This was published on THE BULK HOUSE's Official WeChat Account on 25th January 2019
Have you heard of Marie Kondo?
Marie Kondo is a 34-year old lady from Tokyo, Japan, who rose to fame through a book called "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up". For the early adopters of the, less is more concept she is pretty well known in this little underworld we live in. However, it wasn't until recently on the 1st of January this year that Marie's fame exploded after the Juggernaut, that is Netflix, released a series called "Tidying Up With Marie Kondo".
The premise of the show is a simple one, the loveliest little lady called Marie turns up at the door of people that should be labelled as "insane". Surprisingly, the show doesn't label them as insane though, that's because over-spending on crap you don't need that you stuff and squeeze into an already bursting-at-the-seams home leaving you overwhelmed when you return to it each evening only to find some room to breath at the weekend by leaving your home and using your hard-earned on cash on a therapy called "retail" where you use a credit card to pay for that new item that gives you "joy" for a short moment in your life hasn't been properly diagnosed yet. Only when you start storing every newspaper you've ever read, every item of clothing you've ever owned, your urine, faeces, and your toenails in jars will you be seen to have a problem with consumption and hoarding! I really think the bar needs to be set a lot lower.
Anyways... Marie enters a home, gets really excited that their home is a complete mess, does this strange "hello home" ritual which everyone except herself finds awkward and then uses her method called The KonMari Method™ (she has basically trademarked nothing) to help then throw everything out by piling it into rubbish bags and putting them outside.
Hoarding is an unfortunate illness where the person
has a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with
possessions, regardless of their value.
Now, I can tell already, you are getting me wrong. You think I'm not into this decluttering thing and that I don't like Marie Kondo. Quite the contrary! I think the message she is spreading is GREAT! I really like Marie Kondo, she's like a sister from another mister, in terms of wavelength. Hoarding and over-consumption is an increasingly big problem throughout the world. It is contributing to all sorts of problems including relationship problems, people feeling overwhelmed and stressed, debt and in some extreme cases for people renting properties, eviction from their home. Compulsive buying, unable to say no to a bargain, constant acquiring of free items, a compulsive desire to own the next perfect thing, the need to collect unique items (many people would not view them as unique, for example, an old tie that the hoarder creates a value for) and the not so helpful ability to invent a never-ending list of sentimental items. For these reasons, I find it so important that the information going out into the world as solutions to these big problems are the best solutions they can possibly be.
Some people love Marie and some people... actually no one hates her (except, perhaps, a few people who got "offended" by her opinion on books, I'll come back to that later), how could you hate her, she is possibly the sweetest, tiniest, I mean tidiest, lady in the world.
Now, I know you aren't meant to and shouldn't try to please everyone and if everyone is your customer then no one is your customer. However, I have been left wondering why Marie has so many customers and why people are so excited by her methods, they aren't revolutionary and a lot them aren't good and wait for it, listen to how brave I am, I would go as far to say A NUMBER OF POINTS IN HER METHOD = BAD ADVICE. I am really sticking my neck out here to give an alternative view, who the f*ck do I think I am?
Again, what she is attempting is great and we need about another 100 Marie Kondo's in the world (It's actually something I have thought about doing for years, I just need to become more lovely and cute to get my own TV show). Kondo's methods are missing a lot, an awful lot.
So, who's this guy who has bothered to bang away at his keyboard to say he thinks he knows better? (and, why doesn't he get to the friggin point!?) Well, I'm one of those minimalist weirdos that don't buy stuff I don't need with money I don't have. Imagine that the opposite to this is normal, how the [insert expletive here] did that happen?
(The Men That Made us Spend sure helps answer that, but that's a post for another time). Over the past few years, I have seen the light and realized that less stuff is just better.
The moustache could do with a trim.
I spend less time looking for things, less time tidying up, I spend less time getting ready in the morning or for a night out, less time packing luggage when I go away for a week or go on holiday, less time cleaning my apartment, I spend less time shopping, cooking, washing clothes, et cetera, et cetera. With all this saved time, I have found the time to spread some more joy into the world with what I hope will help make some people's lives better.
Why haven't I said anything about this before? Well, before it was just a book and most people don't read those (it was only printed in numerous languages and published in 30+ countries, but, yeah, not that many people) so I didn't care too much about Marie's not-so-good methods getting into the minds of too many people. That was, until, NETFLIX! I watched the series after waking up at 4 am with jetlag recently, Netflix basically made me watch it and so I watched them all (we've all been there). Thank you, Marie, for keeping me company as I battled jetlag (one of my many 1st world problems).
