The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Tidying Up

Marie Kondo

I expected to be rich long before now. You see,  I invented the original K-cup. I don’t know how old I was but it dawned on me that if you took two Mr. Coffee filters, put coffee in one, and then put the other on top if it and somehow sealed them together you could just toss the whole thing into your coffee maker and not have the mess of grounds to clean. I drew the whole thing up – true story – with my drafting kit and wondered whether I should call Folgers or get a patent first. I showed my invention to my Mom who patted my head, smiled that kind of smile, told me just how smart I was for figuring that out, and then said that Folgers has been selling these for years. That anyone would spend extra money for individual coffee servings just proved to her that people were dopey.

Tidying Up

I had these same feelings of being late to the party when I read The Cult of Tidying Up in the weekend’s Wall Street Journal (written by Jennifer Maloney and Megumi Fujikawa). The authors write about Marie Kondo, of Japan, who has taken the obsessive-compulsive world by storm with her book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Over one thousand Amazon reviewers rate it a cumulative 4.5 – pretty impressive for a book about folding shirts and giving stuff to charity.

This just weeks after I posted one of my most popular posts I titled Clean Up Your Junk – Your Brain Will Thank You. I write about how we have moved three times over just as many years and, as we pared down to 1,600 square feet from 3,800, have been surprised at how much better we feel without all the stuff. I offer a few ways to clean up and some encouragement to take a stab at it. I see uncluttering as an enjoyable work in progress and encourage people to do the same.

Not so Ms. Kondo whose specialty of organizing has become known as Konmari. She encourages ruthless cleansing. Preferably over a single weekend. And don’t stop for boxes. She’s not a fan of organizing as much as getting-rid-of.

But is There Joy?

Her mantra is inviting – Does it spark joy? She asked this of a client who struggled with the dumpster. The minute she spoke those words to her client she knew she had captured her passion. She wants to infuse your life with tiny joys. I like this idea and it isn’t limited to big stuff. I’ve bought the same black Pentel 0.5 mm mechanical pencils for years because I like how they write and how they feel. I like that they spark some joy in me when I use them. I think she’s on to something.

Tidying Up

I guess it’s possible that these bras need a good rest after providing all that support.

There is some Wayne Dyer in here: she shudders at rolling socks up into balls. They work so hard when we wear them, she says. Shouldn’t they have a comfortable rest in the drawer? Me? I don’t think socks are too concerned. And I had no idea that there is a sub-culture of cleaning and organizing fanatics. Per the WSJ piece, there are groups who share tips about arranging books and underwear and then share photos of their creations. No deep web necessary, I assume.

The Journal posits out that the movement walks hand in hand with a younger hip culture that has generally less than their parents did but mindfully enjoy their purchases. But I wonder if there is some snobbery afoot? Anyone can buy a nice shirt but do you fold yours properly? What? You lay your shirts down on top of each other! Good gawd. Philistine!

A Hipster Fad?

I can’t help but wonder what this means. Have we become so intertwined with wires and touchscreens and remotes that we long to rub a cotton cloth on our cheek and ask if it brings us joy? Do we live such gloriously luxurious lives that we invent meaning by wondering if our socks need a proper rest between wearings? I know that minimalism as a personal philosophy is on the rise: is this a part of it? Living with less but treating what we do have with near reverence?  good questions for discussion.

Ms. Kondo has a couple of other books prepped for the press, all expanding on her idea of the joys of organizing. No doubt, other authors will jump in with advice as well. At some point we will have had enough and someone will write a book about the joys of slobbery and messy living rooms. The inviting Bohemian lived-in look. That might be a book I could write. If I could find my notebook under this mess on my desk I would start right now so that, for once, I could be ahead of the curve.


Short video on how to fold socks.
(I admit that this looks pretty wonderful to me.)
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up on Amazon.
Konmari on Pinterest (Membership required I think…)
The Cult of Marie Kondo at the New York Times

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