Whenever someone is investigating the answer to their clutter problem, one book that regularly comes up is ‘The life changing magic of tidying’ by Marie Kondo. Sometimes known as the KonMari method, she certainly has some strong views on what to do and not to do when tidying. This post forms part of my decluttering 101 series.
The good parts of the KonMari method.
Whilst the title implies simple tidying, the author makes it very clear that the first step is actually decluttering. This is very good advice. There is absolutely no point trying to tidy a room that is full to the brim with clutter. No amount of tidying is going to solve that problem. Getting rid of the bulk of the items first is what will enable tidying to take place.
I also approve of the KonMari advice to keep only what you really love. Of course this needs to be tempered with common sense. I certainly have no emotional attachment to my potato peeler but my ability to prepare dinner for the family would be significantly compromised should I decide it wasn’t bringing me joy and threw it away.
There are however a number of things recommended in the book that made me shudder in my boots.
The bad parts of the KonMari method.
The most significant of these is the KonMari notion that the entire house should be decluttered in one great, big, mammoth effort. This might work in Japan but in the western world it is completely unrealistic.
One of the examples discusses a client who lived in a room 10x13ft with one built in cupboard and three sets of shelves. Of course she can declutter the whole ‘house’ at once, her house is smaller than my master bedroom, not including my closet.
I simply could not imagine recommending to anyone that they pull everything off every shelf and put it all on the floor before going through each and every item and deciding what to keep and what to throw away.
I have to consider that the people I help lead busy lives. They have full time jobs, they have children, husbands, responsibilities. They can’t put these things on hold while they tip the entire contents of their houses onto the floor. They still want to declutter but they have to work it in around all of their other responsibilities. This is why I recommend the 15 minute rule. Read all about how that works here.
Another issue I have is not so much with the advice, it’s just that the book makes me feel sad for the author. She describes how her addiction to tidying and decluttering began to emerge when she was very young. She was so obsessed that she would spend school play times rearranging the books on the class bookshelf instead of playing with her friends. She also found joy in throwing away the belongings of other people and did not realise that there was anything wrong with this.
Lastly, don’t get me started on the idea that I should empty out my handbag each and every night, placing the contents in different cupboards, boxes and drawers whilst thanking them for a job well done. That’s just too ‘woo woo’ for me. I’m a practical, get it done, kind of person and I don’t have time for that kind of thing.
The best take-away from the KonMari method.
I learnt years ago that it only takes one good idea to make an entire book, conference or day worthwhile and I am pleased to say that this book did not disappoint in that regard. I am always willing to learn and I did pick up one very useful piece of advice.
It made complete sense to me and I tried it out as soon as I read it. It took a very short amount of time to put in place, has been simple to maintain since I did it and it did not cost a cent. What was the advice? ‘Never pile things: vertical storage is the key’.
I implemented this advice in all of my clothes drawers and it has made such a huge difference. Now I can easily see everything I have in the drawers, my clothes get much less creased and I no longer wear the same couple of things over and over again because I don’t have anything hiding at the bottom of a pile being overlooked every time I open the drawer.
I have created a video tutorial for you to explain exactly how this is done and to walk you through doing the same thing in your home. Grab your free copy below.
Save yourself the time and effort of reading this rather odd book. Do yourself a favour and check out the practical, sensible advice for decluttering your home around your busy lifestyle, in the Clutter-Free Life Community. Learn more here.