Podcast discussion thread: The great decluttering debate

Organized is not the same thing as tidy. I realized this, years ago, when I invited a prominent professional organizer into my home as part of writing 168 Hours. She looked at my various piles of stuff and then noted that we were not disorganized. We were, in her words, lazy.

I am not sure lazy is the right word either, but I realized she was onto something. Organization is about having systems that make life work. I have plenty of these. All the museum membership cards go in a certain place. The pile teems, but they are all there. The children's shoes and backpacks are all in the same place in the mudroom. The shoes are seldom lined up in Instagram-worthy fashion, but they are allowed no where else in the house. And so three children get on the bus on time every morning.

On the other hand, being "tidy" — that is, having no visible clutter — is an aesthetic preference. I enjoy it when it happens, much as I enjoy seeing a good painting, and at various points in my life I've paid other people to maintain a level of neatness in my homes, but I have realized it's not a big enough priority in my life that I will sacrifice big chunks of my time to making it happen. I pick up my desk once a week, but the picked-up version still looks messy. So it goes. I wrote two full books in a year at that desk, mess or not.

This brings me to this week's podcast topics: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo, decluttering and tidying in general.

My co-host, Sarah, is a Kondo devotee. She has now KonMari'd her house twice (though we noted, according to Kondo, this should be an impossibility! She claims once and done, but … nope). She has even rolled her socks. She embraces minimalism, and likes a clean aesthetic. Anyone who has seen pictures of her planner notes can appreciate this. In defiance of all physician stereotypes, she has even, neat handwriting, with lots of open space. My planner pages, on the other hand, have writing crammed at odd angles into every available spot.

So we had a great conversation about our different approaches. I definitely think Kondo has introduced a few useful points to the conversation about stuff. Interestingly, these are borrowed from economics:

Sunk costs don't matter. Humans are loss averse, which means we hate to admit that something is a loss and move on. You know the mindset: "We can't kill this project now, we've already spent three weeks on it!" It is the same thing with stuff. If people have spent a lot of money on something, they are loathe to admit they don't use it or don't like it.

Kondo suggests realizing that the purpose of the object was different from what you originally thought. Its purpose was to give you joy when you bought it, or to teach you what you don't like. Now that the object has served its purpose, you can thank it (there are heavy Shinto influences in here, that objects have spirits) and send it on its way. Brilliant.

Zero-based budgeting. Humans also pay an inordinate amount of attention to anchors. Real estate agents asked to price a home, and shown a price someone else has put on it, will give an answer far closer to that other price than if asked the same question without an anchor. Likewise in companies, when the powers that be are setting a budget, it's very likely that each department will get something related to what it had the year before. Everything goes up around 5%, or everything gets cut by around 10%… but why? The anchor, as a previous choice, does not need to determine subsequent choices. Better to start from zero. Each department gets what it gets because that is what it needs to achieve company goals, not because it's 5% greater than last year.

This, too, figures in the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. In the de-cluttering world, many books have talked about discarding things you don't like. Kondo completely flips this thought. Don't just chuck stuff you don't like, keep only that which sparks joy. Deciding what to keep, rather than deciding what to get rid of, pares things down in a way trimming around the edges cannot.

So good so far. My beef is more that time spent on one thing is time not spent on something else. And while I do believe that we have more time than we think, I do know that women still spend more time on housework than men do. While men can KonMari — and Sarah reassures listeners that Josh was an active participant in all Unger household decluttering — the book is very much directed at a female audience.

Kondo says again and again that life begins when you put your house in order. But too many women already believe that they can't go after that promotion or that job that requires travel, because then things will fall apart on the home front. The narrative is already that women need to tend the house before they can achieve outside said homes. I was giving a talk at a conference once when a woman said, in the question and answer time, that she was considering going back into the workforce, but she had no idea when the bathrooms would get cleaned. While I found that thought mind-boggling, she was serious. This dilemma, for her, was real. I know many of my readers have also read Brigid Schulte's Overwhelmed. Those who have read it will recall that part of her original "overwhelm" stemmed from the story in her head that she couldn't relax until she'd… insert one: cleaned the oven, folded the laundry, whatever.

