Updated: March 22, 2020 10:52:50 am
Written by Alexandra Alter
The tidying guru Marie Kondo built her global lifestyle brand by developing a system for imposing order over relentless chaos. “My dream is to organise the world,” Kondo has said.
With her trademarked KonMari decluttering method, Kondo has led millions of acolytes to purge their closets, basements and pantries. Her first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, sold more than 10 million copies. Its success begat an empire of orderliness that includes a popular Netflix show, Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, a children’s book and graphic novel, a consulting firm with more than 400 “certified” KonMari advisers and, somewhat counter-intuitively, an e-commerce store, where converted neat freaks who have emptied their cluttered homes can fill them up again with robes, slippers, candles and other items curated by Kondo.
Now, like every mogul in every industry, Kondo is trying to figure out how to run her business during a profoundly chaotic and unsettling moment. Many of her travel plans and events to promote her new book, Joy at Work, which she co-wrote with Scott Sonenshein, a business professor at Rice University, have been canceled. Her children’s school has shut down, so she and her husband, who works as the chief executive of KonMari, are working from their home in Los Angeles and caring for their daughters, 3 and 4.
“It is a challenging and uncertain time, but it may also be an opportunity to express gratitude for your space and to tidy up if you’ve been wanting to,” Kondo said.
I corresponded with Kondo this past week, with the translation help of Kay Amano, the director of publishing and corporate planning at KonMari Media.
6:30 am: The first thing I did was light incense to purify the air and energy in my home. I went into the yard, stretched a bit and then picked some lemons. I made myself a cup of fresh lemon and hot water and then meditated to start my day. We just introduced some new self-care items in our online shop, and I’ve been using the meditation cushion.
7 am: I started preparing a Japanese breakfast for my family. I first cooked rice in my donabe clay pot. Then, I heated up the vegetable soup I made last night and made a couple more dishes — stewed chicken wings and broccoli.
8 am: We all ate breakfast as a family in our dining room. I tidied up the house after our meal — this is my favorite time to tidy because it kick-starts my workday.
My children’s school is closed, so it was less hectic for everyone than a typical morning, when my daughters are getting ready and we’re scurrying out the door to get there on time.
10 am: I went to my dentist for an appointment that I had booked a while ago. My schedule for April had looked quite full, to promote “Joy at Work,” so I wanted to see the dentist beforehand. But now it looks like my visit to New York will be canceled. I called to ensure that the office was still open and seeing patients, and they reassured me it was OK to come in.
1 pm: I reviewed our global communications strategy. We want to be sensitive to what people are experiencing around the world. I recorded a few short video clips to cheer on people who are at home and might want some tidying advice or motivation.
3 pm: I replied to emails, responded to messages on Slack, etc. I also reviewed the copy for an email newsletter for our Japan audience. We have a global community, but I am a little more involved with the day-to-day of our Japan business because it comes so naturally to me.
4 pm: I took a little break. I made a cup of tea. It was raining, so I stayed indoors and relaxed my mind.
5 pm: I played with my kids. They sang their favorite songs and danced around the house.
6 pm: I started to prepare for dinner. I decided to make a nutritious Japanese-style stew, a recipe based on the five elements of the Yin and Yang philosophy. It’s warm and has lots of vegetables. Because of the virus, I wanted a meal that will keep my family’s immune system up.
7 am: I woke up and lit incense, my daily ritual.
7:30 am: I cooked rice in my donabe pot and made miso soup using last night’s leftovers.
8:30 am: Time for my weekly yoga lesson.
9:30 am: I got some housework done. I did the laundry and tidied up the kitchen. Ranunculus are in season, so I cut the stems under water (this helps them last longer) and placed them in vases around the house. This sparks joy, especially now that we’re spending more time at home.
10:30 am: I joined several online meetings to discuss my schedule and upcoming projects. I’m revising my calendar because of the travel restrictions — many of the interviews I’d planned to do in New York next month will be conducted online.
Noon: I prepared lunch for the kids, and we ate together. Today’s lunch was seaweed and spinach noodles.
12:30 pm: I enjoyed time with my girls. They’re usually at school during this time, so I’m adjusting my schedule to be with them more.
1:30 pm: Back to my desk for emails, writing, etc.
4 pm: It stopped raining, so my husband and I went for a stroll on a hiking trail near our house. This is an important time for us as business partners. Rather than sitting in chairs, we prefer to walk and talk out our ideas.
7 pm: Takumi, my husband, picked up sashimi from a restaurant. The dine-in part of the restaurant is closed, but we were able to get ingredients to prepare our dinner.
7 am: I woke up and lit incense.
8 am: I cooked a Japanese breakfast as usual. Today, I started by making veggie broth. This is a weekly routine to minimise waste and maximise nutrition from the ingredients — vegetable peels and skin have phytochemicals that boost immunity. I’m extremely conscious of what I prepare and feed my family, so we can all stay healthy and I can continue doing what I love.
9 am: I prepared for a full day of virtual interviews to promote my new book. We’re also introducing a new office category to our online shop — organisers, paper goods, tech tools, tidying supplies and accessories designed to keep your work space productive and joyful. I reviewed everything — from pricing to product names — and meditated briefly beforehand.
11 am: Several hours of interviews conducted via Google Hangout and Zoom. Several of the journalists asked for tips on how to keep their work spaces tidy at home.
2:30 pm: Lunchtime. The girls had vegetable and bacon chowder, and I had sautéed daikon radish, carrot rapé and some rice.
3 pm: My husband and I went for a walk. Usually we spend this time talking about our company, but today was our wedding anniversary. So we took a break from discussing business and reflected on what we love about each other.
4:30 pm: I checked in on our Japan business. I had filmed a talk show and tidying segment last month, and it had just aired there the night before.
6:30 pm: I prepared dinner. We would have been at a restaurant to celebrate our anniversary, but we tried to make it a special night at home.
7:30 am: Friday is Vernal Equinox Day in Japan. It signifies a new cycle for the year. In astrology, it’s also the first day of the year. I spent the morning tidying the entryway to our home. I lit incense throughout the house and put flowers by the front door. The entrance to your house is the “start” of the house, so focusing on this area is important.
After tidying, I had a cup of hot water and lemon from my yard, and then I prepared breakfast for the family.
9 am: I was supposed to film television segments this morning to promote the book — plus two photo shoots in the afternoon — but they were all canceled. I’ve been focusing heavily on books, digital content and our online shop this week, so I used this time to turn my attention to the entertainment part of the business.
11 am: I continued working until lunchtime. I shredded some documents that I no longer needed.
Noon: I cooked lunch for the kids — rice noodle and baked salmon with potatoes and zucchini. I also made amazake (Japanese sweet rice sake). Fermented foods are great to improve your immune system, and they can be preserved.
1 pm: I joined a meeting with our Japan team. We discussed a variety of topics, including the certified KonMari consultant program there and potential online seminars.
2 pm: I had a meeting with Takumi about different parts of the business and what we can do to help people in this challenging time. We reviewed digital content that we’ll be shooting at home for social media. Because we are social distancing, the filming will be just us. We also reviewed some entertainment contracts.
3:30 pm: I decided not to go on a walk today, which is my daily routine. Not many people are out on my usual trail, but I wanted to be cautious about being out and about. I worked out (planking) inside the house, while my kids played around me.
5 pm: I prepared dinner for the kids. Tonight, I made kabocha squash potage, veggie stir fry and rice.
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