Kondo for clean & clarity

Kondo for clean & clarity
  • Written by
  • Dee Ellwood

Ah, Spring. What better time to tackle the must-declutter-around-the-house list before the Silly Season arrives – right? Well, yes, but the questions begs, “is it really going to make a difference this year?” Let’s be honest, many of us do a mass once-a-year declutter only to go back 12 months later and find the same miscellanea jammed in different places! It’s long been a lose-lose situation. Until now. According to international queen of organisation, Marie Kondo, we can say goodbye to the clutter for good. And, in the name of science, by culling ‘stuff’ so we’ll also sleep better, reduce anxiety and become more productive.

Insane in the membrane

Bursting cupboards, stuffed drawers and stacks of paper can have a cumulative effect on the brain – a constant visual reminder of disorganisation is a literal drain. As Stephani McCain and Sabine Kastner founded in their study, ‘Interactions of top-down and bottom-up mechanism in human visual cortex’.“Multiple stimuli present in the visual field at the same time compete for neural representation by mutually

suppressing their evoked activity throughout visual cortex.” Translation? As clutter increases, so does cognitive overload, which can reduce our working memory and our ability to focus.

And clutter isn’t a friend of the waistline, it can also increase stress levels and even cause physical pain. You don’t have to search far to uncover studies linking clutter to poor eating choices, and higher cortisol levels associated with a sense of unfinished home tasks – i.e. Rena Repetti’s ‘No Place Like Home: Home Tours Correlate with Daily Patterns of Mood and Cortisol’. As for body aches, a Yale study revealed that people with hoarding tendencies can actually feel pain in regions of the brain associated with physical pain when discarding items.

Want to Break Free?

First things first – before you go radically tossing and stacking – the advice from Marie Kondo is to commit to tidying and don’t go extreme. In fact, it’s about small steps to long-term change.

Here’s what she’s throwing out to the masses

Give everything a place:

Especially heavily trafficked areas like entranceways, kitchens and dining rooms.

Introduce baskets and delegated places i.e. for lunchboxes at the end of the day, a sock basket in the bathroom, a tray/basket on the bench for school notices.

Tackle clutter room by room:

Don’t go into decluttering all lights blazing. Instead move room to room – analysing every single item/book/artwork/birthday card/marble/matchbox car. Kondo suggests decluttering from least to most emotionally charged i.e. in this order, clothing, books, papers, komono (miscellany) and then sentimental items last.

Lose the nostalgia and focus on the joy:

If you are serious about culling, focus on what you want to keep, not what you’re chucking out. How do you know what to keep? Kondo says that if something ‘truly’ sparks joy when you hold it and you don’t have to make ‘excuses’ about keeping it – then keep it.

Don’t leave a paper trail:

With digital footprinting every facet of our lives, there’s no need to hold onto those paper receipts, warranties and bills that are shoved in drawers, found under beds and crammed down the back of the couch.

Go vertical:

With clutter gone, rejig what’s left in a vertical manner. Kondo says arranging things vertically – including pantry and fridge – saves space and makes everything appear more eye-catching/visible.

N.B. Upon the completion of this story, our editor Dee attempted to declutter three boys’ bedrooms only to discover she had to go out and buy a new pair of PE shorts, school socks and a school library copy of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, a week after a radical cull. Lesson learnt, don’t get carried away, take it slow – otherwise it’ll cost you.

Images: Marie Kondo

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