4 Tips to “Marie Kondo” your home and spark some joy

I’m guessing you’re probably well-aware of Marie Kondo, as her “Spark Joy” movement is pretty much everywhere nowadays and continues to spread like wildfire.

But in case you’re unfamiliar with Kondo, her mission is to help “spark joy” in the world through tidying up. She shares basic principles and tips to help others begin decluttering and organizing their homes and other spaces, which in turn creates more peaceful and joyful environments.

Kondo encourages people to reassess what they own and only hold onto items that “spark joy” in their lives and/or living spaces. All other items that do not meet these requirements are “thanked” for their service up until that point, and then donated or discarded.

As I’ve shared previously in another post, Sean and I are trying our best to have a “less is more” mindset and implement minimalism in our home. However, even with the best of intentions, we have times when we realize we’ve allowed excess (unnecessary “stuff”) to make its way into our lives.

Personally, I find consumerism to be akin to an irritating poison ivy rash. It’s an incessant itch that yearns to be scratched. But it’s best to fight against the impulse to scratch that itch in an attempt to attain temporary relief. Because once scratched, the rash spreads. And the more one scratches, the desire to continue to do so only intensifies.

I’ve seen consumerism’s poison play out like this in my own life: the more I buy and accumulate, the more I’m tempted to purchase and attain new things. And also, the less grateful I become for the things I already possess.

So, to avoid from having the toxicity of consumerism infect our lives and disrupt our desire to live more simply and maintain grateful hearts, Sean and I like to periodically do a reassessment of what we currently own and “purge” things that could better serve someone else.

I think most of us agree decluttering our homes and embracing simplicity is a good thing. However, if you’re like me, you may find it a bit overwhelming as you run through a mental checklist of all the areas in your home that need decluttering. Personally, I was tempted to tackle everything at once when I first thought about decluttering, since I am wired for “all or nothing” thinking. Luckily, I spotted this “black-and-white” extreme mindset immediately, and reminded myself it’s best to stay in the middle-ground and not overload myself at the get-go.

So where to begin? How can you “declutter” your own home to welcome in more peace?

Well, I decided to give Kondo’s “tidying up” techniques a “go” for myself and walked away with some helpful take-away’s. Below are 4 tips based on my lessons learned to help guide you if you decide your own home could use some decluttering.

4 Tips to “Marie Kondo” your home and spark joy by tidying up

Tip #1: Get inspired by watching Marie Kondo in action as she helps others “spark joy”

My time is very valuable to me. So before taking on a task or saying “yes” to something that will require a commitment of my time, I like to know what I’m getting myself into. I want to make sure my time will be put to good use, my efforts will contribute to something life-giving (for others or myself), and more importantly, will be in line with my values and bigger life goals.

“Tidying up” is in line with my own personal values to try to live with less clutter (in my physical surroundings, as well as in my inner-world). However, personally, I still had to be convinced that the benefits resulting from such efforts would outweigh the required time commitment. While I heard others praising the whole “Spark Joy” movement, I had to do my own homework before committing my time to “tidying up.”

So I encourage you to do your own exploring and soul-searching as well. Don’t just take it from me that this is something that will serve you; find out for yourself whether this will be something that will be worth your time. You know you.

If you’re a Netflix subscriber like me, I’d recommend checking out Kondo’s show “Tidying Up” to familiarize yourself with, and get inspired by, her decluttering methods. If you don’t have Netflix, there are plenty of clips of Marie in action if you do a Google search. I personally had fun watching those featured with Ellen DeGeneres.

Do as much or as little exploring as you’d like. You do you.

Personally, all it took for me to decide to jump in and begin tidying up was but one episode of “Tidying Up.”

After witnessing the peace and contentment resulting from one family’s tidying up efforts, I was hooked. I was convinced it was worth my time, and I was determined to dive in and begin applying some of the “spark joy” methods I had learned from Marie in my own home.

Tip #2: Pick ONE area of your home and break it up into mini projects

I recommend avoiding taking on too many areas of your home at once. I personally found it helpful to pick one area to start. If you’re like me, you may find yourself overwhelmed if you think about all the areas in your house that could use some decluttering. In the past I’ve found if I do too many projects at once, I often end up not finishing what I set out to do (or do a mediocre job at those I do end up completing).

As I thought about decluttering my own home, I knew if I started in on more than one project, I’d likely find myself starting in on one area, hopping over to another, and then feeling overwhelmed by all the chaos. Having a bunch of areas mid-process would likely make me feel as if I wasn’t making any progress (and quite possibly only making matters worse). Which I knew, could cause me to decide to call it quits mid-way through.

To avoid overwhelm, pick one area and apply a mini-project by mini-project approach.I think you’ll find yourself less anxious and willing to take on more spaces over time if you take on one mini-project at a time.

Separate larger areas of your home (or those that require larger time commitments) into multiple projects. For example, rather than tackling the entire kitchen at once, divide it up into multiple targeted areas. Maybe start out by organizing your kitchen utensils or that confused “junk drawer” in the kitchen. If you’re still motivated after completing that small task, you can take on another task from start-to-completion.

Starting small can help keep you motivated to continue on in your efforts, and it also allows you the ability to test out the methods to see if the “joy sparked” is worth your efforts. Think focused.

