MESSY BUSINESS: A woman, not the author, diving into her very messy, unorganized closet, similar to the author's, looking for something to wear.
MESSY BUSINESS: A woman, not the author, diving into her very messy, unorganized closet, similar to the author's, looking for something to wear. stevecoleimages

Is Marie Kondo messing with your mind?

HERE'S a statement I never thought I'd declare publicly... I carefully folded all my undies on the weekend and packed them in a neat row in the drawer.

I've joked about folding underwear before, namely to jealously, mock a neat person, but as is frequently uttered by devotees of something that seems a little unusual, don't knock it until you try it.

Surprisingly, even a messy cynic found it, if not a little creepy, a very satisfying process.

This is probably why Japanese author Marie Kondo is an international sensation. She has tapped into something that frustrates the living &%$@ out of a lot of people. Mess.

Readers of her cult books Spark Joy and The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up would already be aware of her calming presence but her new Netflix show is taking her mantra to another level.

The series Tidying Up is going gangbusters and naturally sending social media into a frenzy.

The number of articles praising, slamming and questioning her cultish but sweet approach to organising the things in your life was a tour de force within 24 hours of the series airing.

It touched a nerve with millions of people who feel like they are drowning in a sea of stuff at home and how that impacts on their day-to-day lives. Which is why I started with undies. I'm one of those drowning folks. I have Kondo's book with good intentions of reading it (like most procrastinators will vouch) but jumped at the chance to see it in action on the telly first.

The beauty of Kondo's approach is that she does it in a non-judgemental way. Her tiny stature and gentle persona (she mostly speaks Japanese through a translator) is a sweet presence to have directing you when you are dealing with what is generally a very stressful situation.

Hoarding and accumulating, letting mess strangle your life, is a sensitive topic because of the personality types that function within this realm. I know this because I'm in episode two albeit I'm not that crazy about Christmas decorations. My vice is anything retro-related (because I have plans, people, plans...).

Anyhow enough of the self-diagnosis, Kondo has developed a technique of tidying called KonMari which tackles your sloppy approach of shoving thing in drawers and cupboards without thought and asks people to go through everything you own category by category, slowly and methodically, while asking yourself does this item 'spark joy'.

While this aspect of the system might seem more likely to spark a crock of you know what, if you are one of those people who are overwhelmed with the amount of stuff you own you just hide it or chuck it in a pile for another day, it's worth while tuning in to, even if it's just to see people in worse situations than yourself, go through the process.

Asking yourself if an item 'sparks joy' isn't as simple as it sounds. The 'joy' doesn't necessarily have to mean it makes you happy. It can mean something is important, or sad and important. The interpretation is up to you. Once you start working out your own model of joy, you get better and better at deciding what remains in the 'keep' pile and what goes to the op shop or the less desirable landfill.

But it feels good once you get going and may tone down future accumulating as more thoughtfulness goes into the process of purging and tidying. And Kondo doesn't rush people she leaves them homework to do at their own pace (although because it's a TV show so there is necessary deadline). She knows how difficult a process like this can be for some people. If you aren't sure about something, she tells you to keep it. There are no culling targets, just encouragement and support as you undertake the mission. Once you develop a system you might find it easier to part with the 'unsure' item soon after the process anyhow.

Kondo has respect at the heart of her process. She performs a ritual at the beginning of the house cleansing when she arrives at the household to 'greet' the place while the families, which are as diverse in their traits as they are with their mess, watch with intrigue nearby.

When you discard an item she asks you to thank it for its service before putting in the bin bag. The latter was a fascinating concept of which I'm yet to prioritise while still riding the high of not having my knickers in a knot any more.

Kondo, using her gentle direction, makes you confront your stockpiles so you can digest just how much stuff you have before dealing with it. This is probably the most revealing part to those desperate and brave enough to venture into her world in front of the camera.

The first mountain of items to be conquered are easily the ones that can get away from us, clothing. And they are literally mountains in some cases. I shuddered thinking about all the things stored in bags and boxes and suitcases before I even get to the actual wardrobes. Piling them all on one bed was too much to personally face so watching other people do it was a good way to warm up to the concept.

Then item by item, they pick it up look at it and see if it 'sparks joy'. Most of these people featured on the program must not have full time jobs because they were some incredible piles to deal with and the time-frame in some cases was a week or two. With moi, factoring in work hours and weekend laziness and watching Marie Kondo episodes, my time frame would easily exceed some of those house builds on Grand Designs.

Anyhow it's worth a crack and my underwear drawer is still looking good after a week.

Fingers crossed, I'll get to the t-shirts next week.



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