January 2, 2017

"An unforgettable tip of Kondo’s from the first book is to empty your handbag at the end of each day, wrap it in some nonsense fabric as a mark of respect..."

"... and give yourself the gift of tidying all the stuff you just evicted. When I read this, I speculatively put my hand to the bottom of my handbag and found a cocktail sausage, whereupon I did what any normal person would do and popped it in my mouth. All I mean to convey by this is that some people are starting a lot farther away from Kondo than she could imagine."

From a review in the Guardian of Marie Kondo's new book "Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up."

I, like millions of others, read the first book, "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing." I tried some of it. That is, I did something with some clothes. Maybe I'll get the new book. I did enjoy the fantasy of the first book. I know the new book merely repeats what's already in the old book. It doesn't — as the Guardian reviewer puts it — "diversif[y] into mind-tidying or decluttering your lower intestine."

There shouldn't be a need for a second book. The first book says you do the method once and then you are done forever. Acting as if there is a market for the second book implicitly suggests that the method does not work!

For alternatives to changing your life through the "magic" of decluttering and organizing, I'm seeing...

1. "The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck: How to Stop Spending Time You Don't Have with People You Don't Like Doing Things You Don't Want to Do." This is not for me, and not because I'm offended by the crass language. It's not for me because I've already done this, probably a lot more than the author. Anyway, this is the mental decluttering that Kondo does not bother with.

2. There's "hygge" — Danish coziness — explained in lots of books like "The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living." This looks like leaning into clutter, but I guess it's pretty selective about which things to clutter yourself with. Candles and hot drinks are big. So it's similar to Kondo's idea of surrounding yourself with happiness-inspiring things, but you're getting into the Danishness of it all as opposed to the Japaneseness.

39 comments:

David said...

Thanks to Kondo, I now put my socks in the drawer curled into each other in a circular nest instead of wrapping one inside the other. Everything else she suggested I haven't quite gotten around to. This year maybe.

MayBee said...

For whatever reason, it makes me happy to hear you couldn't change your tidying ways any more than I could.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Surrounding yourself with danishes will probably not help to declutter your lower intestine.

David Begley said...

America has finally gotten rid of the Clintons. Now only if the Obamas will go away. But Barack cannot be bound by over 200 years of precedent. He's too historic.

rehajm said...

There shouldn't be a need for a second book. The first book says you do the method once and then you are done forever...

Ha! I'm using this on my Kondo obsessed spouse. It will likely not spark joy.

Ron said...

Don't become Emily Gilmore! GG fans know whence I speak...

Laslo Spatula said...

"There's "hygge" — Danish coziness..."

There's also "Haggis": a Scottish way of putting all of your clutter into an animal's stomach, then eating it.

I am Laslo.

traditionalguy said...

Hoarders of the world unite. We have everything we have ever brought into the house to lose.

My wife is also obsessed with talking about seeing our clothes in the back of the way back of the closets again. Little does she know this book has given me an out. They ALL bring me joy.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I too do the handbag de-clutter...about every month. All the coins go into a big jar, thereby lightening my load by about a pound or so and contributing to the Reno vacation fund. Also, I find all the pens that have gone missing over the month and back into the pottery holder on the desks they go. Until next month.

Around the house, I don't like clutter, but I'm not a neat freak like my Aunt from Germany. Her house was so regimented that the dust was afraid to settle on the tables. You, seriously, were afraid to touch anything lest it be disturbed from its absolutely perfectly aligned position. We LIVE in our home and sometimes a coffee cup does get left on the computer desk. Now that it is snowing, sometimes the snow boots are kicked off next to the door instead of under the bench in the entry way. So?

We have a lot of collectable items, objects, crystal glasses and decanters. Art deco and art nouveau pottery and sculptures in particular. Prints from those eras. Things we love to look at and which have memories attached of the fun we had finding the treasures in various stores, on trips, garage sales. SCORE!!!! Obviously we can't display them all at once or we "would" look like a hoarder's house. So we box them up and about every 6 months change the objects. Rotate the items from storage and TA DAH....new things to look at. Sometimes I have forgotten about an items and it is like Christmas. All new!!!

Ann Althouse said...

I can see what my own method is. I mean it's a pattern and it's gone on so long, I should just declare it a method. I should declare it a method and write it up in a book and make a million dollars like Marie Kondo.

Basically, I love the idea of a perfectly simple, sleek, ordered environment. Ideally, this would be in a different house altogether. A small, completely modern house. Everything would be well-designed, useful, and used frequently. There would be no dead spaces or accumulated stored things.

In reality, I'm living in a big house that has whole rooms that we don't need. There's plenty of storage space and yet everything I need to work on I keep out where I can see it, where it gets mixed with other stuff that's not being currently used and that's making the stuff I'm working on harder to see. This situation bothers me for many days, weeks, or months before I finally solve the problem by reordering it, putting stuff away, and throwing things out. Then I feel great about it, so in touch with my love of order. I feel dedicated to preserving this new feeling by not letting the old entropy happen again. But of course it does. The cycle must repeat. It's like the changing of the seasons. It's life. I consider learning to love the cycle, to see it as lovable life, and yet, it will bother me. It must bother me. That IS the cycle. Knowing that is the cycle cannot change the cycle.

