What can you possibly get out of watching people clean out their kitchen drawers for 30-plus minutes on Tidying Up with Marie Kondo? Maybe you’ll realize you don’t need to finish your degree to change your life — you just need lots of little boxes to separate all the junk under your bathroom sink.
On her show, Kondo teaches messy clients how to organize their lives using the “KonMari” method she created. The show features same-sex and interracial couples, expecting parents and empty nesters, all united in their inability to straighten up their homes.
Her clients aren’t like the people from Hoarders — their storage rooms, guest bedrooms and garages are full of junk just like many American families. It’s not a makeover show, either. Marie doesn’t clean for her clients; she teaches them how to clean as a family, to bond and to “choose joy.”
Unlike lots of escapist reality television, Marie’s method actually is for everyone. Here are five things you can take away from Tidying Up.
1) Everything looks better in a box.
If it’s something you want, you better find a shoebox and stick it in there neatly where it belongs. Marie’s obsession with teeny, tiny boxes is as excessive as it is adorable. But, as always, her methods are effective. Boxes are a convenient way to store things in an orderly way. Everything should have its own home within your home, and if that means collecting tiny boxes to separate your hair bands from your lipsticks, so be it.
2) Stop feeling guilty, but cut it out.
You’ll never move past the mounting terror of cleaning if you’re terrified to throw away clothes you never even wore. Marie has us thank our objects for all they’ve done before we give them away. Even if you never used it, you learned not to buy similar things in the future. Be grateful, and learn from the experience.
3) If your roommate keeps reminding you to clean, maybe you should just listen.
The most insufferable people on this show are the ones who think their partner is pressuring them to throw too much stuff out. That’s never the case. Their partners, in general, are so impossibly patient with messiness that I could scream, and I’m not a neat freak myself. Just throw it out. Not every dried-up banana peel and ripped plastic bag can possibly have sentimental meaning.
4) Think about what you want to take forward, instead of focusing on what to get rid of.
Hold every object as you clean and try to imagine it following you to the future. Would you really notice if it wasn’t there? Wallowing in the past doesn’t get you anywhere; you have to look forward. And if it is something you want, display it proudly in a way that makes you happy, instead of keeping everything locked away in storage containers.
5) Does it spark joy? Well, it better.
The most difficult lesson to learn is the true feeling of joy gained from tidying. The cute “ching!” noise Kondo makes represents the ring of joy you should experience holding a piece of clothing, a book or a pillow you really want to keep in your life. Everything else can just fall by the wayside. Is your toothbrush not sparking joy anymore? Thank it for its service and toss it out. Treat yourself to a more joyful one. Does your boyfriend really get on your nerves? Look, all I’m saying is that Kondo wants everything in your life to spark joy for you. Maybe you can bond by choosing joy through the practice of tidying.