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“Why Can’t I Keep My House in Order?” || KonMari Thoughts

January 16, 2017

“When your room is clean and uncluttered, you have no choice but to examine your inner state. You can see any issues you have been avoiding and are forced to deal with them . . . tidying is just a tool, not the final destination. The true goal should be to establish the lifestyle you want most once your house has been put in order”

I finished reading the first chapter of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” and am feeling extremely enthusiastic and motivated, and am excited to share some of my thoughts that came up as I was reading! Note that I will be including a list of all of the key quotes from this chapter at the end of my blog post (and it’s a long list this time!), so if you are interested in reading those you can, but I didn’t want to include all of them in my actual writing because there are so many!

When I think of tidying I think of the everyday act of cleaning and organizing, and the occasional purge, but in this chapter Marie Kondo encourages one to “make tidying a special event, not a daily chore” (29). She also explains that this special event of tidying should be done as quickly as possible in order to preserve momentum and to be able to finish while “your spirits are [still] uplifted” (30).¬†I think this is a really interesting way to approach decluttering. Kondo does not mention a magical number or set a magical time that will universally fit any and everyone who chooses to use her method, but I think that the general rule is this; set a time aside to declutter, make it a special event, and finish as quickly as possible. For some that might mean several weeks or months, or for some it might mean several days, or maybe even mere hours. I am hoping that for me a few days will suffice (I live in a small two room apartment at the moment).

I appreciate the idea of using one’s momentum and working quickly and efficiently towards a goal. Although it sounds like the work of a procrastinator ūüėČ I truly do see the value in this approach. As humans, in general, we are impatient beings and we relish in seeing results because it motivates us. It is hard to stay motivated and consistent in anything if results are not evident. Anyone who has attempted to embark on a health or fitness journey, for example, will attest to this; before weight has been lost, or health benefits have been seen it is hard to persist. However, as soon as change and results are evident we get excited and full of energy and we continue diligently. People love to see results, and this is the fact that Kondo’s method feeds off of. It is simple; if we declutter quickly, we will see results quickly, and we will never hit the point in our journey where we feel demotivated or uninspired because we will not give ourselves the time to experience these kinds of set-backs.

As I mentioned, I appreciate this kind of thinking, however the only problem I see with this approach of decluttering quickly is that, if you declutter too¬†quickly then you are not allowing your mind to catch up with the physical change that you are making, and as Kondo writes herself, success is 90% based on the mind. So, if the mind has not been given enough time to catch up to the physical changes being made, wouldn’t that pretty much guarantee a rebound? The mind and one’s mentality must be part of the journey of decluttering, or else it will not be successful. I suppose though¬†that as long as the mental preparation that is necessary before decluttering to avoid a rebound is completed before the actual decluttering, decluttering quickly would not be a problem, as the mental change would have already been achieved- or at least partially achieved.

This point leads me to the next! As I read this chapter I started considering my purpose for wanting to declutter and minimize, and I started thinking about how incredibly important it is to have a purpose and a clear intent for why you are decluttering. As Kondo writes in this chapter, tidying is simply a tool! Tidying itself is not the destination, and is to be used to move you towards the lifestyle that you want, but it is not to be the lifestyle itself. Kondo writes:

“When a room becomes cluttered, the cause is more than just physical. Visible mess helps distract us from the true source of the disorder. The act of cluttering is really an instinctive reflex that draws our attention away from the heart of the issue”

“When your room is clean and uncluttered, you have no choice but to examine your inner state. You can see any issues you have been avoiding and are forced to deal with them . . . tidying is just a tool, not the final destination. The true goal should be to establish the lifestyle you want most once your house has been put in order” (21).

In my own life, the times that I have been mentally distraught or emotionally confused have also been the times where my room has been the messiest. To me this idea, the idea that cluttering physically is a path towards mental decluttering and clarity as well, is the reason that I decided to embark on this journey in the first place! I am extremely excited that this concept seems to be important to Marie Kondo as well, and that it is a key element in her book and method! If there was one thing that I learned from reading the first chapter in “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” that I found more important and intriguing than any of the other points it is the importance of knowing your true purpose of why you want to declutter and tidy, and understanding that tidying is only a tool to move you towards the lifestyle that you desire, but it is not meant to be the final destination!

This post is getting quite long, so I will simply finish with some key thoughts from the chapter and a few thoughts on that I want to apply as I actually start decluttering:

  • Cleaning isn’t taught, but should be (In this chapter Marie Kondo mentions how peculiar she finds it that tidying, though in fact a necessity, is very rarely taught.)
  • Tidying should be done in “one fell swoop.”
  • Tidying should be done quickly so that we do not lose interest and momentum because when we declutter quickly we see results quickly and are not disappointed.
  • Tidying is just the tool to get to other parts of life; a tool to examine our lives and learn what is really important to us. A tool for mental clarity.
  • When tidying you have to discard first, then organize.
  • Aim for perfection once. Basically, declutter completely once and then you will never have to do it again- or at least that is the idea. All you will have left to do after decluttering and tidying is to put things back in their place everyday as you use them (Kondo does not call this tidying).
  • Don’t compare yourself because there is no need to compare your performance to that of anyone else. You are the standard” (31).

