The Magic Of KonMari

KonMari has been a popular trend in the West for quite some time, but it started to gather steam in India only recently. So what is KonMari all about? It is a method of decluttering and organizing your home by getting rid of items that do not spark joy in your life. The concept was formulated by organizing consultant Marie Kondo and described in detail in her best-selling book ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up’. Kondo was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for ‘Outstanding Host for a Reality or Competition Program’ when her Netflix series ‘Tidying Up with Marie Kondo’ became highly popular in the US and UK. She also hosts certification programs for those interested in being consultants in the decluttering method. Ritz caught up with one such Consultant in training, Priyanka Joseph who tells us more about this amazing organising trend and how it can help us in other spheres of our life.

Text: RIYA SONNY DATSON

How did you get to know about KonMari?

I happened to read her bestselling book, ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ and I was quite fascinated by it. I decided to try it at home and I found it to be very effective and experienced many positive changes.  As you know, this Japanese concept of decluttering your home was formulated by Marie Kondo and she has listed down certain principles that are to be followed while organising your home. Like for example, you are to declutter your home at one go, you can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 6 months to complete the process and there is a certain order of categories to be followed during the process. As you go deeper into the philosophy, you realise its influence on other aspects of your life.  If you put your house in order, eventually you get more mind space which translates into achievements in different spheres of your life like work, relationships and so on.

You were successfully heading 3 salons in Bangalore when you decided to take the jump. What inspired you to change into different sphere altogether?

After completing my MBA, I worked for corporates for around 10 -12 years. We were in the US for a couple of years, we moved around a bit before finally settling in Bangalore. In 2011, I got together with a friend to set up a franchise of a popular Indian salon chain as we both had young kids and were looking at flexible work options. Soon we expanded to 3 salons and were doing well. Fast forward to 2016, I was going through a dilemma – my heart was into styling and home décor but I did not have the bandwidth or the courage to add this to my plate. You could say the KonMari philosophy helped me through the tough decision to sell two of our salons and move forward to follow my passion. Streamlining the business gave me more time to invest in and explore my interests.

When I learnt about the Consultant Certification Program last year, I jumped at the chance. I attended the KonMari seminar in London in April this year and I am a consultant in training currently. I have completed 30 hours of one on one consultation with clients and am waiting to take the final test which will certify me as a certified green consultant. I didn’t really think about the return on investment of this certification at this point. I truly believe in the methodology and wanted to help people with this skill.

You are also hosting workshops in KonMari?

Yes, I just started hosting workshops. I did my first workshop in Kochi recently. In Bangalore, I also have tie ups with companies that deal with storage solutions who have an audience who are interested in the process. I have one on one consultations as well. But as this is a completely new concept in India, with each client, I am learning new things and understanding different perceptions. It is very challenging.

Can the workshop bring about a change overnight?

It depends on what stage of life you are in or what you want to achieve with the process. While some were curious and just wanted tips for organising, others were interested in the KonMari method of folding clothes. There were still others who were not even aware of Marie Kondo. There is so much more to the process than just decluttering. I feel those who seek me out are the ones who have the intention and the willingness to find solutions.

What has been your experience with individual clients?

When you are dealing with Indian clients, it is not like in the Netflix series, where we walk into homes where we are stumbling over stuff the minute we enter the door. We have smaller spaces, most of us have domestic help to put away some of our stuff and our piles are much smaller.  So in the Indian context, the entire decluttering process would take much less time and clients have quite specific expectations out of this process.  One of my clients decided to limit online shopping and fast fashion while another wanted to do away with plastic containers in her kitchen. At the other end of the spectrum, there was a client who was so overwhelmed by the clutter that surrounded her that she was demotivated to carry out daily tasks and run her home based business efficiently. Each of them wanted to make conscious lifestyle changes.

What are the challenges you face while dealing with clients or handling workshops, especially since there is so much content available online?

To be a consultant, you have to have some pre requisites. You need to apply the process in your life first, even before you consider to be a consultant. The program trains you to tackle issues and it is designed to help you help others, to motivate them and to ask relevant questions.

Most often, people are scared if they will be judged. But if you need help, you always have the option of hiring help. It is just like how you hire a trainer if you need to lose weight or you go to a psychologist if you are depressed. Similarly, if you need help to declutter, you hire consultants like us. We help you to kickstart the process and there is nothing to feel embarrassed about. You are working towards achieving a goal. In the west, the process is already very popular, which makes it easy but in India, the idea is just opening up. One needs to understand that it is not any rocket science and that we are just offering solutions that will make things easier for you.

Yes, there are a lot of videos and content available online but when you interact with a trained consultant, there is a certain level of motivation that comes from someone who has applied it in his/ her life. My ‘one on one’ experience with clients helps me to apply the process in an Indian context. I can offer tips on how to sustain the process in the long run.  Decluttering is a life skill and is needed everyday. KonMari just gives it a structure and makes it as simple as following a recipe. I am living proof that we can sustain it in our daily life. Yes, there is maintenance and upkeep but if you know how it needs to be done efficiently, you can put things in order quickly.

Please list out some KonMari tips for our readers:

I would like to list out the practical things that will help one organise things:

  • Spend a few minutes thinking about why you are doing the process. It could be anything from spending more time with family or a new venture at work.
  • Then commit to a certain schedule for tidying up. If you want to apply the whole process, you need to be mentally prepared and must make time.
  • Declutter by category and not by location. The order being – Clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous and sentimental. Of course there are subcategories to each.
  • You have to pile up every single thing in a specific category. This helps you to see the category in entirety and it instantly makes you feel grateful for all the things you have. Start sorting and once you complete decluttering, put each item back in its designated spot.
  • Make sure you follow the order of categories as it is listed in the order of ‘easy to difficult’. It gets mentally exhausting if you start with the most difficult part first.
  • Sentimental items are the most difficult items to declutter and that’s why it is kept towards the end.
  • Focus should always be in keeping the items that spark joy rather than on getting rid of things.
  • In terms of organisation, designate a space for each and every item. Ensure that you store all like items in the same place.
  • When it comes to clothes, vertical storage works well as you get to see all that you have; especially when you have drawers. You could also use baskets in case you don’t have drawers in your cupboard.

 Your biggest takeaway from KonMari?

I have been actively applying the process in my life since 2016. Once I decluttered my home, it slowly led to several lifestyle changes – my buying behaviour changed, I prioritised self care and fitness, I felt more gratitude for the things I owned, I started putting some of these values into my kids, there was more clarity on what I wanted to do and how I could achieve those things – on the home and professional front. Overall, it lead to more mindful and intentional living.