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Life truly begins only after you have put your house in order’. So says the self-described ‘crazy tidying fanatic’ and best-selling Japanese author Marie Kondo. Her debut book, The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying, has sold over three million copies worldwide, catapulting Kondo to the kind of levels of fame that see her getting mobbed on the metro in Tokyo. The hashtag for her tidying method #konmari has 85k mentions on Twitter, 30k posts on Instagram and over 140k fan videos on YouTube. Just like Taylor Swift has her Swifties and Selena Gomez her Selenators, Kondo has a loyal following of Konverts, who use her surname as a verb – ‘I just kondoed my wardrobe!’ – and get a kick out of domestic purging, which they call Kondomania. Zoella has vlogged about how she’s changed her life, Kate Hudson has Instagrammed that Kondo’s process is ‘liberating’ and when Time magazine named her as one of the 100 most influential people of 2015, actress Jamie Lee Curtis wrote that if she was ever to get a tattoo, it would be of Kondo’s mantra: ‘Does it spark joy?’. This month sees the release of her sequel, Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class On The Art Of Organizing And Tidying Up, that will no doubt add many more recruits to the Konvert army. So, how exactly does it all work? Here are the seven things you need to know to master her method…
1. Tidying isn’t the same as cleaning
Marie says it’s ‘an important truth’ to recognise that tidying and cleaning are two very different things. Tidying deals with objects and cleaning deals with dirt. So, whereas that weird grimy stuff around the plughole happens naturally, the clutter and mess in your house is 100 per cent your responsibility. Harsh, right? Sounding all LA therapist, Kondo explains that when you’re tidying, you’re actually confronting yourself. There’s no hiding – ‘tidying orders the mind, while cleaning purifies it’, she says. You can only clean once you have tidied.
2. You’ll spend a lot of time saying, ‘Does this spark joy?’
Switch your mindset from thinking about what you’re discarding to focusing on what things you want to keep that spark joy. How do you tell if something does? Hold it, touch it and try it on. If you feel a thrill a bit like you would if you found those Jimmy Choo heels on sale in your size, bingo! It’s a keeper. But if your body feels heavy, ditch it. This is all about using your gut instinct to discover your ‘personal joy line’.
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3. ‘It might come in handy’ is taboo
If your ‘personal joy line’ can only contain items that spark joy, we know what you’re thinking – what about that drawer full of ‘just in case’ odd-sized batteries and light bulbs? How the hell can they bring joy? Well, according to Kondo’s rulebook, you just need to talk to them. Tell them how helpful they are. Thank them. Praise their design. Soon you’ll understand how much joy they bring you on a practical level. Although if you live with housemates, you might want to keep the chat to a whisper.
4. Pinterest binges are allowed
Moodboarding how you imagine your ideal lifestyle is encouraged. Kondo is all about identifying the kind of life you want, then tidying your way to it. But keep it real – if you live in a 60s tower block, don’t start pinning pics of beach houses in LA. For extra motivation, take photos of how your home looks now. Print them out and observe how messy it is. Kondo even suggests sharing them with your friends for ‘a laugh’. She dubs this the ‘clutter-photo shock treatment’, which sounds like her equivalent of marine training. She’ll break you down with embarrassment, then you’ll tidy your way back up.
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5. Tidy by category, not location
Tidying room by room is so 2001. Instead, Marie is super-strict about doing it via the following categories in the following order: clothes, books, paper, miscellaneous, then sentimental. Why? It helps train you in understanding your joy line. Once you’ve discarded everything but the things you love, you’ll discover your ‘click point’ – a moment when you realise you have all you need to feel content. Think five T-shirts, rather than 50. Your wardrobe should always be 90 per cent full. Anything less and you’ll subconsciously start filling the space – AKA adding items to your online wish list – and we all know how that ends.
6. There is a specific method for folding clothes
Dubbed ‘The Konmari Method’, it sounds harder than it is. Basically, if you can make a rectangle shape by folding the edges towards the centre of the garment, you’ve pretty much nailed it. Next, fold the rectangle in half lengthways, then this in half or thirds. This is where perfectionists thrive, reiterating Kondo’s adage that balling socks is ‘cruel’. Everything needs space to ‘breathe’. Pants are to be stored in tissue boxes within a drawer, arranged from light to dark. Only items like coats or suits that wrinkle should be hung up, and even then they must be arranged so that they ascend to the right for a ‘steady rise of joy’. Instagramming the results is the Konmari equivalent of those before and after shots of weight loss.
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7. Tidying can change your love life
According to Kondo, when you tidy you can see clearly what you need in your life and what you don’t. This even applies to relationships, with some of her clients getting divorced at the end of the decluttering process. Meanwhile, if you’re single and Tindering, but still have a box full of ticket stubs, photo-booth pics and Valentine’s cards from your exes, they’ve got to go in order to make room for more. Thank them for once sparking joy, then discard. Photos, which cling onto karma, should be placed in an envelope with some purification salt, then binned. Just don’t let that hot guy who lives next door catch you.
Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class On The Art Of Organizing And Tidying Up by Marie Kondo is out now (£12.99, Vermillion)