Friday, February 10, 2017

The KonMari Method | Why It Doesn't Work For Me

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo was no doubt a life changing book for many in 2016. It was forever appearing across social media and everyone was talking about 'sparking joy' and as someone with a penchant for decluttering I duly jumped on the bandwagon and picked up a copy. It went unread until post Christmas I was in the midst of my end of year declutter and picked it up once again hoping it would keep me on track and help me further with my mission.

As the title of this post would suggest I'm not a fan of The KonMari method and whilst I'm sure Marie Kondo and her many fans will perhaps be shocked or indeed think I'm crazy I am conscious there are probably one or two people like me who like a different approach to their de-cluttering habits and perhaps they will share my opinions or even I might help offer some alternative methods to decluttering.

Before I go on I should share one or two points of note about me. In contrast to my best friend who will jump out of bed of a morning and immediately start tackling her to do list until it's done I will wake up, reach for my phone, make a cup of tea before starting my day. I like bite sized chunks to keep me interested and I'm known for doing my housework or similar tasks during the adverts of TV programmes. We will achieve the same, mine might take me all day compared to my friends half a day but the actual hours racked up on our task remains the same.

I must also share that I am a single girl, living along in a two bedroom flat so that affords me the luxury of space and the ability to potter and organise as I see fit without a partner or children who might mess up my plans. That said I'm so impressed with anyone that manages the KonMari method in a family home environment.

Back to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying which my expectations were already mixed. A quick browse on Pinterest will share various info graphics focusing on what appear to be Marie Kondo's main principles of decluttering by category rather than location and the mantra of 'does the item spark joy' which despite my initial skepticism has been the one thing I have taken from reading the book in a positive manner.

Even those who speak of The KonMari Method positively do argue that this is a very extreme process of de-cluttering and indeed one that requires time not to mention lifestyle changes which I question whether they are realistic 'in the real world'.

Marie Kondo claims that her method is life changing, those who follow her method will never have clutter again and it works for everyone, whilst briefly noting that some people have stopped 'for personal reasons' and I find it interesting that beyond the suggesting of asking 'does it spark joy' there is no discussion on dealing with life or clutter going forward and possibility of rebound, especially I would think at the time of my reading being Christmas and we're all privvy to one or two excess pieces of 'clutter' whether unwanted Christmas gifts, wrapping paper and the like.

As already referenced The KonMari Method requires you follow faithful the rule 'tidy in the right order' and that follows with one category at a time. What concerns me is that she suggests to adopt a different approach is 'fatal' - slightly extreme language for a book on tidying your home. Now I've watched those hoarder programmes, of course there are some serious issues for many and I can appreciate needing to look at the psychological aspects of why you have 'all this stuff' but those aside, if you have a major de-cluttering project on your hands I'd fear some of this language and indeed the method would be largely overwhelming and I know personally if I were to pull out every item of clothing I own and put in a pile I'd be bored before I made it to the halfway mark and postpone for another day.

My home is pretty well organised as I regularly declutter and my lifestyle, habits and needs are habitually changing. Last year I redesigned my front room, ridding myself of the large dining table that went unused and the second sofa that was taking up space when all I needed was an armchair. I also find that even at my most frantic, items in my home, no matter how untidy it can get have a home and I know where to reach for them.

For this reason, and my preference for a little bit here, a little bit here I prefer location decluttering and whilst I haven't reached zen status I don't think that altering this method would be practical for me. Most of us have busy lifestyles and to do a drawer or cupboard at a time is far easier. I also find that if I'm in that state of decluttering as I go about typical everyday tasks I would find things to rid myself off.

Interestingly another friend, jealous of my pottering and decluttering at home and subsequent rants as I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying has begun the process of decluttering his home. He is following the 'location' method and fitting in a drawer here, a drawer there as and when he has time available to him. He has found that this method has been motivating for him rather than overwhelming and enjoying the process whilst removing bags and bags of rubbish from his home.

As for me, take my bedroom for example, I can declutter the draw by my bedside and immediately put the excess products into the beauty stash that sits under my bed, a book that has been sitting hidden in a draw if it does indeed still 'spark joy' then it can be homed on the bookshelf. Because of the order that exists in my home this works for me and I find I can also make use of various selling sites as I go. In my wardrobe I prefer to turn all the hangers one way and as I wear clothing they are returned facing the other. This draws me to the unworn clothes and immediately allows me to see what is perhaps in excess and should be sold or passed to the charity shops.

I took some offence to apparently we cannot use old clothes for loungewear and our nightwear should be feminine and elegant. Whilst I enjoy my M&S satin pyjamas some nights others I love my Primark combos. I do agree if you put a t-shirt on and it has 'bad memories' then indeed get rid but I have t-shirts I've brought which I love but not to be seen in so I enjoy them in the comfort of my own home.

We should also not have a separate seasonal wardrobe, it should all be hung or folded together. I would find it more 'upsetting' to have a maxi dress that is only worn in Summer, hung or indeed folded and looked at during cold Winter months. I also have many items that are only intended for holidays, those beach dresses that can only be seen by fellow holiday makers, why can they not be afforded their own space hidden away till needed?

Folding is key to the KonMari method and again it's mixed results for me. I don't iron. I have never used my iron in the six years I've lived alone. I wash my clothes, immediately hang them from the washing machine and once dry they are hung in the wardrobe. Of course one or two items benefit from an iron occasionally and I'm lucky that my mum is on hand to assist but for the most part I wear dresses and the don't require the task and also are not the items in need of folding. My pyjamas on the other hand do have a tendency to be thrown into the draw and I have taken to folding as suggested and it certainly does look more pleasing. Folding my whole wardrobe is actually more time consuming in my experience as I have to have a flat surface to fold whereas putting on a hanging requires none.

