When I saw that Marie Kondo had a new book out, I knew I would have to read it right away. We are both clutter consultants, so it’s incumbent upon me to maintain familiarity with other professionals in the field. People are constantly asking me about The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Mostly, though, I wanted to see if her second book was as kooky and impractical as the first.
Don’t get me wrong: I agree with KonMari on many important points. We agree that people keep too many physical possessions and that they hold us back in life. We agree that being organized makes for a better life. We agree that a clean and tidy home is a fine thing to have in its own right. We agree that doing a thorough space clearing can be completely life-changing. If you love the KonMari Method, and it is helping you clear your clutter, by all means, keep going.
My main issues have to do with the time-consuming nature of the KonMari folding method; the encouragement to think of inanimate objects as sentient beings with personalities and, well, it sure sounds like she thinks they have souls; and a certain amount of idiosyncratic “advice.” Some examples:
Wrapping electrical cables in fabric – complete with detailed illustration. THIS IS A FIRE HAZARD.
Folding irregularly shaped objects: “If you come across an odd-shaped one, take a deep breath and remain calm.”
Folding parkas – complete with detailed illustration. Probably the least efficient way to store a bulky item. I have a parka but it wouldn’t fit in a drawer no matter how I fold it.
“Balling your socks and stockings, or tying them into knots, is cruel. Please put an end to this practice today.” Can we take that focus on “cruelty” and redirect it toward, say, the campaign to end human trafficking?
Getting rid of a hammer with a worn-out handle and using a frying pan to hammer nails instead.
“While I have very few interests other than tidying,” (Chapter 2)
“…it reminds me of myself as a high school student when I was so obsessed with tidying that I had a nervous breakdown.” (Chapter 10)
Here is my position on clutter: Stuff is meant to be used. We become emotionally attached or cathected to inanimate objects when there is something awry with the way we form emotional attachments to other humans. We fill our personal environments with THINGS to the point that it is impossible to maintain basic safety and cleanliness, and it affects our health, starting with the respiratory system. Treating THINGS as though they have FEELINGS makes it that much harder to get rid of them. The priority is to maintain a functional (safe, healthy, efficient) living environment with the absolute least amount of effort, so we can spend the majority of our time living our true purpose and communing with loved ones. By “loved ones” I mean PEOPLE, not collectibles or books.
As an organizing consultant, I think much of KonMari’s folding and storage methodology is inefficient. Please, please don’t spend that much time folding your laundry! I’m perfectly fine with my people keeping loose, clean garments in laundry baskets if that’s what works for them. Also, for the love of all that is holy, please don’t wrap your electrical cables in fabric. Spark Joy, but don’t spark a fire.
I've been working with chronic disorganization, squalor, and hoarding for over 20 years. I'm also a marathon runner who was diagnosed with fibromyalgia and thyroid disease 17 years ago.