Who hasn't heard of Marie Kondo? She became a household name in 2014 with the publication of her first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Her book spiraled into a Netflix series, Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, which first aired in 2019.
Kondo's method of "tidying" consists of two parts: discarding and sorting. To properly discard, you must amass your belongings into categories (clothes, books, makeup, papers, etc). Then, you sort through the objects in each category one by one, keeping what sparks joy and discarding what doesn't. Finally, you sort the remaining "joyful" items with thoughtful intention, placing them in an organized fashion into compartments and boxes and nooks and crannies that are at once easy to access but not egregious to look at.
Kondo espouses a minimized, but not minimalist, approach, with a view that buying new items is okay so long as you have space, so long as they spark joy, so long as they do not clutter your home and thereby, clutter your life.
I decided to adapt Kondo's approach during one of the many grey days of quarantine. People like to say that long days make quick years, and that might be true. These quarantine days aren't especially long, but they do have an air of sameness. Is it Monday or Wednesday? Friday or Thursday? Does it even matter anymore? I hoped that in de-cluttering my space, I may find some calmness in a storm of anxiety. I hoped to create the type of living space that is airy, calming, and conducive to creativity.
As I Marie Kondo'd my clothes, then my makeup, then the random items stuffed beneath my bed, I realized I don't have that much stuff. I certainly don't have many things that spark joy, nor it's antonym, sorrow. I found myself doubting Kondo's creed as I neatly folded my underwear, fully recognizing that it would not remain neat. That in a few weeks, the drawer would become rumpled and messy, because who has time to fold underwear, organize it by color, and continue to do so....forever?
I did find some items left over from a past relationship (a sweatshirt, a basketball, a photo frame), which I stuffed into a garbage bag to take to Goodwill if and when the quarantine lifts. I discarded some expired face creams and consolidated two half-filled bottles of Windex. I scrubbed my bathroom from top to bottom, dusted the hard-to-reach places above and below and within my bookshelves, and vacuumed my carpeting once in every direction. I cleaned out the vacuum, then the fridge, then sorted the items beneath the kitchen sink. I threw out some dried up nail polish and organized my Christmas decorations. I washed my bedding, my pillows, my mattress pad, and every item of clothing I'd worn to bed in the past two weeks. I found some old notebooks full of poetry and transferred my writing to Google Drive for safekeeping. I tracked down every device I own and its corresponding charger and put them all in one drawer. I threw out years-old auto insurance documents, lit a candle, and checked the time. Exactly three hours had passed.
As I mentioned, I don't have that much stuff, but I figured a full-on Marie Kondo effort would take more time. The intention of her method is to chose items that spark joy, discard what doesn't, and end up with a clutter-free home that is "better able to bring more joy and prosperity to your life." While tidying, Kondo instructs you to "visualize the life you want to live and what you need to get there." Anything that won't help you on your journey to your ideal life isn't deserving of your space.
This all sounds swell, but somewhat overblown. Having a neat, tidy, and welcoming space is conducive to living a productive, peaceful, and enjoyable life but I fail to believe the correlation is that simple. I did feel better after tidying my home, but it was by no means life-changing. Maybe my mindset is wrong, or maybe my threshold for life-changing events is higher. Either way, tidying up never hurt anyone.