Emerging Trends, Student Life

The power of tidying up

Since Netflix released ///Tidying Up With Marie Kondo/// on Jan. 1, energized viewers have been eager to tap into the ‘life-changing magic of tidying up.’ Thrift stores have reported more donations than usual, and fans have turned to social media to express their undying love for the show’s host, Marie Kondo, and her minimalist organizational tactics. Kondo is a Japanese organizing consultant and creator of the KonMari method, which urges adherents to go through their belongings and get rid of any possessions that fail to ‘spark joy.’ With the right advice from Kondo and other experts in the field, tidying up can have profound, time-saving impacts on students’ everyday routines.

The Kondo craze has inspired busy families, couples, and students alike to declutter and get their lives in order. Maya Khan (U2 Arts) recently purged her entire closet after watching Kondo’s show. Khan’s wardrobe, which was once bursting at the seams, now consists of around 30 shirts and five pairs of pants, which fit into just two small drawers. She feels relieved while working at her desk now that her clothes no longer surround her in her room.

“My productivity definitely has increased, and I feel much better having everything clean and polished,” Khan said. “Honestly, I’m slowly getting to the point where I might [reorganize] the house because of [Marie Kondo].”

However, tidying up can be a daunting task for other students, and, even after seeing a professional in action, it is difficult to know where to start. Maggie Munro (U1 Arts) recounted her frustrations after watching Kondo’s series, observing how it made her hyper-aware of her own clutter but did not motivate her to tackle it.

“I absolutely love Kondo and respect her anti-consumerist, minimalist philosophy,” Munro said. “But I find the ‘spark joy’ principle too vague for me to apply to my own life because everything I own can spark joy for me if I think about it long enough.”

For those seeking a more hands-on approach, there are other experts who can offer some helpful tips. Although professional organizing may seem like a niche occupation, Kondo is not alone in the field. Alison Lush, a certified professional organizer in Montreal, has a passion for helping people to declutter their homes, and she prides herself on her non-judgemental, individualized approach. She has studied the KonMari in depth, but finds Kondo’s style to be too dogmatic.

“[Kondo] believes that everyone should be doing it the same way,” Lush said. “I believe every individual is on their own journey, and everyone listens to their inner self and what’s important to them. [The way people live their lives] is a personal decision, and we shouldn’t be judging.”

Lush recognizes that all of her clients are unique, but, during the decluttering process, she suggests that everyone reevaluate the way they manage five main resources: Money, time, space, energy, attention, and, most importantly, stuff.

“I encourage everybody to reflect on the volume of stuff they have and to take ownership of it,” Lush said. “There’s a lot of payoff to actually thinking about our stuff and what serves a purpose. It makes daily life easier.”

Lush has developed a number of organizational strategies to help clients, such as creating a ‘VIP parking spot’ for possessions that get lost easily or cause extra stress when needed in a rush. For Lush, clutter only poses a problem once it becomes an inconvenience, but, similarly to Kondo, she believes that everything her clients own should have personal value. She urges her clients to create their own rules and boundaries so that, over time, they develop personalized habits and make sustainable changes to their own lifestyles.

Lush also offers practical advice for university students, who are often balancing multiple responsibilities and may live with roommates who don’t share the same standards of tidiness.

“Take a deep breath,” Lush said. “It’s hard being a student: Recognize that. Any time we share a living space with someone, it comes with costs and benefits. We have the benefit of shared responsibilities, but it’s also inevitable that there’s compromise along the way.”

The notion of keeping up a tidy lifestyle may sound intimidating, but, with the help of experts like Kondo and Lush, students can alleviate the dread associated with tidying. Lush sees the potential for fun in cleaning up, and believes that, with time, students can figure out an organizing system that works for them.

“Managing all of our resources is a lifetime learning curve,” Lush said. “I’m in my ninth year as a professional organizer, and I’m still learning. I try to look at it like an adventure and a discovery [and] to try to put a positive spin on it, because why not?”


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