Review: Marie and Me, The KonMari method

Every week I try a different self – help guide’s life advice. Here’s how I got on with Marie Kondo.

Here’s the thing with me and Marie: at first everything was great between us. There was the initial excitement of a new relationship, the butterflies in the stomach every time I opened ‘The Life – Changing Magic of Tidying,’ counting down the seconds until I could get home from work to be with her. Then there was the physical stuff: tearing our clothes off the shelves, arranging our cups in the cup drawer, folding our socks – all the usual ‘new relationship stuff’. After that though, things fizzled out a bit between us.

Don’t get me wrong, Marie’s a great girl. She’s upbeat (relentlessly), she’s organised (goes with the territory really), I mean – she’d never forget to remind you it was your mum’s birthday. And she’s got a great sense of humour too, I think. When she’s in the mood she can say some pretty funny things, possibly unintentionally, but nevertheless – she’s entertaining company. And she smiles – a lot.

But that’s kind of the thing really. You could never take Marie down the pub to meet your mates. You’d always be a bit concerned she might say something odd. Robbo’s pulled a muscle playing footie for instance. Marie’s advice is along the lines of: ‘a firm but gentle massage by human hands does more to loosen knotted muscles that being pummelled by a massage machine.’

Fair play you think. Nothing too controversial in that. ‘The energy that flows from the person’s hands into our skin seems to heal both body and soul,’ she continues. She’s had a fair bit to drink  by this point: ‘The same is true for our clothes.’

Sorry? What was that Marie? ‘When we take our clothes in our hands and fold them neatly, we are, I believe, transmitting energy…’ and on she goes.

And then there’s the jealously to deal with. My wife Annie was well and truly sick of Marie by the end of the week. ‘Marie says this, Marie says that… why don’t you just go and bloody well live with bloody Marie bloody Kondo? I mean, where have all my hair grips gone?’

Oh sure though – credit where credit’s due. If Marie’s taught me one thing I’ll take away from this it’s that focusing on what you want to keep and the joy that those items bring you is more important than the tidiness aspect of it all. Just don’t let the lads here me saying that.

With less stuff to sift through I spend less time worrying about what to wear, which shoes go with which shirt, whether the lime green cords really go with anything. I’ve kept a few shirts and jeans that just go with each other and to hell with it.

We ‘Kondoed’ the kitchen and the bedrooms and the house feels fresher. We threw away enough paper work to build and igloo out of and about a dumper truck full of crappy plastic toys. That bit felt liberating. Now that we’re liberated and the house is very spartan it could, ironically, pass for the interior of an East Berlin condominium circa 1978. It feels a bit cold without all our old stuff.

On the plus side. Now that we’ve got nothing left we’ll need to go shopping. Just for some essentials. And I love a good shopping spree.

Next week my self – help binge continues with Paul Arden’s ‘It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be.’

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Clear out confidential…

So it’s time to embark on ‘Kondoing’ our home but there’s a stumbling block already. We’ve decided that clothes are the Achilles heal of our tidiness problem so following Marie Kondo’s advice to work on one category at a time we’re starting with a whole scale clear out of our clothes.

ugg boots 2

My initial skepticism about the KonMari method overcome I am enthusiastically ditching my clothes by the bin – bag full. The vile lime green and black checked Burberry shirt – does it ‘spark joy’ KonMari asks? Presumably it did around 15 years ago when I paid £215 for it at Birmingham Bullring but I have worn it a handful of times and it has languished in a early – noughties ghetto in my wardrobe for a decade and a half. I feel a small tug at the heartstrings as I pitch it into the bin bag but as soon as it disappears inside the guilty feeling is replaced by a strangely vertiginous rush of euphoria. Turns out that throwing away, donating, disposing, consigning one’s possessions to oblivion is actually quite addictive.

The kids have got in on the act too. Gretchen (who we call G) is sifting through piles of decapitated and limbless barbies, dismembered teddies and broken roller skates. She draws the line at disposing of Mifkin, her 9 year old Steiff bear who, having very little fur left and only one, leering glass eye, is frankly terrifying, . She does, however, consent to have him washed so at least we can rid him of the faint whiff of piss that clings to him. Small steps.

All is going so well until I check on Annie’s progress. She is sat on a vast clothes mountain on our bed, her head only a foot away from the ceiling.

‘How’s it going?’ I ask.

‘Good!’ She is reading a copy of Take a Break magazine. ‘Have you heard about this woman? She didn’t know she had a mouse living in her hair for three months until it fell out one day!’

‘I meant with the clothes. Have you thrown any away yet?’

‘Some. A bikini. A pair of pants with some brown stains on them.’

‘What about these boots?’ I ask.

‘THOSE?!’ She is incredulous. ‘They’re Uggs! They were really expensive. And you bought them for me.’

It’s true, they were, and I did. We got them on our honeymoon in New York. I remember the exact day, the weather, how much fun it was to wander around Manhattan visiting all the shops and how happy we were, high on the euphoria of being newly married and in The Big Apple. If you parachuted me into Central Park tomorrow I could find the exact Ugg shop we purchased those from. Holding them in my hand awakens some of those memories.

