Marie Kondo is probably both. The trend, organizing, will continue because people are recognizing the value. The fad, her strict rules (quite a few) and methods, may or may not last. Ms. Kondo did not reinvent the wheel, but she achieved the highest levels of success as a Japanese woman who transcends boundaries. Her KonMari Method differs stylistically quite a lot but generally is similar to that of most pro organizers.
Why the hype?
As a pro organizer, I wanted to see what the hype was about so I read her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Throughout, Ms. Kondo anthropomorphized (giving feelings to inanimate objects), apparently because she lacked recognition and attention from her family.
Her methods (which seem odd in our culture) include:
- The KonMari Method must be followed in this order, one category at a time: clothes, books, papers, komono (Japanese word for miscellany) and mementos. No exceptions. To start, “Place every item of clothing in the house on the floor.” She means everything—except what’s in the laundry. Any missed items automatically go in the discard pile.
- Upon entering her clients’ homes, she kneels on the floor, silently greets it, introduces herself, asks it for help to create an enjoyable space and bows.
- Addressing clothes, “…so this is how you always wanted to be folded!” Her way is “filing” vertically in drawers. When putting away, “Thank you for keeping me warm all day.”
- Empty your handbag every day. “Many people see no point in taking…things out when they come home because they will use them again the next day, but this is a mistake…it carries them all without complaint…What a hard worker! It would be cruel not to give it a break at least at home…our belongings really work hard for us. Just as we like to come home and relax after a day’s work, our things breathe a sigh of relief when they return to where they belong.” When putting it in the closet, “It’s thanks to you that I got so much work done today.”
- “Your house already knows where things belong…When you are choosing what to keep, ask your heart; when you are choosing where to store something, ask your house.”
- Hold each item and ask if it sparks joy; if not, it should be thanked for its service before being discarded. Having difficulty parting with things that don’t spark joy reflects an attachment to the past or a fear of the future, or a combination of both.
Many people have difficulty discarding gifts, even if they’re not liked and unused. I agree with Ms. Kondo’s sentiment: “Presents are…a means for conveying someone’s feelings…you don’t need to feel guilty for parting with a gift…surely the person who gave it to you doesn’t want you to use it out of a sense of obligation, or to put it away without using it, only to feel guilty every time you see it. When you discard or donate it, you do so for the sake of the giver, too.”
Ms. Kondo insists the entire house be decluttered at one time or people lose interest in the process. I’d love to know how she accomplishes this. Decluttering and organizing a house take MANY, MANY hours and people can only work so many hours at a time and so many days per week.
What do we have in common?
An Organized Approach (and professional organizers generally) assesses clients’ goals, creates customized systems and works one-on-one with them while teaching how to declutter, organize and maintain the results. All of this must work with each client’s personality, ability, needs, limitations and timeframe. What do we have in common? We love what we do!