How To KonMari Your Inbox, Relationships, and 6 More Things, According To Experts
This week, we’re celebrating the impact of all things KonMari and the 1-year anniversary of “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” on Netflix. We hope these stories spark joy for you.
The release of the Netflix Original series “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” brought the decluttering master’s revolutionary KonMari Method back into the mainstream. So we’re revisiting her life-changing tidying approach in the new year (and new decade!) to help us simplify other aspects of our lives and hold onto the things that spark joy.
From relationships to Netflix queues, we tapped a relationship expert and a professional organizer to share their advice on “tidying up.” Here’s what they had to say:
When it comes to wrangling your inbox, which can be a particularly arduous task after a long weekend or vacation, a certified KonMari consultant recommends the Inbox Zero approach.
“David Allen’s advice is king and is congruent with the KonMari philosophy,” Patty Morrissey, Mercari organizing expert and founder/CEO of Clear & Cultivate, told Apartment Therapy. “He advises Inbox Zero, going through your inbox one item at a time. If it can be dealt with in under two minutes, deal with it. If it will take longer and it requires you to take action, put it in a take action folder. Archive the rest. This is similar to the KonMari approach to paper. Working through the physical clutter of paper is great training for dealing with the intangible aspects of digital clutter.”
Waiting all week for the weekend to start, only for it to fly by in the blink of an eye is an all-too familiar story. The solution? Decrease activities that deplete your energy and make time for restorative ones (whether that’s spending time alone reading a book or going out to brunch with friends; you do you).
“Your weekend should be used to replenish your energies, not leave you more exhausted for the work week ahead,” Dr. Kathrine Bejanyan, dating and relationship consultant, told Apartment Therapy. “Try to minimize unhealthy behavior that will only leave you tired and unhappy come Monday. Focus on doing things that will build your own self-esteem, make you feel good about yourself, and strengthen your social life in positive ways.”
One of the tools Morrissey uses as part of her framework to filter all the options available in each of these categories is Life KPIs; key performance indicators which she uses to track her overall quality of life. “When I’m planning how to spend my time—my weekends, my work, what I watch, what I read, who I spend time with—I go back to ‘Does it Spark Joy?’ and ‘How will it impact my Life KPIs?’”
“To develop Life KPIs, identify a few areas of your life that matter most,” Morrissey said. “For me, I care about close relationships, personal growth, and mental, spiritual, and physical well-being. For each one there’s a specific metric I track such as number of visits with friends, number of walks in nature, number of new experiences.”
On the topic of Netflix, Morrissey advises to first take a look at your Life KPIs. “Is watching Netflix how you want to spend your life? More important than your close relationships, health, and well-being? In reviewing my life I decided not to have a TV with access to cable or streaming. I only have a DVD player. This incentivizes me to read a book, play a board game, or have a conversation instead.”
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with binging on your favorite show—besides, watching TV with significant others, friends, and family can be a bonding activity as well. “The key is to watch with intent,” Morrissey said. “Allow yourself to abandon a series if it’s not adding value to your life. The gamification of completing a series is motivating you to spend time in ways that you don’t have full awareness and control over.”
To-do lists, when used correctly, can help motivate you to get things done, but loading them with everyday tasks (like taking out the trash and doing the laundry) that don’t further your personal or professional goals can lead to a false sense of accomplishment and leave you in a rut.
“Make your to-do list effective, not busy,” Dr. Bejanyan said. “We can often spend a lot of time doing things and keeping busy but still find ourselves stuck and not moving forward in life. Look at your to-do list—do you have tasks on there that are aligned with your bigger vision and intentions? While laundry, cooking, and paying bills are all important, nurturing your mental and emotional health is equally vital. Make sure you include things on your list that will help you become more of who you are, feed your soul, and bring joy to your life.”
Allowing negative thoughts to fill your headspace can negatively impact your mood, relationships with others, and other aspects of your life. While it’s easier said than done, applying the KonMari method to get rid of negative thoughts involves sitting with them and figuring out where they’re coming from.
“Negative thoughts can be draining and exhaust our mental energies,” Dr. Bejanyan said. “We often try hard to get rid of them forcefully only to be left more depleted. A more practical approach can be to listen to what they are trying to tell us. There is often an underlying fear that is at the heart of our negative thoughts and once that fear is addressed, the negative thoughts may clear up. A negative thought about a coworker getting a promotion at work can be an indication of our own fears of career progression. If this is coming up for you, take some time to think about your career aspirations and come up with a better strategy moving forward.”
As I write this, I have four tabs open in a separate browser window of articles I want to read—some of which have been opened for months.
“We have unlimited access to information, so our relationship with information needs to change,” Morrissey said. “Instead of clicking on everything and feeling like you need to read everything, trust that you could probably make do without. Tim Ferriss advocates a ‘low-information diet’ and this is good advice. Read with intent. Have a clear question in mind before reading aimlessly. Spend more time creating than consuming. The ‘save for later’ feature is useful for letting go of the need to keep all the tabs open.”
For this category, we’re employing the KonMari Method by tackling conflicts head-on—an approach that can be used for relationships that are not only romantic but with friends, family members, and more. Only then can you figure out which relationships are real and can be worked through.
“When it comes to relationships, it’s often the avoidance of conflict and the need to keep peace and harmony that can lead to bigger complications,” Dr. Bejanyan said. “The trick is to deal with problems head-on, when they first arise. Once it’s left to fester, the problem gathers momentum and can become a whole lot messier to deal with, overwhelming the relationship and the people involved.”
Whether you’ve got a pile of unread books at home (and continue to pick up new ones every time you pass by a cute bookstore), have a to-read list that only continues to grow, or can’t seem to start or finish a book for one reason or another, Morrissey has a few rules of thumb.
“Books are a time commitment, be intentional with how you’re spending your time,” she said. “Allow yourself to ‘date’ the book first before committing to read the whole thing. Allow yourself to break up with it; stop reading if it’s not sparking joy for you. Allow yourself to let go of books you haven’t read yet—they came into your life because you had a question in mind, but it turns out you didn’t need that information after all. I also like Tim Ferris’s advice of reading classics versus the hot new bestseller. Spend time on books that are proven and filled with timeless wisdom versus the latest fad.”