Marie Kondo sparks global tidiness craze

Sparking joy: Charity shops have reported a spike in donations since Tidying Up With Marie Kondo was released.

Is it better to be tidy or messy? The cleaning guru and Netflix star says that neatness is the key to transforming your life, but studies show a bit of mess can encourage creativity.

A new year is a perfect time for a clear-out.

Pile all of your possessions onto your bed. One by one, hold each item you own in your hands. Does it spark joy? No? Then in the bin it goes.

This is the radical tidying method of Marie Kondo, a Japanese cleaning expert who has sold 11 million books worldwide.

Her new Netflix series Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, in which she helps disorganised families throw out their junk, has launched a craze around the world.

The “KonMari” method focuses on finding the objects that truly make you happy — whether they are clothes, books or keepsakes — and getting rid of everything else. She takes inspiration from the Japanese Shinto religion, which says that all things contain a spiritual energy.

“When you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order, too,” she says.

And our culture tends to agree, seeing tidiness as good while looking down on those who make a mess.

Besides, a bit of chaos can be useful.

When we are surrounded by random clutter, our brains can make unexpected connections to create fresh ideas. There are lots of famous examples: Mark Twain and Albert Einstein had chaotic desks, while Francis Bacon’s studio in Dublin is an avalanche of paint, papers and mess.

Tidy house, tidy mind

Kondo tells clients to throw out objects that have served their purpose in our lives, even ones we keep for sentimental value. Is it a good idea to invest objects with emotional significance? How important are your possessions to your identity?

As teenagers, “tidy your room!” is a refrain heard all too often. It is drummed into us that to be untidy is to be irresponsible, slobbish and disrespectful. Does tidiness actually make you a better person?

You Decide

  1. Is it better to be messy or tidy?


  1. Decide what your most important possession in the world is. Why is it important? How much would it matter if you lost it? Discuss these questions in groups.

Some People Say...

“Visible mess helps distract us from the true source of the disorder.”

Marie Kondo

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Japanese organising consultant Marie Kondo is known as “the queen of tidying”. Her new Netflix series, Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, is wildly popular and has sparked a lot of discussion.
What do we not know?
Whether it is really better to be tidy or messy. Studies have linked messy rooms with stress, but others have found that messiness can be good for creativity.

Word Watch

Kondo also encourages people to speak to their home and clothes as they are tidying them.
A traditional Japanese religion that focuses on links between the present and the ancient past. There is a special emphasis on honouring ancestors and the natural world.
Mark Twain
An American author (1835 - 1910).
Francis Bacon
A British painter who was born in Ireland in 1909. His studio is still on display to the public in Dublin.
Prompting feelings of tenderness, sadness or nostalgia.

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