Joseph Severs said...

Surely there is a low-level contradiction that maintaining the Kondo method of cleanliness now requires *2* books in your house or apartment.

Rance Fasoldt said...

I had a girlfriend years ago who, searching for something in her handbag, car keys, for instance, would dump the contents out, pick up the car keys, and scrape everything back into her purse. I thought the approach was quite efficient.

Sebastian said...

"Acting as if there is a market for the second book implicitly suggests that the method does not work!" If the purpose of the method is to spark joy, it works perfectly well, as it will spark joy for the author and publisher.

"I consider learning to love the cycle, to see it as lovable life, and yet, it will bother me. It must bother me. That IS the cycle. Knowing that is the cycle cannot change the cycle." You may have retired, but you still have the law prof's skill of rationalizing everything. You should write that book, aiming for an audience of early teens. "Mom, I'm not messy. It's not sloth. I ain't lazy. It says right here, I'm learning to love the cycle."

Original Mike said...

"In reality, I'm living in a big house that has whole rooms that we don't need. There's plenty of storage space and yet everything I need to work on I keep out where I can see it, where it gets mixed with other stuff that's not being currently used and that's making the stuff I'm working on harder to see. This situation bothers me for many days, weeks, or months before I finally solve the problem by reordering it, putting stuff away, and throwing things out. Then I feel great about it, so in touch with my love of order. I feel dedicated to preserving this new feeling by not letting the old entropy happen again. But of course it does. The cycle must repeat. It's like the changing of the seasons. It's life. I consider learning to love the cycle, to see it as lovable life, and yet, it will bother me. It must bother me. That IS the cycle. Knowing that is the cycle cannot change the cycle."

Excellent! I could have written this. It's me exactly! Except for the part about the big house and plenty of storage space. Could I store some of my stuff at your house?

surfed said...

A book about not giving a fuck? Read the very first review on the Amazon website. Better advice than the whole book I'll wager...

Ann Althouse said...

""I consider learning to love the cycle, to see it as lovable life, and yet, it will bother me. It must bother me. That IS the cycle. Knowing that is the cycle cannot change the cycle." You may have retired, but you still have the law prof's skill of rationalizing everything. You should write that book, aiming for an audience of early teens. "Mom, I'm not messy. It's not sloth. I ain't lazy. It says right here, I'm learning to love the cycle.""

But, as I said, you cannot love the cycle. It's the nature of the cycle that you cannot love it.

Original Mike said...

"Basically, I love the idea of a perfectly simple, sleek, ordered environment. Ideally, this would be in a different house altogether."

I've day-dreamed about buying a second house in the neighborhood. One would be neat and ordered and we'd retire to it each night. The other (probably our current house) would be lived in.

Original Mike said...

Also, when not speaking to my wife I could go there.

Rob McLean said...

"Nonsense Fabric" would make a good band name.

Sebastian said...

"But, as I said, you cannot love the cycle." Any teen will be happy to pretend that xe is "bothered," too.

tim maguire said...

She's cluttering up her decluttering catalogue. THAT'S how tough it is!

I would love to declutter. I am married to someone who loves the idea of decluttering. So, as you can see, we are at an impasse.

mockturtle said...

Living for two years in a very small RV has forced me into extreme minimalism. I like it, too, but I've always had a dislike of clutter. But now I own a small winter home in AZ and I look at all those gaping cupboards and closets and say, "Oh, my!" [or something to that effect]. It will take stern self discipline to avoid filling them up with stuff I clearly don't need.

DKWalser said...

I'd buy, read, and apply the book, but I don't want to be accused of cultural appropriation. Now, if there were some uniquely American way of decluttering I'd go for that. But its not appropriate for me, an American, to adopt Japanese or Danish methods. I didn't celebrate Cinco de Mayo last year and I'm thinking of giving up St. Patrick's Day celebrations this year, too.

mockturtle said...

To paraphrase Frost, Something there is that doesn't love an empty closet.

Original Mike said...

So, if you bought both books and left them on tne coffee table I wonder how many people would get the joke.

Rae said...

I read about half of the original book before I decided I didn't buy into her elevation of OCD into a way of life.

Bob R said...

Last year my wife and I did "40 boxes in 40 days" as a Lenten exercise. 40 boxes to the trash or the thrift store. Got rid of lots of clutter, junk. Gained a couple of closets as useful storage space rather than piles of junk. Gonna do it again this year.

tcrosse said...

My wife used to treat her car like a rolling purse. Good luck finding a place to sit.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

We have a large house. Downstairs is a formal dining room, a home office, kitchen & breakfast nook, laundry room, living room and master suite consisting of a bedroom with sitting area, walk in closet, and large bathroom. Upstairs there are five bedrooms, two bathrooms and a loft.