Men, in general, do not believe this. Her husband was fine with relaxing, even if the oven wasn't clean. But if the oven wasn't actually catching fire, did it need to be cleaned then?

For women, there is often life-changing magic in not tidying up. It frees up time for leisure, hanging out with friends and family, paid work.

Then again, perhaps I'm just saying this to justify the mess on my desk. Sarah manages to work (in a more demanding job than mine), blog, exercise, hang out with friends and family, and maintain a clean desk and play room.

Are you in the tidy camp? Or are you more on the let-it-roll side of things?

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42 Responses to Podcast discussion thread: The great decluttering debate

  1. Lindsey says:

    Can’t wait to listen to this one! I seem to have an internal drive to declutter and manage less “stuff” (love reading these topics) but I do feel torn with the mental question for after I ever achieve decluttered-ness… “then what?” Will my life be improved? I’m not sure yet.
    I Konmari’ed a few categories a year or so back and one area I’m thrilled with is my closet and less decision making and subconscious guilt about clothes unworn, as well as reclaimed space. So now, what else can I use this big closet for since I don’t actually use this much space for clothes?! My sewing machine perhaps, enabling that hobby to come out of the basement storage room? But one declutter round through papers will never work, as preschool sends home new piles of various shapes and sizes of paper and crafts weekly. That needs more of an ongoing organizational/management system (which I don’t yet have except majority to recycling after it sits around awhile). I think I’ll say I’m more on the ‘less stuff’ camp, whether that ‘less’ is tidy or not, because that truly frees me– less stuff means I don’t trick myself into thinking I need a bigger house, or more bins/baskets/etc, and its less to pickup and clean around when I do decide to use time for cleaning. So there- the less/minimalism camp I guess for me!

    • @Lindsey- I’m not sure there is a good system for school papers/art work/etc. I have a semi-system for this stuff, but it’s not a great one. And yes, it comes in constantly.

    • SHU says:

      I’m ruthless and throw it out every week or so unless it’s something particularly special and then I put it in boxes I have for each kid. There’s limited real estate in those boxes so it has to be really worth it! If I’m torn I snap a picture and then toss it.

    • ARC says:

      We have a system for those papers that’s been working for a few years now. I have a rectangular tray in the kitchen big enough to hold stuff that comes from school (larger than letter sized) and about 4″ deep. The girls know to empty their backpacks nightly and drop everything in there. Once every 2 weeks or so, on a weekend, we all sit down together as a family and the girls get to show us what they worked on at school, with the recycle bin nearby 🙂 Given that they have time to talk about it with us, they are happy to recycle it after we’ve discussed it. I grab a couple of items for their school scrapbook or to send to grandparents but the vast majority is trashed. Roughly weekly I go through the bin and check for anything time-sensitive like permission slips, etc. but the teachers are pretty good about emailing us that info.

      • @ARC – that sounds like a nice system. If they get to present it, then the purpose of the art work is served, and it can be released.

  2. Jennifer says:

    I lean towards the tidy camp, though I don’t care enough about it to outsource or try to drag my husband and child to something closer to my standards.

    I think I have a much lower threshold for the amount of varying external stimulus I can handle – mostly sound (nothing drives me battier than my other household members both playing games on their tablets while simultaneously “watching” soccer on TV) but also visual. My husband, on the other hand, is very much a visual organizer, uses piles of paper and items rather than write a to-do list, etc., so trying to move him too much towards my type of tidy would cause a whole other set of problems.

    I mostly just pick a few battles – other than the obvious keeping of the kitchen and bathroom clean enough for health concerns, I only get worked up about stuff being piled on the couches so that there’s nowhere for me to sit, or there not being enough space on flat surfaces to, say, set down a bowl of snacks and some drinks. My daughter did tell me the other day that she wished she lived at her best friend’s house because it’s so much cleaner than ours, though, so I have some hope of winning her over.

    • @Jennifer – to me, a pile of paper is generally an active thing – things I’m still committing to do and want to be reminded of. Seeing it reminds me to do it, whereas if something is put away, it may as well not exist. I’m serious about this. I have put bags of my favorite candy in my desk drawers and then completely forgotten about them. This seems improbable, but out of sight, out of mind. Hence the piles. (though I do keep to-do lists as well)

  3. Ruth says:

    Hahaha! Out of sight, out of mind – that’s me! But I like things to have their own assigned places, and my house is FAR from that, because I’ve “let it roll” to long. Heavy sigh.

