This article was inspired by world renowned author and organizer Marie Kondo’s book Tidying Up. Anytime I use Marie’s exact language I will put it in a block quote. However the majority of this article will be my personal thoughts and experiences reading and applying her KondoMarie method. If you want specifics on her method, read her book.
What I learned and my journey to apply it
The KondoMarie method was designed for people that need a guideline on how to organize with a hope that it ignites a spark within them to keep the fire burning. For me however, this fire has been burning for years prior to reading this book. There are still many useful tips in her method however. In no way do I want to come across as already knowing everything on the topic and I found many useful tips and theories that I’ve integrated into my personal style of tidying.
Designate a place for each thing
We’ve all heard the saying, “A place for everything and everything in it’s place.” But few of us practice this. How many of us have a closet or drawer full of random items that have no home? I’d dare say all of us, myself included.
Expose items to the light of day, items hidden are forgotten. Designate a place for each thing. This allows the item to be fully utilized, in the right place, in the right time.
That leads to a topic that Marie and I don’t see eye to eye on, Flow-Planning. Flow-Planning is an organizational method where you place items in a location that it’s most likely to be used. For example, in my apartment, butter is placed next to the toaster where it’s most likely to be used for toast. My electronics aren’t concentrated in one place, they’re spread out based on where I use them. The iPad is on the Kitchen table so I can watch YouTube at dinner and type later in the evening when the kitchen is the quietest room in the house. My Kindle is on my nightstand where I read it before bed. Outlets have been ran to these locations so that items can be charge where they are used.
Marie’s stance on Flow-Planning also seems to run contrary to some of her other statements like giving each item a designated space and appreciating an item for the value it provides. She does mention that we often confuse Flow-Planning with habit based on where we placed the item in the first place. How I counter this is by thoughtfully considering if the location of the item allows it to reach it’s full potential and perhaps pave the way to better personal habit. For example, I place my deodorant on a stack of clothes on the shelf next to the shower the night before I go to sleep. By so doing, the placement promotes the application of deodorant which I struggle with as well as having the clothes at hand post shower. Thoughtfully applied placement in regards to Flow-Planning can allow maximum usage and promote better habits.
Tidying is a dialog with one’s self.
Tidying can be a meditation. One of Marie’s main tests to see if you should discard an item is to stop, hold it in your hands and ask yourself, “does this inspire joy?” By so doing, this practice can be a sort of inner reflection on your state of being. Tidying is also contagious, it can jump start other changes and motivate you to “tidy” other elements of your life.
One method I really liked is the use of stacking items on edge horizontally in a drawer or shoe box. This allows you to see every item inside, much like how a closet displays your shirts. Marie also makes a good point that by stacking items vertically, you can’t access the item on the bottom and it tricks you into thinking you have more space and less stuff than you actually do.
For books, timing is everything.
I first heard this concept on the Tim Ferriss show when he was stating how he actually doesn’t take notes on the many things he reads. He says statistically, you don’t revisit notes. If he couldn’t remember what he heard it didn’t impact him enough to be applied. Marie also applies this method. When a books time has past, don’t hesitate to thank the book for what it taught you or helped you through, and let it go.
Marie loves shoe boxes and dislikes commercial organizational products. Commercial storage products often are designed to help you keep more of an item which runs against the KondoMarie method and minimalism in general. However, I think there is a case to be made for some commercial products if you can analyze this is a similar way as the flow-planning. Let’s use an example, if I have multiple of 5 soups that I often eat in my cupboard, a commercial can organizer can be a much improved method of storing that limited supply.
Marie promotes the practice of emptying your bag every day. This helps you appreciate and understand what it is you actually need. Marie acknowledges that we may want to keep certain items together so we don’t forget them, she recommends a shoe box that you place your wallet, keys and other essentials into. But in cleaning out your bag everyday you don’t carry around junk you don’t need. This sounded counter productive at first but I gave it a try. I carry around a massive army backpack full of things like a first aide kit, reusable silverware and straw, laptop and chargers, commonly used tools and other items I consider to be useful. I’ll be the first to admit that I only practice the cleaning of my bag daily in part, a whole pocket in my backpack is designated to emergencies and I only review it once and awhile. But the day to day portion of my backpack I review daily. I carefully unpack all the items out onto a shelf next to the door and in the morning I repack those items. I find I am more aware of what’s in my bag and have a greater appreciation of each item.
One of the things that I’ve applied from Marie’s teaching was in a rather unexpected way. Marie advocates for organizing by category as opposed to focusing on a room. She rightfully points out that when organizing by room we often miss similar items in other rooms that need to be tidied together. This takes an odd turn in my implementation. I realized that my blog could be stronger if I applied the same method to the articles. Instead of a separate article per book read, what if I updated articles with similar topics to fully maximize each articles purpose and content? This is an idea that I plan on rolling out slowly. I will repost articles that get updated with new content, I also am going to include Wikipedia like time stamps to all edits to display my personal learning on the topic.
Overall, this book is a great entry to a happier, more organized life. Just beware, tidying can be addictive!