#03 Marie Kondo is Not For Everyone

Some loved Marie Kondo's newish, home organizing show, Tidying up with Marie Kondo. They found it calming and inspiring. Some even claimed it was a protest to women’s invisible labor. Others hated it, really hated it. People made claims of xenophobia or fetishism because Marie is Japanese, from Japan, and her methods are rooted in the Shinto faith. Others called her judgmental or criticized her for being too stern and prim.  


 From the viewpoint of a long-time pro-organizer, I stand somewhere in the middle. I appreciate her heritage and love the glimpse into Shinto. Plus, she really is adorable. I am also grateful to her for showcasing the gift of getting organized to the general public. She offers a decent sketch of what we pro-organizers do. We exist. We are right in your town, or in a town nearby. Call us. Most of us offer free consultations and are happy to come help. 


I’m also grateful for how she demonstrates the catharsis and healing that comes from culling and paring down the mountain of things that we, as a culture, seem to be buried under. It is real. Decluttering works. Letting go and having less stuff creates more functionality, more ease of use -  more space. It always feels good. It does, in fact, “spark joy.” But be warned the patented Konmari methods can be unrealistic and too exact. Also, what she offers is not comprehensive enough to create lasting results.


In the show, Marie’s consultations are what you should expect from your local professional, except

for the interpreter. We don't tend to need them. But like Marie, your pro should show up with excitement to see your mess and to share their calming enthusiasm for making things better. We will sit and talk with you about your needs and desires. Then, if you’re comfortable, we will ask for a tour of your space to learn where the problems are. We are not likely to mimic Kondo’s practice of kneeling on your floor to “communicate with your house” in a quick group meditation, which is virtuous enough I suppose, but I tried it once. In practice it's a little awkward.


Then, we will lay out a game-plan, not necessarily the Konmari plan - but even better -  one custom designed for you. And then, if you choose to hire, we might leave you with some homework to get you started before we come back. And with your local, this should happen at no cost to you. But unlike Marie, your pro should be available come back and work one-on-one with you to purge and organize your space. 


If you watched the show and felt a sense of calm or catharsis, you had an authentic reaction to what clearing clutter feels like in real life. The thing is, stuff creates mind oppression and to watch spaces be freed from that tyranny feels good. It’s inspirational. Imagine how it would feel to have it done in your space. I’ve seen it again and again through the years. Getting organized changes things.  It opens and inspires. It promotes creativity and offers spiritual calm. Her clients experience these gifts. My clients experience them and you will experience them if you get organized, whether you hire someone or choose to tackle the chaos yourself.



But as is true with most things on TV, Tidying up With Marie Kondo is an incomplete picture of the work it really takes. Creating order in your space and life is an intimate and individualized process. Don’t get discouraged if you’ve tried a list of rules and it failed you or if all the work you completed has already fallen apart.


Her ideas fit well into easy-to-read, colorful little books, and 45-minute episodes, but folding methods and specific orders of operations aren’t universally compatible with the diversity and uniqueness that comes with individualism. We all like and need different stuff. We have different patterns and habits and spaces. Hence we benefit from different ways of managing it all.  Any organizer worth their rate will know how to empathetically read you and help you customize the work to meet your specific and individual needs.


In the end,  I thank Marie Kondo. I thank her for giving you a small idea of what hiring a pro looks like.  I thank her for inspiring people to think about clearing space.. And if her methods work for you, fantastic. But I’d advise caution. Try to learn about your specific needs before using random tips and ideas that have not been  designed just for you.


If hiring isn’t possible, check out my “Planning I” & "Planning II" posts where I illustrate how to explore your interactions with your space and your things as a strategy to learn what methodologies will work best for you.


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