After a demanding day, do you return to a peaceful sanctuary or to a cluttered house? For many people, enough is enough. Suddenly, decluttering and organising is everywhere you look. Yes, decluttering in North Wales is a thing! Part of this is due to Marie Kondo, the Japanese tidying expert with a signature fringe, whose Netflix series Tidying up with Marie Kondo is sparking joy, jokes and discussions across the world.
Marie wrote the New York Times best-seller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (also in manga) and Spark Joy. It’s the Netflix series, though, scheduled to ride the New Year wave of resolutions, that’s generating so many column inches and minutes of coverage.
How simple are Marie’s ideas and the KonMari method? And what do professional organisers say?
First of all, time
Decluttering and organising take time so that you’re not overwhelmed and things can settle. Marie Kondo’s approach is to do it ‘all at once’, by which she means in no more than six months. Experienced professional organisers usually work with clients once a week for as long as it takes, which could be much longer.
Imagine your ideal lifestyle
This is one of Marie’s rules and it’s got a lot going for it. KonMari is not about minimalism (although you’ll find yourself with many fewer things, if you follow it). It’s more about learning who you are and what you like.
Imagining a fully blown ideal lifestyle is a tall order for those of us who just want something like clear floorspace in the bedroom but it’s worth playing with. Even just an outline will encourage you to move forward.
Sparking joy and other emotions
None of us need negative things in our lives and Marie Kondo has a very positive approach. Her emphasis is on what to keep and that’s why she tells you to hold an item in your hand and ask yourself if it sparks joy.
Other organisers might ask whether you need something, want it or use it.
Joy is one of the emotions that decluttering can produce but be prepared for others. Decluttering can release complicated feelings.
Follow the right order
KonMari lays down a ‘right’ order of things to work on: clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellaneous) and, finally, sentimental items. This is to build up our ability to distinguish what sparks joy. It certainly makes sense to work on things such as letters, postcards and photos last. You’ll have built up stamina from all your other decluttering.
The order sounds nice and simple but scratch the surface and you will find many more categories underneath. The ‘komono’ category, for example, is huge, running from garage to loft, from toys to kitchen.
Rather than imposing an order, most professional organisers take their lead from their clients. Some are ready to tackle the ‘worst’ area in their home. Others have to build up slowly.
Marie Kondo says to let go with gratitude
The KonMari method advocates thanking items you are discarding for their service to you. This reflects Japanese culture’s respect for inanimate objects but it may be a step too far for you. Even so, for many people it raises questions about consumerism and how we live our lives.
Piling all the clothes on the bed? Really?
The huge pile is where many professional organisers part ways with Marie Kondo. She gathers everything in a category (clothes, say, or tools) so you can see exactly how much you have. This makes great television but it’s usually not a good fit with real life. For many of us it’s far too overwhelming. What’s more, it takes time to go through everything and we need to be able to use that bed tonight!
Some professional organisers declutter by category like Marie Kondo but others work room by room. Whichever approach they take, they always try to make a task achievable by breaking it down into smaller chunks. You can focus and it keeps the motivation going! A smaller chunk might be a category like jeans or hammers, for example. Or it could be just one shelf.
Marie gives each of her possessions a designated ‘living space’. Most of us know about this already: a place for everything and everything in its place. Here we all agree.
Marie Kondo and folding
Marie is big on folding clothes and storing them vertically in drawers. You save space, see everything at a glance and nothing is squashed at the bottom of a pile.
Many people see folding as a game changer. And others feel they have better things to do with their time. It really depends on the kind of person you are and the kind of home, storage and amount of time you have. Your choice.
Tidying up with Marie Kondo is an entertaining television show and it’s certainly captured people’s attention. People are talking about how clutter makes your already busy life even more pressurised and complicated. And how it affects family, relationships and work.
Things can be different, though! If you declutter and organise, you can transform your home and make space. Home can become a sanctuary, a safe space to regroup and revitalise yourself.
You don’t have to do it all at once – do what you can, even if it’s very small.
I’m going to give you a little insight into why I love my job.
I’ve been really enjoying it recently. I thought I’d try to understand why, just in case I could bottle it! Sadly, I don’t think that’s possible but it’s certainly been worth thinking about. Here are a few thoughts.
Why I love my job: the clients
I’m very privileged, as a professional organiser and declutterer, to be invited right into my clients’ lives. That’s right into their homes, and right into what makes them tick and how and why they live like they do. I’m invited in because my clients want change, which can be exciting, scary, challenging, liberating – and sometimes all of those things and more!
Together, we outline the decluttering or organising task we’re going to work on. And then we start to work on it. It’s hard work and it’s also fun. There’s definitely room for a laugh which is always good.
And, at the end of the day, we’ve made a difference! We’ve probably transformed something! That really is a great feeling.
Why I love my job: freedom, space and different places
I love the freedom of working for myself (it’s been 30+ years now). Yes, I’m a professional organiser and declutterer, but I also sometimes wear a different research and writing hat.
My two jobs are really quite similar, now I come to think of it. Both of them work at making sense and bringing order out of sometimes apparently quite unpromising beginnings. Decluttering and organising is very practical and hands-on, and my research and writing is more to do with ideas and facts, although often still quite practical.
Excitingly, making sense and bringing order usually produces space. And space is where new things can happen. That’s really good if you want to stop feeling stuck in your life.
Another reason why I love my job is that I am interested in places – why they are there and their different possibilities. Working as a professional organiser, I’m able to go to places I wouldn’t otherwise know existed, let alone visit and become involved with. Fabulous!
I love my job because it opens doors and windows in the here and now. Suddenly, when there is a sense of order and space there are new possibilities. That sounds good to me.