Tidying tips from the UAE’s first trained KonMari guru

Throwing out other people’s things is a big Kondo no-no. You could potentially be letting go of somebody else's joy

Taking time to sort through your wardrobe will clear space, mentally and physically. Courtesy Maureen Lim
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As a person who writes for a living and often works from home, a lot of my tidying takes place before deadlines are met. Procrastination certainly plays its part, yet as things are put away and order is created, a clarity is simultaneously sparked that facilitates the process of writing.

Marie Kondo – the Japanese tidying guru and creator of the KonMari Method, who has tapped into an organising zeitgeist with three books on the genre and a hit series on Netflix – is riding the wave of mindfulness. She recognises that making time to make order and clear spaces has therapeutic benefits, as well as practical ones.

The UAE's first trained KonMari consultant, Maureen Lim, recently spoke to local interior designers at a workshop hosted by Urban Nest, the Dutch-influenced supplier of interior design accessories and furniture, at its new – and uncluttered – location at The Courtyard in Al Quoz, Dubai. And the space was filled to capacity.

Maureen Lim, left, with Marie Kondo. Courtesy Maureen Lim 

Lim underwent her KonMari training in Chicago, and offers her services to home owners and office workers seeking a practical route to a more harmonious way of living. “Cleaning is confronting nature and tidying is confronting yourself,” says Lim. “It’s actually a mental process. We don’t look so much at the client’s things, we look at the actions, the facial expressions and what’s really sparking joy for them. It’s all about discovery, patience and compassion.”

The outcome is both functional and emotional; in the process of tidying and decluttering, harmony is created between people, their possessions and their homes, which frees up mental and physical space. Lim outlines six Kondo guidelines she uses with clients, as she takes them on their tidying journeytips that you can adopt, too.

1. Set a deadline for your tidying and commit to it, and make it within the next six months. You want to make a dramatic change and you need to feel excited and maintain momentum. The process will take time, so work it into your schedule – everybody is different in this respect. However, a single session of tidying should be limited to a maximum of five hours.

2. Imagine your ideal lifestyle: what does the blueprint for this look like? Don't start by simply going home and taking things out. Instead, write down how you'd like to live in your home. Perhaps there's a corner table for child­ren's craft activities, or an aroma­therapy area – be wild in your ambition and channel your ideal lifestyle.

3. Discard first and work on how the storage spaces will be organised at the end of the process, once you've identified what is going to stay. Tidy by category and not by room. Begin with clothes – all of your clothes – and take them to a central point where everything can be seen together, ­to be sorted, kept or let go.

4. After clothes, move on to books, paper, miscellaneous items (­"kimono", in Kondo-speak) and, finally, sentimental items. Following the right order is designed to speed up the process of your tidying journey. As each stage is more challenging than the last, this order increasingly refines your sense of what Kondo wants you to feel as you develop your tidying skills. And don't be tempted to jump ahead. By the time you reach the toughest category to tidy – sentimental items – your sense of the value of things will be tuned to a higher level. Lim says by then you'll know what to do with photographs and old letters.

5. The crux of the KonMari Method is not founded on clearing things out – it is designed around what should be kept, and what "sparks joy" in your home and life. Do you feel a sudden burst of excitement or recall happy memories when you look at something? Does that item make you feel calm, bring peace, or inspire you, and will it really be referred to again? Does the item serve a practical purpose? If not, let it go.

6. Tidying is a personal journey. Only you can decide what sparks joy in your home. If you're sharing a home with family or friends, throwing out other people's things is a big Kondo no-no. You could potentially be getting rid of somebody else's joy.