A NonMari Minimalist’s Honest Review of Tidying Up with Marie Kondo

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Photo Credit: KonMari Media Inc.

I have never read Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. This didn’t stop me from binge-watching the show, as I’m a sucker for decluttering videos. I liked the positive tone of the show and, of course, loved how Marie’s personality brought life to her ideas. Once I watched the whole series, I piled all of my clothes on my bed and got rid of a couple of items, thanking them along the way, before I decluttered the other areas of my life. It definitely inspired me and gave me some ideas, but there are certain KonMari concepts that I won’t be taking into my future. 

What I found valuable

The focus on gratitude. Specifically, I really loved the idea of thanking your items for letting you use them before you get rid of them. It seemed super corny at first, but when I adopted it into my own decluttering routine, I felt that it relieved the guilt I had over getting rid of things, especially gifts or sentimental items. I think it flipped the switch in my mind from a deprivation mindset to one of abundance and gratefulness. 

The question, “is this something I want to take with me into the future?”. This has been the most liberating piece of advice I’ve received in terms of downsizing my book collection. I used to never be able to bring myself to get rid of books, excepting certain duplicates. Even then, I hesitated. Why am I keeping a giant copy of my least favorite epic, The Canterbury Tales (in the original Middle English, of course!)??? Probably nothing more than Stockholm syndrome from when I had to read the behemoth in college. It had some importance in my past, but when I ask myself if it’s something I want to bring into my future, the choice is made much clearer for me. 

The folding method. I actually found the KonMari method of folding clothes on YouTube about a year ago, and have used it since. I love that it keeps everything compact and visible. It removes a lot of the stress of choosing an outfit or looking for a piece of clothing. The biggest downside is that it takes a lot of time every time I do laundry, but I think it’s worth it.

What I’m Not Taking with Me 

The idea of things “sparking joy.” You may have guessed this one… But the premise of items “sparking joy” didn’t quite make sense to me. I am more invested in the utility of items rather than a positive emotion that I associate with them. I noticed a few people in the series having trouble with this concept, too. One man said, “I don’t really connect with the idea of clothes sparking joy,” which I completely agree with. Maybe my absolute favorite pieces of clothes spark joy in some sense, but that’s like 3 items. The rest of them just look good on me, reflect my style, and/or work with other items in my wardrobe. Joy, to me, is a very specific emotion that I most often associate with people or experiences, not items. 

Organizing vs. removing excess. This was a big issue I had with the show. While I felt like many of the subjects challenged themselves to declutter, I noticed some of them putting more emphasis of organizing the excess in order to avoid getting rid of it entirely. Don’t get me wrong, I love Marie’s tips about organization– they highlight taking care of our items and have brought a lot of calmness to my life (especially with clothes). Still, I used to “organize” all the time, meaning I would have neat piles, bins, and drawers filled with stuff I didn’t need. The thing is, none of this ever brought me the clarity and peace of mind that simply removing excess has, and I worry that organization acts as a cure to the symptoms of clutter and not the core disease. 

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3 comments

  1. I don’t think the KonMari method is counter to decluttering or minimizing. I interpret her approach as being individualistic — it’s about you making the choice of what to keep or not, where to put it or not. Unlike other reality shows, I like how this one had the people actually doing the organizing, as opposed to a team of organizers descending on the home, like in some of the design or rehab shows. For me, the KonMari method helped me minimize, especially the tip about getting everything in the same category together at one time — e.g., clothes. That was very helpful to see exactly what I had and how much of it.

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