I hate to say it, but it’s already that time of year again: time to spring clean. Let’s face it, we’ve all been putting off a dull task or ten but there’s no time like the present to declutter your home. If you’re a keen reader or an avid Netflix user, you’ve probably already heard of Marie Kondo, the queen of spring cleaning. Kondo demonstrates the joy of decluttering our homes, holding onto only what makes us happy following a 5-step guide she coined “The KonMari Method”.
The KonMari Method
Sadly, no exciting Japanese meaning here – it is simply her first and last name pushed together to make a punchy portmanteau! The mindset behind the decluttering is based on Japanese philosophical principles of the home and interior design such as simplicity and minimalism, craftsmanship and beauty, nature and versatility. Why not read more on Japanese interior design in this blog post?
こんまりメソッド = Konmari Method
かばん語(かばんご) = portmanteau
Kondo conceived a category-by-category method, rather than decluttering the home room-by-room as many of us tend to approach the daunting task. There are six key rules to the Konmari method:
Commit yourself to tidying up all in one go
Kondo recommends setting aside an entire day, or even a weekend, to tackle the clutter, rather than clearing out a different room each day.
Visualising the ideal lifestyle
It may sound a little unnecessary, but Kondo advises imagining your ideal lifestyle, before diving deeper into each desire to discover why this is important to them. For instance, you may have the goal of taking up yoga and exploring this goal might lead you to your desire to find relaxation.
Tidy by category, not by room
It sounds a little silly, but we don’t always keep our possessions in similar places (I’m sure you also have a drawer somewhere containing a dead battery, a paper clip, a disposable camera film cartridge from 2002, and that earring you’ve been looking for since last May). This is where things get messy and maybe a little overwhelming, but you must assemble the pile of your current category in its totality before you start rifling through.
Do your items spark joy?
The iconic catchphrase! Kondo tells us to hold each item and consider if it ‘sparks joy’. The reason behind this is avoiding possessions that bring negative energy into the home. Instead, she urges us to focus on the things that bring us happiness. Before haphazardly throwing items away, she asks that we hold each item and ask ourselves if it sparks feelings of joy, and if not, it has to go! Before we throw it away, we must sincerely thank the item for its purpose. She makes it clear that the focus is not on the condition of the item: it could be old, ragged and in disrepair, but if it brings joy and happy memories, it should be held onto.
ときめく= To spark joy
捨てる(すてる) = To throw away, to discard
If you can say without a doubt, ‘I really like this!’ no matter what anyone else says, and if you like yourself for having it, then ignore what other people think.Marie Kondo
Discard items, then organise your belongings
It is important to the process that we separate the two main phases: Discarding items before organising the remainder of the category.
Work through your home in a fixed order
Finally, ensure you stick to the following order devised by Kondo herself:
- Clothes = 衣類 (いるい)
- Books = 本 (ほん)
- Papers = 書類 (しょるい)
- Small and Miscellaneous Items = 小物類 (こものるい)
- Sentimental Items = 思い出の品 (おもいでのしな)
Some extra tips from Marie Kondo!
- Kondo recommends undergoing the process in private, away from family and friends. However, she advises us not to throw away others' belongings without their approval - the process is somewhat spiritual after all!
- You could try the KonMari method in other areas of your life! Some have taken the process to their digital folders, as well as organising their smartphones.
- We all have someday items - those things we can't throw away because we might need them someday... right? We must ask ourselves when we last used the belonging or how often we forget it even exists. Kondo believes that we strip our possessions of their dignity if we leave them unused, so why not store or donate them!
- Maintaining absolute simplicity is important even inside storage areas: items must not be stacked or scattered!
- You could follow Kondo’s method of folding clothes to ensure simplicity, minimalism and positive energy in the home. She posts helpful videos for all kinds of clothing items on her Youtube channel (available below with English dubbing).
If you aren't sure you're up to the task, you can even hire one of Kondo's 200+ consultants to aid you with tidying sessions! But given the Spring season, maybe a spiritual home-decluttering is just what we need. If you're trying to keep those hands clean on the go or add some Japanese novelty to your hand-washing routine, why not check out the Paper Soap Products available at The Japanese Shop.
If you decide to 'Marie Kondo' your home, let us know how it goes - and ganbatte (good luck)!