11 Important Lessons to Learn from Marie Kondo's Embrace of Messiness

There's a lot more about sparking joy than just neatly folded clothes.

<p>Variety/Getty Images</p>

Variety/Getty Images

I tried (and failed) at organizing my home Marie Kondo-style several times. (Apparently, my clothes don't really want to be thanked or folded into neat little squares—or at least, I'm not finding the time to do that in between carpool and dinner duty.)

But as everybody piles on with glee that Marie Kondo admits her home is now "messy" after her third child (because as any parent can attest, of course it is), I'm finding her honesty—and her latest set of tips from her book, Marie Kondo's Kurashi at Home, refreshing and relatable.


Now, she's more focused on sparking joy in her life, rather than her closets and cupboards. And there are some pretty genius ideas she incorporates into her day that you may want to experiment with yourself. They definitely seem a lot more doable to me than getting rid of books—and I'm already working a few of them into my daily routine right now.

If you need to spark joy in your life right now, try a few of Marie Kondo's latest and greatest tips for a happier life.

Get creative to turn your current home into your dream home

She suggests visualizing what your dream home might have (i.e. a beautiful garden, a library, a spa-like bathroom), and find creative ways you can incorporate something like that into your current (perhaps less-than-ideal) space. Maybe you can have a few small planters on a balcony or in your tiny yard—or just put up artwork that showcases the flowers you'd love to grow. Turn a corner of your bedroom into a reading nook with a slim bookshelf and a cozy chair. And maybe splurge on a few luxe bath products to make your shower or bath more enjoyable.


Work joy into the mundane parts of your day

Eating breakfast may be the most everyday habit, but she elevates it by playing beautiful music, using special dishes, and choosing healthy things that her family loves to eat. I've been cultivating new playlists to enjoy while cooking dinner (and eating it).

Give a new habit 10 days to flourish

Commit to just trying something new (like a new morning routine) for just 10 days—then reassess after that. You may choose to tweak it, continue on, or just ditch it if it doesn't spark joy. Then it feels a little like a science experiment, and it might just encourage you to try something bolder than you would if you felt like you were committing to it forever.

Use scent to energize or relax you

Marie Kondo works scent into her morning, evening, and work rituals, to help her wind up or wind down. She recommends mint or grapefruit for work, lavender or rose in the bedroom to wind down, and palo santo or lavender to start the day. (I'm burning a grapefruit candle while I work on this, and it does feel like I'm a bit more energized and focused!)

Pro tip: If you're working from home, Kondo also suggests switching scents as you transition out of work mode, to help you switch off your work-related to-do list.


Tell a friend about a change you're trying to make

An accountability partner (whether it's your spouse or a trusted friend) can help you succeed—and even just telling someone about your goal can make you more likely to do it. "You could even post a declaration on social media, announcing your intention to finish tidying by the end of the year," Kondo writes—though I'm definitely not taking her up on that suggestion.

Create a "joy niche" in your bedroom

Put something you really love right where you'll see it when you wake up (whether that's a picture of your family or a beautiful plant or flower arrangement) to give your day a joyful start.

Clean up things right away

If you hate scrubbing your grout or trying to clear days-old grime off your stove (and who doesn't?), follow Marie Kondo's lead and wipe down your bathtub or stove as soon as you're done using it. She's able to keep mold and mildew at bay in her bathroom with only water—so it can be a great way to cut down on your cleaning supplies too.

Make bath time more luxurious

One of the things I've incorporated into my own stress-reducing routines is a bath—always with a lovely bath bomb or bath salts, candles, and a good book. Marie Kondo also adores baths, and recommends using beautiful containers (of course) for your bath products, and bringing plants or flowers into the room to give you something visual to enjoy.

Cut out activities that don't spark joy

You probably can't cut everything that doesn't spark joy from your life—someone has to take out the trash after all. But Marie Kondo regularly makes a list of all the things that take up her time and finds cuts to make. (I've used that recommendation to help me cut back on my social media time.)

Reconnect with your childhood hobbies

If there's something you did for fun when you were a kid but haven't in a while, give that old hobby a fresh look—odds are you'll still find crafting, reading, exploring the outdoors, or baking a whole lot of fun.

Take joyful breaks throughout the day

All work and no play apparently makes everyone (including Marie Kondo) uninspired at work—and makes the day a lot less fun. She takes several tea breaks with music and flips through a "joy scrapbook" with images of things that she loves—which sounds like a pretty nice respite from a day parked at a screen.

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