How to Tidy Up Your Tech, Marie Kondo-Style

Marie Kondo's method of cleaning up your stuff has become all the rage since the premier of The Magic of Tidying Up on Netflix. The tidying guru travels to someone's home, gives counsel on how to clean their rooms and their things, and then we get to see the before and after difference of the homeowners applying her method.

Credit: Netflix

(Image credit: Netflix)

The show gives you lots of good feelings and has motivated some into cleaning up their space. While the Netflix series is new, Kondo's philosophy and her "KonMari" method have been around for a long time.

Here's how you can apply the method to your tech.

The KonMari Method

Kondo breaks down cleaning by categories instead of rooms. Her list of importance when organizing the home goes: clothes, books, documents, komono (miscellaneous items) and sentimentals.

Your tech gear would land in the komono category. Speaking from personal experience, try not to tackle your tech gear until you've finished the previous categories.

Sparking Joy

In The Magic of Tidying Up, Kondo constantly asks homeowners "Does this object spark joy?" The words "spark joy" are only a rough translation of the original term "tokimeki" from her book, but people can get surprisingly attached to the things they've collected and accumulated.

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Take a hard look at the things you own. Are they consoles? Are they laptops? Are they cords, plugs or power supplies? Smartphones and smartwatches? Are you holding on to them because you think you might need them in the future, or are you holding them because they give you the fuzzies when you see them?

Separate the hardware that gives you joy from the ones that don't. When you're finished, find facilities that can recycle the tech you're getting rid of. Be sure to wipe all personal data from your devices beforehand in order to protect your privacy.

Organize Your Tech Carefully

Kondo's belief that everything has a purpose for being in our lives leads to the logic that everything needs a home of its own, so that it may rest and relax after serving its purpose for the day.

She recommends not to stuff your cords in a cardbox box and then putting that box in the back of the closet. Instead, try to keep your storage units as visually appealing as possible. Using clear storage boxes, open-plan shelves and display boxes are good options to use. Make your gear easily identifiable, wrapping your cords with care and stacking your power supplies next to each other instead of on top of each other.

When sorting software files, consider them as part of the "Documents" category, and work on those before giving your hardware a home.

Be OK to Say Goodbye to Your Tech

The KonMari method forces homeowners and collectors to face the reality of the things they own and the space they live in. During the process you may flip between letting go and keeping an object either because you are afraid that you will need it in the future or there's a great emotional connection to that object.

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For the former, give great thought to whether or not you actually use this type of tech very often, and if there's any probability that you'll need it in the future. For people who work in technology, it may be easier to make that distinction than for casual users. Consideration to future replacements of your tech may also be a deciding factor.

For tech with more sentimental attachments, put them aside and go back to them when you’re ready to tackle the "Sentimental items" category.

Visualize the Life You Want to Live When You Tidy

The Magic of Tidying Up gives emphasis on creating a visual to the type of life you want to live before starting the tidying process of your home. Kondo explains that when we clean, we tend to rely on a storing process that is the most convenient instead of storing things in a way that reflects our best self. Are you finding yourself leaving your smartphone on the couch instead of on the desk, where you think it's supposed to be? Rearranging your living space might be in your future.

Do you own the gear, or does the gear own you? The KonMari method can be difficult for some, but applying the process from start to finish may give you surprising results. The nice part about Kondo's process is that, ultimately, you're the one who gets to decide to keep what you want — you just need to figure out if your tech makes you happy enough to keep it.

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