Organising consultant and best-selling author Marie Kondo likes to thank her handbag at the end of every day and loves to tidy early in the morning, according to an interview in The Sunday Times Magazine. If you're wondering what a typical day looks like for the woman who has elevated the act of putting things away into an art form, it's very much as you would imagine. Serene, structured and spotless!
From an early age Marie had a passion bordering on obsession for tidying up: taking charge of organising her siblings’ bedrooms as well as her own, and even tidying the mop cupboard at school. While studying at university in Tokyo she worked as an attendant at a Shinto shrine and earned extra money by offering her tidying services to friends.
In 2010, Marie decided to channel her skills and passion into launching a successful business advising clients on how to declutter their homes. Her books, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy, have sold more than 7m copies worldwide.
This is how the queen of decluttering practises what she preaches, and how you too can live a decluttered life:
Start the day as you mean to go on
According to Marie, the best time to start tidying is early morning when the air is ‘sharp’.
‘The first thing I do is open all the windows to clear what we call “chi” – a stagnant energy that has accumulated overnight,’ she told The Sunday Times Magazine.
Tidy by category instead of by room
Tidying by room may seem like a sensible and logical thing to do, however Marie swears by another system known as the KonMari method, which consists of sorting items by category. She begins with clothes, then moves onto books, papers, miscellaneous items and, finally, sentimental items.
Read more: Declutter your living room in six easy steps
Only keep items that ‘spark joy’
Rustling through your wardrobe, how often do you discard items because they don’t make you feel good? Marie insists you should only keep items that ‘spark joy’ when you see them or hold them... everything else should be purged.
‘Many clients hold onto things believing they will “come in handy”. Believe me, they never do. The average amount thrown out by someone using my method is 20 to 30 bin bags. For a family, it’s double,’ she told The Sunday Times Magazine.
Accept that living with children will mean extra mess
As many parents will be all too familiar with, children make it somewhat trickier to keep a home spick and span. Marie has had to take a deep breath and accept a little more mess around the house since having kids.
‘Before Satsuki (aged nearly two) was born I had heard that there would be mess, but I had no idea how much! My husband Takumi and I share all the childcare and chores, but it has been crazy. Miko is only five months, so she can’t move, but Satsuki spreads her toys everywhere. It is a new experience and, at first, it was overwhelming. I just could not control it.’
‘I have taught myself to block their mess out till they go to sleep, then I declutter everything into individual baskets: books, puzzles, stuffed toys… I always say everything has a home.’
Looking for ways to organise your child's room? Check out our children's room storage ideas
End the day tidily
Marie takes a spiritual approach towards the treatment of her possessions. ‘I change my clothes every evening. By taking each item in my hands and folding it neatly like origami, I believe I am transferring positive energy. In Japan, we call this “te-ate” – literally “to apply hands”. I then sort the contents of my handbag, thanking it before storing it.’
It may seem a little bizarre to thank inanimate objects, however Marie believes that both animate and inanimate objects can have spirits and that they should receive gratitude for the service they provide. The same applies when throwing objects away – Marie thanks these items for the joy they have brought in the past.
Read more: How to declutter your wardrobe
Thanking objects out loud may be a little bit out there but we can all relate to the feelings of guilt we have when throwing out old birthday cards or clothes that don't fit us. If it means we can crack decluttering the cupboard under the stairs, it's got to be worth a try, right?
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