Tip #3: Select your first “mini-project” target – tackle and conquer to completion

When considering where to start, I suggest considering: 1) the required time commitment to complete the project, 2) your current level of energy and motivation, and 3) where you’ll see the most “bang-for-your-buck” (in terms of time invested to benefit received).

#1: Level of time commitment

I suggest you pick a mini project that doesn’t require a huge time commitment for your first endeavor. That way you can test it out, without having to commit an excessive amount of time. Smaller also won’t feel as daunting, so you’re more likely to follow-through to completion.

#2: Your current level of energy and motivation

When deciding where to start, consider your energy and motivation to tackle and conquer. If you don’t feel up to starting and completing the task just yet, maybe consider holding off until you feel motivated to complete the task in entirety.

Perhaps you’re one of those people who can pick something up, stop mid-way-through, and then pick it up again later. If so, that’s awesome – run with that. Personally, that’s not my preferred approach, as I’m more likely to succeed if I take on small tasks and complete them from start-to-finish.

But again, you decide what works best for you. Just make sure to make the commitment to yourself to complete whatever you start. You owe it to yourself. 🙂

#3: “Bang-for-your-buck” (from a time-invested-to-benefit-received perspective)

I suggest you consider choosing an area wherein you’ll see a pretty significant bang-for-your-buck.

Think of some areas you confront daily that frustrate you, but you never have time (or energy) to stop and clean up/organize. For example, the disorganized silverware drawer (ours somehow tends to accumulate crumbs over time and accumulate unused items, like chopsticks from take out and other random items).

Another example is your undergarment drawer. I don’t know about you, but mine becomes hard to close at times, as it tends to accumulate old items that would be better served in the trash (throw out those worn-out undies and socks with holes, peeps!).

Give it some thought and consider your areas of pain-points. If you’re having a hard time thinking of anything, go through your day as usual: you’re sure to stumble upon areas that could use some tidying up.


Personal Example: How I applied the 3 criteria noted above to select my first target

Here’s how I worked through the above items and ultimately decided upon my first target: my bedroom closet.

I nominated my closet because I knew I was motivated to tidy up that space, as it’s been an area I had been wanting to declutter for quite some time.

I knew it would be quite the time commitment on my part; but I also knew I could split it up into separate tasks. For example, I could divide up the effort shelf-by-shelf, or I could start with certain clothing items (e.g., sweaters as one project, short-sleeved shirts as another, etc.). The time commitment to complete the smaller tasks didn’t seem so bad, so my closet passed criteria #1.

I also considered my current level of energy and motivation. I definitely felt motivated, as I knew an organized closet would help relieve a lot of stress for me each morning when I was trying to get ready. I wasn’t quite sure I had the energy to take on the whole closet; however, I knew I could tackle one confined area. So I decided I’d start with one shelf in my closet, giving a big ‘ole check to criteria #2.

Next, I considered “bang-for-my-buck.” I wanted to choose an area wherein I’d immediately start seeing the benefits, as I knew it would help keep me motivated to take on the remaining portions of my closet, and also, other areas of my home.

So, considering all of the above factors, I decided: the closet it would be.

Tip #4: Fight through the resistance

If you’re like me, you’re probably going to feel some resistance during your tidying up process. Resistance takes many forms: irritation, laziness, anxiety, overwhelm, busyness…you name it.

Resistance’s aim? To stop you from starting or following through. Don’t let resistance win. You’ve got this.

To help fight Resistance, prepare for its cleaver attacks. First, go in with a positive mindset: think about how good it is going to feel when your home is less cluttered. Also, as I mentioned above, start small and divide and conquer so you don’t find yourself overwhelmed.

Another tip to ward off resistance? Asking others to join in on the decluttering project. More help = quicker returns + more fun.

If you’re lacking motivation or struggling to convince others to help you out, one thing that works wonders? Bribery. Haha.

Personally, I needed some extra motivation to keep me going, so I told myself my reward for donating clothing was welcoming in new clothes. For every “X” pieces of clothing I donated, I allotted myself “X” amount of dollars to spend toward replacements.

Bribery also works wonders with friends, haha. For example, if you’re cleaning out your closet – offer your friends first dibs to any clothes you plan on donating before it goes off to charity. Free wine is also a very helpful bargaining chip. 😉

Keep in mind the more resistance you feel, the more benefit you’re likely to receive. So keep pushing, Friend. As you encounter Resistance along the way, remind yourself of how amazing it’s going to feel once the project’s complete.

My conclusion: the joy sparked outweighs the time/effort commitment

Cleaning up my closet required some time and effort on my part, yes.  But, in my opinion – man was it worth it!

When I finished tidying up, it felt as if a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. It felt as if I had been freed from unnecessary baggage. Excess clutter I was happy to have out of my life.

I expect you, too, will find yourself pleasantly refreshed and energized if you choose to take on some decluttering of your own. If your experience is anything like mine, I expect you’ll also find the peace and contentment gained as a result of your efforts will be well-worth the time commitment.

So how about you?

What areas in your home need some decluttering?

If you’re feeling resistance and hesitating on jumping on the tidying-up-train, what’s holding you back? How is resistance showing up for you?

Share with me in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you. 🙂

You Might Also Like...

No Comments

    Leave a Reply