    You say Sarah has rolled her socks – that’s not KonMari! She says the socks don’t like rolling around in the drawer. You’re supposed to fold them like everything else. Ha! Not me! I let THEM roll!

    I’m in the process of reevaluating the whole house, because the kids are grown and we need/want to use some spaces differently. I find dinner if my ideas for where things belong are stuck in the past, and I’m trying to think beyond my preconceived ideas. It’s HARD.

    • Ruth says:

      Good grief. “Some of…” not “dinner if…”

    • SHU says:

      Just to correct a small point, I actually did not really do the sock thing. But all my garments and the kids’ garments are folded the Konmari way! And I LOVE it.

      • @SHU – point taken! I also want to add that I did wind up resetting my clock in the car. Actually, my husband did it, but I was a party to the resetting happening. The time and date are now the actual date, not T minus 1 hour and 46 minutes.

        • Linda M says:

          Just in time for the time change in a month

          • @Linda M – argh. Well, in a few weeks I guess I’ll be off by an hour again…and will probably continue to be off for the next few months. Maybe even until the time changes again in November!

  4. Jen S says:

    Amen, Sister. On Sunday, I knew I was next in line for the stomach bug and could feel it coming on so I stocked the house with supplies, cleaned it from top to bottom, and got ready for the week. Good thing, because I only today emerged from the sick cocoon to see that the house was frozen in time since I’d been down. Hubby kept the kids alive but didn’t do a dang thing more. Same dishes on the table, same socks on the floor. No milk. Wet laundry ripening in the washer. Today I’m trying to rewrite the intro to a book manuscript and catch up on all the housework I’m “behind” on while he is blissfully ensconced at his office. Grr.

  5. Caitlin says:

    I’m looking forward to this episode! I have picked up on the differences between you and Sarah in other episodes and I think it makes for a nice dynamic–I like to hear the different perspectives. I fall somewhere in between you two. I’d prefer less stuff to deal with in general, and I like things to look nice and/or be hidden (which I think is a good way around tidying taking up so much more time). But I also put a hard stop on the amount of time I spend on this stuff. I rarely do chores after 8:00 pm on weeknights and keep it to a couple of hours on weekends, excluding occasional larger projects like cleaning out the garage. I’m also much stricter about what comes into the house now, although I’m expecting my first child and everyone loves to gleefully tell me how much stuff is about to come into my life…

  6. Morana says:

    I’m afraid this will be a long post but I found myself talking to your podcast this morning (I was thankfully alone) and have so many comments. I’m absolutely in both the tidy and organized team, having systems and keeping it beautiful. But far from this being a feminine influence, I got this from my Dad, who liked things neat and organized. We both got frustrated with my Mom, who’d tidy by putting things out of view, but the storage spaces were crammed and in disarray. So it’s not always women who organize. I think this is partially cultural. My favorite organizing book ever is a by two male German authors “How to Simplify Your Life: Seven Practical Steps to Letting Go of Your Burdens and Living a Happier Life”. My second favorite time management book, after “168 hours” is also by a German author, Mann’s “Time Management for Architects and Designers”. I find that Germans have a more “male-centered” approach to “tidying” and prefer their approach to a very “female-centered” view of American writers. I like “168 Hours” because it seems to strike the balance between the two. On the other hand, Marie Kondo was a big hit in Germany, so something about her approach strikes a chord.
    Regarding talking back to podcast, Marie Kondo did write a second book after having kids, and she addresses this new reality – check out her “Spark Joy: A Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up”. And Carson Tate’s “Work Simply: Embracing the Power of Your Personal Productivity Style” is a great overview of how some of us need clean desks (like Sarah and me) and others don’t (like Laura). The different tendencies were mentioned in the podcast and this book is a great exposition on it.
    Listening also made me realize I really want to write my own “tidying and organizing” book, something I played with for years, and I’m putting it back on my goals list. Thank you both for inspiring me.
    Finally, I kept thinking that the original “tidying up” guru was a guy – William Morris with his “have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful” life motto. Kondo just summarized the beautiful part with “spark joy”.
    End of very long post, sorry about that.

