JAPAN’S DECLUTTERING GURU COMES CLEAN
Japanese decluttering diva Marie Kondo’s 2011 book, The LifeChanging Magic of Tidying Up, has sold millions of copies.
Her idea of keeping items only if they “spark joy ” has inspired many to toss mountains of household clutter.
Her KonMari method has six basic rules:
Commit yourself to tidying up. Imagine your ideal lifestyle. Finish discarding first. Tidy by category, not by location. Follow the right order.
Ask yourself if it sparks joy. Kondo is well aware of our complex relationship with stuff. In a recent chat, a reader inquired about “How many PJs do you think women should have. Summer and winter?”
Kondo’s response: “The KonMari Method does not set a numerical limit on the number of items you should own. Rather, it is about learning what items spark joy for you. For me personally, I own 15 sets of pyjamas in total — both summer and winter. Clearly pyjamas spark joy for me!”
But many of us aren’t so happy with the state of our closets, kitchens and garages. There are many reasons some people can’t seem to get a grip on the towering piles of things in their lives.
According to Kondo, four obstacles keep some of us buried in clutter. She offers some advice on how to overcome those obstacles:
Don’t blame the size of your home for your lack of organization. Kondo said she successfully organizes homes in Japan, where a 1,000-square-foot (93-squaremetre) home is considered large. Her advice: “When organizing a small house, it is important to store things in the same category together — don’t scatter them in different places around the house. To take full advantage of the storage systems you do have — such as the pantry or closet — make sure you store everything vertically. This will help you save space.”
Kondo’s main advice for dealing with sentimental items — say, things that remind you of a deceased loved one — is to tidy them up only after you have organized the less emotional categories. So start with clothing, books and papers. Kondo’s advice: “If you encounter any item in one of these categories that brings back a memory ... set it aside as part of the sentimental category. By tidying non-sentimental items first, you will give yourself time to sort through your thoughts and emotions before going through the sentimental items you have set aside.”
And those treasures that make you happy every time you look at them? “Keep them proudly,” she said.
If your parents give you gifts you don’t love, how do you get rid of them without feeling guilty? Kondo wrote that ideally, you should feel joyful when you receive a gift. After you express gratitude for it, it’s OK to get rid of it.
You don’t need to have funds set aside for buying organizational accessories, Kondo said. She believes you don’t need to buy anything to get started tidying up; just have a donation bag at the ready.
With her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, Marie Kondo set off a global decluttering craze.