My husband and I observe that the upstairs is the kids' house. When we're left to our own devices, we migrate between our bedroom suite (our sitting area is cozy and delightful), the couch in the living room, and the home office. Without the kids, we could easily live in house 1/4 this size.

When we travel, which is frequently, I take one roller bag and one exceptionally well designed laptop backpack; between the two I can carry everything I need for both myself and our eight month old. I think it's interesting that my daily needs can be condensed so far.

Someday we will get an RV and I know that I will be perfectly content for weeks at a time as long as I have crochet supplies, a few books to read (which are easy to swap out for new ones), cooking magazines, my laptop, and the iPad.

The one thing I need my big house for, other than the kids, is cooking, which I am passionate about, and gardening, which I hope to learn.

wildswan said...

This will work in an American home. Put away everything from the day before where it goes. Just that. After several months it will all be where it belongs. It is too overwhelming to figure out in a single day where it all goes. After that add on: throw away everything from the bottom of the piles and the back of the refrigerator once a week.
Although I also did that "throw stuff away for 30 days plan" and "sort clothes according to whether they give you joy." That helped when where "stuff from the day before goes" was "a box in the closet way back."

Susan said...

The first book changed my life last year.

Over the 28 years we had lived in our house I had become the family archivist. Basically, what I needed from her was "permission" to stop storing everything our extended family no longer wanted but was "to good to throw away".

After spending a year going through literally piles of other people's crap I have been holding for them I am finally able to get to MY own stuff to sort. It's taken a while because since it technically isn't my stuff I ask them what they want done with it first. Mostly they don't remember they had it.

I have only had one person ask me about their stuff over the years and I didn't have it. Nothing bad happened over it but I was traumatized by letting them down. As I was reading through the book I realized people shouldn't put others in that position and I shouldn't have let them do that to me.

But now if I don't need or want something anymore I can easily let it go to someone who does have a use for it.

And I don't take anything from anyone unless I am going to actually use it. My days as family storage bin are over.

I don't feel the need for the second book though I can see how some need renergizing if they have been working at it a long time.

For me just getting rid of responsibility for others junk is energizing.

mockturtle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mockturtle said...

Susan, as the eldest child in my birth family, I have also been the keeper of the heirlooms, portraits, etc. Currently my daughters and one granddaughter have agreed to keep the for me but I'm seriously considering giving or throwing most of it away. Yes, they have sentimental and archival value but I don't really think any of my offspring are interested much in family history.

Some are huge painted portraits in heavy gilded frames of stern-looking ancestors. No one in his/her right mind would want them hanging in his/her house [Today's houses simply aren't receptive to such things]. I did manage to get rid of one painting a few years ago to a distant cousin in CA who happens to have the sword that my great-great uncle wore in the portrait.

Someone suggested perhaps a museum might take them. Some items include an old clock and other items my great, great grandmother brought west in a covered wagon. I really can't bring myself to toss this stuff but nobody really wants it. Help!

Bob said...

All you "tiny house" dreamers, but this book.

Nancy Reyes said...

The happiest people in the world are actually Filipinos, but they aren't trendy.

If I had talent, I'd write a book "Live like a Pinoy; Clutter, grandkids, and fiestas"...the Philippine secret to a happy life"

Susan said...

Mockturtle, I'm the eldest too. Coincidence? I think not. I took a few things I had been informed were extremely valuable to a local museum and most of it was not worthy of donating I was told. Not only would they not buy these supposed treasures, they would not take them for free either. So I told the person who gave it to me for safe keeping that they had a month to come get it or it was going to St Vincent DePaul. They didn't come and I donated it for them. Once they knew I wasn't going to make them money some day they lost interest.

One thing that really helped was moving my in-laws from a massive house to a small apartment. The family had no IDEA how much stuff they squirreled away. Two giant dumpsters full of things that had been saved so long it was no longer any good and no use to anyone. So sad. Had they given it to someone 20 years ago it would have brought joy, but now it was trash. Even the thrift store wouldn't take it.

I don't want to greedily hoard useful items, I want to share, so now I do. The crazy thing is, instead of being sad I let some sentimental item go, now I smile thinking about someone getting use out of it, even though I can't see it anymore. I don't have to be responsible for every keepsake and heirloom. If no one in the family wants it that means it needs to be free to find a new family.

You don't have to be responsible for your family either. Ask around to see if anyone wants the stuff you don't. If not, send it on its way with a clear conscience. Either to a new family, museum, or recycle, whatever.

And it really is okay not to want to keep something even though a family member once owned it. It is even okay to get rid of things no one in the family wants anymore. It's just stuff don't let it weigh you down.

Christy said...

Fridays are for decluttering both the purse and the car.

Big Mike said...

"Hygge?" I thought you were just misspelling "hyuuuge!"

stlcdr said...

Read a book! It'll tell you how to be happy! Because people need to be told how to live their life...

The clutter/declutter is a normal, human cycle (maybe other species, too, I dunno). We are 'happy' to live that cycle. Don't let anything tell you otherwise.