Netflix: Tidying up with Marie Kondo

The life-changing magic of tidying up - the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing by Marie Kondo
Cover art from Barnes and Noble

Years ago, I read and highly recommended Japanese tidying guru Marie Kondo’s book titled The life-changing magic of tidying up – the Japanese art of decluttering and organising. After finishing reading the book, my husband and I were inspired by Marie’s tidying philosophy and were both eager to tidy up our wardrobe and books. It was a much smaller scale of organising compared to whole house decluttering, but still it took us a good half a day at least to get through it. The result left us both extremely satisfied. Marie is right, the process itself is cleansing. I had never felt so good about myself and had a clearer picture of the things that I would like to have in my life, that is, “spark joy” in me and have a more sensible approach to getting new things. Many years later, after 2 children and 3 maids, our house got messy again and we decided to reorganise our storeroom. This time, it took us one whole day to pull everything out, sort, clean, label and put everything back in logical order. In the end, we were exhausted but seeing the neat and tidy storeroom where everything is in first access order, it left us immensely happy.

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So you can imagine my delight when I see the series Tidying up with Kondo Marie showing on Netflix. I was excited and curious at the same time, to see how the petite, Japanese-speaking Marie tackle American household mess. After watching a few episodes, I am happy to see that the important principals of the KonMari Method was portrayed well in the reality TV show.

The KonMari method is simple actually, but it can be trying for some people to carry through. Ultimately, as Marie puts it in her book, first of all, we have got to want to tidy up. This process has got to start from us, having a desire to get more organised in our life. By starting with a strong motivation and with an end in mind, there is bound to be a successful end.

Of course, if you are over zealous, your house might end up like this.

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But hopefully, it is more like this.

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My takeaway from the KonMari method

Artwork from NewScientist

Begin with an end in mind

The motivation for tidying up and reorganising got to come within ourselves. Start by visioning what result you want to achieve.

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You get to know yourself better

Does it spark joy? This one simple maxim in deciding which item to keep and which item to discard can be difficult to grasp and follow through. I learnt that it is easier to start by holding the item that you obviously love the most and hold on to that feeling. That is your “joy”. Doing this exercise regularly as you sort through your items one by one will accustom yourself to be more aware of your own emotions, likes and dislikes. The sorting and elimination will then become easier and easier.

Photo from Home & Decor Singapore

Folding is important

Folding makes the clothes more compact and easily stored. Also, the KonMari folding method props the folded clothes up neatly and easy to see and retrieve.

Photo from Decider

Boxes are important

After watching Marie Kondo on Netflix, a lot of viewers are probably going to buy a lot of boxes. The small guru always arm herself and her interpreter with boxes of all sizes to help her clients store their items properly. The boxes help give the items a “home” so we know exactly where to place them back after use. Using boxes just makes so much sense.

Photo from YouTube

It gets worse before it gets better (much better)

Do not despair if, after days of tidying, you find your room not any much neater. In fact, the mess seems to have worsen. This is what is to be expected – the disorder and puke before a yoga cleansing.

Photo from The Loop HK

It is not just about tidying up

Marie Kondo applies the Japanese shintoism belief that things in nature are sacred and spiritual and this translates into mindfulness and gratitude in tidying up. So we are mindful of our “joy” and thankful to the things which have served us before but we need to discard them now.

Marie Kondo said she does not need to tidy her room again after the initial tidying up because her room is already tidy. In other words, after you spent a weekend, weeks or even months tidying up, you should only spend minimal time in maintenance.

Well, I look around my house and cannot help but see lack of maintenance in lots of spaces. Looks like it’s time to KonMari my house again!

If you are gearing up to KonMari your room too, after watching the TV series on Netflix, I urge you to read Marie Kondo’s books first as they expound her declutter philosophy and method in detail.

Kondo Marie – The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – The Japanese Art of De-cluttering and Organising

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Late last year, Sweng and I put our hands on New York Times #1 Best-selling guide to de-cluttering, Kondo Marie’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – The Japanese Art of De-cluttering and Organising.

It is Kondo Marie’s zen-like de-cluttering philosophy that intrigued and inspired us to start reading her book. Instead of conventional tidying up methods that give quantitative guidelines (reduce your bins of clothes into half, have X number of good shirts, pants, dress etc), Kondo Marie (or so-called KonMari method focuses on qualitative de-cluttering. “Does this item spark joy in me?” is the only question you need to ask yourself when you pick up each of your item, one by one, and answer truthfully.

Since then, we have started cleaning out our house and both Sweng and I truly benefited from Kondo Marie’s teachings. We are both not hoarders to begin with, so the result is not life-changing, but it is indeed very gratifying to see living space in our wardrobes, filled with pieces that we individually love and now wear often. I also developed a habit of removing all my items in my bag after my day’s work and place them in allocated space (yes, every single item – purse, umbrella, keys, bus pass, small bags containing small miscellaneous item such as tissue packs, clipper and plasters). All my bags go into designated shelves much like parking lots for them. This gives me a sense of accomplishment every day. Things are tidier, the bags can breathe better and I can find my items easier.  I must confess though that the organisation of books and toys in our house are still not up to the vKonMari standard. It is tricky with young children in the family. But I have made the silent resolution to deal with it some time later, probably the June holidays.

It is a key point in the KonMari method that this de-cluttering work be done swiftly in a short span of time (in our previous experience, we took a week). And if done properly, we only need to do it once in our lifetime. The rest are just daily simple upkeep.

It is gratifying to know that none of Kondo Marie’s clients have reverted back to their decluttering lifestyle after adopting her method and I can see why. If you truly follows through KonMari’s method, you would have internalised her philosophy and realised for yourself how many items you really need, what kind of lifestyle you really want to live, what kind relationship you want to build and other deeper realisation, and there would be no turning back because you would find yourself more peaceful and at ease with your present. So why would you want to go back to your old cluttered lifestyle?

I highly recommend this book to anyone (and not just hoarders). You might be interested to check these videos to learn more about the KonMari method:

Kondo Marie talks about her book and what she does

Kondo Marie speaking at Google Play

Kondo Mari helping a client tidying up her bookshelves

KonMari method of folding shirt

KonMari method of folding underwear