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Spark joy with Marie Kondo

Spring is in the air. With beautiful blooms, new life, seasonally mild weather and clear skies comes the feeling of fresh beginnings and anticipation for summer ahead.

As you pack up your coats and boots in exchange for loafers and ballet pumps, it’s the perfect time to take a look around your home and see what needs to be cleared out. Clutter in its many forms can be a chronic source of stress. This means that spring cleaning isn’t just good for your home, it’s also good for you.

Marie Kondo, in her New York Times Bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, talks about more than just dusting and hoovering. Fascinated with organising since her childhood, Marie began her tidying consultant business as a 19-year-old university student in Tokyo. Today, she encourages readers to become more organised and intentional in what they choose to own, teaching the benefits of decluttering and minimising.

She also believes that by clearing out objects that weigh you down mentally and emotionally, you'll make space for new people, things and experiences. But does it work? Kondo says that some of her clients have lost weight, had their skin clear up, decreased their stress levels and improved their personal relationships, possibly due to the "detoxifying" effects of her tidying method. Following the launch of her 8-episode series Tidying Up on Netflix in January, goodwill donations to charity shops and non-profit organisations have also spiked as a result of fans being inspired to clean out their clutter to help improve their wellbeing and attract good karma.

Kondo’s ‘KonMari Method’ encourages tidying by category – not by location – beginning with clothes, then moving on to books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items), and, finally, sentimental items. People around the world have been drawn to her philosophy not only due to its effectiveness, but also because it places great emphasis on being mindful, introspective and forward-looking.

The KonMari Method six basic rules:

1 - Commit yourself to tidying up. Yes, it may feel at first a little daunting and time-consuming, but the sense of achievement and empowerment you’ll achieve will be worth it.

2 - Image your ideal lifestyle. In her first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Kondo urges readers to “think in concrete terms so that you can vividly picture what it would be like to live in a clutter-free space.”

3 - Finish discarding first. Thinking about where to store things, or worrying about whether you can fit everything in, will only distract you from the job of discarding, and you will never finish.

4 - Tidy by category, not by location. This approach allows you to see objectively exactly how much you have.

5 - Follow the right order. Clothes first followed by books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items) and finally, sentimental items.

6 - Ask if it sparks joy. Everything that does not spark joy should be thrown away, while everything that does spark joy should be kept. If you’re having trouble throwing something away, think about why: Is it of sentimental value? Did you buy a dress and feel guilty for never wearing it? Thank the object for its service in your life and move on. This helps mitigate the anxiety associated with purging.

Once you have all your clothes that continue to spark joy, it’s time to fold and store them. Kondo believes folding should be the main method of storage and folds each item into a perfect rectangle that can stand vertically in a drawer. This vertical storage technique will help keep your clothes from becoming wrinkled and you’ll be able to see everything easily in your drawers, too. Do a quick search for #KonMari on Instagram to see the abundance of drawer "after" photos taken by proud tidiers. Hollywood has also embraced the KonMari Method and famous fans who have been known to share their tidying efforts online include Jamie Lee Curtis, Oprah, Kate Hudson, Emma Watson and Jennifer Garner.

Once you've finished her six-step process, Kondo promises that maintaining this "state of perfect order" will be a breeze and you'll never have to purge again. In fact, she has had zero repeat clients.

So, get out the black bin bags, put some tunes on and get ready to choose joy. And remember, “even if you fail, don't worry - your house won't blow up!”

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