Marie Kondo is like the Atkins Diet of organizing. Yes, it's true. Let me explain.
Please understand that this is NOT an anti-Marie Kondo episode! I think Marie Kondo is awesome in so many ways. She's done so much to raise awareness for organizing and decluttering in the media and the general public. There are benefits to her method, but I do feel that the Marie Kondo method is not the best long-term solution for the average American woman or home.
Last week I kicked off this podcast series by talking about passive organizing. When you're in this information-gathering stage, your interest and initial motivation can be sparked by things like Marie Kondo's book or TV show.
In this episode, I explain why Marie Kondo's organizational method is like the Atkins Diet of organizing.
First, ultra-low-carb diets like the Atkins Diet can give you quick results. You can get really, really quick results using the Marie Kondo method. That quick win can give you the motivation that is needed to keep going in the beginning. The problem is that you have to get rid of nearly everything to get those results!
Americans (and Australians) in particular tend to have larger homes and more stuff in those homes. Japanese homes are usually much smaller and rooms are more often multifunctional. When an American woman uses the Marie Kondo method of organizing, there's a lot of pain and chaos that goes along with pulling everything out of a particular space. It's like the headache you get when you go through carb withdrawal.
Second, the Atkins Diet is very one-size-fits-all, as is the Marie Kondo Method. There are strict rules to follow without deviation to get those results. Marie Kondo's Method is very prescriptive, telling you exactly how you should have each area of your home.
Do you have paper? She says get rid of it all except a tiny folder. This doesn't work for the typical American because so many important documents must be kept and presented in paper format. My grandson, Grayson, is a toddler and he already has two pieces of paper that must be kept track of for the rest of his life: his birth certificate and his social security card. We are not and cannot be paperless in the United States at this point in time. There are too many variables in the American household, especially in terms of paper, making a one-size-fits-all approach difficult to follow.
Don't even get me started on books. Marie Kondo says to get rid of all of your books. I did it. I got rid of all of my books. And I regret it! I love books and bookshelves. I have a couple of custom bookshelves in my home and I want more. I have hundreds of books on Audible and I'm in the process of buying many of those again in paper format so I can highlight them and write in them.
(Side note: I'm so used to thinking in terms of pink, purple, blue, and green work that I'm starting to highlight information in my books this way using our Organize 365® highlighters.)
Third, the Atkins Diet is very restrictive and not as filling. The Marie Kondo Method is very restrictive and not as fun. There is one way to follow her program. If you don't follow the program to the detail, you don't get an A. But, I want an A in organizing.
The problem is, I like stuff. I'm organized, but I like stuff. I don't have a ridiculous amount of stuff, like clothes, but my closet is far from being a capsule wardrobe.
These types of prescriptive systems tell you exactly what the end should look like to be considered organized. Minimal. Rainbow ordered. What if you have 35 pieces in your wardrobe instead of 33? What if you kept your books instead of getting rid of them all? Then you didn't follow the method and you don't get an A. You're not organized.
Lastly, most people cannot maintain the Atkins Diet for the rest of their lives. In a similar way, it is difficult to maintain organization like Marie Kondo. As soon as you stop following the prescriptive directions, the organization falls apart. It doesn't last. The Marie Kondo method of organizing gets you started, but it's not a sustainable way for most Americans to live.
Organization is a skill that must be learned.
You must know how and why you want to get organized. Your phase of life and the type of order that you want play a part. You need to practice making decisions that become rules and then habits for your life and home so that in the long term, you deal with less decision fatigue.
Marie Kondo's method of tidying is a wonderful place to start your journey. You can make some great visible progress with her system, but if you are not naturally a minimalist, it is not a sustainable lifestyle.
If you're like me and you like stuff (and are a bit of a rebel), it's time instead to focus on learning the skill of organization. Use the momentum of these quick-start methods to propel yourself into lifelong organization rather than endless cycles of decluttering and feelings of lack.
Here at Organize 365®, we're not about Pinterest-perfect organizing. Our focus is functional organizing. Learning the skill of organizing is a lifestyle change, not a quick-fix project. It requires a mental shift. It's about having what you need, those things having a home, and regularly putting everything back where it belongs.
The Productive Home Solution™ teaches you the skill of organization, guides you in developing systems, and learning to make decisions that become habits. I help you do the mental and the physical work. I show you how to make the invisible work visible.
Are you ready to move from passive organizing and short-term solutions to actively learning the skill of organization?