The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

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A bestseller on how to tidy and declutter your house? It seems like something you have seen before and after religiously devoting every atom in your body to its rules, you still find your house cluttered again after a short time. It is the same with diets and health crazes. You seem to follow each step and actually making it a routine but somehow the effects just stop showing after a short while. Why is that? According to Marie Kondo, it is because you have not actually decluttered your life but just found new ways to store and thus making more room for more stuff.

When I first saw this tiny book on various websites, I was sceptical to say the least, then I became intrigued, because what could possibly be the secret to its success and the raving reviews? When people claiming it ‘worked’ and ‘helped’ what does that entail? So I decided to place a reservation on my local library for it and waited impatiently to discover the ‘secret’. I was already in the mood for a good sorting and decluttering of my apartment and had decided I would try my best at Marie Kondo’s tips, to the extent they were actually relevant to me (yes, I was very sceptical). Then of course the book came, I read it, and I took notes. It was a bit weird sitting in public taking notes from a book about tidying but maybe that was just my vanity showing. Anyway, most of her schemes and over-all tips can be found online by now (ex. search Pinterest for ‘Konmari method’) so I will discuss my own personal experience with this tiny tome.

Marie Kondo’s main claim is to only keep the items which ‘spark joy’ and that in order to find those items, you must hold each individual item up in front of you and decide. This seems like a lot of unnecessary work; to take each item and consider. I mean, I only live in a ca. 60 m2 apartment but consider doing this if you live in a house! But I had promised myself to do as she told me and as she also wants you to tackle clothes first, I took out every single sock, brief, scarf etc., held it and asked whether it gave me joy.

I am not going to lie, I was shocked at how emotional I became with certain items. Turns out that I am the younger sibling who had received various bags of hand-me-downs through the years, and as much as I love the thought of that (from both personal and environmental point of views), I also discovered that I am actually a grown woman and should not be weary of letting other people’s stuff go. I have changed so much since I received those items and they no longer showed who I was. So why hold on to items telling a story about a person I no longer am? No, I did not want that. I decided that I deserved better. I deserved things that I had personally picked out, things which were not faded, things which told the present story about me and the person I want to become.

A very big hurdle for me was the notion of being wasteful and greedy. Throwing things out when they objectively were perfectly fine but just not ‘to my taste’ seemed almost evil. I am very much aware of the environment and have over the years recycled clothes to thrift shops and sorted paper vs. plastic. But what about those items which could not be sold in a thrift shop but still had a use, like towels? Marie Kondo’s answer to this was to acknowledge each item’s job done and thanking it. Thanking it for being there for you when you needed it and always doing a good job. A way of saying good-bye and releasing the tension of the feeling of being wasteful from each item. It helped. But I confess, what made the final impact of letting it go was remembering the recycling system in H&M where you can donate clothing, old towels, and other materials past their good days. So if you are like me and want to feel a bit better of getting rid of stuff that is an option.

The only problem I really had with this book was the lack of illustrations, especially when she discussed folding. That just did not make sense in my head so I had to google and search on Pinterest for it, but it would have been nice with a few of these in the actual book. Maybe taking a few of the client examples out and add illustrations instead? Of course, I know the examples are there to give the reader a sense of ‘it worked in this extreme case so it can work for you’ and that is fine, as long as it makes sense what you are supposed to do! However, on the subject of folding, once you got the hang of it, it really started to make a difference. Especially with my stockings and sweaters.

In the end, I filled around eight plastic bags in the size of grocery bags with old clothes. So I consider that a success, and it definitely inspired me to tackle other areas. I also sorted my papers and got rid with two thirds and I am actually considering going through my books as well. Though this will probably be the place where I cannot follow her guidelines to a T, since I just love my books! But I have come to the conclusion that I do not need every book ever published (which my family thinks I have!) and if I get rid of some of the ‘joy-less’ books there will be more room for the ones I really love (and new ones – ha!).

Much of her approach to tidying sounds like kharma and feng shui to me, and that actually makes sense. If you feel good about your belongings, you want to take care of them and since your belongings tell the story about you, you in turn take care of yourself. You create good energy and declutter your mind as well as your home. I did that just by sorting my clothes and finding out what I wanted from them. In this sense, it is not rocket science, and when you think about it, it is painfully obvious to you. Why did you hold on to a leaflet on pans for so long or keep a shirt which never was your favourite? Once they had a purpose but not anymore.

