Kondo Cleaning Craze Catches On

Marie Kondo’s book, the life-changing magic of tidying up, has been a sensation since it was released. Five years later, Netflix’s Tidying Up with Marie Kondo has elicited a second wave of love as millions unload items that don’t “spark joy” by following her “KonMari Method.”

Professional Organizers have already been practicing parts of what she preaches for decades. Yet, Kondo introduced a few new perspectives on decluttering and organizing.

Her brilliant practice of folding a sweater or t-shirt into a small package and standing it on end vertically, side by side -- instead of stacking clothes on top of each other -- is revolutionary. How did we not think of that before!

Part of her inspiration is that Japanese homes tend to have much less space to hold stuff. They don’t have the luxury of buying in bulk, and fill up their spaces like we North Americans. Our consumer-driven society seems to have reached the breaking point of too much stuff.

Therefore, I am on board with her practice to greet a space, and show gratitude toward things you own.

The “KonMari Method”

People begin tidying by item, rather than room, gathering the same category into one location. First clothes, then books, papers, “Komono” (kitchen, bathroom, garage, misc.), with sentimental items last.

I agree we should see everything we have before discarding. However, seeing a mountain of books or clothes may be daunting for some.

Many people have trouble distinguishing categories, making decisions, letting go, and worse, keeping up an organizing system. As a result, this subset may become frustrated with the KonMari Method, or feel guilty for not embracing her method’s success like everyone else. Or cannot maintain it.

Yet, Kondo is adamant you don’t divert from her proven methods, and claims no client has never rebounded or backslid.

That statement surprises me.

The "Spark Joy" Challenge for Many

People have emotional attachments to their things and can easily start a “someday” pile again.

Similarly, some people can’t hold each piece of clothing to see if it sparks joy. Instead, they want to reminisce and keep it. Those who struggle with hoarding tendencies, for example, find it difficult to let go once they have held an item. Also, your tax return might not spark joy, but you need it (for seven years at least).

Also a challenge for many is her maxim to tri-fold socks, stockings, and tights. I cannot imagine a busy parent trying to keep this up, especially if he or she is folding everyone’s laundry. Pairing up socks and folding once is just fine, in my opinion.

The good news is, many Professional Organizers in Canada specialize in working with people who have ADHD, who hoard, and who are chronically disorganized. There are also Organizers for those who want help organizing their office, setting up a home workspace, or getting their papers straightened out.

Another area where I waver is how Marie wants us to treat clothes and books like they are alive. She suggests stroking a book cover awake before deciding if you need to keep it, and thanking our clothes for doing a good job each day, then letting them “rest.” Sorry, but I cannot pretend inanimate objects like sweaters are mad at me for keeping them in a plastic tote. However, I agree we need to respect our belongings and treat them with care.

I prefer store-bought containers to hold items. But keeping with the Japanese tradition of using boxes to store items, Kondo says she has an aversion to purchased organizing supplies. She sees them as imprisoning our belongings, and suggests we use shoeboxes instead. This is economical, but these cardboard boxes can be thin and tear, get wet from leaky containers, and hide what’s inside. However, I love Marie’s Hikidashi Boxes she had custom-made for the public, to fill in what she sees as a gap in the marketplace.

The KonMari Method is inspirational for the general population. I’m excited Marie has people passionate about tidying up their spaces, and feeling inspired to keep them clear. If you focus on what you want to keep, you’ll be left with what’s really relevant to your current life.

Now that’s magic.