Tidying Up With Marie Kondo

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo on Kobo

Who else has been obsessively watching Tidying Up With Marie Kondo on Netflix? The episodes are relatively short and easy to binge, and the show overall feeds into that "New Year, new you" momentum with its emphasis on decluttering and getting organized. Watching these people go through their KonMari journeys reminded me of our own KonMari experience four years ago and brought up a lot of thoughts.

1. During the tidying process, the mess will get worse before it gets better.

In each episode, there's usually one moment where they show the mid-tidying clutter: bags of trash, piles of boxes and books, heaps of clothes destined for donation, the home in complete disarray. Boy, did that bring back memories. When we did this four years ago, we produced 4 bags of clothes, 4 of trash, 6 of recycling, a box full of old electronics and batteries, and 4 boxes of books—and that was before we tackled the kitchen and bathroom! It was an astonishing amount of stuff to discard considering we'd only been living in our one-bedroom condo for three years, and we were just two people who didn't have a lot of stuff to begin with. During the 3 months that the entire KonMari process took, this mess was sitting right in the middle of our living room until we were ready to deal with it. We had to set aside time to drop things off for donation or recycling and look up what to do with certain items like electronics, light bulbs, and batteries. But once you come out of the clutter on the other side and find a permanent home for your remaining possessions, it's so worth it.

2. KonMari frees up literal and figurative space for more of what you love.

In a couple of episodes, the people turned their freed-up space into craft rooms, guest bedrooms, and offices to support the next chapter of their lives, and something similar happened with us as well. The empty storage space we uncovered post-KonMari has gradually filled in on its own with items that better reflect where we are now.

The biggest example? Fitness. The dresser drawers that used to hold lots of pencil skirts and dresses now hold enough workout tanks, leggings, sports bras and grippy socks to get through a week's worth of barre classes without worrying about laundry. There are baskets on our bookcases that hold stuff Hubs needs for his kickboxing classes, like microfibre towels and clean hand wraps. By contrast, five years ago when our walk-in closet was overflowing with my fashion-blogger clothes and the bookcase was stuffed with books, I would have been at a loss for storage space for fitness gear.

So are we at the same level of stuff we were at in 2015? No. In her first book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Kondo writes: "As you reduce your belongs through the process of tidying, you will come to a point where you suddenly know how much is just right for you. You will feel it as clearly as if something has clicked inside your head and said, 'Ah! This is just the amount I need to live comfortably. This is all I need to be happy. I don't need anything more.'" And, she explains, this is why adherents to the KonMari method don't rebound to their previous levels of clutter. As odd as that sounds, it has certainly been true in our case. Once I got used to having a certain level of empty space, I'd get antsy when I felt that our stuff was creeping past the acceptable threshold.

3. The book is even better than the show.

Although the show does a good job showing the overall process and demonstrating how to fold, Kondo's first book (which I reviewed here) is filled with little "Aha!" moments and tips like:

  • "The true purpose of a present is to be received. Presents are not 'things' but a means for convening someone's feelings. When viewed from this perspective you don't need to feel guilty for parting with a gift."
  • "If you see a cord and wonder what on earth it's for, chances are you'll never use it again. Mysterious cords will always remain just that—a mystery."
  • Electronics and appliance manuals are not worth keeping. Chances are you'll figure them out through trial and error and pressing buttons or by Googling.

4. I finally saw the wisdom of folding and storing clothes vertically.

After we KonMari'd, I had so few clothes and so much dresser space that it didn't seem worthwhile to fold and stand things up in vertical rectangles as Kondo recommended. It wasn't like I would lose track of what I owned. But after watching the show and its excellent folding demos, I was finally inspired to implement this piece of advice. Bonus: As a result, I no longer have those bottom-of-the-pile clothes that look permanently rumpled and wrinkled because they're being squashed by everything on top.

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