Many things irked me in the show, one of which was the before and after room transformation images, for sure there was change and some were pretty good, but, for many of them, if you watch the series, I swear there were cases where the before image (in black and white) was the bedroom with the bed unmade and then the after image (in sharp colour) showed the bed had been made. If after 1-month of decluttering and tidying your home your bed is now made, that's progress, so I guess I shouldn't knock it.
a lot missing,
1) DOES THIS SPARK JOY?
Marie Kondo's method is hold something and kind of cuddle it and then ask "Does this spark joy?" And, if your body does this...
... or perhaps this...
...then you keep the item.
There are much more helpful and better questions we should be asking ourselves. Marie's method (sorry, I mean The KonMari Method™) is too simple to be used on the complex problem that too many people are now facing, those being: over-consuming and hoarding. Sure, simple ideas are often the best, but I've been through all this less-is-more "journey" (sorry, calling something a journey gives me the shivers too. I'm not deleting it, I've written it now) and we need more complex questions to get through this decluttering process more effectively.
Simple doesn't always mean helpful and simple doesn't get you to point that I and many others around the world are currently at, which is:
Knowing that every single item that we possess and keep brings real value into our lives.
Here is a list of better questions to ask and not ask yourself when decluttering your home ONCE AND FOR ALL!
a. Do I use this item on a regular enough basis?
To help with that, use the 90:90 rule.
You can ask yourself: "Have I used it in the last 90 days? and Will I use it in the next 90 days?" If the answer is "No." Put it to one side.
I learned the 90:90 rule from these 2 geezers called The Minimalists. Top lads who share the minimalism idea in the States.
Okay, they might have decluttered to many things
and got rid of their homes and now they
live on the street. These things happen.
Some people like to implement the use it or lose it principally, but this isn't as effective as it doesn't include a timeframe.
There are some things that you might only use once within a 6-month period and that doesn't mean get rid of it. For example a suitcase. It would be kind of annoying if you used the use it or lose it principle and then by the time you got round to running away from wherever you live for a while you had no suitcase and had stuff all your belongings into a bumbag and a plastic carrier bag (it's not a good look).
Another thing to consider is the 80/20 rule
You could look at different categories of items in your home: jeans, shirts, shoes, things to cook with, belts, other and see which 20% of items do you use 80% of the time. If you are wearing or using an item that often, you probably like it and need it and so this is a quick way to decide on the things you will definitely keep.
b. Should I keep this just in case?
If you use the "just in case" scenario as you declutter you are going to get nowhere. We can all sit around all day justifying reasons to keep something, but, if it doesn't do you any good, stop justifying things.
"I best keep these neon yellow leggings that I bought 8 years ago, just in case I go to a rave one day, I will wear them then."
You probably aren't going to go to a rave, but if you do, on that day, I'm sure you'll be able to find something suitable to wear from your own wardrobe or you could borrow some items from friends. If it really gets to the point that you must go out and buy some neon yellow leggings, do so then. I will even give you the money for the new yellow neon leggings you had to buy.
Don't grip tightly my friend living a life of just in cases and what-ifs, release that item, let it go to be loved by another lover who will love it more than you currently do. Open up space in your home and your mind so that you spend more time doing, being and creating rather than hoarding, worrying and consuming.
c) How many [insert item here] do I really need?
i. How many winter coats do you need?
You are in luck, there is actually an answer to that! Yeah, it was collectively agreed by a group of people one day, don't worry about the source for this, that's not too important. All you need to know, that the answer is no more than 2. The majority of the world who live in places that have cold winters can get away with 1 winter coat, but if you really feel you need a 2nd one, you go gal (or boy).
A 3rd winter coat is just going to get in the way.
ii. How many shirts do I need?
I cannot remember exactly what the collective said the answer to this was, but I do remember it was definitely no more than 10.
5 to 8 is a good number to be aiming for here.
iii. How many shoes?
Shall we say, no more than 12?
2 x smart
2 x sports
2 x casual
1 x slippers
1 x flip flops
2 x ?
Nope, 12 is too many, 8 is enough. If you are a lady, then you can have up to 12
iv. How many bath towels?
No more than 2, you can also live with just 1
v. How many spare sets of bedding per bed?
The answer is no more than 2, you could even get away with 1 if you always did your wash in the morning so it was dry by the time you went to bed.
And, the questioning can go on like that.
Isn't this great? A list of how many items each of us should probably own is being compiled. Looking forward to the complete one day soon.
Feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section for certain items you possess.
Now! There is an exception to the rule. For example, you might want to justify something along the lines of "But, I love shoes! Shoes are my thing, my hobby and I collect shoes, so 12 isn't enough." Okay, you my friend, 1st, you should probably change your hobby [just a suggestion, remember it is your life, you can do what you like, please don't take an offence], 2nd, you can keep more than 12 shoes, but (oh, there is a but), by keeping them it must genuinely make you happier. About to get deep, that's pretty much the goal in life, happiness.
Let's move on.
Oh, here is the disclaimer that everyone seems to revert to nowadays in fear that by having an opinion someone might call them out on it.
d) DOES IT SPARK JOY?
The families that Marie is meeting clearly have a problem with consumption. They haven't been conscious consumers and haven't been conscious of what a home is meant to be like.
Asking these people to ask themselves "Does this spark joy?" is only lining them up to ask the same question the next time they go to a shopping mall or when they are scrolling aimlessly on an e-commerce website.
There is also no mention about the end life of all these items that no longer "spark joy", I will get to this later on in my ramblings.
I will admit, for a minimalist, I realize I do have a problem with being a minimalist with words.
Marie Kondo: "Does this spark joy?" = 4 words
Joe Harvey: that attempt at controlled ramblings above = 1,271 words
2) SITTING AROUND GREETING THE HOUSE
3) FOLDING CLOTHES
Although the coathanger (aka clothes hanger, aka coat hanger or aka hanger) was invented in the 1800s (supposedly by Thomas Jefferson #funfact) the coathanger still works today! Recent technology has not killed it off just yet. I'm not sure when clothes folding was invented, but that's neither here nor there.
So, here is, according to my calculations (I got a D in Maths), a method that is about 26.5181523119205 times better.
It goes like this...
Wash finishes, shake wrinkles out of clothing.
Stick hanger inside and hang it up to dry (on a rail in balcony/in an airing cupboard/outside on a line).
Once dry, hang in the wardrobe.
Politely ask your cleaner (your Ayi) to do the above^.
This saves time on ironing.
It also saves time on folding clothes.
It also saves time looking for clothes.
Another thing, that perfectly folded draw of clothes will be perfect up until you remove an item of clothing from it as you are in a rush out the door.
I think this is a pretty fair way to measure if you have too many clothes: if you have filled a wardrobe with clothes and then have to fill another set of drawers with clothes to get all your clothes into your bedroom, you've probably got too many clothes.
4. SAYING THANK YOU to the things you no longer want
5. STOP SAYING "DISCARD IT"
You might know, that THE BULK HOUSE is working towards ridding the world of waste both in regards to things and time.
There is very little information on Tidying Up With Marie Kondo about what to do with all the items you want to clear out of your home. Having people pile them into plastic bags and throw them outside is not what should be done!
This is from episode 2 and was referred to as "150 bags of trash"
Instead of doing this, once you have all the things you want to get out of your home, get some boxes out and line them up against a wall, write on them:
2. Give away, in this order:
- To a friend or family
if you can't
- Give in a sharing group or sharing website
if you can't
- Give to your Ayi (optional, needs some considering)
if you can't
- DONATE to charity
3. Upcycle: send/organize for collection for the item to go to an upcycling organization
Now, this post is getting a little long, so we won't go into too much detail about all the different ways to pass your things on once you decide you no longer want them, but here a few.
b. give in a sharing group or sharing website
If you live in Beijing, you can join 1 of THE BULK HOUSE's Reduce to Relive groups by adding this WeChat ID: THE_BULK_HOUSE_1 (Please note these "_" are underscores in between each word, you must include those in order to locate the correct WeChat ID.)
Charity Clothing Auction: keep an eye on some of the popular Beijing publications for when these will be on. Just search Charity Clothing Auction Beijing to find more info. It is organized by a Kiwi called Rebecca.
Live With Less: a swap event that takes place a few times a year in Sanlitun. Keep an eye on some of the popular Beijing publications for when these will be on.
d. DONATE to charity
Here are 2 Beijing based charities
Work your utmost to avoid landfill!
Why is a charity at 2d in the list? Why isn't charity 1st in the list?
Well, in all honesty, this does depend on many factors and this is a bit complicated. There are lots of different scenarios and situations to consider when giving things to charity. It depends where in the world you are and it depends on which charities you are donating things too.
