If you’ve been on the internet lately, you’ve probably heard about Marie Kondo, organizing consultant and author of New York Times bestseller, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.”
Many people have become obsessed with Kondo’s method of helping people rid themselves of items they own that do not “spark joy.”
Countless YouTube personalities have made videos attempting to declutter with her method. Memes have circulated across platforms like Instagram and Twitter. The popularity of the KonMari Method has even earned Kondo her own Netflix show, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.”
But, as with anything popular, Kondo’s method and Kondo herself have experienced a fair share of controversy. Most notably, other authors such as Anakana Schofield and Jennifer Wright have been vocal on Twitter about their outrage at Kondo’s suggestion to keep around 30 books at a time. Washington Post writer Ron Charles dedicated an article to tearing down the KonMari Method’s take on what to do with books.
Clothing experts like those writing for the magazine GQ have criticized the KonMari Method for suggesting people keep a minimal wardrobe.
While some have argued that many critiques of the method, and of Kondo herself, have classist and racist undertones, others refuse to give her method a real chance.
One issue with the backlash is that not many people critiquing the KonMari Method have actually read her book. Many people simply watched the Netflix show and only saw part of Kondo’s process that her book explains in detail. The term “sparking joy” quickly became a joke, with several meme accounts claiming anyone or anything they disliked did not “spark joy.”
After finishing Kondo’s book last summer, I decided to try her method for myself. I noticed that the differences between other methods of decluttering/cleaning and the KonMari method are that other methods lacked the emotion and personalization that Kondo’s did.
Kondo’s book is all about finding a balance in your life that will help you be less stressed in your living space. So that means that if you think all 100 of your copies of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” are necessary to the wellbeing of you and your home, you can still keep them and follow the KonMari method.
Her method also suggests that instead of simply throwing a bunch of random things in the trash, you take decluttering step by step. This means you start with the first category, clothes, and pile all your clothing. Then you can hold each item so you can decide if it sparks joy. You do the same for the next categories: books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items such as hair ties and paper clips) and sentimental items (pictures, art, etc.) until you’ve sorted through everything you own.
Does that old sock without a mate that has been sitting behind your dryer for years really give you a rush of joy when you hold it? If the answer is no, then that might be something you should consider getting rid of.
When you do decide you don’t need something anymore, Kondo suggests you thank it for the joy it once brought you. This way, you are still appreciating what that item has done for you, and you don’t have to feel guilty getting rid of it.
After learning all of this, there was still one thing standing in my way of appreciating the KonMari Method to the fullest. I am a college student, so it’s hard to pile all my things at once when they are often in two different places.
I KonMari’ed my bedroom at home as much as possible, but I still felt like I was hanging onto more than what I actually needed.
The solution I came up with was simply to take everything from home (excluding large furniture pieces) and bring it back to school with me. Once I was back in my dorm, it was easier to see everything I was hanging onto “in case I needed it.”
After taking the time to clear out what I didn’t need, I made sure to thank each item for serving me while it did.
The process was overwhelming and emotional, but it has served me well in my last semester on campus. It has also made me more mindful of the items I buy. I’ve learned to stop wasting my money on clothes I’ll only wear once or hair products that do next to nothing.
I’ve by no means become an extreme minimalist, but I think by using this method I’ve found the number of items in my life that works for me.
So if you’re looking for a way to de-stress and simplify your life, I suggest reading Kondo’s book and giving her method a real chance. Even if you’re a college student with your items in multiple places, seeing everything you own at once can really give you perspective on what you actually need.