. “However, as a result of discarding every item that I didn’t need, and looking for more items to discard each day, I suffered a nervous breakdown and finally fainted from the stress,” recalls Kondo.

The incident proved to be transformational. Instead of seeing tidying as a negative activity that focuses on searching for things that she didn’t like, it became a process centred on positivity. “I realised that what is truly important in tidying is not searching for things to discard, but deciding on which things to keep,” she says, adding that this is how the core of the KonMariMethod, ‘keeping things that spark joy for you’, was created.

By the age of 19, she had started working as an organising consultant, gaining more and more clients through word of mouth, “as people began to share the positive effects my tidying method had on their lives,” says Kondo, who currently runs a hugely successful business in Tokyo.

The founder and chief visionary officer of KonMari Media Inc is also a bestselling author: her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, has sold more than 7 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 38 languages — there’s even a Manga version. Her services command a 6-month-long waiting list; she offers an intensive training programme for tidying professionals to certify them as KonMari Consultants, and has launched an app for people to track their cleaning more effectively. “Today, I am still as passionate as ever about tidying, and hope to introduce the method to as many people as possible around the globe,” she says.

The KonMari Method

Before you embark on your marathon cleaning session, sit back and visualise the life a clutter-free space will give you. Then, you dive in.

You begin by discarding — not by location but by category. So instead of first tackling your wardrobe, then your kitchen cabinets, your bathroom, bookshelf and loft, you start with a category of items, finish that one, and then move on to the next.“Before choosing what to keep, collect everything that falls within the same category at one time.

Take everything out and lay everything in one spot,” she instructs in her book. She even suggests a sequence: clothes first, then books, papers, miscellaneous items (komono), and lastly, sentimental items and keepsakes.Then you decide which ones you want to keep, and which you don’t.

“The most important process during tidying is to ask yourself whether each and every item you own sparks joy for you and makes you happy right now,” says Kondo, who also offers instructions on how to store and manage your possessions once you finish this crucial step.

Living in this decluttered environment, surrounded only by things you truly love, is cathartic, claims Kondo, who says that she has seen her clients improve their physical and emotional health and make better life decisions after this tidying spree.

“When you successfully finish tidying, the atmosphere you live in is beautifully organised and you can feel even the inside of your mind becoming clear, allowing you to raise your self image and live positively in all areas of your life,” she says.

You can follow Marie Kondo on Twitter at @MarieKondo

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 9:16:03 AM |

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