This is true: I've had a few of my organizing clients tell me they read Marie Kondo's Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up and loved it. One beat later they chuckle and admit they can't find the book at the moment but insisted they still felt really inspired.
I also read the book and also read the New Yorker profile of Marie Kondo and agreed with the Japanese organizer, Nina Saeki, who commented:
KonMari method was effective for certain of her clients, but not for the heavier-duty cases—the sufferers from “chronic” (deep-seated and profound) disorganization, and the inhabitants of gomi-yashiki(trash houses), as hoarder dwellings are termed in Japan. (Saeki herself was helping an infamous hoarder in Nagoya, whose stuff had glaciered out onto the street.) “Chronically disorganized people are attracted to everything,” she explained. Their joy gets sparked, in other words, by all they possess—the whole hodgepodge load of it.
There is a proliferation of the use of "Joy" and "Life Changing" all over the internet that seems accompany the popularity of the book on a global level. When I browse Pinterest or Twitter I see so many posts about people who are inspired by her book to empty out their closets, desks and elaborate folding techniques being shared across the internet.
It's lovely and I want that everyone should have positive changes after reading Kondo's book. Just the same, someone pointed out to me recently that she used Kondo’s book but there are plenty of things she kept that didn’t bring her joy and she wasn’t exactly sure why she held on.
This may be where the book misses the mark: Her advice is like the Biggest Loser in that it encourages a wholesale bulk decluttering session that for some portion of the population will work like magic and change lives. Over time, however, the weight will return. Because the people and their habits and the reasons they buy or keep are the same.
Number 1: Anxieties are created everyday in the American social environment. These anxieties play out in our consumer behavior.
Number 2: There is no one size fits all solution to any problem. If there were, there'd already be the one great business book, the one great weight loss book, the one great personal finance book, the one great finding true love and keeping it book. There'd only be one great happiness self help book. Instead, there are shelves and shelves of options for all these books.
If you have the time, read about Joe below.
If not, let me cut to the chase.
Imagine you are overweight. Imagine a pill that could melt away all your fat, tighten your skin and help you achieve the body you always wanted in a matter of 2 or 3 weeks. That pill is the KonMari Method. It promises Joy and Magic and Life Changes. Who doesn't want that? A crazy person, that's who.
So you do it. You are thin, You are amazing. You buy new clothes, everything fits. You can't believe it was so easy.
But it doesn't last. The right things didn't change. Your weight starts to go up again. You can't understand it. Still, you think, I was much bigger before so even a 10 pound gain is not a big deal. You reread the book, resolve again to be committed to it.
Twenty five pounds heavier, you think, what is going on? I'm doing almost all the right things. Sure, you've been having a treat here and there but you are convinced life is for living! You can't not have any fun for the rest of your life, where is the life changing magic?
For some people, the Marie Kondo Method is quick results, amazing feeling of life change, your whole environment is transformed. Then what?
Joe wants to lose weight and become healthier. He has a co worker who bikes to work every day and he admires that greatly. The co worker, Sam, has a year round tan and is fit and handsome. So, Joe, armed with great biking advice from Sam, peruses biking blogs, visits a nice bike store in SOHO. Aspiring to live his dream he spends $1800 on a bike. It is so nice that he's almost afraid to ride it. Also, he spends on a deluxe bike rack. He researches the best helmets and finds a catalog for good looking bike wear.
Not a day in six months does the bike come down from the rack.
Joe is a little embarrassed by this but he reasons that his time as a biker is well worth a good preparation. Deep down Joe is anxious to bike the city streets. So he gets a bike map and orders a few books on biking in his city from Amazon.
Winter comes and Joe hasn't ridden his bike yet. But he will. As soon as spring comes, he's going to to ride his new bike.
Fast forward three years later.
Joe has met The One. The girl of his dreams. While dating, they maintained their own apartments but when they started to get serious, the talked about moving in together. Now they are engaged and moving in together seems like a logical step. After all, it is NYC and they could save a lot of money for the wedding if they only paid rent in one apartment. His apartment, in leafy downtown Brooklyn.
When Joe looks around his apartment, he suddenly sees it with new eyes. The $1300 bike is dusty. He did ride it once two years ago but it was so heavy and the 4 flights of stairs were a real pain. His friend Sam, had ridden over on his recently purchased sleek aluminum bike and it weighed 1/3rd of his bike. Suddenly, after 3 years, his bike simply seemed impractical and a bit out of date. Joe regretted buying it and all the other gear that a few years ago he shoved it all into one of his bedroom closets.
Now he needed that closet for his fiancee. And he needed to get rid of his bike and the bike rack because she was bringing some of her furniture as well.
Now, Joe, is a frugal guy. He's about 15 years older than his fiance and came from a frugal, hardworking family. Selling the bike, as his friends and fiance suggest, is not sitting well with him since he knows he'd never get near what he paid for it. It was his big splurge right after landing his first job.
Joe is grappling with the upcoming change. His girlfriend is moving in. His therapist suggests he hire an organizer. His girlfriend suggests he reads Marie Kondo's book and she brings her copy over.