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How Tidying Up Completely Changed My Lifestyle at Home

Thanks to Marie, my LIFE sparks joy!


By Kiersten Hickman, The Family Handyman

It was three months before my wedding. I was wrapping up my final months of graduate school and preparing to move across the country with my soon-to-be husband. We had just signed for a tiny Brooklyn studio, but unfortunately, my lease was already up in Chicago. I ended up moving to a friend’s apartment for three months until the wedding, which meant having to pack up and move my life twice in one summer.

As I packed up my apartment, I was flabbergasted by how much crap I had accumulated over my college years. I moved to Chicago with six storage containers and two suitcases, yet somehow I left my first apartment with dozens of boxes. Moving my stuff to this new apartment was an absolute nightmare (I certainly didn’t know these 18 handy hints for moving at the time) and it completely freaked out my husband. How were we going to fit this mountain of belongings in a tiny studio? I knew after that horrifying move that I needed to make some changes. Immediately.

That was when I decided to pick up the book “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo. She’s the brainchild behind the KonMari method and the star of the recent hit Netflix series “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo.” Reading her book was a lightbulb moment for me. As soon as I finished reading it, I grabbed the trash bags and got to work.


If doesn’t spark joy, say thank you and goodbye.

Marie Kondo’s tips for getting organized are absolutely nothing like any other self-help organization book I’ve ever read before. While most people tell you to detach all emotions from your stuff, Marie tells you to thank it. Most people say that stuff shouldn’t bring you joy. Marie says to keep the things that literally spark joy. Most people tell you to only keep what you need. Marie tells you to only keep what you love.

This was an incredibly concept for me, and honestly, I was a bit shocked I never thought of it before. Why would I keep so much of the stuff I have when I only really use a quarter of it? Better yet, why do I let the things that don’t spark joy weigh me down or feel obligated to use them because of some sort of silly attachment. Like being a gift from a friend, or the need to have it because “everyone else does.” With all of the things happening in my life—finishing grad school, getting married, moving to a whole new city—it was the perfect time for a fresh start. I was determined to only bring the things I truly loved to Brooklyn. By the end of my purge, I was able to get rid of 17 garbage bags worth of items. Most of them were books and clothes, while the others were miscellaneous dishes, doo-dads, extra papers, and school supplies I no longer needed. After Marie Kondo-ing my life, I ended up leaving for Brooklyn with significantly less items. Between these items, and my recent wedding registry gifts, unpacking my Brooklyn apartment brought me so much joy. I loved every single item in our place, and it certainly didn’t feel cluttered.

After setting up our studio, I noticed a small shift in my thinking towards purchases. Instead of buying stuff because I find it cute or trendy, I really think about it. Mind you, I wasn’t exactly made of money during that first year in Brooklyn, so I couldn’t really afford to buy more stuff. But it was easier to say no for one simple reason: I only want things in my life that spark joy.


If it doesn’t spark joy, don’t buy it

Marie’s motto not only worked for my stuff back in Chicago, but it was working in my life every day. Why waste time with something that doesn’t spark joy, when you could simply surround yourself with the things you love?

Of course, there are certain items that don’t exactly spark joy like cleaning supplies, or laundry. But since these items are things I truly need, I have a laundry basket and cleaning supplies that spark joy when I look and use them. Despite how much I despise the actual activity.


My home is organized. For GOOD.

When we finally upgraded from our studio to a one-bedroom apartment, I felt this need to do the Marie Kondo process all over again. I started to go through my things, only to notice that everything I own truly sparks joy for me already. In her book, Marie mentions that her clients have a high success of keeping up with the tidying after the initial process. It was clear going through my belongings that I also am proof of Marie’s successful method. My home truly has been tidied for good.


I keep up with tidying as much as possible.

Out of all the ways Marie has completely changed my life, this has probably been the most beneficial. Instead of letting my stuff sit out on desks, counters, or dressers for weeks on end, I put things away immediately. When I get home from work, I put my coat and shoes in their rightful place. I empty out my lunchbox and wash those dishes. I empty out my work bag and put everything in its place. And guess what, that really only takes me five minutes to do.

I have found that keeping my place tidy at all times has actually saved me more time in the long run. No more long days of cleaning and organizing my apartment. I now wake up every day to a tidy place that certainly sparks joy every time I get out of bed. I absolutely love the look of my home, all because I simply keep things in their rightful home.

Tidying up has completely changed my lifestyle, and I have become a vocal advocate of Marie’s fantastic method.
Storage & Organization

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