Moving onto two WTF moments, the first socks. Apparently we should be allowing our socks to 'rest' and 'de-stress' and rolling into balls does not aid this. I'm sorry but this is baffling. I don't have wear not have many socks and if they are balled I'm ok with that. That said Anthea Turner, whose book I do enjoy more logically explains socks should be folder to avoid one sock stretching more than the other. Now that make sense to me.

The other is that we should 'be ashamed of the burden' we bring friends or family who we gift 'our clutter'. Now whilst I appreciate if I were to see my brother walking around in a t-shirt left behind from an old boyfriend that might have some negative consequences but I think we'd be mindful to not add those to the pile and I think it's wasteful, more selfish if we do not offer some of our perfectly useable, often brand new items to friends and family. I'm pretty comfortable my friends are mature enough to manage their own homes and clutters as they see fit and the unloved dress that could bring 'joy' to a friend would be less of a burden than watching them purchase one brand new on a credit card.

We are also advised that we should concentrate solely on our decluttering task at hand, not so much as a musical soundtrack in the background. Now whilst I appreciate friends think I'm crazy I cannot concentrate without background noise. As I type this post I jumping up and down into the kitchen cooking my dinner and The Jungle Book movie is playing on the TV. I need something there to motivate me. This of course may be systematic of my living alone and you could be reading this crying for some peace and quiet but I know many others that enjoy the radio or in more recent times it seems that podcasts are just the thing to keep one motivated.

The miscellaneous order would I'm sure be cause for worry to many people embarking on this decluttering project because I think Marie Kondo doesn't really acknowledge what items people have in their home that would amass this category. We apparently shouldn't have money banks, instead putting the money into our purses, mobile phone and other electrical boxes should be thrown too. I understand Marie Kondo's point that the cost of storing these boxes negates the resell value if that is where you're heading but I still have cause of concern.

The KonMari method seems to swing between extreme minimalist examples to airy fairy book stroking to feel the joy and thanking shoes at the end of a hard day. We are told that if everything has a place, which I do agree with, all these simple end of the tasks will take minutes. The problem I see is that if we start to add up all these tasks we're spending an hour of our evening putting away items from our handbags only to wake in the morning and run around repacking them. Most evenings I will go through my bag and throw rubbish, put pennies in the jar (sorry Marie!), receipts in the paperwork drawer but I see no need for finding a home, never mind storing my purse there every evening. I barely have time to shower in the morning let alone repacking a handbag.

Most reviews I've read of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying have that even if you think some of it is a little far fetched you will want to begin decluttering and reordering your home. For me the very opposite was true. The decluttering mission I was actually in the midst of has stopped and I have yet to start again. Appreciate that's counter productive to my own needs but I felt frustrated after reading and baffled at some of the methods which is probably a better response to some of the people that suffer from diarrhoea and other ailments during their decluttering missions so I read.

It wasn't all bad, 'sparking joy' is something that has benefitted me. Not so much in my decluttering mission but going forward. When shopping I've picked things up and what started initially as mockingly asking if it 'sparks joy' it's started to resonate. Whilst I'll never see my washing machine sparking joy I'm not ready to throw it out just yet but if it stops me buying another red lipstick it can only be a good thing.

I'd love to know if you've read the book and what your thoughts are? Is your home now a minimalist haven or like me do you still like to see a bit of character here; there's no way I'm getting rid of my pineapple collection.

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  1. This is really interesting! I've heard a lot on this method (mostly positive) but have yet to read it myself.

    1. I'm glad you found it an interesting read. I agree most reviews are always so positive but for me it was a bit too far fetched

  2. I haven't read the book, but this was really interesting. I did wonder if people need a book cluttering up their coffee table to tell them how to declutter!
    Helen x

    1. I do think there are books out that that help with one or two tips or are inspiring whether you follow them religiously but this was just extreme!

  3. It was so interesting to read your thoughts on this book. I started reading it, but gave up before finishing the second chapter. The language struck me as very ableist and I found it very upsetting, making me feel like I'm a failure for not being able to declutter my house all in one go. The 'sparking joy' concept sounds like it could be a helpful one, and I'm going to try to implement this when shopping. I also agree with you that we should be offering perfectly good items to friends and family. After all, they're free to turn them down. Xx

    Tania | Why I Gave Up Reading The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post, especially as you found the book so upsetting to actually stop reading. I just found it all so extreme and not actually helpful for the every man or woman.

  4. Didn't work for me either, I thought I was a lone voice in not being impressed. I made a start but got bored and irritated. Kon Marie ended up in the recycling bin, which was about the only thing giving me joy from her book.

    I sound harsh, I don't mean to be. The sock thing was absolute tosh. The sparking of joy was kind of along the right tracks, but really, it's no different to holding something up and thinking 'does it fit, do I wear it, do I like it?' My main gripe was the way it was written. When I buy a delcutrring book I want sensible information and ideas. I don't want a great long tale of 'one customer who had clothes packed tightly in her wardrobe ... blah blah blah'. She was there to help them sort and declutter, so obviously they were going to have things packed in higgledy piggledy! So no, not for me. I'll stick to my 'in the mood and ruthless' technique! ha ha x

    1. You're definitely not the lone voice. As you say there was nothing really instructive or helpful in the real world, just throw it out and hug your things you keep xx


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