    • ARC says:

      I’m totally looking for that German book about organizing – thank you 🙂

  7. Kathleen says:

    While my former Green Beret husband would never cop to something as lady-targeted as the KonMari method… he’s the one who wants to put away the kitchen soap dispenser, so that the island is 100% empty.

    He also leads the charge on the nightly “reset” putting away toys and stray bits. We jokingly call it “carrying the fire” — referring to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. That is, the desperate effort to maintain decency and civilization in the sometimes post-apocalyptic style disaster that is a home with small children!

  8. ARC says:

    I am 100% Team Clear Surfaces. It feels too “loud” for me to concentrate when there is clutter. Kondo’s book is seriously one of my favorites, ever, because it soothes my soul 🙂

    My family is generally a cluttery sort, though the older child does pick up nicely after herself. Having gone through the KonMari process for most things, I do appreciate that there is less clutter, simply because we have less stuff. So I don’t spend a ton of time putting stuff away because we just don’t have that much stuff we use regularly.

    I am trying to adopt that process when sorting art and craft supplies and that is HARD because everything has “potential”. But it genuinely makes me happy to sort through my crafty stuff, so I guess that’s its own form of joy.

    Anyway, I wish this episode had been twice as long, and I totally look forward to reading Sarah’s planning book!

    • @ARC – thanks for the vote to have the podcast be twice as long!

  9. adora says:

    I found the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up helpful, time-saving wise. Discarding lots of things, I agree, has a tremendous upfront cost. But it can be a worthy investment. When you have fewer things, cleaning is faster. I now spend only 15-20 minutes per weekday cleaning. I no longer do any housework on weekends.

    The goal isn’t to declutter, but to have the lifestyle you want. I would like to live in a clean home without spending too much time cleaning it.

    I don’t buy the life-changing magic of NOT tidying up. When my home is dirty, I can’t even focus. It’s not the societal pressure for women to be clean, I can think for myself and I like a clean home. There is no way I can relax in a mess home. If you can function in mess, more power to you. I just don’t get why there is always an argument between the team mess and team tidy. It’s personal choice.

    • @adora – of course you can think for yourself, and if you’ve figured out a good way to minimize time spent cleaning, great. But as for societal pressure, consider that there are many more men who feel fine doing what they want if the house is a mess than there are women who feel that way. More women walk around with the narrative in their heads that there will be an 11 p.m. home inspection, and they’ll get demerits for having stuff on the floor, than men. I think we need to think about these narratives, even if what we then do is a personal choice.

  10. Omdg says:

    Like I always say, empty desk = empty mind! Just kidding…. kind of. I have long been tired of people critical of my lack of tidiness. I just don’t see the point if my life is functioning well. Interestingly, my husband has ocd tendencies and likes tidying A LOT, so I bought him the Kondo book. He finds it condescending, which is fascinating to me since I haven’t heard that from one single woman who has read the book. Maybe women are just used to being talked to that way?

    • @Omdg- you’re onto something with the tone of self-help aimed at women vs. men. From my observations of the self-help landscape (both books, and the how-to tone of many magazines) I would say that a lot of female-focused content has the perspective that here is something wrong with you and here is how to fix it. Male-focused content has the perspective that you are awesome, and here is something that is going to make you even more awesome.

      • Omdg says:

        Omg so unfair!!! I want to be told I’m awesome too!!

    • ARC says:

      Oh, I can totally see why people think it’s condescending. I was taken aback by her “tone” at first but that’s part of the charm of it for me. It’s so different from American self -help books that try so hard to be encouraging and gentle. I felt like this had a strict elementary school teacher vibe to it. And it also reminded me of my no-nonsense Indian mom. 🙂

  11. Tidy_Mouse says:

    I suspect that any difference between men and women on the tidying front is at least partly biological, not just a cultural narrative. UCLA researchers showed that women’s cortisol levels spike when looking at and talking about their clutter, but men’s do not. (http://occonline.occ.cccd.edu/online/cmcgaughey/The%20Clutter%20Culture%20(Print%20Friendly)%20-%20UCLA%20Magazine%20Online.pdf) I suppose this could be linked to the cultural pressures on women, but I doubt that is the entire explanation, especially since so many people express repulsive feelings toward clutter (inability to concentrate, sleep, etc.).

