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KonMari: Spark that joy

For those who haven’t seen the hit Netflix show or read the best-selling book, KonMari is big. Certified in the method of home organising, consultant Jennifer Dudfield breaks it down for us

Haven’t you heard? All the celebs are doing it… Yep, we’re talking about tidying up. KonMari™ is big news at the moment due to the recent release of Tidying Up With Marie Kondo on Netflix. It’s a philosophy created by the Japanese home guru back in 2014 with the release of her debut book and its 2016 follow-up Spark Joy. The method is based on the idea that you should surround yourself in items that ‘spark joy’ for you and serve your life today, naturally discarding those items that don’t, for a decluttered life. We asked KonMari disciple Jenny Dudfield to delve deeper – here are her thoughts in full…

The main principle is that you tidy once and for all and never revert to clutter again. It seems like a bold statement but it works. You commit to tidying in one go (or a limited amount of time, for example six months) so you address all of your belongings together. You only keep items that serve you. Once you have committed, the first step is to imagine the vision you have for your life (think big – it can be whatever you want, regardless of how out of reach it might currently seem). This will give you a goal to work towards, whether it be finding your keys before you leave your house without having to search for them, having a guilt-free, relaxing bath or free time to do all of the things you want to but don’t seem to have the time for. We tidy by category rather than by room, drawer or area. When you try to declutter by specific areas you will never get the full picture of your belongings and will not be able to address things holistically, resulting in rebound. Start with clothes, then books, paperwork, miscellaneous then sentimental – the most emotional category.

…When you try to declutter by specific areas you will never get the full picture of your belongings and will not be able to address things holistically…

Finish going through your belongings first before deciding where to store things. You will be amazed at the space you will create just by thinking of new, different ways of organising, that will work so much better for you and how you actually use your home. When you store and organise you should store vertically, rather than in piles. This saves space, is much more attractive and makes it so much easier to see everything you own at a glance. It’s simpler to use each item and then put it back in its home afterwards.

As one of 229 certified consultants over 31 different countries, I can officially coach and support my clients in the method, and help them lead their life with more time, a reduced to-do list and much less stress. Consultants go through rigorous training and testing to become certified, so clients can have confidence in the fact that we are the best at what we do. I support them in making decisions, working through belongings and implementing ways of storing those items that spark joy so that they have a home that works for them.

I have always been fascinated by organising and what a difference it can make; my bedroom was very organised as a child. I was more interested in organising my toys than actually playing with them. My parents still joke that they used to ask me to wash up and then come into the kitchen three hours later and I would have rearranged all of the cupboards. My background is in management accounting for large corporations. I have always wanted to start my own business since I set up my own babysitting enterprise when I was 10! It wasn’t until I completed the KonMari method within my own home that I understood how life-changing it was and wanted to help other people. I started researching decluttering as a career and discovered there was a whole industry out there that I hadn’t realised existed.

The method changed my life in far more ways than I can articulate. It is so much more than just tidying and organising. The benefits impact everything you do. You finally create head space to start addressing everything that causes you stress and have the confidence to deal with it. I was regularly stressed in my high-pressured corporate job; my to-do list was ever-growing and I didn’t seem to be able to get on top of anything. I was constantly rearranging things in my home, and it never seemed to end. I wasn’t enjoying any of the things I had booked in for fun at the weekends, I was just ‘getting through’ them then stressing about preparing for the next thing. I didn’t have time in the evenings; I was constantly exhausted and just had too much to do. It wasn’t until I went through the KonMari method in my home that I managed to let go of the past and move forward. I finally had the courage to leave the career that wasn’t sparking joy for me, start a new hobby, enjoy the time I was spending with my friends and say goodbye to everything that was causing me stress. I became more mindful, enjoying the little things that I never had time to even acknowledge, let alone appreciate. I had the courage to start my own business doing something that I love, that helps people, which I had only ever dreamed of before. I created time and happiness for myself.

The benefits to your mental health are endless. When you have clutter around you, you can be distracted, overwhelmed and experience feelings of stress, anxiety and depression (to name a few). By properly decluttering you will reduce these, boost your mood and feel happier. Too much sensory information and chaos causes distraction. It can also make you embarrassed of your home, which adds to the stress and it all becomes harder to deal with. It’s a vicious cycle.

While you sleep, parts of your brain are still processing external stimuli – the more clutter you have in your bedroom the more it will affect your subconscious. Energy will not flow well enough, affecting your sleep. Decluttering can boost productivity, creativity and increase your concentration. If you are too distracted or overwhelmed, you won’t have the space to be as creative as you can be. Organising can increase your self-confidence and self-esteem too – you can learn so much about yourself, learn to trust your decisions and learn to love yourself in the process.

I didn’t even realise how much I was holding onto the past until I was faced with the belongings that were holding me back – things like toiletries from 1998 that were clearly never going to be used! A lot of the feelings we attach to belongings aren’t necessarily happy; we hold on to these possessions because they are sentimental but these feelings subconsciously play on our mentality every time we come across them. Everything in your home should make you happy.

…While you sleep, parts of your brain are still processing external stimuli – the more clutter you have in your bedroom the more it will affect your subconscious….

With a kitchen that works for the way you use it, you can bring back your passion for cooking. With more time you can do the exercise or long Sunday afternoon stroll you haven’t been able to. The things we most fight about as households are mess and money. When you organise your home you address both of these issues. Family tensions can be reduced. Be aware of what you are bringing into your home and how you are consuming. Think of the amount of money you will save; knowing exactly what you have and where it is will prevent you buying duplicates.

All those items you are holding onto, just in case, are taking up your valuable time and space and will be better used by people who really need them. Your environmental impact will also be improved as you learn about your behaviour and your home will become a lot safer with nothing to trip over! I have had so many clients who wanted to buy more furniture, storage, new kitchens or even move to a new house because they didn’t think they had enough room. With proper organisation you won’t need to do any of these things.

It’s wonderful to see Marie in action; the Netflix show really helps bring the method to life, showcasing how it works in reality and the changes the method makes. The families are so different to each other; it just shows that anyone can benefit from good organisation, regardless of your set-up, background or level of clutter around you (everyone’s coping levels are different). The method is not about minimalism, or people who demonstrate hoarding behaviours, it is just normal people who need a bit of professional advice to make their homes work better for them. However, what the show doesn’t indicate is that there are certified consultants supporting the families behind the scenes every step of the way.

So, get started. Whatever is holding you back, don’t let it. If it feels like too much you can break the categories down into smaller sub-categories – do your tops first, then trousers, rather than all of your clothes together.

As we are understanding the impact that clutter has on us more and more, we are coveting a simpler life. People are starting to recognise that simplicity is beneficial, so I think our homes are going to start reflecting that in 2019. When you understand yourself and your style better you can start curating a home you are proud to show off. Although I am fascinated by interiors and design I strongly believe in individuality and not necessarily Instagram-worthy interiors. It is about real life. I advocate surrounding yourself in things that make you happy, and this doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else but you. ■