Some charities do have it under control and distribute the donations they receive in the correct manner. That would usually occur by selling x% of items to raise money to fund the charity's needs and/or by donating x% of items directly to the people in need within the scope of the charity
However, there are many charities that do not that have the personpower to sort through the donations and many items end up in a landfill. On top of this, there are not enough charities asking the questions addressed in this article to the people they are donating the items to. Another side note is that the old saying Beggars can't be choosers (and probably not a PC term) is not a good way to think about the problem, instead, more charities and swap events need to work to invite more people who are genuinely in need of things in their lives to the events. In need, in this case, is meaning they don't have that item and cannot afford to buy that item. On top of this (again), a lot of donations are piled together and sent to third-world countries sold for cheap which disrupts the local clothing market in that country.
Oh yeah! The book thing, I referred to earlier in this post. Now, I can't remember exactly what Marie was saying about books, I was jetlagged. Perhaps I have dreamt all this and the Netflix series never actually released, that could make things very awkward. Whatever it was she said (or didn't say), it definitely pissed off people who really like books.
With one man writing an entire article on the matter (who in their right mind would watch Marie Kondo's TV series and be so bothered about it that they would go to the effort of writing an article! Some people, hey!?)
Ron Charles, from the Washington Post, wrote:
"Marie Kondo is back, and this time it’s personal... people have noticed the dark side of Kondo’s war on stuff: She hates books. All books. That’s the problem with Kondo’s method. We don’t keep books because we know “what kind of information is important to us at this moment.” We keep them because we don’t know. So take your tidy, magic hands off my piles, if you please. That great jumble of fond memories, intellectual challenges, and future delights doesn’t just spark, it warms the whole house."
Ron! Mate! Keep your books! I am quite sure the people in the show signed up to have Marie come around, she didn't cold call the house and then leave the homeowners bewildered the next day thinking: "What on Earth just happened, was that a dream? or Did a little Japanese lady just invade our home and convince us to get rid of books we have never read and have no intentions of ever reading?"
Here are my 2 cents on the book thing
It's 2019, you don't need to hoard 100's or 1,000's of books in your home. You can get access to almost every book ever written within a day or so. For even the die-hard bookworms out there, they will only have a shortlist of books that they read more than once.
For the vast majority of people, they get a book, maybe read it, if they do it will be placed somewhere, hopefully, a bookcase and then it will sit there until either:
or they finally stop scrolling down on social media and decide to clean their home and that book that has dust surrounding it has it's dust whipped from around it (exciting the book into thinking: "I might be read again soon."),
or they die.
or they have their home broken into by a well-read burglar who was just released from prison and had access to all sorts of books for free from the prison library and misses that freedom.
How's about sharing resources a little better and once we have finished reading a book, write our name on a blank section and the date we finished reading it, then gift it on. Knowledge should be shared not vaulted away across millions of home libraries throughout the world.
What's the point in all this decluttering and tidying? It's all to do with the concept of minimalism and it is making more and more people's lives around the world better as the concept gains popularity.
Minimalism, what is it?
To help explain better, let's start with what people often get wrong about it.
It doesn't mean you are sacrificing things.
It doesn't mean you have to go into the woods and live in a cabin (although that would be nice).
It doesn't mean you can't use modern technologies (in fact, it is very much the opposite in many instances).
It doesn't mean you don't own things.
Basically, any of the negative things you think about minimalism, they are probably wrong.
Minimalism is about owning the things that you need, use and love.
It is also about seeing the world in a much better light, you see things for what they really are and for the real value they bring into your life.
Minimalism asks the greatest question known to man: "If I was laying on my death bed, what would I remember most?" Would I look back at life and remember all the times I was in shopping malls or scrolling down aimlessly online as happy times? or Would I remember the weekend away I went on with friends? or The time I went to see that incredible comedian at my local comedy theatre and laughed so hard tears left my eyeballs? or the time I surprised my partner by getting her horseriding lessons? Whereat the end of it she took away a great memory, a new skill and not a new thing to stuff into a 4-walled box (aka, our homes).
Minimalists value experiences over things.
Minimalists generally spend more money per item as they buy something they specifically need and are willing to pay more so that they enjoy it more and own it for longer.
Perhaps you are happy with having loads of stuff in loads different places around your bedroom and home if so, that's great. No one is going to come in and take those things away from you (except perhaps a burglar).
For those of you who feeling overwhelmed when you look at the mess in your home, take an age to get ready as you can never find what you need or perhaps your room is already quite tidy, but you would like it to just a little bit better, then we hope that this article was of some help to you. And, maybe if we do our job right, we might even "spark joy".
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