  12. Virginia says:

    I love decluttering, yet I’m in the “let it roll” camp. This means that I spend time decluttering every few months to reduce our footprint, but I try to only tidy the house once every 1-2 weeks. I spend 6-10hrs per week on housework (intentionally minimized), and try to reduce that number as much as possible!

    Re: your Q&A- I do think this travel schedule is doable (anything is!), but I think you should be upfront about the fact that it will be challenging. I think the most challenging parts to me are: 1) The pumping (how to transport milk? how to make enough?), 2) Being away at bedtime especially if nursing is part of the routine, 3) Husband feeling jealous that you get to have kid-free travel q2 months (I like the suggestion of giving him time on either end of the trip), 4) Missing your baby (distinctly different from guilt- maybe the days that she gives her husband kid-free time are the days when she spends solo ogling her baby). Is this doable? YES. Should she lean in to her job and continue pushing after baby? YES. But if it is emotionally/logistically challenging, I would tell her to keep putting one foot in front of the other, as these challenges will lessen after you get out of the infant stage (i.e. after 12mos). I have kept my foot on the gas during both of my babies’ infant stages and it was hard. After 12months, I was glad that I had kept pushing myself and the emotional deprivation improved.

    • @Virginia – I’m all about intentionally minimizing housework!

      re the Q&A – I could see this might be challenging if she was traveling every single week…but it was once every 2 months. If she did manage to push the first trip out to around 6 months, then the kid would be eating solids alongside milk, thus reducing the pressure on milk production (I have never shipped milk…formula is not poison. Either use the freezer stash or formula while you’re gone and pump and dump on the road).

    • Leanne Sowul says:

      I’d like to add to your Q&A new parent that it will help if you begin with the goal of parental equality in mind. I wish someone had told me, when I had my first, to let my husband do more. I had this drive to do everything for my child and it completely took me over– it was not a feeling I had prepared for. In retrospect, I wish I had stepped back and allowed my husband to try, and even fail, at all the baby tasks more often. It would have improved his relationship to his son and to his new parenting self sooner. We got there in the end, and did much better with our second child, but since this new mom is asking the question now, I hope she’ll be able to do it better from the start.
      Also: if she wants to keep breastfeeding while away, add an extra feed early to keep supply up for bottling!

      • @Leanne – indeed. I actually view the traveling once every two months as a huge opportunity, rather than a challenge. The kid’s dad will have the opportunity to be the primary parent, at least once in a while. That will allow him to develop a close and competent relationship with his baby. If mom is always there, many dads don’t get to experience that.

    • Diane C. says:

      Just catching up on podcast episodes, and I wanted to comment on the Q&A question. I completely second Virginia’s thoughts re: the challenges of traveling for work not necessarily being just about logistics. There are a lot of different sides to work travel and some people might find one aspect easier or harder than others. I travelled a lot for work and when my first child was born, emotionally it was very difficult for all of us. I was always asked how I made the traveling work, and my response was always, “I have a very supportive husband.” For us, the logistics were the easy part, the part that we could prep for most easily because the solutions to the logistics issues are very actionable (i.e. Hire extra help, shift my husband’s work hours, set up social time with friends so he doesn’t feel isolated, set up bill pay, stash breast milk, etc.) However, what was hard for us as a family was missing each other and not having that in-person, face to face, daily emotional support, especially since I was several time zones away. As a consequence, I sometimes felt it was harder to focus at work while away from home. I had to really compartmentalize – focus on my job and keep my mind off my family when I was at work, and then also have very defined work hours. When I was away, I found it easy to get very entrenched in work since I didn’t have to “be home for dinner” or whatnot. Because of this, I sometimes would forget to call home. This lapse, more than anything else, was what caused resentment for us. I finally realized I had to make time for family when I travelled, just as I would when home – my co-workers knew that at 6pm, no matter what, I had a Skype date with home. And like Virginia says, it does get easier, particularly once the kids can have a real phone conversation with you and you are past the slog of just keeping the baby alive.

