How to Declutter — Japanese-style!

I’ve been antsy to write this book report since I read Marie Kondo’s book a few weeks ago.  


Turns out you CAN judge a book by the cover.  (Notice the all lower caps.  love.)  This one is precious from the outside all the way through.

First, be warned:  Marie Kondo is Japanese.  She’s tiny and quaint and precious as far as I can tell, having not met her in person (yet).     Her book is about “tidying,” which in plain English translates to “decluttering and organizing” which in most American households translates to “getting rid of your s@#* that has piled up.”

I have not been to Japan (yet), but let’s face it, I think the Japanese have we Americans whooped in the “tidying” department.  You never hear about McMansions over there.  No, instead visions of crisp white mats on floors and neat little chopsticks and perfectly-rolled sushi fill my brain when I think of Japan.

When I think of typical middle-America?  I see SuperSizeMe and strip malls and big cars and traffic, truth be told.

So.  We are whooped.

Top that by the fact that Marie has literally been decluttering (tidying) since she was FIVE, stealing her mother’s housekeeping magazines to learn as much as she could and sneaking into her siblings’ rooms to practice her techniques.

By the end of the book, we also discover that every time she enters her home, she has a ritual where she unpacks her purse and places her wallet and few other items in special “homes.”

I have never, ever known anyone to unpack her purse every day and have special little spots in the house for all the items within.

Here’s the painful part of all of this.

Her method — the KonMari Method — makes 100% total and complete sense from a feng shui point of view.

It’s humbling.

In all my days of preaching about the impact of clutter, this woman puts my American-self to shame.

Rest assured, she and I have very similar styles.

Here is where we agree:
1.  She believes in “discarding” first.  YES!  Get rid of it.  Please.  Just.
2.  She believes that organization containers are bogus and that the house is equipped with proper storage.  YES!  Don’t get sucked into The Container Store thinking that it will cure your organizational woes!  It won’t.
3.  She poo-poos buying in bulk.  YES.
4.  She believes that every item has a life of its own and that it has a profound affect on the owner.  YES!  A million times, yes!
5.  She believes that if it “doesn’t spark joy,” it goes!  YES!!!  And I thank her profusely for this term because I was using the vague: “Does it raise your energy?” for each item, and I know for a fact that this sparking-joy clause is super-charged and powerful beyond belief!
6.  She declutters according to category (clothes, books, etc.) rather than room.  YES YES YES!
7.  Every item needs a home.  YEEEEESSSSSSSSS!

God, I love this woman.

Now, for the American vs. Japanese part:
Here is where I may not agree, as well the main things I learned from her thus far:
1. She believes that every one can organize according to her system, that different personalities and brains can operate under the KonMari Method.  I, for one, love “studying” how different we all are, and I can speak for myself that, being a fast-moving right-brainer, there are some practices she recommends that wouldn’t serve me.  Still.  I may try them…
2.  She likes to fold.  She is teaching me to like folding.  Folding is fun.  Well, it is when you get the results of her technique which have sort of kind of blown my mind.  But yes, folding can be fun.  (Remember that origami comes from Japan, right everyone?  Okay, so it’s ingrained over there.  I’m learning.)

3.  She doesn’t realize that she is practicing feng shui!!!  This tickled me because she has a small and lovely section on feng shui, but she claims not to identify with it, as she’s never studied it.  Sure, she uses a different language than we consultants would use, but I’d say this woman is practically a feng shui master herself — at least when it comes to the items in a household.
4.  She skips over certain very large topics that Americans would need to read about.  For example, garages don’t seem to come up.  At all.  And we all know about stuff and garages.

Still, Marie Kondo is the Saint of Stuff as far as I’m concerned.  Her approach is minimalist to be sure, but in all my years of practicing feng shui, I can attest to minimalism — or close to it — as being the way to go.

Read her book.

Or, do that, and/or take my online Declutter Your Way to Clarity course where you will get an email a day to motivate you.

Bottom line:  Whether you live in Japan or America, clutter affects you.  Your stuff affects you!  And you won’t know how much it affects you until you deal with it.

After all, when you deal with your stuff, you deal with your life.  Period.

  • Jane Antonovich

    I read it, I LOVED it! I also work with people who have too much stuff and am apprenticing with a Feng Shui master (for the last 2.5 years). I agree, she is TOTALLY using Feng Shui principles, watching energy and guiding her clients to a higher vibration. LOVE!!!!!

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