News and Opinion from Anne Barone to Keep You Chic & Slim

|| 8 December 2016

More Thoughts on Marie Kondo

Yesterday I spent the afternoon transferring my painting and restoration tools and products to the storage apartment. I will need only a few tools and products for completing taking up the dining room carpeting and padding. This work had me thinking of Marie Kondo. I don’t think the tidying guru is much into saving things for future use. But Marie Kondo and I disagree on a lot of things.

As for her spark joy test for keep or discard. I cannot say that my toilet bowl brush “sparks joy.” But it gets the job done, and for reasons of health and aesthetics I will keep it.

Likewise, one of the best things that I did in planning my house restoration project was making a list of what I would likely need and laying in a supply of tools and products. I would not have to stop work and make a trips to the store as the work moved from one phase to another. I found that if I didn’t use a product for one job, often I found it perfect for another. Example: Goof Off did not work to remove old latex paint from the 1920s metal range hood over the stove. But months later it was the product of choice to remove small latex paint splatters I found on the hardwood flooring.

My Provence-sur-la-Prairie property has a nice apartment with built-in shelving and a big garage with shelves. I have ample space to organize my tools and materials without cluttering the house.

When I previously reviewed Marie Kondo’s book on the website (see below), one Chic & Slim reader emailed that she thought Marie Kondo’s advice was better for women who did not have spouses, children, or pets. I would add: did not have love of good food, gardens, hobbies, remodeling projects, office with the need to keep business equipment and records. MK advises discarding all receipts. Perhaps in Japan you can exchange a defective purchase without a store receipt. Not where I live.

Yet don’t get the idea that because I think some of Marie Kondo’s advice is de trop, that I advocate clutter. When my house becomes cluttered, I do not work well. When my pantry is cluttered, I am tempted to overeat as a way of cleaning out excess. That’s why I advise finding the balance of having enough on hand that you always have something healthy to eat. But not having tempting excess.

Be careful about the temptation to buy too much food for the holidays. Make your shopping list and cut it by one-third. Donate the money you save to a feed the homesless organization. Now that will spark joy !

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone

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|| 26 october 2014

The KonMari Tidying Technique

Anne Comments on Marie Kondo's Book on the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

Quickly you understand the book’s intended audience. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing was obviously written for Japanese women who have been indulging in orgies of acquisition of clothing, accessories, books, and decorator items, and now, given small Japanese living spaces, are suffocating in their overabundance of stuff. To the rescue comes Marie Kondo aka St. KonMari of Tidy, the Discard Diva.

That specifics of this book will be as useful for women outside Japan as in, I have doubts. (And I really, really don’t think starting your clothing sorting project by taking every garment you own out of the closet and piling them in the floor is a good idea. It would take my cat about fifteen seconds to be right in the middle of that pile shedding cat hair over every garment.)

But since I am involved in a major cleaning out and reorganization of my storage area, I am in an excellent position to evaluate the usefulness to me of Marie Kondo’s method. I did buy the ebook and have now read about a third of the text.

Before I comment on the KonMari method, I confess what primarily prompted me to buy the book was curiosity about Marie Kondo. After reading the table of contents and Introduction on the Random House website, the chief question in my mind was what unhappy things were going on in this poor child’s life that by age five she became obsessed with trying to bring order to her personal space? Why in junior high did she prefer organizing the janitor’s mop closet to spending time with friends? Why, when she ran out of things of her own to discard, did she sneak into her sibblings’ rooms and the communal storage areas of the home and discard items belonging to other family members? A practice that she admits upset those whose items she discarded, and that she now calls despicable.

As you who have read the Chic & Slim books and website articles know, I am completely in agreement with KonMari’s overriding goal of reducing your number of possessions to those that aid you in having the lifestyle you desire. (That’s very French.) And I do think KonMari’s philosophy of how to go about reducing your overabundance has merit.

One thing that you must accustom yourself in reading the book is the use of the verb tidy for the process that KonMari is describing. Tidy in KonMari’s definition is the physical act making a decision whether or not you want to discard an item, and if you keep it, deciding on a place to put it. Let me tell you, in KonMari’s world EVERYTHING must have a place. But then she says immediately: Tidying is just a tool, not the final destination. The true goal should be to establish the lifestyle you want most once your house has been put in order.

An interesting KonMari point to consider:

One reason so many of us never succeed at tidying is because we have too much stuff. This excess is caused by our ignorance of how much we actually own. When we disperse storage of a particular item throughout the house and tidy one place at a time, we can never grasp the overall volume and therefore can never finish. To escape this negative spiral [of clutter], tidy by category, not by place.

In the KonMari method, tidying by category is the only acceptable way. She further believes the sequence of categories is important. She writes:

The best sequence is this: clothes first, then books, papers, komono (miscellany), and lastly, mementos. This order has also proven to be the most efficient in terms of the level of difficulty for the subsequent task of storing. Finally, sticking to this sequence sharpens our intuitive sense of what items spark joy inside us.

Most of us would have a lot of komono.

KonMari believes you should only keep those items that “spark joy.” In fact, her system requires that you take each of your possessions in your hand and then determine if they “spark joy.” So it comes as a relief when you learn that when she says that you must go through the discard process “quickly,” she means six months. Whew!

KonMari assures readers that:

There is significant similarity between meditating under a waterfall and tidying. When you stand under a waterfall, the only audible sound is the roar of water. As the cascade pummels your body, the sensation of pain soon disappears and numbness spreads. Then a sensation of heat warms you from the inside out, and you enter a meditative trance. It closely resembles what I experience when I am tidying. The work of carefully considering each object I own to see whether it sparks joy inside me is like conversing with myself through the medium of my possessions.

Who knew that cleaning out your junk could be so spiritual?

She further suggests that you do your tidying project in a quiet space without even music playing in the background.

Actually, by the time I read this KonMari advice, I had gone through the discard or keep decision process on the storage area items. I had worked in comparative silence with only the sound of the birds in the trees outside the windows as background music. I had elected not to listen to music because I wanted to give my full attention to my decisions. Not only was I making a decision on whether or not to keep an item, but what I would do with the item if I did not keep: donate or dumpster. Much more efficient when you only make decisions once.

As I said, I am only a third of the way into the book. Likely I will have more comments.

be chic, stay slim — Anne Barone

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