Gracefully telling people what to do and how to sort and pitch their stuff is no easy feat, yet Kondo does so with ease.
Do readers follow Marie Kondo’s advice? She’s sold more than two million copies of this guide to getting rid of your unwanted and unneeded items. Kondo’s approach to decluttering is heartfelt, detailed, specific and ritualistic. She intends her directions to be actionable, but does her commitment to this program and the spiritual benefits she envisions really encourage readers to engage in her recommended ceremonies? Or, do they merely imagine dreamily what their homes might be like if they did?
One way or another, Kondo is one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People; this book was a New York Times number one bestseller and CNN chose it as one of the most influential books of the 2010’s decade. Best-selling author Jamie Lee Curtis accurately recommended it for “anyone who struggles with the material excess of living in a privileged society.”
Taking Kondo literally and following her rituals to the letter might demand more spiritual energy than savoring your newly pared-down home could refuel. But Kondo provides myriad fine shortcuts to replace her giant leaps, lessen your clutter and conceivably raise your self-esteem. Maybe a quick lap around your closet with a garbage bag in hand could produce some measure of the spiritual growth you’d earn contemplating each and every item of clothing on its aesthetic, joyful and soulful merits, as per Kondo’s dictates.
Sparse but Sincere
Kondo is a profoundly uncluttered stylist. She writes – and Cathy Hirano translates from Kondo’s Japanese – with sparse elegance and astonishing charm and likeability. Kondo offers instruction in a cheery, non-authoritarian voice.
Start by discarding. Then organize your space, thoroughly, completely, in one go.Marie Kondo
This is a manual of action; Kondo wrote it to be read and followed in segments and in the order she recommends, step by step. Depending on the segment and number of steps, decluttering your home should take about six months. If you can devote six months of your spare time to Kondo’s method, more power to you. Perhaps it may be best to carry out a couple of segments, and see what works for you.
Kondo says to pick up and give serious regard to each item in a category – clothing, purses,books, mementos – consider its utility, and ask yourself if it “sparks joy.” If it does, then keep it; if it does not, thank it for its service and discard it.
A dramatic reorganization of the home causes correspondingly dramatic changes in lifestyle and perspective. It is life transforming.Marie Kondo
Kondo wants readers to purge their belongings thoughtfully and with rigor. She describes precise techniques for each category: furniture, books, clothes, dishes, appliances, paperwork, and more. Her dominant theme: Never be sentimental about anything you own.
Kondo urges you to thoughtfully assess the purpose and aesthetics of every item – and she means every single item in your home: artwork, forks, sheets for guests, old love letters, the whole stack. Consider your response to each item. Does a shirt or book or photograph stir your soul? Does it give you joy? Do you actually wear your supposedly beloved coat more than once a year? How long has it been since you opened and read your favorite book or watched your favorite DVD?
Kondo calls herself a “cleaning consultant,” but her higher aim is to spur her readers to greater mindfulness. She believes attachment to material things reflects a disconnected state of mind. She holds that hoarding, collecting and refusing to throw things out or becoming attached to possessions reduces or obscures your awareness of your true emotions about your life and your past. Kondo tells you to throw away any shirt missing a button, but she intends for you to contemplate your life and how you live it – well beyond your joy or lack thereof in regards to that shirt and that button.
Thoroughly reassess your habits and assumptions. That may sound like far too much work, but don’t worry.Marie Kondo
The inspiration and spiritual growth Kondo finds in ceremonial decluttering is primary to her method. Is the idea of “tidying up” akin to losing 10 pounds in 10 days or hiking the Pacific Crest Trail or sacrificing fun times to build a retirement nest egg? All these seem like nice goals to consider from an armchair, but do they function as calls to action or only as entertaining reads?
Kondo’s hit show on Netflix –Tidying Up with Marie Kondo – demonstrates what her book suggests: Kondo is witty, cheery, neat, happy and eager to share. Her show proves she is no hypocrite. The fact that her persona reflects her prose makes her book more likable. So, you may really, really enjoy reading it. But that doesn’t mean you’ll do a single thing she suggests.
As with any franchise, Kondo offers a variety of follow-up products, including The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up; Spark Joy; Life-Changing Magic: A Journal; and Joy at Work. You might also benefit from the advice in Getting Things Done by David Allen or Everything is Figureoutable by Marie Forelo.