After reading Marie Kondo’s books, I decided to share my thoughts on her process and how I have implemented her “Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” in our home. Over the past few weeks, I have introduced you to the KonMari method, shared free printables to inspire you, and created a easy-to-follow 10-point checklist to follow.
Today, I’m doing something a bit different. I’m going to tell you how and why I disagree with Marie Kondo.
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Thank Your Belongings & Greet Your House
“There is one fail-proof strategy to quickly hone your sense of what you need and where things belong: greet your house every time you come home.”
I don’t mean this as a criticism, but sometimes while I was reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, one little thought popped into my head: this lady definitely does not have kids! This is by no means a criticism, just an observation.
UPDATE: Marie Kondo had a baby girl last year. I’m waiting for her next book: “Who are YOU Kidding – Trying to Tidy Up with Kids?” But, I digress.
When I walk in the front door of my home, I am more likely to be tackled by a toddler than I am to greet my house. I’m just saying. Yes, I show gratitude for my home and belongings. No, I don’t thank my shoes for protecting my feet.
A Stringent One-Factor Test
The KonMari method is simple: if an item doesn’t “spark joy” when you hold it, you must get rid of it.
Marie Kondo elaborates, analyzing why we have trouble getting rid of something. She says that there is a pattern to our ownership of these things: “a pattern that falls into one of three categories: attachment to the past, desire for stability in the future, or a combination of both. It’s important to understand your ownership pattern because it is an expression of the values that guide your life.”
Let’s apply this to a very real scenario in my life: my professional work clothes. I have a wardrobe of suits, blouses, and heels (ugh!). They are nice clothes, all purchased in the last 5-or-so years. I haven’t worn any of them in the past six months, and none bring me joy. See, aside from this blogging habit of mine, I am also a licensed attorney. I am currently working in a casual environment, so I’m not wearing any of these professional clothes that I hate – I just don’t like dressing up! I would love to continue in my current job, perhaps switching to part-time legal work and part-time blogging at some point in the next year or so.
According to the KonMari method, I should get rid of these professional clothes. I should send them a blessing, close that chapter of my life, and make room for clothes that fit the career path that I want and envision for myself and my family. Gutsy move.
But, let’s get real here. I have two kids to support. I need to be realistic. I don’t know where my legal career will lead, or where blogging will take me for that matter. I can’t imagine getting rid of all of these clothes now, only to have to replace them 12 months down the road (cha-ching $$$).
So… I did the second-best thing. I packed up all of my professional clothes. I folded them nicely into two storage boxes, and I placed those storage boxes on the top shelf of my closet. They are there if I need them, but hopefully I won’t. I will continue to pray for a professional path that provides financial stability, while maintaining a work-life balance that fits the needs of my family. I hope that this path involves more blogging than legal work, but I’m not quite ready to toss the clothes. And I’m OK with that.
Place Everything on the Floor & Tidy all at Once
This method has clearly never been tested in a home with small children. Yes, let’s empty all of our closets on the floor, and watch our children sit there nicely with perfect impulse control. Case in point – here is what my son can do with just one load of laundry and about 30 seconds of limited adult supervision:
I will recognize my own hypocrisy here. I’m not sure I have a much better alternative. When I tidied up my bedroom closet, I emptied all of my clothes onto my bed. When I tidied my bathroom, I did it one cupboard or drawer at a time.
But for heaven’s sake – cut yourself some slack if you can’t do it all at once! I know Marie Kondo says“tidy a little a day and you’ll be tidying forever,” but sometimes that’s all you can do. And that’s OK.
Treatment of Paper
“Rule of thumb – discard everything.”
Maybe I’m too cynical. Maybe it’s my legal education, or the fact that I deal with people and lawsuits every day at work. I rarely ever throw something away. I keep records for just about everything. But that doesn’t mean that you need to keep piles and files of paper. Scan it and move on. Even if you need to have a quarterly or annual scanning party, just scan everything and put in a folder on your computer. If you need it later, you have a digital copy. Just keep your digital folder’s organized!
No One Has Ever Relapsed
Once again, maybe I’m a bit too cynical, but give me a break. I don’t believe anything is ever 100% effective. It’s the same reason I don’t like one-size-fits-all diet plans or a federally-mandated minimum wage.
The KonMari method lives in a dream world, where people empty their purses everyday, and greet their home, and thank their shoes for protecting their feet at the end of a long day. This isn’t a bad thing. Just recognize the method for what it is – aspirational but not always realistic. The rest of us live in the real world, and the real world is messy and full of distractions and obstacles.
Stay tuned next week, when I will explain how I’m making the KonMari method to work in my “real life.”