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It’s been a whirlwind year for Marie Kondo, the beloved professional organizer and sparker of joy.
Between her bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, and her hit Netflix show, Kondo has reached a level of ubiquity that’s uncommon for book authors. Her approach to cleaning — known as the the KonMari Method — hinges on getting rid of things that do not “spark joy.” She takes a similar approach to her own well-being.
Kondo chatted with Medium about how she uses her tidying methods in her own life to live better and more balanced.
I wake up at 6 every morning, and I do not use an alarm clock. Then I open the window and welcome fresh air into my house, and I burn incense.
I make it a priority to eat Japanese food that I prepare myself. For breakfast, I cook rice in my donabe, accompanied by miso soup mixed with lots of seasonal vegetables. I also like to eat as much fermented food as possible. For example, I like natto (fermented soybeans) and homemade amazake (a sweet fermented rice drink). Overall, I try to eat the foods that suit my physical condition and avoid processed sugar. If I crave something sweet, I’ll look to natural, wholesome foods to satisfy those cravings, like fruit.
Work-life balance is a flexible concept to me. There’s no need to adhere to a strict standard. I prioritize by considering how I want to spend my time in spans of years, quarters, months, and weeks. Then I work my way down to daily routines. By doing this, I can align my time with goals that matter at that particular stage of my life.
I like to consult with my husband so we can figure out the balance that suits us. He works with me. For example, if I have a pending deadline for a book I’m writing, I might need to dedicate a full week to nothing but work. For me, work-life balance is about being aware of what you’re currently working toward and communicating that with your loved ones.
A typical workday for me starts with meetings and interviews, which I like to tackle in the morning. In the afternoon, I transition to writing. However, if there’s a photo shoot, that often takes a full day. I also like to practice yoga and stretch during the day—my exercise routine doesn’t involve anything too strenuous.
The KonMari Method is part of my everyday routine. I think it helps overall well-being. You’ll think more clearly and sharpen your sense of perspective. This gives you confidence in every decision you make. And I think you should always be honing your sensitivity to joy and letting go with gratitude of anything that doesn’t contribute to your happiness.
My nighttime routine is focused on spending quality time with my children. After wrapping up my work around 6 p.m., I eat dinner at home with my family or sometimes invite friends over. Before putting my children to bed, I read them a book.
Once the children are asleep, I change the water in the flower vases and put the things in my house back in their places. Because every item already has a designated home, I can usually complete this task within 10 minutes. As I put my things back into their places, I thank them for their hard work that day.
Before going to bed, I diffuse oils to ease my body into sleep. Lavender and Japanese wood are my favorites.
The KonMari Method is the foundation of all my work, and I think it always will be. It teaches people that the act of tidying your home will help you identify your values and what sparks joy in you. When you’re equipped with this knowledge, you will begin to improve all aspects of your life.