Finding joy tidying up with Marie Kondo's 1st U.S. protegee

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A San Francisco woman was so inspired by the KonMari method by Marie Kondo, she quit her job in finance, tracked Marie down at a book signing and became Kondo's first US-based employee. (KGO-TV)

By now you've probably heard or seen the hit Netflix show "Tidying Up with Marie Kondo", based on the bestselling book of the same name. Not only has this organizing craze of thoughtfully eliminating the items that don't bring you joy taken off in Japan, where Kondo is from, but the US and the Bay Area where Kondo lived for a time.

Goodwill locations are reporting a surge in donations with reports of some locations temporarily limiting donations. On Craigslist, pages and pages of garage sales, inspired by the show.


A San Francisco woman named Jenny Ning was so inspired by the KonMari method by Marie Kondo, she quit her job in finance, tracked Marie down at a book signing and became Kondo's first US-based employee, teaching her English, learning the skill and answering fan questions on tidying up.

"It changed my life. I cleaned out my closet and lost three pounds!" which Ning says is a positive side-effect of tidying up.

Ning finds the surge in Kondo's popularity a positive.

"It's a big part of pop culture now so it's been really fun. People have been Tweeting about it or posting about it on Instagram and their huge piles of clothing and books. I think it's a great way to be introspective but bring fun with it."

We brought Ning to the home of Sarah Newman, a full-time recruiter for a tech company and fulltime mom of two small children. She says the clutter in her home can, at times, cause stress.

"It definitely causes a fair amount of friction and every night the kids are in bed at eight-o-clock-- I find myself organizing for two hours to put away the stuff. I would love to get those two hours back and do something else! So for me, it's about time saving and saving stress," laughs Newman.

We begin with one area that frustrates Newman, and many others, the most-- the bedroom closet. Newman's is filled to the brim with clothes collected throughout the years.

Ning directs Newman to empty out absolutely everything from the closet onto the bed in order to assess all the possessions.

Ning holds up a shirt emblazoned with the Boston Marathon logo.

"This brings good memories," shrieks Newman.

Clearly this is a piece of clothing that still brings joy. Because Newman believes she'll still wear it, albeit not that often, it gets placed into the keep pile. But not without saying "thanks" to it first. Ning explains that part of the KonMari method is to thank your possessions for their purpose. The same goes for items you do part with.

"Marie says there are two reasons why we can't let things go. It's either being attached to the past or being anxious about the future." Says Ning.

If you're attached to an item with sentimental value but don't use very often and probably won't, she says taking a photo can act as a reminder and take up zero space.

Sarah then takes Ning into her children's bedroom which she calls "a bit out of control" for the amount of books. Ning recommends children start their tidying habits early.

"One suggestion I would make is starting with giving your four-year-old a bit more responsibility. You can start by giving her one cubby for books and then she can understand the concept of tidying."

Some suggestions Ning has for those wanting to start de-cluttering their lives:

1. There is much more to the KonMari method, so Jenny suggests watching the Netflix series to get a good overview of what the method is all about. You can also learn techniques for folding and how to handle different rooms.

2. Post on social media! Join the movement. Ning says by finding a community of others who are doing the same thing in tidying up can provide moral support.

3. Remember to say "thank you" to the items you're getting rid of. If they bring you joy, or don't bring you joy, the show of gratitude will remind you of the good times spent with the item.

4. If you need a breather, take a break! The process can be long and overwhelming to some.

5. Don't worry about your family members! If you take care of your own tidying up needs first, it could very well inspire your spouse, your children and others in the household to follow suit. Ning says they'll see your newfound joy and be inspired!

6. Remember the environment as you're discarding items. Fast fashion versus more high-quality items may help you change your mindset when it comes to buying new items later.

7. Paper is a huge issue for many. Sort them into three categories. Bills, short-term papers that you need to keep for a while and more important long-term papers like contracts you don't look at very often. This helps direct you to what's important and everything will have it's own place.

Jenny's services cost $100 an hour with no minimum. She also provides a lesser priced SKYPE/virtual service as well. To learn more about Jenny's personal home organizing business visit her website.
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