When I tell people I am a professional organizer, a good amount of people ask me what I think about the popular book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. To be honest, I don’t understand why it’s so popular. I disagree with most of the book’s suggestions, as it was written for a Japanese audience, not American. Rather than writing this post in a traditional paragraph format, I am simply stating her points and my opinions for easier comparing and contrasting.
Marie Kondo:Urges readers to touch every single item they own.
My Opinion:I say having you specifically touching everything is unnecessary and even counterproductive to downsizing. Making the client touch everything takes more time and studies show the more you touch something, the more attached you get to it. Clutter is often caused by over attachment to things in the first place.
Marie Kondo: Believes every inanimate object has feelings and urges you to thank them for their service, treat them nicely, etc. One time she even guilts the reader about how they treat their socks! She explains how they work so hard for us all day squished between our sweaty feet and hard shoes and when we put them in their drawers, they should be able to ‘relax’ nicely folded not all rolled up with the elastic stretched as most people do.
My Opinion: I think this is a sweet idea and it's important to feel gratitude, but this is unnecessary. I am about results and getting clients to where they want and need to be to make their life function better for them not counseling them on the feelings on inanimate objects. I say we should worry more about how we treat other people, the animals we eat, and then maybe start worrying about how our socks may be feeling.
Marie Kondo: Tidying all at once in one big sweep.
My Opinion: This would be nice but is often unrealistic and can be very overwhelming to clients. Marie was writing to Japanese audiences, in America we have much larger homes and busy schedules. It’s also very exhausting to make thousands of decisions about what you want to keep, where it should go, etc and doing too much at once is a surefire way to get burnt out.
Marie Kondo: Promises that with her proven ‘KonMarie Method’ you will never slip up into clutter again.
My Opinion: I think this is unfair to preach this to clients because it is promising perfection which is simply unrealistic. Everyone is different and offering a blanket promise to all dismisses the individual complexities which created the clutter in the first place. Since she claims her method is perfect, proven and promised (which is not possible) the client’s self esteem is hurt when they inevitably slip up. Nothing is perfect and there shouldn’t be any promises; getting organized is about progress, not perfection!
Marie Kondo: She encourages you to shape your lifestyle around your organizing system.
My Opinion: I customize client’s organizing systems to work for their unique lifestyle because everyone has different preferences and that should be honored. An example being how many people have paperwork in the kitchen. In a perfect world, it would be in an office, but in reality Americans multitask and since kitchen is the heart of the home, simply organize those things in the area you use them whether it be the kitchen, couch or bed.
Marie Kondo: Look for what to keep instead of what to get rid of.
My Opinion: Agree! This is a great idea and I just love it! It saves time and mental energy. When clients look for things to get rid of instead of to keep, there is often an inner battle of guilt and justification going on with each item. When you KNOW you want to keep something, however, that decision is quick and easy.
Marie Kondo: Get rid of ALL books you don’t read.
Books can have many purposes rather than over simplifying them by just being instruments to convey knowledge.
My Opinion: Books serve as decor which help create atmosphere. They also reflect your interests and values which make great conversation starters with guests.
Marie Kondo: Encourages clients to organize in certain order of categories then take everything you own of a certain category and put it in a big pile before you start.
I agree with organizing one category at a time but it’s not necessary to take everything of that category and put into a pile.
My Opinion: Putting everything into a pile takes not only time but energy. If we are doing a closet, for example, I leave things hanging in the closet and go through them as they are hanging so we aren’t creating double work. In terms of organizing in specific order of categories, i disagree mostly. It doesn’t matter if you organize CD’s before or after clothes, etc. but I do agree saving sentimental for last makes sense because it’s hardest.
Marie Kondo: She encourages paperwork organization to be organized into used often and not used often.
My Opinion: I disagree, these categories are too vague. Most paperwork is not used often so if you followed her categories then almost all would be under not used often and would require subcategories.
Marie Kondo: She encourages striving for perfection, and emptying your to do list.
My Opinion: Disagree! Overachieving is just stressful. I’m about being realistic. Our society puts enough pressure on us without us having to put even more on ourselves. I say choose 3 things to put on your to do list and choose the most important/time sensitive to do first.
Marie Kondo: Marie says when we keep things we are usually either attached to the past or future when we really need to be in the present moment.
My Opinion: Agree wholeheartedly and this is important for all of us to remember. It’s hard to let go of a guitar you’ve had for three years because you want to learn to play, or painting supplies you may meddle with or a book you started reading because we are holding onto an idea of who we could/want to be or who we used to be. Instead, free yourself into the present moment and only keep what you currently use and love.
Marie Kondo: “Can you truthfully say that you treasure something buried so deeply in a closet or drawer that you have forgotten its existence?” (Pg. 61)
My Opinion: I agree with this idea but doesn’t always mean you should get rid of it. Most of us have sentimental things cooped up in a box in a closet or attic or basement somewhere. We do cherish these things most times but don’t really have everyday use for them. I say find a way to display them, some if not all and have easier access to them so you can enjoy them.
All in all, I wasn’t a fan of Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Even the title bothers me because I feel like the whole tone of the book is that getting organized is going to be oh so effortless, you will reach perfection and you never slip up again! It reminds me of infomercials to be honest and most of us know that is often hyperbole to make the sale. I don’t appreciate that sense about this book because yes organizing can most certainly change your life drastically for the better but that doesn’t mean it will be fast, easy or effortless; even with professional help. Getting organized is a commitment like getting in shape or eating better. It’s about consciously and willingly forming new habits and making different choices in your everyday lifestyle. I am about being realistic and helping encouraging clients to make better, more informed decisions about what they bring into their home, why and where it makes the most sense to go. I enjoy customizing organizing systems to each client and helping them come to their own realizations so when I leave they feel empowered and educated enough to keep doing it themselves. I am glad that Marie Kondo has apparently helped so many people get organized, I just don’t feel that her approach is very realistic for the traditional American lifestyle.