I’m one of those strange people who can’t abide dirtiness, but also can’t manage to keep anything tidy. Is this even a thing? Like, if I’ve dropped food, I’ll wash and clean it straight up, but I dump my unopened letters on my dining table for months on end, before wiping them all straight into the bin in one mad, monthly tidying frenzy. Once a month is probably being overly generous as well.
I want to be tidy. I come from a family of tidy people, who bleach and hoover everything daily and never leave a hair out of place. Honestly, I don’t have a clue where I inherited the messy gene from! BUT I want this to change and this *seemed* like an easy place to start with my programme of self-improvement. (Ha. Ha. Ha)
And so, with my hopes high, I went ahead and bought Marie Kondo’s book ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying’ and delved into it head-first, believing its claims to change my life through helping me to clean my house.
Let me save you £10.99 and a week of your life: do not read this book. I don’t know if the cultural differences are just too great between Kondo’s Japan and my England or if she really is an idiot woman who got lucky, but her methods are just plain stupid. She brags about the fact that her kitchen is tidy because she doesn’t have a dish rack – she prefers instead to let her dishes dry outside on her veranda because, and I quote: ‘Sunlight is a wonderful disinfectant.’
She goes on to say elsewhere that women should ‘wear something feminine to bed, such as a negligee’ as, if you wear slouchy clothes, even by yourself in your own room, you will become slouchy in the outside world too. This isn’t the only mention of completely un-needed sexism from the woman whose only job is to tell you how to tidy your house either. Apparently men are better with money. And also, our possessions are sentient, so we must thank each of them every day for doing a ‘good job’.
If this woman isn’t on a watch-list somewhere, then she really should be.
Nevertheless, I persevered. As of today, I have officially finished reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying and I can confirm that my life has not been changed. That said, I also haven’t actually DONE any tidying yet. But before this gets super Negative Nancy, I should probably admit that this book HAS motivated me to throw out a huge chunk of my stuff. Half of the book talks about discarding all of your possessions that don’t ‘spark joy’, and whilst the joy part is baloney, it got me thinking that I do own an inordinate amount of stuff. Stuff I don’t need. Over the course of this week, I have given away over 60 books and binned 2 bin-bags of clothes. And the best part? I do feel better about it. Because I have less STUFF, taking up space in my house, I feel lighter in myself, and excited about the things I do have left, some of which I’d forgotten about.
The ’KonMari’ Method is as follows:
- Visualise the life you want to lead, and why you want to lead this life.
- Discard everything you have that does not ‘spark joy’. Do this all at once for your entire house. Do it by category. Clothes, then books, then miscellaneous items and finally personal, emotive items like family photographs.
- Tidy everything away in this order of category too. Again, do it all at once, not one at a time. There are very specific rules to how to tidy things, such as how to fold socks.
- Designate a ‘place’ for everything you own as you are tidying. This thing should never be out of its ‘place’ unless it is currently in use.
There are also tons of tiny, stupid little rules too, like putting your bookcase in a cupboard, so all the words don’t make the room ‘noisy’, as well as taking everything out of your handbag every day and putting it away in a designated place, before packing it all over again in the morning.
‘Spark joy’ is a very, VERY repetitive phrase throughout this book (Kondo loves it enough that she made it the title of her second book. And no, I’m not reading that one, however much you pay me). And whilst it’s a stupid, airy, meaningless phrase, it also almost hits a valid point too. As I was discarding my clothes, I came across my ‘funeral’ dress. I’m sure you have something similar in your wardrobe too – that one item of clothing you wore to that relative’s funeral who you still really miss, and sometimes still ask for guidance in your head, as if they might answer you. Seeing this item of clothing will always ‘spark’ nothing but sadness. And it’s ridiculous to keep it. Supposedly, I’ve kept this item for practicality, so that when another funeral inevitably rolls around, I’ve got something appropriate and of good quality to wear. My funeral dress is (was) a really gorgeous piece of clothing: a vintage, black, full-length Laura Ashley dress with a sweetheart neckline. But it’s never ever going to something that ever brings me any joy. And it’s not as if it will be hard to buy a new smart black dress when I next need to. I’m glad I threw away my Funeral Dress. It was the right thing to do.
There’ll be a YouTube vid going up most likely tomorrow (Sunday 3rd) detailing more about each step of the KonMari process, most likely with a lot more ranting and swearing. But for now, I think I’ll leave it here, on a vague positive, that you don’t need to own things out of obligation or emotion and also that it’s okay not just to keep things that ‘spark joy’ as Marie Kondo says, but also to let go of things that ‘spark’ sadder emotions, because sometimes that’s a hell of a lot easier to pin-point, and the overall result is still the same.