How to “Marie Kondo” your lifestyle

Living room

When you hear the term ‘spark joy’, what does it mean for you? Chances are, it may not resonate, or you may already have considered its meaning at length by putting into place your own methods. But according to Japanese organising consultant, author, and Netflix sensation, Marie Kondo, the very term is a way of finding life and joy in many places.

“Spark Joy” is Marie Kondo's in-depth tidying masterclass, a book in which she focuses on how to declutter and better organise your home. And whilst the tidying expert-extraordinaire may come across as softly spoken and a little shy, she sure knows what she’s talking about it when it comes to getting rid of things that don’t make you happy and overhauling your lifestyle.

By focusing on getting rid of the unnecessary physical clutter, in turn, this way of thinking can impact on other areas of your life. From your everyday essentials to your personal relationships and future-proofing your life, read on to find out how to “Marie Kondo” your lifestyle and put in place methods to help future proof not just your life, but your families’ too.

So, what exactly is the Marie Kondo method?

On first thought, you may think it’s just another fancy term for everyday cleaning, however Marie Kondo describes it as something more. “The tidying process you are about to embark on is not about decluttering your house or making it look neat on the spur of the moment for visitors. Rather, you are about to tidy up in a way that will spark joy in your life and change it forever.”

So much for just a daily clean and tidy around the house. When you first enter the mind-set of ‘sparking joy, it can come across as a little intimidating but really, it's all about how you break it down and apply it to the areas of your life, and not just to the space where you live. Kondo states that “Once you have experienced what your house feels like when it is completely tidy in the true sense of the term, you will never want to return to clutter, and the strength of that feeling will empower you to keep it tidy.”

Just how can this method impact on your lifestyle?

The method itself offers many meaningful tips and tricks for living a less cluttered, more fulfilled life. It can teach you to separate sentiment from nostalgia. Have you ever started tackling a certain room or part of your house only to be met with a moment of nostalgia along the way? From photographs to letters, the only thing this creates is a rabbit-hole effect, meaning you’re unable to focus on the task at hand. Kondo advises to focus on one category at a time, so you know what you’re working with and avoid any form of procrastination.

The method also teaches you how to keep only what you need - the things than really ‘spark joy’ and if you find yourself unsure of what to get rid of, it also teaches you to focus completely on your instinct and not spend too much time getting lost in your thoughts. According to Kondo, we think far too much about the process of clearing-out and get lost in our thoughts or ‘maybe one day I’ll wear it’ or ‘I might need to use it one day’. Kondo insists that we need to confront our belongings honestly and work out straight away whether it truly sparks joy.

The same principles can be applied outside of your home, to work and personal relationships, albeit with a little tweaking. You wouldn’t want to throw away a relationship solely based on instinct. But the sentiment is all the same.

With this in mind, here are some noteworthy tips from the KonMari method to help you achieve your ideal lifestyle:

1. Tackle categories, not rooms

When you reach a certain stage of your life, it can be difficult to declutter. But one of the ways in which the Marie Kondo method works is to approach your clutter by category and not by room. A common mistake many people make when tidying up is to go around from room to room. One of the reasons this doesn't work is because more often than not, you just end up shuffling things around. You feel more lost than ever about the number of items you own, what you need to get rid of and just how much joy your items are really sparking.

Kondo advises to tidy by category and doing so all in one go. Take your clothes as a prime example. If you keep yours in various parts of the house, bring them all together and tackle them in one instance. As well as objectively seeing what you’re working with, this allows you to see exactly how much you have, it will also help you to look at the state of your possessions and how you’ve been treating them. Let the de-cluttering commence... 

2. Treat your belongings with the respect and gratitude they deserve

The KonMari method is all about holding onto the things that spark joy and saying ‘thank you’ to those that don’t but choosing to move on without them. When faced with your clutter, it can trigger negative feelings which in turn can create a negative energy in the home. The purpose of the Marie Kondo method is to look at things through a grateful lens. The idea is not to be bitter about letting things go but to thank each item for serving its specific purpose.

It also teaches you to value your belongings in a more respectful way. Consider how your clothes would feel all crammed into a drawer, squashed on top of each other, gathering creases, knowing they’ll likely never be worn. Learning to treat your items with a more mindful and thoughtful approach teaches you their value and also makes you and take more pride in your organisation. 

3. Fold your clothes in a way where you can see them

If you’ve ever opened up one of your clothing drawers, only to be met by a confusing pile of clothes or a sea of different colours, textures and outfit choices, you’re not alone. Enter Marie Kondo’s folding method, which essentially speaks for itself. Kondo firmly believes that clothing is firstly, much happier when folded in a dresser than in a closet and also, happier when folded into small squares rather than stacking up on top of each other.

Once you’ve folded your clothes, make sure to stand them up so you can physically see what you’ve got to put on for the day.

4. Picture your most organised life

The Marie Kondo method is perfect for getting things in order but before you begin, take a moment or two to look at how organised you want your life to look. If you're standing in a pile of clothes and not sure what to keep and what to get rid of, this quick tip will help to kick-start your motivation. By sorting out the important organisational moments in your life, you can help to future proof for your own retirement and live in a much more decluttered space, both physically and mentally.