“The general assumption . . . is that tidying doesn’t need to be taught but rather is picked up naturally . . . When it comes to tidying, we are all self-taught” (10).

“Food, clothing, and shelter are the most basic human needs, so you would think that where we live would be considered just as important as what we eat and what we wear. Yet in most societies tidying, the job that keeps a home livable, is completely disregarded because of the misconception that the ability to tidy is acquired through experience and therefore doesn’t require training” (11).

“By studying and applying the KonMari Method presented in this book, you can escape the vicious cycle of clutter” (12)

“There was one problem that seemed unsolvable. No matter how much I tidied, it wasn’t long before every space was a mess again . . . [but] if you put your house in order properly, you’ll be able to keep your room tidy, even if you are lazy or sloppy by nature” (13-14)

She explains rebound that it is not the same as dieting for example (not like cutting calories)

“How about the suggestion that we should do only a little [tidying] a day? Although it sounds tempting, don’t be fooled. The reason you seem to never seem to finish is precisely because you tidy a little at a time” (15)

“Changing lifestyle habits acquired over a span of many years is generally extremely difficult . . . People cannot change their habits without first changing their way of thinking. And that is not easy!” (15)

“After only a few hours [of tidying] . . . my room seemed to have been transformed, and the air inside seemed so much fresher and brighter that even my mind felt clearer. Tidying, I realized, could have far more impact than I had ever imagined” (16).

“Tidying brings visible results. Tidying never lies. The ultimate secret of success is this: If you tidy up in one shot, rather than little by little, you can dramatically change your mind-set. A change so profound that it touches your emotions [and will] irresistibly affect your way of thinking and your lifestyle habits” (16)

“When people revert to clutter no matter how much they tidy, it is not their room or their belongings but their way of thinking that is at fault. Even if they are initially inspired, they can’t stay motivated and their efforts peter out. The root cause lies in the fact that they can’t see the results or feel the effects. This is precisely why success depends on experiencing tangible results immediately. If you use the right method and concentrate your efforts on eliminating clutter thoroughly and completely within a short span of time, you’ll see instant results that will empower you to keep your space in order ever after” (17)

“casting off one object a day did not compensate for the fact that when I shop, I buy several items at one time” (18)

“I recommend aiming for perfection just once” (19) Interesting ideas on perfection; we can be perfect IN things, but not of ourselves

“When a room becomes cluttered, the cause is more than just physical. Visible mess helps distract us from the true source of the disorder. The act of cluttering is really an instinctive reflex that draws our attention away from the heart of the issue”

“When your room is clean and uncluttered, you have no choice but to examine your inner state. You can see any issues you have been avoiding and are forced to deal with them . . . tidying is just a tool, not the final destination. The true goal should be to establish the lifestyle you want most once your house has been put in order” (21).

“Storage experts are hoarders . . . [and] I can honestly declare that storage methods do not solve the problem of how to get rid of clutter. In the end, they are only a superficial answer . . . Putting things away creates the illusion that the clutter problem has been solved” (23).

“Tidying must start with discarding [and not organizing]. We need to exercise self-control and resist storing our belongings until we have finished identifying what we really want and need to keep” (23)

“When we tidy each place separately, we fail to see that we’re repeating the same work in many locations and become locked into a vicious circle of tidying. To avoid this, I recommend tidying by category. For example, instead of deciding that today you’ll tidy a particular room, set goals like ‘clothes today, books tomorrow'” (25).

“Tidying must begin with discarding regardless of personality type . . . How I convey [this principle] and the way each client puts it into practice will naturally differ because each individual is just as unique as the way he or she furnishes the house” (28)

“Effective tidying involves only two essential actions: discarding and deciding where to store things. Of the two, discarding must come first” (27-28)

“Make tidying a special event, not a daily chore . . . By succesfully concluding this once in a lifetime task, you will gain the lifestyle you aspire to and enjoy a clean and orderly space of your choosing . . . once you have put your house in order, tidying will be reduced to the very simple task of putting things back where they belong” (29)

“It is crucial to tackle this job within a short space of time while your spirits are uplifted” (29-30)

“You only have to experience a state of perfect order once to be able to maintain it” (30)

“Unlike work, studies, or sports, there is no need to compare your performance to that of anyone else. You are the standard” (31)

“I feel happy and content . . . Although not large, the space I live in is graced only with those things that speak to my heart. My lifestyle brings me joy” (31)




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