During recent lockdowns, our worlds have generally got smaller. As we’ve been restricted to our homes and local areas, we’ve had to adapt how we shop, relax, exercise, travel and even work. Spending more time at home has given rise to a few key trends. Home improvement is a big one, as people seek to enhance their living spaces. There’s also been a surge in entertainment streaming as we look to stave off the boredom of being stuck inside. And there’s increased interest in mindfulness and wellbeing as we all strive to get through these challenging times in one piece.
Something that manages to bring all three of these elements together is Marie Kondo’s KonMari Method. For the uninitiated, Kondo is a Japanese organising consultant turned best-selling author and now Netflix star, who has revolutionised the way the world looks at tidying. It’s not just about cleaning up, putting things away and getting rid of what you don’t need, it’s a whole philosophy that can resonate throughout different aspects of life.
It’s why her most famous book can get away with its lofty title, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
Unpacking the KonMari Method
The principles are simple. First, approach your tidying by category rather than by room. These are deliberately ordered so that the most emotionally loaded items go last. Start with clothes, then move on to books, paperwork and ‘komono’ (miscellaneous) before finishing with sentimental items.
Pile up everything you own within a given category, pick up each one in turn and take a moment to reflect on how it makes you feel. If something “sparks joy”, keep it. If it doesn’t, thank it for its service and give it away. (If you’re wondering why you should talk to an ill-fitting jumper, consider that Kondo’s method is underpinned by the ancient Japanese philosophy of Shinto, including respect for material things and the people who made them.)
As part of your selection process, you’re encouraged to visualise your ideal lifestyle and what you need to get there. Anything that won’t help on that journey isn’t deserving of your home, or you. The idea is that by discarding things that lack value – and actively choosing those that do – you’ll only be surrounded by meaningful objects that make you happy and help you achieve your goals.
The wider benefits of decluttering
Minimalism and thoughtfulness in the home can certainly contribute to your more general wellbeing. There’s nothing relaxing about clutter; scientific research even shows that disorganisation can overwhelm the visual cortex and make focusing difficult. And you will, of course, only feel good about being around things that “spark joy”.
For Kondo, tidying is transformational – a streamlined physical environment brings peace, mindfulness and encourages living in the present rather than the past.
But you won’t just find clutter in the home, and it doesn’t always have to be physical. A considered declutter can potentially improve every aspect of your life, from your schedule to your relationships, your screen time to your finances.
KonMari for your finances
Too many people put up with financial clutter, often without even realising it. While it seems absurd to hold up a credit card statement and seriously ask if it brings you joy, the same tidying philosophy is still relevant.
As with a KonMari home tidy, good financial planning starts by reflecting on the life you want to live. How do you want to spend your time and how will you get there?
Think about your bank accounts, ISAs, credit cards, investments, pensions and other assets that may have been set up some time ago but are no longer relevant or on track to achieve your goals. Or perhaps assets you’ve inherited that only serve a sentimental function and could be let go with gratitude to spark joy in someone else. Also take time to consider whether your spending habits line up with the future you want or actually work against it.
As Kondo herself says, “Fewer items do not make everyone happier; it’s about finding the balance of items that makes you feel the most comfortable — and the same thing applies to your wealth. What is important is to foster an awareness of what you need — and to make a plan to get there.”
We couldn’t agree more.
At Citywide, we’ve been using this mindful approach to financial planning to great effect. For expert help with decluttering your finances and planning for the future you want, give us a call on 01372 365950.