I have been a fan of Japanese organizer and author Marie Kondo and her work for several years now. I have read both of her books, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and “Spark Joy.” I have used her organizing techniques (which she calls KonMari) in my own home and occasionally with clients. So naturally, I eagerly anticipated the chance to see Kondo in action. After all, reading a description of someone’s organizing philosophy in their book is a completely different experience from seeing the person actively organizing with clients.
Several months ago, my newspaper article described Kondo’s books, her organizing methods, and my opinion of her work extensively (you can view that article at https://bit.ly/2RlYyXt). But for those who haven’t heard of her, here’s a brief description. Kondo’s basic organizing method, which she calls tidying, involves a big one-time process of going through all of your belongings in a very particular order. While most people organize a small area at a time, the KonMari method goes by category of items, beginning with clothing.
When tidying up clothing, you gather up each article of clothing from every area of the home, including closets, drawers and other rooms. Put every piece of clothing in one pile (perhaps on a bed). Once it’s all in one pile, only then can you see how much clothing you own. Then you begin the process of choosing what items to keep by picking up each one and deciding whether the item “sparks joy.”
Defining what sparks joy is a very personal decision, but the way I would describe it for clothing is that the item fits now, it feels good, it is flattering, and you look forward to wearing it. Anything that doesn’t spark joy should be removed from the home after thanking it for its service. Complete the same process with the same method (gathering every item in the category and going through them one at a time) with the other categories. After clothing, tidy up books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items), and then mementos (items with sentimental value) in that order.
Here are four reasons I think you should watch “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo”:
This show clearly demonstrates the benefits of decluttering. This is far and away the No. 1 benefit of watching this show, and of decluttering in general. When we come face to face with the volume of our possessions and take steps to decrease that volume, the results can be truly transformative. The benefits go far beyond making our home look better. In the show, Kondo’s clients report these results and more: improved relationship with spouse, sense of calm, more time as a family, more creativity, viewing possessions differently, finding valuable things they hadn’t seen in years, changing the atmosphere of the house, changing daily habits, decreased stress, change in family dynamic, working together better, looking forward to the future, and motivation to never accumulate that way again. And those are only from the first five episodes!
It just might give you the motivation you need. Each of the eight episodes features a different demographic, so it is likely that at least one of the episodes will resonate with you. The eight episodes include a family with toddlers, a married couple in the empty nest stage, a family who has recently downsized, a widow, students, a family with a mountain of clutter, expectant parents, and newlyweds blending two households. There will be at least one client (or several) that you can relate to, and seeing their success may help motivate you to do some organizing of your own and to envision your own success.
You can learn some practical organizing tips. In addition to the vignettes with clients, each episode contains demonstrations of practical organizing tips for specific items, such as Christmas decorations, purses/totes, sentimental items, or sheets. One of my favorite Marie Kondo techniques is the way she recommends folding and storing T-shirts and linens. Let’s face it — who doesn’t need help with neatly folding a fitted sheet? That skill continues to elude me!
You get a pretty good idea of what it’s like to work with a professional organizer. Aside from a few cultural differences (such as greeting the home by quietly kneeling on the floor and literally thanking an item for its service before discarding it), Kondo’s practice of working with clients is very similar to that of most organizers. Organizers begin by getting to know a little bit about their clients, finding out their specific needs, their motivation, and their goals so that we can tailor our efforts to our client’s individual preferences and needs. We work side by side with our clients, teaching organizing principles as we go. We may assign homework to complete between sessions. Because the process can sometimes be difficult, especially if we are working with sentimental items, we are always sensitive to our client’s emotional needs. We work together as a team and celebrate the victories together.
If you watch the show and decide that you would like to work with an organizer, I would love to talk with you more about it! I can help you declutter your entire home in multiple sessions over time as Marie Kondo does on the show. Or I can help you with one small area of your home that needs to be in better order. Whatever your needs, contact me today, and let’s get started!
Angie Hyche is a professional organizer and owner of Shipshape Solutions in Kingsport. Email her at beshipshape@ gmail.com.