Notes On... Tidying Up

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Marie Kondo seems like the sweetest person, probably ever. In her new Netflix show Tidying Up, the organisational goddess who became a household name in 2014 with her book The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up squeals with delight when she meets new people, and rolls around on the carpet, so happy is she when rooms have been cleared of clutter.

Tidying Up follows a similar format to another of Netflix’s recent makeover hits, Queer Eye, and in each episode, Marie spends time with a different household — from young families one week, to a retired couple whose grown children have moved out, but their childhood paraphernalia remains, the next. The families are taught how to start the tidying process, beginning with clothes, moving to books, documents and paper items. Then, maybe the biggest category for most, is sorting komono, miscellaneous items in the kitchen, bathroom and garage. 

I love Marie Kondo. I’ve read her books, and now I’ve devoured her TV show. But there’s something about the ethos, or rather, the name itself that doesn’t sit right with me. This isn’t about tidying up at all, it’s about much more than that. It's about finding gratitude for the things we own and getting rid of the things that are weighing us down.

There’s no judgment from the host. As long as it still 'sparks joy' for the owner, then the item passes the "KonMari" test and should be kept. So if you want to keep hundreds of baseball cards you’ve collected over 30 years (like in the Akiyamas episode), that’s fine. But it’s the things that we’re holding onto through obligation, or just because we haven’t got round to chucking them out yet, that Kondo would suggest we no longer need. 

Kondo’s charm is undeniable, and it’s because she seems so genuine and non-judgmental that this makeover show feels more like a life-coaching session. As well as gleaning helpful tips on how to fold your clothes that'll make you gasp "OMG why didn't I think of that?", Kondo also cultivates a sense of empathy for the 'stuff' that we really cherish, and sparks some joy herself.