New Thoughts on Marie Kondo's Tidying Regime

Ladies and Gentlemen, Marie Kondo has ruined my life.

Ok - that's a little dramatic, but remember this post when I cleared out my apartment using Marie Kondo’s method?

I’m here to tell you that, yes, my place stays tidied and things are, generally, always in their home... but there have been several moments where I have looked for something and then realized that  - oh yeah, it didn't bring me joy in the week I was clearing out my space, but it looks like I'm going to have to spend money to buy it again because I actually need it. OMG. Kill me now.

Although the KonMarie method has brought order to my environment, it has also bestowed upon me the unwanted gift of neurotic behavior as I now constantly worry about whether my things are in their appropriate homes. Do I really need to be thinking about this when I want to be writing and making things? No. But then on the other hand, when I'm writing and making things, would I be bothered if my environment was a mess? Yes. 

So, the struggle continues. I write this to warn those who may be at the brink of embarking on the KonMarie way of life. Just be careful with how you intake her information and how much of it you commit to. I drank the Kool-Aid because I was more than just thirsty to know how one keeps and maintains tidiness, and now I am trying to balance myself so that this method of living does not run my life. 

You have been warned.


On the flight from Copenhagen to Chicago, I read Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. I couldn't sleep at all during the flight so I plowed through the entire thing - and I'm so glad I did. 

I started my sabbatical by cleaning out my apartment but after reading this book, it seems as though I had only just dusted my shelves. Lady Marie is hilarious in the way she goes about talking about one's home and belongings, so for the pure joy of reading someone else's thoughts about belongings, this book is a must read.

"But when she pulled open her sock drawer, I could not suppress a gasp. It was full of potato-like lumps that rolled about. She had folded back the tops to form balls and tied her stockings tightly in the middle.[...] I pointed to the balled-up socks. 'Look at them carefully. This should be a time for them to rest. Do you really think they can get any rest like that?'"
Excerpt From: Marie Kondo. “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”

Beyond the great representation of your belongings having a life of their own, Kondo does a great job of allowing you to follow through with her advice and thought process by encouraging you to ask yourself, "Does this bring me joy?" 

I documented some of my process but the biggest eye-opener for me was the realization of the sheer amount of things I possess in my little apartment.

All of the books I own in my apartment were laid out on my dining table. I love books with all my heart and this was the category that was the hardest for me. (Do you see my dining table bending a little? Ha.)

There were joyful + painful moments as well as lots of memories flooding through my thoughts while completing the process of tidying my apartment but after I completed it, I felt new, refreshed, and cleansed.

Total bags tossed into the trash? 15. I know. I couldn't believe it either.

One of the things that Lady Marie advises to do is to "[visualize] the ideal lifestyle you dream of." The one thing I had always wanted to do was to reorganize my bookshelf as a color gradient - because, why not?! Being a visual person, sometimes I won't remember the name of a book that I'm thinking of but I know the color and can see the cover in my mind. So, naturally, this way of organizing my books makes sense for me.

This process of tidying was probably one of the best experiences I've ever had. Kondo states in her book that it would also teach you to edit out other things in your life and I think that this is a true statement. 

As a UX designer, it already gives me a new perspective when it comes to choosing hierarchy of information, process flow, and editing material out. If you're in the industry, ask yourself, "Will it bring my user joy?"

UX Notes: Designing experiences should be done with the user in mind but what happens when you have multiple kinds of brain processes accessing the same material? Filters can be a point of contention with content managers and designers but having visual filters may be a feature that many have not yet experimented with but could provide another way for others to naturally find what they need. Hey Amazon - what if you had book cover color filters in your search process? I'll bet that your sales would go up (even if it's a little margin) and that you would have die hard, loyal fans.


I Cleaned. Everything.

A friend of mine came over to my apartment around March and asked me how I keep my apartment from being bombarded with stuff. A really nice compliment because in the back of my mind I'm always thinking, "Why do I have so much stuff? Am I secretly a hoarder?"

Every season I do a clean out of things in my apartment. Most of the time, this activity deals with the cleansing and refreshing of: clothes, refrigerated goods, pantry items, and the most accessible storage closet I have. What this means is that I have a storage closet that is massively piled with "just in case" goods, bookcases I have not reorganized, technology items that have been shoved into boxes, and so much more. I figured that if I wanted to recharge my batteries and situate myself in a space that felt new and refreshed, I needed to cleanse my physical space of habitation.

So I cleaned. Everything.

It wasn't the seasonal type of cleaning. It was a wipe out of everything in my apartment. It took me 3 days to go through everything from room to room and throughout the activity I was met with many thoughts. 

"Why do I still have this?"
"Will I need this in the future?"
"I wonder if they make these anymore."
"How can I go about changing my activity around this?"
... and so much more.

When it was all said and done (which really means I decided that a first round was successful) I slept even better that night. However, there will be a round 2.

I heard about a book called "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing" by Marie Kondo and I plan on reading it while in Copenhagen. We'll see what happens.