Despite Marie Kondo’s rule to declutter your whole house in one day(!), I did this over a couple of weeks. My clothes was tackled in one day, to get the hang of the method, and now when I look in cupboards or on shelves, I start to notice things which I really don’t need or want anymore. So I would not be afraid of rebounding because I worked so diligently the first couple of days (also you have to respect your health as it can be hard work taking bag after bag out and getting boxes from overhead). But that said, I really think Marie Kondo is right when she asks of you to tackle EVERYTHING, also sentimental items, in order to declutter your whole life and make room for the present and future you. So today, I sorted magazines and tomorrow it will be… books! I am saying good-bye, thanking each item for its hard work, and reminding myself of what I want. And really, should I accidently get rid of something I need, most things can be purchased again…


Dansk:

Der findes højtflyvende anmeldelser om den japanske oprydningsekspert Marie Kondos KonMari-metode og hvordan hendes lille bog har ændret folks liv. Det lyder jo unægteligt interessant – og mistænkeligt. Men da jeg personligt var indstllet på at rydde lidt ud og op i mine ting, så kunne man jo lige så godt prøve hendes metode af. Jeg var skeptisk fra starten og selvom selve idéen bag tiltalte mig, syntes jeg, at selve metoden virkede meget ekstrem. Helt basalt skal man tage hver eneste lille ting man har, fra sokker, over tandtråd til fotos, og spørge sig selv om det gør én glad. Det lyder jo omsonst at skulle gøre det hvis man bor i et hus og selv jeg med min nogen-og-60 m2 lejlighed var svimmel ved at skulle have fat i hver enkelt ting. Men jeg havde lovet mig selv at prøve metoden rigtigt af, og Marie Kondo vil have at man starter med tøjet så det fulgte jeg.

Jeg indrømmer blankt at jeg blev overrasket over hvor følelsesmæssigt jeg reagerede på at gå mit tøj igennem. I bogen beskriver Kondo problemerne for mange yngre søskende, som har ‘arvet’ ting og tøj fra ældre familiemedlemmer og derfor ikke helt har lært at finde deres egen stil. Det problem havde jeg også til dels, men også problemet med at rydde ud hvis tingen ikke længere lige var mig mere. Det virkede så grådigt og moralsk forkert når man tænker på konsumerisme og miljøets tilstand. Hvordan skulle jeg kunne tillade mig selv at smide noget ud, som ikke var decideret i stykker, men som måske ikke ville blive solgt i en genbrugsbutik? Og hvis det var gaver? Jeg var helt rundt på kareten! Lige indtil jeg kom i tanke om H&Ms genbrugssystem, hvor de tager imod alt tøj og stof, selv gamle håndklæder. Der kunne jeg med bedre samvittighed sende ting hen og vide at det stadig kunne gøre nytte.

Til den anden hurdle jeg havde (f.eks. hvis det var en gave) gav Kondo mig et råd: Tak dit tøj. Tak det for det arbejde det har gjort for dig og hvis det var en gave, så tak det for at være et symbol på den hengivenhed, som gavegiveren ville sende. Ved at gøre dette har man tilkendegivet intentionen og kan med god samvittighed sende det videre. Jeg indrømmer, at det var lidt sært at sige tak til en bluse, men det hjalp faktisk at tænke på den måde. At sende tøjet videre med god karma. For det er i bund og grund god karma Kondo ønsker vi skal finde frem til i alle vores ting. Hvis vi kun har de ting, som giver os god karma så sætter vi også mere pris på dem og dermed os selv. Hun beskriver i flere klienteksempler, at det virker som en mental detox, og det vil jeg give hende ret i.

Efter min skeptiske start er jeg blevet overbevist om at metoden er yderst brugbar, nogle steder stadig meget ekstrem, men hvis man virkeligt giver den en skalle i begyndelsen så begynder man at se på sine ting på en ny måde. Jeg begynder at overveje andre ting, som ikke gør noget godt for mig og som derfor sagtens kan komme ud. Marie Kondo har en plan for hvilke områder man skal tackle i hvilken rækkefølge og den holder jeg mig til i det store og hele. Så jeg har også ryddet ud i papirer og vil endda gå igennem mine bøger! Og som hun pointerer i sin bog, selv hvis vi kommer til at smide noget ud, som vi siden fandt ud af at vi havde brug for, så kan langt det meste købes igen…

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About Ann-Cathrine 39 Articles
Established 1987 in Aarhus, Denmark. MA degree in English and Art History from Aarhus University, Denmark. Loves books, art, writing, coffee, dandelions, paper dolls, and haute couture.