Tidying Up with Marie Kondo and What I Learned About Myself
AKA Making friends with Marie Kondo
When I was a kid, I used to meticulously clean my school bag every night before I went to bed. I would remove all my books, notebooks and folders from my Snoopy stroller bag and arrange them by height, by number or by subject. I threw away everything I didn’t need: scratch papers, broken crayons, items from an activity that day—it was a routine I followed until backpacks became cool and it was a little more difficult to keep things neatly aligned (and you never knew when you’d need the notes you wrote on a scrap of paper).
Needless to say, I was excited to hear that Netflix was releasing Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Maybe I could re-learn a few things and pick up some new techniques. After all, I’m more than guilty of keeping my home and work areas less-than-tidy.
So I went on my Tidying Up with Marie Kondo journey and got more than I bargained for. The show, in technicality, is just a girl trying to help people clean up their houses. But every episode you finish convinces you that there is so much more to tidying up than keeping your spaces clean.
Little boxes make great homes
Does it ever occur to you that a mess usually comes about from not having an actual area to settle your things down on? It really looks as if the human behaves as such: If there is no place for my item, I will leave it anywhere—and there is the beginning of a dumping ground. Suddenly “that chair” becomes the floor before it becomes the entire room.
Finding an area for each of your things is key. If it has a proper place, you’ll know where to keep it.
Seeing what you have is a money (and time) saver
You know how some people just pull out whatever shirt is on top of the pile in their closet? Or how sometimes you don’t want to pull from the bottom of the stack because it’ll mess everything else up? Or how you always end up buying charging cables, books, bolts and batteries because you’re always thinking you don’t have it?
Well, this leaves you not making the most out of your assets and spending time and money on things you don’t actually need. The solution, according to my new hero Marie Kondo, is simple: Keep and store things where and how you can see them.
So it’s time to fold my clothes in a way that they’ll stand, making it easier for me to see and reach them. It’s time to pull apart wires and check if they’re even working—and see what I actually still need.
The end will come quicker the sooner you begin
The hardest part about cleaning a mess is the thought of making a bigger mess. Marie Kondo always has her clients-turned-friends begin by dumping everything out before putting them in their proper places. The sheer thought of doing this is intimidating; it’s like having to clean up your life and having to face all the problems you’ve shoved to the back of your kitchen drawer.
We must remember to take a deep breath and start. The sooner you and I begin, the sooner we finish.
Give people the best of you
Too often, we get caught up in what’s right in front of us that we forget to make room for the things that matter. We go to our work desks in the morning, see the piles of paperwork we didn’t finish the day before and suddenly—automatically—it’s another bad day. We get home, see the undone dishes and unwashed clothes and we’re bitter throughout the night.
It’s time not to let these moments get to us by not letting these moments happen in the first place. A neatly piled stack of papers has a more welcoming feel and a pile of dishes look better on a drying rack. And we, as a result, will not be as tightly wound.
No matter what it is and whether or not it gives you joy, be thankful for it. Everything—every fashion faux pas and regretful impulse buy—deserves some respect. Don’t throw away your things to the dumpsite just because it does nothing for you anymore. You’re already holding it, you might as well say a little thanks for what it gave you, right?
It makes the process of letting go a little bit calmer and definitely more freeing.
Who knew Tidying Up with Marie Kondo could become so much more than general cleaning, huh? Sometimes it’s funny what a reality show will teach you.
Art Alexandra Lara