Marie Kondo is an internationally recognized Japanese organizing consultant-turned-author whose book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, re-popularized the idea that the first step to achieving inner peace is to give away the useless piles of things you’ve accumulated over the years.
Through her four best selling books, and the recently released series on Netflix called Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, she has helped millions of people not just declutter their homes but also declutter their lives and relationships. She was recently named one of Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people and has created an international movement causing thrift stores to explode as people downsize belongings and embrace a more minimalist life.
At its very essence, Marie’s method, the KonMari method, has people sort through each and every thing in their lives and ask the simple question, “Does this spark joy in my life?” If the answer is no, then the object is “thanked” for being a valued part of your life and discarded with respect. As a part of the cleansing process, she sorts all objects into five categories:
Her method advocates that by separating all items and focusing singularly on one group at a time, you are best able to hone your sense of “joy” and make good decisions about what things are truly important and what things are just getting in the way.
Her advocates say that her approach has changed lives, improved relationships, and even saved marriages. It’s not about the cleanliness per say but it is about removing things that distract us from what is important while lowering the stress levels in our relationships.
Admittedly, I am an easy covert. I am a minimalist by nature and find a sense of peace in simple & decluttered places. My wife and I differ in this area. When I suggested we try the KonMari method (which she already knew about), she laughed and said, “Okay, all my things spark joy! So leave my stuff ALONE!”
Admittedly, her angst comes from me, maybe, throwing away some of her things in the name of decluttering or from the time I completely emptied our closet into the tub while she was away on a trip. Those things did not spark joy, and per the KonMari method, but sparks did fly!
When you hear music teachers, or students, talk about their programs, you almost always hear the words “home” and “family.” And for many of our students it is more than a metaphor. And like a well lived in home, our rooms are full of stuff and can become cluttered with things once valuable and useful but are no longer needed, relevant, or bring anyone joy. Perhaps we could conduct a KonMari experiment on our rehearsal spaces and offices. The translation to a music room is almost seamless. When I look at the five categories of Marie’s method I see them easily converting to our second home/rehearsal space:
Music & method books
Paperwork & emails
Trophies, plaques, and photos
Everything has its place and time. And times and places change and we have to change with them, both personally and professionally. Think of:
A trophy that was valued at one time but is not relevant to current students
The Eb alto horn that no longer is played but occupies a locker
The old color guard silks that are no longer used
The broken chairs, stands, and bows that take up space
The fax machine that sits in a closet or CDs that are no longer used
The email/voicemail box that is overflowing with messages
Please understand that this activity and blog are not about "Tidying Up". Far from it. It's about viewing removing things from your professional life and space that no longer spark joy. It's about honoring the past but looking toward the future. It's about decluttering your heart and mind as well as your space, for you and your students so that you can spend more time and energy focusing on the things and people that...
p.s. If this blog does not spark joy... Please feel free to whisper a "thank you,” and unsubscribe. If it does spark joy, then share with a friend.