In 2014 a tiny Japanese woman named Marie Kondo published a book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, that revolutionized the organizing industry. Not just for those who were constantly seeking the cure-all for their organization challenges, but for average and above average people looking to jump on the bandwagon to organized bliss. It remained on the best seller list for months and continues to be part of my initial consultation questionnaire, “Have you read the Japanese book about organizing?” Whether you’ve read it or not, I’d like to share my take aways, both good and bad, as someone who has tested the KonMari methods and assumptions as well as served its prime audience for years.

Tidying Up All At Once

– Wow! That’s an overwhelming statement, especially if you live in a home where clutter occupies every room. Kondo’s message, “If you use the right method and concentrate your efforts on eliminating clutter thoroughly and completely within a short span of time, you’ll see instant results that will empower you to keep your space in order ever after.”* I agree that tidying up in bits won’t work if you truly want to create a clutter free home. You’ll get one space tidied up (i.e. cleared and organized) and you’ll feel good, but it will be short-lived. Without touching all your other spaces, it’s too easy for the clutter to return. Feel overwhelmed by the thought of tidying up all at once? Let the benefits of an organized home motivate you. You’ll save time by not having to  constantly look for things and you’ll save money when you stop buying duplicates and/or acquiring more than you need because you don’t know what you have on hand.

Where Do I Start?

– Kondo’s philosophy for tidying up is to start with a type of item, rather than a particular room or place. She recommends the following order:

  • Clothing
  • Books
  • Documents
  • Miscellany
  • Sentimental

Why that order? Starting with things you are less attached to makes it easier to start making decisions about what to get rid of and what to keep. Hmmm…do you know anyone who does not covet a sweater or t-shirt from their favorite concert or sports team? Know anyone who’s library is full of books, new and old, read and not? Each one relates to an experience or life lesson and they swear they will go back and read it, or pass it onto a friend who will find the information valuable. From my perspective the KonMari order of how to organize does not fit everyone. Instead create your own order of importance or value and begin your organizing journey there.

Does Folding Matter?

– In case you have not heard of her revolutionary folding method, checkout some YouTube videos on the KonMari folding method. The after shots are beautiful and envious and rank high on the organizational porn scale. However, I like to live in the real world where doing laundry for my family, let alone putting it away, is about them having clean clothes and my need to get it done as quickly as possible. My strategy, folded t-shirts and other items can still be seen and worn easily if you simply fold them quickly and neatly and then roll them so they stand up. No need to spend extra time carefully creasing to get everything exact. It’s a realistic compromise to the KonMari method, and a more doable one at that.

Who’s Stuff Is It Anyway?

– Wife blames husband, husband blames wife, partner blames partner, mother blames children, children blame parents. I have heard and seen it numerous times over the years as family members blame everyone else for the disorganization in their home. Typically the person contacting me is usually the most organized, however when we meet for a “home audit” and I query, “Who’s pile/stuff/thing is that?” I’m often met with, “Oh, that’s mine.” In the words of Marie Kondo, “To quietly work away at disposing of your own excess is the best way to deal with a family that doesn’t tidy.”* In my own words, “Take care of your own stuff first!” Decluttering and organizing (or as Kondo calls it, “Tidying Up”) is contagious as well as motivating. When others see what one person has accomplished they start to be more aware of their own stuff and issues.
*Quotes are from the Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo