Tidying expert Marie Kondo on how to deal with clutter that has sentimental value, her Netflix show and her upcoming book
Have you ever sat down and thought about things that don’t bring you joy anymore? The things that you think you need but it is nothing beyond a mental hook? All the New Year resolutions and promises to oneself of not buying anything you don’t need or letting it go when you already have it. Clutter is not only a state of mind but also a way of life in this day and age. Now the question is as to how the art of decluttering, a long process of detachment and reattachment is life-changing or not. Tidying expert and author Marie Kondo has been working for years to find answers to all these difficult questions. Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and her new Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo talks about the KonMari method that encourages the process of tidying by category and not by location -- starting with clothes and then moving onto books, papers and other miscellaneous items, and, finally and most importantly the sentimental items.
It focuses on keeping only those things in life that truly speak to you and in the process, bring joy. So, who is to decide, what is clutter and what is an actual mess? To each his own but in an exclusive interview, Marie Kondo talks about the process and impact of decluttering, how to handle the things that go beyond the materialistic domain and why clutter is not only a physical but a psychological state of mind. Excerpts from the interview:
The show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo has made people reconsider their choices in terms of the way they live and how would they like to live. Were you hoping for such reactions?
My hope has always been that people will choose the path that sparks joy for them through tidying. I am delighted to see that the show not only sparks joy for people but that they’ve also been able to implement my Method.
Cleanliness and an overt sense of organising things have also been associated with conditions like OCD. How does one decipher the thin line between cleanliness and obsession?
I understand that OCD involves compulsions that may interfere with everyday life – and it should be discussed with a medical professional. I typically ask if someone feels an overall sense of well-being and happiness when their home and environment is clean and tidy – and if they’re discovering what sparks joy through the process – not in the process itself.
How did this sense and the show change your life before you started changing it for others?
Because of the show, more people have started to recognise me in public, which always surprises me! But my everyday life hasn’t really changed.
How were you as a child? Organised or someone who does not mind clutter?
I’ve been interested in tidying ever since I was five-years-old. Even as a little girl, I had an immense curiosity and hunger to research tidying and organising.
As you have mentioned on the show, clutter is not only a physical but a psychological state of mind. How do you look at it?
Physical and mental clutter is closely related. By physically organising the environment around you, your mind is cleared. Being aware of what you have in your life – and where you are placing everything – allows you to understand not only the physical items but also the thoughts and emotions that you’re carrying with you. When your home is tidied, you are better equipped to handle those thoughts and emotions calmly.
How do we deal with clutter that has sentimental value?
The order in which you tidy is very important. In the KonMari Method, you work your way through the categories from easiest to the most difficult because this process allows you to gradually hone your sensitivity to what sparks joy in you. Sentimental items are the last category in the Method, so by the time you tackle them, you will have a much clearer sense of joy. While tidying sentimental items, always ask yourself if these items will continue to spark joy as you move forward in your life.
You are working on another book. What is it about?
Readers of my previous books expressed interest in tidying their workspaces, and as the KonMari community has grown, I’ve received a lot of questions about how to achieve a career that sparks joy. I am writing my upcoming book, “Joy at Work,” in response to these requests.
Book lovers and generally hoarders have shown some disapproval towards the tidying-up trend. What would you like to say to them?
The goal is not to let go of as many things as possible – it’s about choosing what to keep. Minimalism is a bit of a trend right now, but you should not let go of something that you love. Keep it with confidence! Just make sure you are taking care of and truly cherishing it.