Japanese organizing consultant Marie Kondo wants you to put your hands on everything you own and ask yourself if it “sparks joy”. If it doesn’t – with exceptions for items of utility – say goodbye. That, in a nutshell, is the first step in a process called the KonMari method that has changed people’s lives and started a decluttering craze. Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, has sold over four million copies worldwide. In it, Kondo guides readers through the process of transforming their cluttered homes into spaces of serenity and inspiration. To understand why people are so fanatical about the KonMari method, it helps to know the science behind clutter.
For example, a Princeton University study found that when people attempted a task in an organized versus a disorganized environment, physical clutter got in the way, competing with the participants’ attention and resulted in decreased performance. In fact, the clutter-stress connection is a popular theme – a team of UCLA researchers who observed families found that the mothers’ stress hormones spiked when they had to deal with their belongings. In addition, Kondo argues that hanging onto stuff can also produce feelings of guilt and shame – you hold onto things because you hope to use them one day (books, clothing in a smaller size, crafting materials). Having them around is a perpetual reminder that you have not fulfilled your goals. If some of this sounds familiar, KonMari may be for you.