The KonMari Method: What I Took Away
It’s everywhere – everyone is talking about it, trying it or staying away from it. Her book has been a bestseller for a long time, but the Netflix mini-series put Marie Kondo and her methods back on the map. Clothes are folded in neat little rectangles and all our drawers are separated by little boxes.
Well, that’s the hope anyway.
After reading the book and watching the series, here’s what I took away from this life-changing method of de-cluttering.
Gratitude always wins
One of the major philosophies that runs like a bright thread throughout all her commentary, is being grateful for what “stuff” has given you. In each episode, she “greets” the house and tells her clients to express their gratitude for what it’s done for them.
This couldn’t be any sweeter.
In our microwave, one-up culture, there is little telling us to stop and take a beat to be grateful. Marketing is in our face and ears every single minute and it’s easy to feel like what you have is not enough. Marie makes it very clear that being grateful for what you own will make you feel better about owning it. I believe that this, in part, is what makes her method so appealing. All of us appreciate being appreciated.
The other main component of her method is when Marie asks her clients if an item brings them “joy”. She teaches her clients what joy looks like and when they touch an item, it will illicit either joy, indifference or aversion. Critics of this method are quick to harp on this point. What about a screwdriver? Does it really bring joy? What about my toothbrush?
This is where I believe the “heart” of this method is not about joy as we are used to defining it: a synonym for happiness. Joy doesn’t always mean warm fuzzies – it also means contentment, peace and gratitude. I don’t feel butterflies when I hold my spatula but I know it’s necessary for cooking food for my family, which DOES in fact bring joy. I believe if we really thought about it, common sense would prevail. Of course you need your toilet plunger. It’s OK if it doesn’t make you feel like you’re riding a unicorn through Narnia.
Envisioning your ideal
I like when Marie asks her clients if they envision taking a certain item into their future. I think that here, she addresses an issue that we have long lost. We are notoriously good at looking back – and staying there. We love to talk about better days and items that remind us of who we were. But what about who we want to BE? Marie takes this thought process and gives it a very tangible handle – do you want to take this with you in the future?
I approach this same question in a different way – I ask people if they were moving, would they keep this item? When people are packing up house, this is often when they are serious about what they want and don’t want. I call this “ready to move” mentality. Sort through your items like you are preparing to move and it will become clear what comes with you and what stays behind.
The need for more
The other main critique of this method is that it doesn’t address our culture’s obsession with buying. Though she never outright tells people to change their buying habits, I believe her method allows people to get there themselves. She challenges people to think about what they want in their home and that trickles into every part of their lifestyle, including buying habits.
The chronically disorganized
What you may have noticed is that in her series, Marie does not have any clients with severe chronic disorganization. Other shows have addressed hoarders but Tidying Up does not. This is because this method is NOT for everyone. Other organizers will tell you the same thing – one size does not fit all.
This is not the first time someone has had a best selling organizing method. Every generation and culture has it’s unique tension with “stuff” and it will continue to evolve. Environmental factors, an aware generation, the general pull towards minimalism – it’s a perfect scenario for the KonMari method. Will it work forever? Maybe not. Does it work right now? It certainly seems to appeal to those who are overwhelmed by their stuff.
The Bottom Line
As someone who has been studying this subject for months, I didn’t gobble up the series in one sitting. Nor did I grab the book right away. I wanted to find the best method for me before turning to an all-in-one organizing technique.
Because of this, I took away some simple truths and didn’t get caught up in the rest. I’m OK if my folded clothes don’t stand up on their own (in fact, my husband objected to this method altogether because he had a giant crease down all of his neatly-folded t-shirts). I won’t necessarily thank all the items I donate. In fact, certain Mcdonald’s toys make me want to say words that I can’t write here.
Here is a woman who has sold millions of books and has changed maybe as many lives with her method. Anything that brings people into a place of gratefulness can’t be bad. She’s no magician and says as much. She’s just someone who’s found a good way to deal with the plethora of stuff that people encounter, so let’s give her some credit.
Oh, but do yourself a favour and get organizing boxes from the dollar store and not her Hikidashi Collection. It will save you a ton of your hard-earned cash and you can still line up your precious socks.