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Tidying Up with Marie Kondo: TV vs Reality

Tidying Up with Marie Kondo Netflix series poster

Happy New Year! I woke up on January 1st super excited not because it was January 1st but because Tidying Up with Marie Kondo debuts on Netflix. I spent the day watching the entire season 1 while trying my best not to neglect my 4 year old. The show is an eight-episode series where Marie Kondo guides eight families/couples to get organized and live a joyful life the KonMari way.

As a Certified KonMari Consultant, I was beyond excited for this new series and my high expectations were not disappointed. I watched each episodes attentively and felt so moved by all the amazing changes that were made on the show. I am not usually an emotional person but I was caught by my husband tearing up before the first episode even started and Episode 4 definitely got the most of my tears (#konmargie). Watching each family going through the KonMari process also reminded me of my own journey. It’s hard to imagine why tidying up can change lives but it’s absolutely changed mine. I thought it would be fun to point out some of the similarities and differences between what I saw on TV and my experiences of what happens in a KonMari Tidying Lesson in real life.

  1. Timeline

    On the show, each family were able to get through their Tidying Festival in about a month’s time. While it’s definitely possible to complete a tidying festival in such a short span of time, it’s way below the average timeline. That being said, my own tidying festival took about 3 weeks but I was home on maternity at that time and my husband was home on stress leave from work. Because of those circumstances, we were able to prioritize tidying and work from morning to night each day to get it done. I’d imagine most of the families and couples on the show dedicated a large portion of their day to get it done in such a short timespan as well. On average, people take anywhere from 3 months to 6 months to complete their tidying festival because there is work and family on top of everything else that is life. Typically, the people I work with are only able to dedicate a block of time (3-5 hours) for tidying lessons every week, every 2 weeks, or every month.

  2. The emotions are real

    As Marie Kondo said, Tidying is the act of confronting yourself; cleaning is the act of confronting nature. This process is so much more difficult than expected and can bring up so many different emotions. I often work with people that cry during tidying lessons and people do get stuck at different stages of the process. Just like in the show, some people are reluctant for change even after starting their tidying festival. But once they truly grasp the spark joy concept, everything changes and all the magic starts to happen.

  3. Homework

    One major difference between the TV show and real life that I noticed right away is the amount of work people do on their own in between tidying lessons. On the show, it looks like Marie introduces each category and then leave people to joy check and sort through the rest of the category on their own. When I work with people, I am there to guide and support them as much as they need in order to complete this process. While some people do get quite a bit done on their own, the majority of people I work with wants the guidance and support every step of the way so they aren’t left with questions in between tidying lessons. When we aren’t able to complete a category in one tidying lesson, I try to work in smaller subcategories so people can continue to live normally in between tidying lessons instead of having all their items sit in a pile. In my opinion, the TV show is showing an experience closer to if you were to read “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” (but instead of reading it, it’s Marie that delivers the message) and then try to tidy on your own rather than showing the experience of working with a KonMari Consultant.

  4. Organize by category

    On the first episode, Marie talked about organizing by categories (clothes, books, papers, komono, sentimental items) but often in the episodes, it looks like they skipped categories and go from clothes straight to komono. Knowing what I know and how much emphasis there is on following categories in our training (I’ve even had the honour to be a lecturer at a KonMari Seminar in 2018!), the only reasonable conclusion I can come to is that it was edited for TV since each episode is only 30-40 minutes long. A single Tidying Lesson is typically 3-5 hours; to complete a home would require multiple lessons. One of the reasons why the KonMari Method works is because it is so thorough. By working in categories, we ensure we don’t move on to the next category until the previous one is completed.

  5. diversity

    Something that I really loved about the show is how diverse the featured families were. KonMari clients are mostly regular people like you and me; it really is quite a diverse group! Everyone has a different starting point and everyone’s ideal life is different. In the past 2 years of me working as a KonMari Consultant, I’ve worked with such a wide range of people in terms of gender, age, race, income level, job, type of home, size of home and stage in life. It’s been such a privilege to work with each person and to be part of their KonMari journey. I especially love seeing the transformations happen to people throughout this process. I really love the diversity of it all because it just shows you that this method is universal and can work for anyone!

If you’ve watched the show, what did you think? I am crossing my fingers for Season 2 because the world needs more of Marie’s magic! But as Marie said on episode 6, she doesn’t use any magic, only you can do that!