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The household chore taking the world by storm

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Organisation consultant and de-cluttering extraordinaire Marie Kondo has convinced millions of people of the value of tidying with her bestselling book, The Life-changing Magic of Tidying.

Translated into over 30 languages, Kondo’s work as a professional tidier has even seen her included on Time magazine’s list of the world’s ‘100 Most Influential People’.

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Put simply, the Kondo method involves discarding the things we don’t need in life, and keeping only things that ‘spark joy’.

Kondo is said to have a long waiting list of eager clients. Photo: Getty
Kondo (left) is said to have a long waiting list of eager clients. Photo: Getty

That means it’s time to part with that dress that hasn’t fit you for five years, or those tennis shoes that have been gathering dust.

According to Kondo, ridding yourself of extra baggage will not only liberate your room – it will make you a more confident and successful version of yourself.

There is no denying that some of Kondo’s tactics are a little kooky. Her method relies on the idea that objects have a spirit, and should be treated with respect.

This means Kondo always ‘greets’ a house by kneeling on the floor and stroking the floorboards with her hands, and ‘energises’ books by tapping them one by one and whispering to them.

Regardless of whether you buy into the entire Kondo method, we spoke to an expert about whether a little de-cluttering could be just what we all need.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself

Psychologist and author of Turning 30: How to Get the Life You Really Want Elle Jackson says reducing the amount of clutter in our lives has its benefits, but we should avoid a one-size-fits-all mentality.

Clothing is more visible and easier to reach when stacked this way. Photo: YouTube
Clothing is more visible and easier to reach when stacked this way. Photo: YouTube

“Decluttering and simplifying can reduce anxiety and make us feel calmer and more in control of our environment,” says Ms Jackson.

“The key is to do it because we really want to and because we can see the benefits. Don’t do it just because you feel that you should.”

For example, not everyone will be suited to Kondo’s very specific folding methods, which encourage stacking across a drawer instead of from top to bottom.

While one of Kondo’s book chapters is actually titled ‘Don’t Change the Method to Suit Your Personality’, Ms Jackson says we should be aware of our own personal needs and preferences around the house.

“We’re either tidy people by nature or we’re not,” she says.

“If you’re not a naturally tidy person then accept that and work with it rather than trying to force something that doesn’t come naturally to you.”

Nostalgia is not your friend

Ever wondered why you can’t manage to let go of that stack of birthday cards from ten years ago?

Focus on the task at hand – don't get bogged down in sentimentality. Photo: Getty
Focus on the task at hand – don’t get bogged down in sentimentality. Photo: Getty

According to Kondo, we keep sentimental items for too long because of the fear that “we’ll lose the previous memories with them”.

“Truly precious memories will never vanish even if you discard the objects associated with them,” she writes.

Jackson agrees: “Memories are in our minds, not in items.”

She suggests performing a simple pros and cons exercise if you’re stuck on a particular item, and asking yourself why you’ve been holding on for so long.

What are you aiming for?

If a life of minimalism isn’t for you, then the Kondo method probably isn’t what you’re looking for.

Plenty of people are happy living with un-matched socks and t-shirts that never get used but may one day come in handy.

“For some people cleanliness, tidiness and a lack of clutter is very important and anything otherwise will cause them anxiety,” says Jackson.

“For others it’s not important at all and they happily live with clutter and chaos.”

Marie Kondo's obsessive methods are catching on. Photo: Getty
Marie Kondo’s obsessive methods are catching on. Photo: Getty

The trickiest part? Living with someone whose values clash with yours.

“That’s when you need to make compromises,” she says.

How to makeover your life the Marie Kondo way:

• Does it spark joy? If not, get rid of it.

• Designate a place for each thing.

• Tackle clutter by categories, not rooms.

• Fold, don’t hang.

• Pursue ultimate simplicity.

• Empty your bag everyday.

• Appreciate your possessions.

Watch Marie Kondo’s method in action below:

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