‘If you put your house in order in one mammoth effort, you will have tidied up completely’.
The issue that many people have with tidying up is that it’s just so…… continuous. It can be like painting the Golden Gate Bridge – once you finish, it’s time to start again. Even when I lived alone, I’d enjoy a few days of tidy bliss before I began to lose patience:
- This needs to go back in that box but I can’t be bothered to stand on a chair to get it – I’ll make a pile here.
- But I don’t WANT to tidy up. It’s Saturday!
- The bookshelf is too full for my new book. I’ll make a second row of books in front of the first.
- The shoe cupboard is always a mess. There’s no point in tidying it. I’m sure they’re breeding in there. I’ll just chuck them in and leave them to it.
- Ugh, laundry. I’m behind again. I’ll have to start a second laundry bag.
- Where’s the screwdriver? Probably in The Drawer. But when I open it, it gets stuck. I’ll do that job tomorrow instead.
It was all a bit disheartening, and because I lived alone I used to get quite ‘stuck’ and down about it. Frequently my lovely sister would have to come around to cheer me up and give me a hand. I couldn’t afford a cleaner, and even if I could, I’d have to tidy my mess away to allow them to clean.
When I was in the USA recently I picked up a couple of organisation and storage magazines from Barnes and Noble. Please, even if this sounds Dull and Boring to you, bear with me. I was so excited about these magazines. If I’m 100% honest I’d been thinking about them since I knew I’d be going to New York. Before I began my KonMari journey I loved them. I used to pore over them for hours, devouring the expanses of storage solutions and clever ideas to increase capacity. Along with Miscellaneous Pharmacy Items from CVS, they were the biggest attraction of a transatlantic trip.
But something strange had happened. The evening after buying them, I sat down with a drink and snack after settling my son to sleep. I’d been looking forward all day to this.
I didn’t enjoy it. On most pages, all I saw were strategies to hide clutter and move more things into the same amount of space. My eye had become critical instead of adoring. Oh no!
One article advised spending an hour a day tidying and decluttering, perhaps using the ‘carrier bag a day’ approach as a part of it. Here’s the thing though. I don’t WANT to spend an hour or so a day tidying for the next 50-odd years. That would be 18250 HOURS of putting magazines away, replacing shoes, hanging up coats, putting away the coffee. That’s 760 DAYS of tidying, non-stop. Which is just over TWO YEARS of non-stop tidying. No weekends, no sleep. No snacks.
This would be brilliant calorie-wise as I’d have literally not a second to eat, so I’d surely get those athletic upper arms I’ve been aiming for, what with all of the lifting, carrying, hanging and so on.
When people first read one of Marie Kondo’s books, their reaction is often one of the following:
- ‘I don’t have time for that’
- ‘I have better things to do with my spare time’
- ‘Only boring people are organised’
- ‘My hobby, painting gnomes (or similar), takes up my non-working time’.
When I first picked up ‘The Life Changing Magic….’ I was thinking pretty much along these lines. I clearly remember sitting in bed reading about the idea of only tidying up once and thinking quite arrogantly ‘yes, maybe if I was that type of person, but I have plans…’. I then closed the book, placed it lovingly on the heap of clutter (or ‘tramp den’ as a good friend of mine calls one’s bedside chaos area) and went to sleep.
So what changed?
For me it wasn’t the idea of only tidying once. That’s a benefit that I’ve been quite slow to recognise and appreciate – it’s only since fully completing the whole ‘tidying festival’ that I’ve found myself comfortable at home to say ‘well now, I think I can crack on with that book’ as opposed to ‘when I’ve sorted out that box of junk and then found somewhere for the old coffee machine to live until I have time to sell it, then I might have ten minutes to read…’.
Like a lot of people, my motivation to do KonMari sprung from the realisation that I had, quite simply, too much stuff. It was in the way, both literally and figuratively. My cupboards were crammed and I had boxes of ‘stuff’ that never got unpacked when I moved. The freeing up of future time was an unexpected benefit and a gift that keeps on giving – each time I go to put something away I feel a little thankful that it’s an automatic action – I don’t have to waste brainpower or energy trying to cram more things into a packed cupboard or figure out a less crammed space.
I do still have the occasional tidy – after a birthday, or when we’ve had guests, it’s good to spend a bit of time reassessing the space, but it’s now 30 minutes or so as opposed to a marathon that never ends. On the whole, things get put away easily when they’re finished with, because it’s not an effort to do so.
If you’re ummming and aaaahing about decluttering using the KonMari method, perhaps ask yourself this:
‘Would I prefer to get it out of the way now, or subject myself to eternal repetition of something I don’t enjoy so much?’
As always, I’m here to work with you, whether it’s for a one-off tidying lesson, consultation and planning session or full tidying festival. Let’s talk.
TL;DR? Doing one big declutter and organise over several months (with breaks!) is infinitely more positive than sentencing oneself to spending an hour a day repeating the same dull tasks. Once you are truly tidy, the mind is clear to focus on hobbies, creative thinking and personal development.