Clear Your Clutter and Your Mind

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHave you ever felt stuck on a project and decided to clean up your desk instead? Did you feel some temporary relief once you did?  I have long been wondering about the apparent connection between clearing your surroundings and clearing your mind. So I was eager to start reading and working through Marie Kondo’s book “The life-changing magic of tidying up.”

And it’s been an eye-opening process so far.  Through years of experience as an organizer, Marie has come up with the “KonMari Method” to declutter and organize your space once and for all. The process is fairly straightforward:

1. Start by discarding.

2. Then organize your space thoroughly in one go.

I was fascinated by the results Marie has seen with her clients. By putting their houses in order, they were able to see more clearly what they needed and didn’t need in their lives and what they wanted and didn’t want to do. Marie explains that when your place is clean and free of clutter, you have no choice but to see issues that you have been avoiding and are forced to deal with them. Tidying is meant to be a life changing event.

So I was eager to get started – and that meant to first get clear on why I wanted to tidy in the first place. What was my motivation?  As I thought about it, I really wanted to feel stress-free and unburdened. I would like to live in a comfortable, relaxing, inviting and beautiful environment. I want to be able to think clearly, feel free and do what I enjoy. I want to make myself happy.

Now I was ready to begin the discarding process. The first lesson was that tidying by category, not location is key. Marie lists a specific order of categories that works best, which makes it really easy to follow along. The first category was clothing and the first subcategory was tops (shirts, sweaters, etc.) So I followed the instructions and pulled out all the tops I owned and put them on the bed, so I could see them all.  Then I took each item into my hand and asked myself “Does this spark joy?” If the answer was ‘yes’, I would keep it. If it was ‘no’, I would put it in the donation pile.

This straightforward question “Does this spark joy?” is so simple, yet so profound. In the past I had asked myself all sort of other questions (When did I last wear this? Do I still need it? Maybe I could use it later at some point? Maybe this will fit again once I lose weight?) that made it very difficult to let go of items. The “KonMari method” was applying a completely different standard, but it made a lot of sense. I went through all the remaining clothing categories and not only did I gain more closet space, but it is also so much easier to pick out clothes to wear now, rather than having to pass through clothes I didn’t really like as much, but felt compelled to keep.

It helped to think that the purpose of some clothes might have been to teach me what doesn’t suit me or to give me a thrill when I first bought them, but that didn’t mean that I had to hang on to them, if they no longer brought me joy. I thought this was a great metaphor for life, and I couldn’t help but wonder if getting into the habit of asking this question would remind us to ask this question in other areas of our lives as well, allowing us to let go of situations or beliefs that no longer made us happy.

I am now starting on the second category: books and magazines. This one is a little bit more challenging, since I love books, but I am taking it one sub-category at a time. So what are the effects so far? Aside from feeling good about being productive and gaining space, I have also made good progress in putting my finances in order, which had been something I was working on. I also have a sense that this is a good practice to face things and deal with them, rather than ignore them, and that feels productive and empowering.

Have you tried the “KonMari” method? Let me know!


Manuela teaches women life strategies to find success in their careers and personal lives! You can visit Manuela’s Website for Success Life and Career Coaching.

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