Tidying Up ...

decluttering and the spark of joy

Marie Kondo is a phenomenon. A softly spoken Japanese woman, usually accompanied by an interpreter, she makes tidying up videos. Yes, there is such a thing. She uses the ‘KonMari’ method … you can sample this on YouTube or watch in extended form on Netflix. I recommend it, sort of. She principally helps those with personal or relationship difficulties to tidy their homes. You are going to have to stick with me on this, I am going to get to why you should care.

The basic principle is a sort of minimalism. Belongings are pared back, category by category, to the practical and sentimental essentials. Anything that does not ‘spark joy’ is disposed of, after having been thanked for serving its purpose. The process, undertaken quietly and meditatively is a version, it is claimed, of mindfulness.

There are then elaborate methods for folding your remaining clothes, organising the remains of your library, and placing in boxes the miscellany of small items that have escaped disposal or rather, claimed a space in your life.

Marie Kondo asserts ‘life changing magic’ for her approach and if you watch the videos you can sort of see it. People shed their past, focus on their future, psychically as well as physically declutter.

Organisations seeking change and transformation need their Marie Kondo moment. The opportunity to shed the stuff that no longer brings joy; to clear the space for the next thing; to create the mental space; to arrange, label, organise and display their work. Tidying up is important practically, but is also important as an exercise in coming to terms with what is past, and turning to what the future brings. An opportunity to say thanks for what has served its purpose and then to dispose without further sentiment. Collective mindfulness, if you like.

As Marie says "when we really delve into the reasons for why we can't let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future."