How Marie Kondo's Tidying Method Cleared My Head

A true life changer

While some like to scoff at pop culture, we wouldn’t be who we are without it. Whether it’s a television show, movie, book, underground cultural phenomenon, or beauty product, there are certain events that changed the course of our lives. In our Life Changer series, we’re sharing the things that helped us become who we are today, and hopefully, inspire you to try them out for yourselves.

I consider myself to be a pretty clean and tidy person. A former colleague of mine was fascinated when I told her I've never, ever had one of those chairs in my bedroom that somehow always seems to amass a giant pile of clothes. Just the other day, I warned my boyfriend my room was messy because my gym bag and tote bag were haphazardly resting on the floor in a corner. (There was also a not-so-cute layer of dust on my bookshelves, but no one would have noticed that unless I pointed it out. Which I did.) My one problem area, however, is my closet. It's where shirts go to get wrinkled and anxiety builds with each exhausted toss of pants. That collection chair? I have the shelf version of it, and this month, I decided enough was enough.

The KonMari way of tidying gained widespread attention last year and became a bona fide "thing" early this year. Developed by Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, the method essentially asks you to consider the joy each object in your home brings you. The end goal isn't to necessarily get rid of objects, but to ensure each and every item with which you fill your space makes you happy. Sure, you're tidying your physical space, but you're also tidying your mental space and spirit. Trust no one who says they would not enjoy that.

I, for one, was in need of cleaning up my mental space. So, I carved out a Sunday afternoon, emptied my entire closet, and KonMari'ed my wardrobe away. What you do is take everything out, put it all on your bed or floor, and then pick each item up, hold it, consider it, and if it doesn't immediately make you feel good, toss it. I used my favorite longline tee as a joy barometer because it's the style of shirt that has gone on to inform my 20-something style. If the item I picked up made me feel as comfortable and happy as that T-shirt, it stayed. If not? It went into the trash bag. Kondo advises thanking each tossed item for the joy it brought you, which proved to be quite a silly chore, but also kind of refreshing. I've always had this weird fantasy of inanimate objects having feelings and, like, how sad it would be to be a T-shirt that doesn't get worn—like your whole life's purpose goes unfilled! Anyway, thanking the clothes I tossed was oddly cathartic.

When all was said and done, my cutthroat approach to KonMari—which consisted of not thinking too much about the nostalgia associated with an item—yielded two full trash bags of clothes to donate. Immediately, my closet felt lighter and more bearable. It still does. Whether it's fashion or interior design, presentation is huge for me. I'm a true believer that a messy room equates a messy life, and the organized closet situation I'm currently learning to live with has reaffirmed that belief. I've been more focused at work and more confident in my outfit choices. The KonMari method validated that inane idea by forcing me to not only look at but hold close each piece I decided to keep. Of course, what brings me joy today will change in six months, which means I'll never stop tidying. But, if that's what it takes to feel a little more confident and clear-minded, then so be it.

In fact, I may start KonMari'ing the rest of my life. Next stop? "Friends."

Kidding! Maybe.