Tidying Up (Part I) - Tidying Up Your Life

Have you ever heard of the name Marie Kondo? Chances are that you have. She has a New York Times Bestselling book titled, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and a currently trending hit new series on Netflix titled, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.

Photo by  Hutomo Abrianto  via  Unsplash

In Marie’s book, tidying up refers to applying a set of principles to de-clutter your home. However, in this two-part blog series we’re going to talk tidying up your life (Part 1) and your relationships (Part 2) by applying principles based upon Marie’s method. 

There’s something about tidying up that feels good. For example, clearing out space for something better or getting rid of what is not needed anymore. As the old saying goes, “out with the old in with the new”.

However, sometimes we feel like we can’t let it go - whatever it, or whomever it may be. Whether that be a person, an argument, a piece of clothing... We rarely question, why are we holding on to it? Marie Kondo does wonders in helping us not to de-clutter our homes but also our lives.

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
— Marie Kondo
Photo of Marie Kondo via  KonMari.com

Photo of Marie Kondo via KonMari.com

The KonMari Method

The KonMari Method is what Marie uses to help people get rid of their clutter and tidy up their homes. There are 6 steps to this method: 

1.    Commit yourself to tidying up

2.   Imagine your ideal life

3.   Finish letting go first

4.   Tidy by category, not location

5.   Follow the right order

6.   Ask yourself if it sparks joy

Just like we can use the KonMari Method to de-clutter our homes, we can use it to open up and make space for our lives and our relationships.


Step 1: Commit yourself to tidying up your life

Think about it. If your life was a home, what would you want to tidy up first? Would it be your finances, your priorities, your relationships with others? Grab a piece of paper and a pen and start jotting down what you want to tidy up. What would you tidy up? This might be easy or it may be really hard. You can always go back to your list later and add more things, this is just a starting point. 

We are used to cleaning the outside house, but the most important house to clean is yourself—your own house—which we never do.
— Marina Abramovic

Step 2: Imagine your ideal life

Photo by  Ümit Bulit  via  Unsplash

Photo by Ümit Bulit via Unsplash

Now envision what your life what look like if you could tidy these areas up a bit. Maybe that may look like cutting down on unnecessary shopping sprees, sorting out what is most important to you, or being present in your relationships. What does your ideal life look like?

For me, my ideal life would involve spending more time with my family, with my friends, baking more, making more time for self-care like meditation, being outdoors, and just living life at a slower pace. If you are struggling to come up with what you would like your ideal life to look like, get creative and draw it out. There are no right or wrong answers here, this is your life we’re talking about.


Step 3: Finish letting go first

Get rid of anything that does not serve you anymore. Whether that’s an object or a person, let it go if it does not have a space for you. I understand that it's difficult to let go of things, people, or even ideas.  We struggle with letting anything go because we struggle to cope with the fear of missing out (FOMO). When you're finding it difficult to let something go, pause and remind yourself of steps one and two.  

Photo by  Ankush Minda  via  Unsplash

I was talking to my friend about this concept. She told me that, as a sentimental person, so she really struggles with this step.  She attaches meaning and importance to things, ideas and people, because of the memories that reappear when she sees those things.  She often has to remind herself that the memories of a glorious summer day on the beach with her family won't simply disappear if she doesn’t keep the handful of shells that she found on that day.  It's okay to let things go.

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need
— Tao Te Ching

Step 4: Tidy by category

Start tidying up by category, so going back to the example of finances, priorities, and relationships, these would all be categories to tidy up. First you may want to tidy up your finances in order to create less stress on yourself. Once you tackle your finances you may then want to take a good look at what your priorities in life really are. What is important to you? What do you value? Then, you may want to take a look at the people in your life and how you may want to move forward with the relationship. Perhaps you may decide to let some of your relationships go.

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If it helps, write these categories down. Writing your categories down can help you visualize them and be more motivated to tidy them up. You could even create a vision board of all of your categories written out and check them off as you tidy each one up.  


Step 5: Follow the right path for you

Photo by  Justin Luebke  via  Unsplash

Do what’s best for you. It may sound selfish because it is — but that’s okay. At the end of the day, all you have is yourself and you have to make the best decisions for yourself. If you are feeling stuck wherever you are in your life, know that it is never too late to go down a different path if that is what your soul needs. In other words, do you. If starting up that business is what you’ve always wanted—do it! If you’ve always wanted to travel the world but were too afraid—do it! If college isn’t right for you and you have a dream of becoming an actor—seek your dream. There is no cookie cutter way to live your life and there is no way of knowing which is the right path until you figure it out for yourself. I know- easier said than done but what if it’s worth it?


Step 6: Ask yourself if your life sparks joy

Photo by  Jakob Owens  via  Unsplash

Photo by Jakob Owens via Unsplash

Go ahead, ask yourself:

Does your life spark joy?

Take a deep breath and close your eyes, do you feel a sense of joy when you think about your life or any parts of it? Keep the parts that spark joy, and let go of anything that does not.

Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.
— Marie Kondo


Stay tuned for second part of this blog, Tidying up your Relationships. In the second part of this series, we will apply Marie Kondo’s KonMari method to our relationships. 

In the mean time, be sure to check out the Spark Joy Podcast, hosted by KonMari Consultants: Kristyn Ivey and Karin Socci.


Meet Gina

Gina Binns is a graduate student intern at Space Between Counseling Services. She is currently studying at the Johns Hopkins University Clinical Mental Health Counseling program. Once she graduates in May 2020, she plans to seek licensure as a LGPC.

When she is not in school or working as a special needs educator, Gina enjoys being at home with a warm cup of tea and a book in hand. Gina is currently reading, Creatures of a Day by Irvin D. Yalom.