But the zip is broken now and in any case, they are pink and Annie hasn’t worn them in the five years she’s owned them because pink doesn’t go with anything she owns.

‘I can get the zip replaced,’ she says, raising her eyebrows in a mock sad expression. I feel like a mean spirited bailiff stripping a penniless woman of her television or something.

‘OK! You can have those,’ she says springing down from the clothes pile, ‘but I am keeping these.’ She clings a vile pair of luminous orange Crocs to her chest as though they were a naked baby.

‘They’re vile Annie.’

‘But they’re mine!’ she says defiantly and flounces out.

Small steps.

 

Life – changing?

If you’ve been following my posts over the past couple of days (which you absolutely should have been) then you’ll know that I’ve set myself the challenge of transforming my life in six key areas:

  1. To be happy(er)
  2. To not be nearly bankrupt
  3. To not feel disorganised
  4. To have more time with my kids
  5. To have time to be creative
  6. To feel physically healthy

I have decided to go on a self – help binge as a way of exploring whether the $11 billion industry really can improve my life in a sustainable way and I invite you all to follow my progress on this blog – wherever it should take me.

To give you a bit of back story in case you haven’t been following this (if you haven’t then where have you been?): one week ago I came home from work expecting a pizza and Netflix and to fall asleep on the sofa only to find that my wife had been pulled by the Police for driving without insurance. Cue a £300 fine, 6 points on her licence and a massive insurance bill.

By the way, as an aside, the back wheel of her car nearly fell off today but that’s a whole other story.

Clearly my life has some scope for improvement so who better to get the ball rolling than Japan’s self proclaimed ‘expert declutterer and professional cleaner’, not to mention multi – million selling organisation guru Marie Kondo?

The Life – Changing Magic of Tidying arrived through the post today and I felt a genuine thrill of excitement at opening it. ‘The Japanese sensation – 3 million copies sold’ proudly trumpets the cover and I am primed and ready to join the ranks of the converted.

I should confess at this point to coming at this self – imposed challenge with some skepticism. ‘After your course, I quit my job and launched my own business doing something I had dreamed of doing ever since I was a child,’ proclaims a satisfied former client of Kondo’s on page 3. Sounds good though it depends what the dream job is. I dreamed of being a fighter pilot and would be stoked if reading The Life – Changing Magic of Tidying could transform my life to such a degree: ‘I went from teaching Science to disaffected teens to fighter pilot months after reading this book. Despite having none of the physical attributes necessary for the role.’

The old adage ‘you get out what you put in,’ applies here though so I press on, resisting the urge to cackle with laughter at: ‘Your course taught me to see what I really need and what I don’t. So I got a divorce,’ and: ‘Someone I have been wanting to get in touch with recently contacted me.’ Presumably the longed for phone call from Michelle Pfeiffer is only a short read away.

‘I finally succeeded in losing three kilos,’ testifies another adherent but it doesn’t specify if that was in body mass or old nail varnish bottles and Happy Meal toys.

Despite all this, and my natural reticence when it comes to self – examination, I have to admit to feeling unduly excited at the prospect of what is, essentially, doing loads of housework. The clean, minimal design of the book cover and short, tidy sentences seem to hint that a life of order and fulfillment lies 240 short pages ahead of me. And watching Marie cheerfully folding socks and undies, who could doubt it?

Play along at home if you have a copy of the book. Let me know your experiences and thoughts if you’ve already done this. Comment, tweet, add me on Facebook.

 

The Magic Happiness of Marie Kondo…

Thanks to everyone for their suggestions on their favourite self – help books. I’ve got a list of 8 titles to get me started. With some degree of inevitability (see my previous posts) by far the largest number of votes was for me to try out Marie Kondo’s ‘KonMari method’.

life changing magic of tidying up

I bought Kondo’s ‘The Life – Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ from Amazon this morning so it should arrive tomorrow (Friday 29th January) and we’ll be ready to go.

In anticipation of its’ arrival here are 6 of the best KonMari quotes that I could find (in the 30min time limit I’ve given myself to blog this):

  1. ‘Do you like talking to furniture? Do you believe shirts have souls? Are you insane? This might be the book for you.’ George Cotronis quoted from http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3263855.George_Cotronis’
  2. Kondo thinks you should treat your socks like tiny people, and that when they’re in your sock drawer, they’re “essentially on holiday”.’ Oliver Burkeman quoted from http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/dec/05/change-your-life-strange-decluttering-advice
  3. May cause death

also from http://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/jan/17/spark-joy-japanese-art-tidying-marie-kondo-digested-read

4.“This book is a cult. A totally reasonable, scary cult that works, doesn’t kill people (a bonus), but does drastically change your life. In this case — for the better.” — Buzzfeed

5. “It seems mundane but I’ve Kondo’d some deodorant that I didn’t like the smell of.” quoted from http://nymag.com/thecut/2015/02/marie-kondo-room-purge.html#

6. “When you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order, too. As a result, you can see quite clearly what you need in life and what you don’t.” Marie Kondo quoted in http://www.wsj.com/articles/marie-kondo-and-the-tidying-up-trend-1424970535

If you’ve Kondo’d your home (or indeed some deodorant) or if you’ve read the book leave me a comment or tweet me @TmhoLudek.