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A Chat with Rebecca Jo-Rushdy, Malaysia’s 1st KonMari Consultant

May 20, 2021

Ever since Marie Kondo’s, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo series aired on Netflix in Jan 2019, many people have been inspired in keeping their home neat and organised using her famous KonMari guiding principle. In brief, the KonMari principle is all about letting go of possessions that “no longer spark joy”.

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Her tidying method which was written in her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, released in 2014 was so popular that there are now hundreds of KonMari consultants all around the world including Rebecca Jo-Rushdy.

Born in Los Angeles, Rebecca has been exposed to various tidying methods from a young age (fun fact, her mother is also a consultant of another method!). She was personally drawn to the KonMari method since she started reading the book 7 years ago, and it ultimately changed her life forever. After moving to Malaysia with her family in 2019, she realised that creating space for joy in people’s lives was her true calling, and she’s proud to be the first KonMari-certified consultant in Malaysia to help others achieve a life that flows and truly sparks joy.

We had a chat with Rebecca to address common misconceptions surrounding Marie Kondo’s KonMari tidying method, and how this method can change your life.

Misconception #1: The KonMari method is all about getting rid of all your things

Rebecca: KonMari’s tidying process is not about decluttering your home by focusing on what you want to throw away. Rather, the KonMari method encourages you to focus on what you want to keep, what serves a purpose in your life or more importantly, what brings you joy.

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Hold each item you possess and ask yourself whether it "sparks joy." If the answer is yes, keep it. If it's no, discard it. When you create an environment filled with things you love, you can live a more joyful life.

Misconception #2: You tidy your home room by room

Rebecca: While it may sound logical to begin your tidying process by location; kitchen, bathroom bedroom, Marie Kondo believes that the most efficient way of tidying is by category. This is because people often store the same type of items in more than one place.

For example, you probably keep a lot of your clothes in the master bedroom, a few in the spare bedroom, or in a drawer outside your bedroom. Once you gather all your clothes together, it will immediately create a visual and mental trigger that you actually own plenty of clothes, or that you actually have enough clothes. Tidying each place separately won’t allow you to grasp just how many pieces of each item (pants, t-shirts, paperclips, cups, etc) you own. You will also end up repeating the same work in many locations, creating a never-ending cycle of tidying.

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In general, there are 5 categories in the KonMari tidying method which are:

  1. Clothing
  2. Books
  3. Paper
  4. Komono (a.k.a. Miscellaneous Items)
  5. Sentimental items

Kondo suggests that you should tackle this category in order. Starting with clothes (relatively easy to decide) and ending with sentimental items (harder to decide), you will hone your decision-making skills as you go and at the end of the day, choosing what to keep becomes a much easier process.

If you can’t commit to tidying your home by category all at once, you can also do it by sub-categories (eg. tops, bottoms, dresses, bags, underwear, jewellery, etc.) and do it periodically.

Misconception #3: You have to be a minimalist to practice the KonMari method

Rebecca: Many people often equate the KonMari tidying method with minimalism, but it’s actually quite different. Minimalism advocates living with less while the KonMari method encourages you to surround yourself with objects you love rather than to keep your home with fewer items but lacking in anything that brings you joy.

Everybody defines joy differently. For example, if collecting figurines or small mementoes from your travels sparks joy for you, then, by all means, you should keep and display items you love with confidence.

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This is why the first step of the KonMari tidying method is to imagine your ideal lifestyle. For some people, this vision might be to surround themselves with the bare essentials. For others, it could mean living in a home filled with artworks, books, collections and heirlooms.

Misconception #4: You can no longer shop for new things

Rebecca: The KonMari method doesn’t oppose buying new things, but she encourages us to purchase intelligently and mindfully.

For example, when you decide to let go of a piece of clothing, you try to learn a lesson from it; you now know that this particular style is not suitable for your body shape or this particular colour doesn’t match your skin tone so you refrain from shopping for the same type of clothing in the future.

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Misconception #5. You can only keep items that spark joy

Rebecca: There is no need to throw out practical things and help your life run smoothly. A broom, for example, doesn’t necessarily spark joy, but it serves a purpose by keeping your house clean. So you are allowed to keep the things that either make you happy (sparks joy) or serve a purpose because it’s useful.

Misconception #6. You need to buy a lot of storage boxes or shelving systems to get organised

Rebecca: Good organisation is about having a system that allows you to easily access and return the things you use, so it’s perfectly fine to repurpose boxes as long as they fit your needs. It also depends on individuals as well; in my household, I like to practice sustainability and I often repurpose what we have at home. I’m fine with not having matching storage boxes because I rather use what I have at home instead of buying new things.

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Some people want things to be “matchy” so they need to get identical-looking storage boxes, and that’s absolutely fine as long as it sparks joy for them. Most importantly, before purchasing any storage containers, you must first go through and eliminate anything that does not spark joy, and only purchase the storage items towards the end of the tidying process. Very often whatever boxes or shelves you have now will hold everything you need so you don’t really need to make any new purchases.

Yes, you can hire a KonMari Consultant to help tidy up your home!

For some of us, though, simply watching eight episodes of the “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” series or reading her book isn't enough to give us the confidence to tackle our own belongings. Some of us require more hands-on guidance and constant emotional support. The good news is that extra help actually exists!

Certified KonMari consultants like Rebecca have completed official training in Kondo’s tidying methods. After launching her consultation business Spark Joy and Flow in February 2020, Rebecca has shifted her focus from home visits to virtual consultancy sessions during the pandemic. She charges RM300 per hour for a 1.5-hour online session.

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There are plenty of advantages to hiring a certified KonMari consultant. Unlike other professional organisers, a KonMari consultant like Rebecca will teach and guide you through the steps so you can learn and apply it in other areas of your life as well such as your relationships or your career.

Besides helping to organise your home, Rebecca also helps to create a system tailored to each of her clients.

Rebecca: When I meet clients, I will assess them based on their lifestyle and create a system that will make their life as efficient as possible. For example, I have a client who eats oatmeal every morning. When I helped to organise her kitchen, we gathered all her breakfast ingredients; pumpkin seeds, oats, berries, almond nuts, etc into a box, so when she’s getting ready every morning, she can just grab that box out of her pantry and mix all her ingredients for breakfast, instead of wasting time fumbling through all her cupboards.

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Rebecca also stresses the importance of keeping a tidy and organised home especially during the pandemic where people spend most of their hours at home.

Rebecca: When you see clutter, it raises your cortisol levels and stresses you out. Once you start keeping a tidy home or do simple tidying chores like washing the dishes, it can increase your level of productivity and quality of life by helping your mind to relax and lower your stress levels.

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