The first U.S. edition of Marie Kondo’s bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing was published back in 2014. But thanks to the author’s method, it managed to become more than a passing trend. Marie Kondo-ing became a life philosophy.
And it’s no surprise, truly.
As a method that offers an alternative to both cluttered living and extreme minimalism, it is based on building up a life filled with sparks of joy. And best of all, the KonMari method applies to almost any area of life – as long as you make the decision to tidy up and find the things you love.
Now, in 2021, it’s safe to say that all of us could do with getting rid of unnecessary baggage. Even more, any one of us could benefit from a bit more joy. And, it turns out, doing a bit of cleaning up might just be the secret to a happier new year.
Getting Rid of Bad Habits
When I decided to KonMari my life, I knew in an instant that my biggest challenge wouldn’t be physical clutter. Instead, it would be the negative habits I’ve picked up throughout the years.
So, I decided to get rid of the mental clutter.
As a self-employed writer working from home, acquiring self-sabotaging behaviors wasn’t that difficult. After all, when there’s no external authority to keep your discipline in check, it’s easy to fall back on comfortable patterns. And although they may seem easy and convenient, deep down, we all know they’re doing us harm.
Everyone’s poor habits differ. Mine were mostly connected to routine. I’d fail to start work on time. I’d sacrifice sleep for one more episode of my current Netflix obsession. Or, I’d miscalculate how much I could get done in a day. Sometimes, I’d even allow myself to be swallowed up by work instead of taking the time for some much-needed self-care.
But while I was aware that I wanted these behaviors gone, I had no idea where to start. After all, I had no wish to go on a never-ending productivity hunt that would leave me exhausted and with the same results I was getting as things were.
So, I decided to start with a traditional approach.
Making Physical Modifications to Inspire Positive Change
Marie Kondo’s philosophy rests on the simple act of tidying up. So, that’s where I began my decluttering journey. I started with the room where I spent the most time: my tiny home office.
Fortunately, I’m not that much of a hoarder. Collecting things I don’t need or want isn’t my thing. But, when it comes to organization, things aren’t looking that well. As I surveyed all the items on my desk, I quickly realized why I couldn’t just focus on getting things done. There were too many distractions. Between the craft tools, gadgets, physical copies of magazines and books, it was no surprise that I was struggling to zoom in on my work. The same situation greeted me as I looked at my phone and computer screens. Dozens of time-wasting apps, bookmarks, browser tabs.
So that’s where I began. I went on a digital deletion spree, discarding everything I didn’t need or love.
Once I was finished with my devices, I moved on to the physical spaces, paying extra attention to the areas connected to the most problematic behaviors I wanted to change. To increase my work productivity, I completely decluttered my desk and office. To fix my poor sleep hygiene, I did my best to transform my bedroom into an oasis starting with a comfortable mattress. And, to fix my nutrition, I purged my fridge of all the addictive ingredients that were stopping me from eating a healthy diet.
But the real point of Marie Kondo’s method isn’t a clean and organized home or a faultless lifestyle. Instead, it’s the making of space for the things that bring us joy.
So, as my life began to take on a more structured form, I found that the greatest positive change wasn’t the fact that I had ceased being overwhelmed. In fact, it was that I was ready to welcome beautiful new things into my routine.
By being more disciplined in my work, I suddenly had much more free time. I used it to be with the people I loved, enjoy my hobbies, and work on the projects I was passionate about.
I also had much more appreciation for self-care and the benefits it brought me. After all, if a bubbly bath on a Friday night helped me de-stress and relax for the weekend, then it must be something to make room for in my life, don’t you agree?
Now, while I’m still on my clutter-free kick, there’s one thing to note. If I want this positive change to be for good, then the work hasn’t stopped. Poor habits and negative thoughts are just like material things – they enter our lives bit by bit and are difficult to notice until they’ve already taken up too much space.
So, going forward, my plan isn’t to Marie Kondo my home and life every six months. Instead, it’s to adopt the practice of mindfulness, encouraging myself to pay attention to things as they come. That way, I truly believe that I can continue on the positive path of enjoying a fulfilled life.
And the best thing in all of this? Anyone can do it, as long as they’re ready to make a few small changes.