NYR 1902: “Get Organized.” Part 1: The KonMari Method.

It was a cold, clear winter morning in January of 2016. We’d just moved into our new condo; I was sitting on the bedroom floor in my pajama pants, a warm cup of coffee beside me, folding clothes and organizing my dresser when my wife walked in.

“I need more clothes hangers,” she said.

“Well, you and I use the word ‘need’ differently,” I replied.

…Yikes. Things went downhill fast after that. Certainly one of the dumbest fights I’ve ever started. Which begs the question: why would I say that???

It wasn’t because I was busy at work, or because we recently bought a new condo or just found out we were pregnant. No, I blame my actions on this book alone:

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I bought this as a Christmas present for my wife, and started flipping through it while we were unpacking one Saturday morning. I couldn’t stop reading it, and finished the book that afternoon. The next morning I got to tidying, using the KonMari Method described in the book, a method of organizing that involves gathering your belongings by category, keeping items that “spark joy,” and discarding the rest.

Things went pretty well at first. I took several large trash bags of clothes to Goodwill. Here’s a picture I was able to find in my Google Photo archives:

But pretty soon the wheels started to come off. I spent a lot of time Googling videos on how to fold shirts. I started asking my wife about a few communal items here and there, then about bigger stuff, then about her stuff.

I wanted to get rid of everything. The tidying reached a fevered pitch, culminating in a moment where I gathered all of the paper in the house (most of which Liz had already organized) threw it in a large wicker basket and demanded that she go through it with me. We quit after an hour or so. We left the papers in the basket for weeks, always having to sift through the pile every time we needed something important.

Even though I didn’t finish, some of the results were encouraging. My portion of the closet, for example, has been very manageable and relatively clean ever since. So I thought, why not try the book again in 2019? I figured I could learn from my mistakes, and write about it in April as part of a series on Spring Cleaning.

And then I saw that this was coming out:

We watched the first episode, which was about a couple struggling to keep their house in order with two young kids. Many of their arguments hit pretty close to home (they even had a clothes hanger fight of their own). We agreed to start tidying, and I decided to bump the “Get Organized” series up to February with the following Resolution:

In 2019, we will tidy our condo using the KonMari Method, and will finish by the end of March.

Notice the “we” there? My wife and I are attacking it together this time. I feel like one of the main reasons I failed in 2016 is that I didn’t get buy-in from her, and so I’m hoping we’ll have more success this time around.

Because guys, we really want this thing to work.

My wife and I both grew up as the “babies” of the family. We’re used to getting our way, and get confused and angry when we don’t. And when it comes to tidying, we love having a tidy house, despite completely lacking the skillsets needed to maintain one.

To be fair, we usually don’t have a problem tidying in enthusiastic, intermittent bursts. but it’s the grind that causes us so much trouble. The daily acts of putting things where they belong, such as:

  • Putting away the laundry (not just washing it, forgetting about it, then having to run the washer again the next morning)
  • Unloading the dishwasher (not just starting to unload it, then leaving the dishwasher open for your wife to trip over while she’s carrying in the groceries)
  • Cleaning the floors (not just sweeping the dirt into piles, leaving them there and getting all mad when your husband accidently kicks them over and I should probably go ahead and wrap up this post)

The KonMari Method promises to fix all of this. No relapses, one-and-done. We’ll see how it goes.

Next week, I’ll get into more specifics about the method itself and how we’re approaching it as we tackle the first category: Clothes. See you then!

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