Cleaning Up Your Life (Tidying Up with Marie Kondo Review)

Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, a Netflix original series, is focused on changing lives through the power of cleaning up. Marie Kondo is the author of the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up where she explains her “KonMari” method (a combination of her first and last names, meaning that this system is uniquely developed by Kondo herself). This series puts that method, and her book, into action as she meets with families in their homes and helps guide them through it.

I immediately loved this series and watched through all the episodes (only eight of them!) in about three days. Kondo is the smallest, sweetest, cutest person I’ve probably ever seen. I loved her personality and also her attitude towards cleaning. She focuses on a few important ideas in the tidying process that make all the difference: gratitude, joy, and moving forward.

Let’s dive into the KonMari method for a second. The KonMari method is about tidying by category, rather than location. These five categories are:

1) Clothes

2) Books

3) Papers

4) Komono (Miscellaneous) items (this is the kitchen, bathroom, and garage)

5) Sentimental (The last and usually most difficult category).

Kondo highly recommends proceeding through these steps in this exact order so that by the time you get to your sentimental items at the end of the process you are much more adept at knowing which items spark joy. She also mentions that this keeps you from getting stuck as you keep going.

When beginning the process, gather all of these items (like your clothes, for example) and put them all together in one place in a big pile. This allows you to really see the amount of stuff you have. Pick up each item individually and hold it. If that item sparks joy for you (as Kondo says, you should feel something like “Ching!” or a literal rush of happiness when you touch it) keep it. If you don’t feel joy, say “thank you” to the item and let it go. (Throw it away or give it away). If there is an item you don’t know about you can ask yourself further questions like, “Is this something I use?” “Is this something I want to take with me into my future?”

Ching!

One of the things I loved most is the inherit gratitude in this process. It reminds you to be thankful for what you have and even for the things you are getting rid of. Even things you don’t need or want have still taught you something or been useful to you before. Eliminating the unnecessary items in our crowded lives and houses make us truly appreciative and grateful for the things we really need, use, and love. It changes our perspective on “stuff” from just things that clutter up our homes to unique, important, and special things that we love to be around. Kondo herself seems to have a strong inner sense of peace that I think comes from extending gratitude towards every item in her life.

Another key piece of this process is joy. Kondo emphasizes that we should only keep items that bring us joy or happiness. By honing this recognition of what brings us joy we can reprioritize our lives. I think it also helps us better understand who we really are. A quote by Dolly Parton expresses this idea very well. She said, “Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” (Thanks, Dumplin (yet another awesome Netflix original movie)). By discovering what we love we find out who we are and who we want to become. We become stronger by having that knowledge.

Finally, Kondo mentions moving forward. She often asks her clients to picture the space and life they want for themselves. One of the episodes I liked the best centered on a widow who was cleaning up her house after her husband died. Obviously, she had a lot of sentimental value attached to her husband’s things. Kondo gently asked her what things she wanted to take with her. There is no wrong answer here, it falls to the individual to decide what kind of life they want (and the kind of things they want to fill it).

As for the structure of the show itself, each episode included specific tips on storage, cleaning, and tidying. For example, what is the best way to store children’s toys? Or how should you best organize a kitchen utensil drawer? These tips are included as well as a focus on walking through the process. It was clear throughout the show that different people struggled more with different stages of the process. Each stage is given more or less screen time based on how each person moved through it. Since there were eight episodes, each of the steps got plenty of time given to it and various tips on getting through it.

Overall, I highly recommend this show. I thought it was very motivational- I definitely went on a cleaning spree after watching! I also loved the variety of families Netflix included. They were different races, different sexualities, and at different life stages. These families made this show perfect to speak into the mess of each of our varied lives. Going through the tidying process can be difficult, but it’s worthwhile when it puts our lives and ourselves into better perspective.

Happy tidying!

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