Carol O’Callaghan explores the approach of tidiness guru Marie Kondo to sorting out our homes now that we’ve put away those summer clothes and patio furniture and before the season of hibernation sets in.
Who doesn’t love a shortcut when it comes to housekeeping and the vamping up of our organisational levels?
The thing is, the secret seems to be in putting the effort in at the start, after which maintenance is done by shortcuts — or so I like to convince myself.
Now that we’re well and truly into autumn, the fortnight’s holiday almost a distant memory, and everyone is back at school, Marie Kondo, tidying empress of Japan, is online urging us to get organised ahead of autumn and winter with her KonMari method.
That’s after we’ve put away summer clothes, the barbecue and patio furniture, and look forward to days when the lawnmower is on sabbatical.
After years of decrying her methods of housekeeping as an extreme sport participated in by the likes of Monica from Friends, and falling foul of her method which promptly despatched my copies of her books to the charity shop, it took a reluctant amble in the direction of Damascus to set me on the right path.
Like all good evangelists, I now subscribe to her YouTube channel for updates, so that pretty good order is now the prevailing wind at home.
But for anyone who would like the gist of it without studying her books and sifting through her numerous videos, here’s my personal precis of the KonMari method as I use it.
All this means is setting aside time to do it and nothing else. It’s no different to allocating time to go to the gym or study.
A good motivator is imagining how lovely the house will look when you’re done.
Although Ms Kondo doesn’t recommend doing it room by room, advocating an all or nothing approach, I actually prefer the former as I find it more achievable, the results are quicker and, ultimately, rewarding, which is a spur to tackle the next room.
This one is crucial to survive the process and really takes the pain out of tidying.
In practical terms, it means a bedroom project tackles the undies’ drawer and then the wardrobe.
In the kitchen, it could mean rooting out all the ovenware and rarely used bakeware, and sifting through it to find two, if not three, eight-inch cake tins.
This is where any lingering skepticism about the method can turn to ridicule. Simply put, the idea is to look at each and every item and question its place in your home.
My own version is to ask if I love it, or if I find it useful, or if I wear it?
For example, my battered frying pan with half the handle broken off is incredibly well seasoned so nothing sticks to it.
It’s no beauty, and joy sparking it certainly doesn’t, but it’s useful and I wouldn’t swap it for anything.
This is where you root out manuals for long disposed of appliances and copies of The Guinness Book of Records, so out of date they claim Mark Spitz won the most Olympic gold medals for swimming.
This stage is particularly useful when tackling the wardrobe, and where, admittedly, asking Ms Kondo’s question, does it spark joy, comes into its own.
You know the answer immediately when confronted with a pile of odd socks, their partners having been eaten by the washing machine, never to be reunited.
The same goes for that suit or dress which doesn’t fit and makes you feel guilty at not having lost the pounds to do so.
Get on YouTube and see Ms Kondo actually descend to her knees to say thanks.
It’s a little mindfulness in action if you fancy it, although the process of lighting a scented candle to fragrance your newly organised space, or arranging a bunch of flowers and foliage does nicely too.