Tidying Up might be your best resolution for 2019

Those canny executives at Netflix know how to promote their shows. Just in time for 2019 resolutions, the show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo dropped on 1 January. So if one of your resolutions is organise your life – goal achieved.

I guess to understand why Marie Kondo can change your life you need to know who she is. First and foremost, she is a diminutive and joyous Japanese woman who is changing the world, one folded t-shirt at a time.

She is also the best-selling author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing and a bonfide Japanese phenomenon. In the new Netflix unscripted show she helps real people clear out their clutter as a way to re-discover what really sparks joy in their lives.

The eight-episode series is more than just a home-improvement show. Each episode depicts the relatable and often emotional experience of sifting through our belongings and explores the attachments we form with things. Just as she does in her book, Kondo turns home organization into a spiritually healing practice. Tidying as spiritual practice?

Bear with me here, because our family are now fully paid up Kondo converts. I first heard about her when our team did the Infomagical Challenge by Manoush Zomorodi. This five-day challenge uses Marie Kondo’s method (KonMari – more on that later) to declutter your digital life.

Many of us have actual connections to our things, be they nostalgic, sentimental or just plain hoarderish. The KonMari technique (yes Marie has a trademarked technique!) invites you to hold the item (clothing, book, photo, etc) and ask does this spark joy. If it does, you set it aside and keep the item. If it doesn’t spark joy, you carefully acknowledge and thank the person who may have gifted you the item and the item itself for the joy it may have given you, and put it in a pile to donate or recycle.

This may sound a bit weird, but this process actually relinquishes the hold that item may have on you and allows you to part with the item. It causes an unburdening of spirit and enables moving on.

Some of her techniques are common sense, but it is the way she deals with clutter and holding on to things that don’t spark joy that makes the difference and becomes a kind of spiritual practice.

The reason behind using the KonMari technique to declutter your house isn’t to make way for more stuff by the way.

Rather than throw items away, there are many alternatives than your items adding to landfill and many organisations that will take your unused items. The Smith Family, The Salvation Army and Lifeline will take clothing and household goods such as kitchen utensils and books. Planet Ark also recycle broken tech such as laptops (OfficeWorks collects on behalf of Planet Ark – check your local OfficeWorks for more information).

If you undertake a KonMari declutter make sure you freecycle items rather than throw them away.

Kondo is waging a war on stuff. When you put the clothing that doesn’t give you joy in the charity bin, it isn’t to make room in your wardrobe for more, it’s so you live with less.

As Kondo herself writes in her book:

“Human beings can only truly cherish a limited number of things at one time. As I am both lazy and forgetful, I can’t take proper care of too many things. That is why I want to cherish properly the things I love, and that is why I have insisted on tidying for so much of my life.”

Kondo focuses on the relationship between three things: “In essence, tidying ought to be the act of restoring balance among people, their possessions, and the house they live in.”

She feels that the art of decluttering is “a special send-off for those things that will be departing,” and part of the process should be “a ceremony to launch them on a new journey” for someone else to own.

What truly sparked joy in this viewer and has helped us begin the process to unburden ourselves, is the simple ritual that Kondo does when she helps a client out. At the beginning of the process she carefully kneels on the floor in the centre of the client’s house and connects with the place in her mind. She asks for help in creating a more cheerful and efficient space, for protecting the people within the house and acknowledging the space as a home and then ends the ritual with a bow.

Once you have worked through your home I can guarantee you will feel a lightness of being. And feeling this way enables us to cherish those around us and worship our Maker instead of our stuff.

I found the most affecting part of the KonMari process to be the acknowledgement that God has provided a loving home for us to build with our family, create memories and protect us from the elements, and thankfulness for this is a major part of the uncluttering process.

If your New Years’ resolution is to declutter your life then this show will spark joy.

Some handy donation links post declutter:

All the episodes of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo are streaming now on Netflix.

Adrian Drayton




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