Last month, FORBES contributor Elizabeth Harris published a delightfultwo-part Q&A with Japanese organizational expert Marie Kondo. In their discussion, which both explains Kondo’s joy-based tidying method and explores its financial implications, Kondo tells Harris of the “hoarding” culture that developed in Japan following the second World War. She notes:
When people ‘save’ items primarily out of fear that they will not have enough of that item in the future, even when their circumstances are such that it is quite likely they will have enough, then this is a negative motivation. Saving items out of anxiety is not something that I recommend, but rather we should save those items which bring us positive emotions, such as joy, or which we find to be helpful or necessary for our lives, and for which we can be grateful.”
A bit touchy-feely? Yes. In fact, when I read Kondo’s first book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I convinced myself my interest was anthropological. Why have 4 million people bought this little organizational guidebook? Could a tidying book really make someone cry as had been described to me? By the last page I wasn’t in tears, but I was sold enough try the “KonMari Method” on my clothing.
My closet looks lovely but the more important results were monetary.
Kondo told Harris: “When you have gone through my method and thrown out bags and bags of the latest ‘kitchen miracle gadgets,’ some of them still in their package, you get a good sense of what to avoid.” I buy that, the process made me realize cheap clothing bought on a whim usually collects dust, while the items I spent weeks or more coveting and saving for are the ones I wear and cherish.
The more tangible benefit? Cold hard cash. So far I’ve recovered about $250 selling stuff I no longer need. Admittedly I’ve been slow to deal with my discard pile, a hazard of tidying I suggest avoiding, so I expect to double my earnings. Not bad for a Saturday-morning of work.
Additionally, last summer I spoke with Jill Pollack, a Connecticut-based organizational pro on this topic. Her tips included:
Make an appointment to tidy. “Organizing doesn’t just happen,” she explained, you need to commit to it. Coffee, wine, friends and music will make the experience more enjoyable.
Start with your closet. We get dressed everyday, so feeling good about what is in our closets and on our bodies can make a big difference in how we feel.
Take everything out of the closet before starting, this will give you a sense of the space and volume of stuff you are working with.
Get rid of the discards as soon as possible to avoid temptation.
Rehang what you’ve kept backwards (so the metal loop faces the back of the closet). After you wear something turn the hanger around. After a month or two you’ll have a good idea of what you actually wear.