How To Marie Kondo Your Life (and not just your stuff)

  reading time: 6 min

Today's blogpost was inspired by an acquaintance of my boyfriend who told him that she applied Marie Kondo's decluttering method not only to physical possessions, but also to every other aspect of her life. This got me thinking, and I came up with these 3 ways to "Marie Kondo" your life – and not just your stuff.

If you haven't heard of Marie Kondo by now, you're probably a cave troll living under a big cosy rock, but I'm happy to enlighten you in this case 🤓

Marie Kondō, also known as Konmari,
is a Japanese organizing consultant and author of the best-selling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (2011). She also appeared in the Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, which I enjoyed very much, as well as the follow-up show Sparking Joy with Marie Kondo. She is probably most famous for her motto to only keep things that "spark joy", which makes up a great part of her so-called KonMari method. Another significant part of her method is to go through your belongings one category at a time, starting with clothing, and gathering everything from each category in one place before taking every item into your hands and deciding whether to keep it or not.

So let's apply the philosophy of "If it doesn't spark joy, let it go" to other areas of our life that don't have anything to do with physical clutter.

1) Declutter Your Social Events

I think I'm not the only one who has repeatedly gone to social "obligations" and events, either for the fear of missing out or out of guilt or because I didn't want to let anyone down – and almost always regretted it because I didn't actually want to go. What ever it may be for you, I want to invite you to ask yourself: Which events or appointments spark joy? And which do not? If they don't spark joy, is there a way to decline these events? Why do you feel the need to attend this event in the first place?

I think it is extremely important to communicate our needs and feelings honestly and authentically. And yes, this sometimes means putting your own needs before those of others! I think of it like an airplane emergency: You first put on your own oxygen mask before you help your child or other people.

In Sadia's video about designing a simple life (minimalist habits), she also talks about essentialism and the importance of saying no. Essentialism as per Greg McKeown is essentially the idea of committing your time and energy to the "vital few" aspects in your life rather than the "trivial many". It is a less-but-better approach, or quality-over-quantity. For everything you say yes to, you say no to everything else. So let the things you say yes to, be in alignment with your core values. What matters the most for you? Health, time in nature, spending time with good friends, family, creativity, sustainability ...?

Sadia combines this principle with the so-called endowment effect when it comes to social obligations by asking herself: If I didn't have the opportunity to attend this event, would I put in the effort to create the opportunity myself?

If the answer is a no*, be brave enough to stay true to yourself and say no to this event which will allow you in turn to say yes to something that is actually important – or rather, essential – to you.

*if it isn't a clear yes, it's a no!

2) Declutter Your Relationships

This might sound harsh, but "decluttering" your (platonic, romantic or familial)
relationships is actually not only the best thing for you to do but also for the other person. Or would you feel good in a friendship or partnership where the other person only spends time with you because they feel obligated, rather than actually enjoying your company?

So ask yourself, honestly: Which people spark joy?
Pay attention to who makes you feel exhausted, insecure, drained or depressed, and who makes you feel energized, safe, at home or more alive. Do you feel excited at the thought of meeting up with this person, whether friend, partner or relative? Or do you almost dread seeing them, or feel relieved when plans are cancelled? If the latter is the case, is it possible to stop spending time with them?
Again, you can ask yourself: If I wasn't friends with this person already, would I make a conscious effort to befriend them?

It can also help to make a list of qualities you want and need in a (platonic, romantic or familial) relationship, and compare these qualities to how you feel in each relationship. Of course, you don't always need to end a relationship right away when you feel unhappy or unseen. You can always talk it out first, communicate your needs, and see what happens.

If you still feel anxious, uncomfortable or crappy around them, I would advise you to part ways. T
his is as much about setting honest and healthy boundaries as saying no to something you don't want to do.

3) Declutter Your Habits

Habits are what make us succeed in life – they are the often unconscious patterns that form our routines, and with that our everyday lives. If your habits are not aligned with your values (your "essentials") and/or your goals in life, you are most likely not going to succeed. We want our habits to work for us, not against us.
So ask yourself: Which habits and/or activities spark joy? How can you give them more space in your life? Are there any habits that feel destructive rather than constructive that you can get rid of? Identify any habits that make you feel bad, empty, sluggish or drained. What keeps you doing these things?

For example, I noticed again and again that my habit of watching hours and hours of Netflix episodes or youtube videos (even if they were uplifting or educational) on our TV in order to relax made me feel very uncreative, unmotivated and like I was wasting my time or avoiding uncomfortable thoughts that actually needed to be faced. So after a few weeks of observing this issue, I decided to get rid of the TV.

It is way easier to replace a (bad) habit with a new (better) habit, rather than just getting rid of the old habit and leaving a void.
Are there any great habits you want to incorporate into your life, but haven't yet? Is there anything you've always wanted to do, but never got to do? What fulfils you? If you have trouble determining what you actually enjoy doing, think about what you loved to do as a kid. How can you incorporate more of the things that give you energy, rather than depleting you, into your day?

In my case, I re-arranged the living room so that there wouldn't be an empty spot – instead, there's lovely plants, crystals and a picture to look at now. I also spend my evenings reading novels instead which serve as a source of inspiration and education for my own writing.

Make any new beneficial habits as accessible as you can. For instance, if you want to paint more, keep your painting material within reach.
If you want to read more, have a book next to your bed or couch. It helps to treat a new habit like an appointment with yourself until it has become second nature (e.g. painting every day after dinner before sitting down to watch your favourite show or read a great book – using the method of habit-stacking as well as a reward system).

If you are unsure which habits are "bad" or unhealthy, take note of how you feel after a certain activity or thought pattern. If you feel energized, fulfilled or good about yourself, great! If you feel weary, stressed or meaningless, it's probably time to ditch that habit!

This way of "KonMari"-ing your life can be applied to any other area of your life, such as deciding on a holiday destination, what to share and who to follow on your social media, or reacting to a job offer (Does it spark joy?
If I didn't have the opportunity to ___, would I put in the effort to create the opportunity myself? ...).

Life is precious. Let it spark joy for you!