      • @Diane C – Thanks for sharing your perspective on this. I guess I do keep coming back to the idea that once every 2 months is just not that much. You might be gone, say, Sunday-Friday those weeks, but the homesickness would be kept in check knowing that you would be back there in just a few days, and then would be home for the next 7 weeks. Going for 3-4 days every week might make the homesickness kick in a bit more, since it would feel like one was always leaving.

  13. Sara B. says:

    I loved this episode, and both your perspectives. I was struck though that part of Sarah’s affinity for this is that, for her, it’s kinda fun, at least just a little bit. Laura says something in a book about some things being less like chores and more like a hobby, and I think that applies a bit here.

  14. Tyra says:

    I like things to look aesthetically pleasing, and we actually decant our spices into matching jars (we buy them in packets rather than bottles so less waste), and I would find joy in having an attractive stapler that works well… BUT I don’t really notice mess. It’s like I’m blind to it until it reaches a tipping point, and then it will be out of control. I listened to the woman from A Slob Comes Clean on the Simple Show podcast a few years back and she essentially said the same thing. It’s kind of fascinating – but very frustrating as well.

    She also talked about having a defined amount of space for certain items, which plays into what Sarah said about toy organisation a little while back – and I use it for my clothes now. I have one big drawer that holds all of my exercise/lounge clothes (in three rows folded KonMarie style 😉 ) and if my clothes are no longer fitting in there then I need to get rid of something rather than buying new storage.

    And I do actually empty out my bag every day. I only work 1-2 days per week, and the amount of stuff I need to bring to kid’s activities varies greatly. All of the important stuff like house keys gets put away consistently in the same spot.

    Order amongst chaos I guess?

  15. Daija says:

    After listening to this episode I also listened to the “By the book” episode you mentioned in the podcast which helped me to understand your critizism of the method better. I have used KonMari for decluttering and did find it magical. In practice, I have largely ignored her advice on keeping the home tidy (which is so much work and very impractical).
    I have a hard time focussing or relaxing in an untidy environment but maybe my efforts are better spend on learning to ignore some of the inevitable mess that comes with small children rather than combating it.

  16. Jeanna says:

    I’m all about the clear workspace! However, with shared spaces I acknowledge that I need to have some grace with my husband (and 18 month old). Minimizing “stuff” really helps for sure.

    Side note – I am totally on Laura’s side with email. I’m surprised no one has mentioned the flags in outlook or the stars in Gmail (or maybe I missed it). I always flag/star items that need followup later, and sometimes I even set the reminder date so I get a notification. You can also easily tell when a new message arrives in an important thread.

  17. Irene says:

    I enjoyed this episode too! It’s fun to hear you and Sarah disagree a little bit 🙂

    I don’t spend a ton of time tidying but I am pretty ruthless about throwing away stuff that we don’t need or seem unlikely to use. My husband can always think of a time we *might* need what ever random thing so I am largely thwarted at home. But at work I have some organized piles but they are all active! If you guys have a follow up to this I’d be interested in hearing tips for convincing a spouse with minor hoarding tendencies to part with some of their/ house hold crap!

    With regard to the Qand A I must be really difficult to live with (despite letting my husband keep all his junk!) because I fiund it really hard when he traveled when our daughter was young, even less than a week at a time. I definitely feel like there are some conversations that might be worth having ahead of time depending on your temperaments and work schedules. For instance – my husband would typically come back from traveling and be completely drained and need extra time to recover, sleep and unfortunately catch up on other work after traveling. So expecting a lot of time to myself after he got home was not likely to happen. Depends in part on the type of travel and if you are a “good traveler”

    The other sort of practical thing I would say is if the listeners husband has a lot of strict deadlines for his job i would advise them to go the nanny route as opposed to daycare. My poor kid was home sick a lot her first year in daycare and I would do hours of work when she finally went to bed when she was sick just to meet important deadlines and I really did resent how I bore the brunt of that for various reasons. At least with a nanny you aren’t so 100 percent on the hook for a sick kid.

  18. Clare says:

    I just wanted to share a little saying we have in our family when deciding whether or not to keep something that you have a fondness for but don’t necessarily want anymore. “Kiss the joy as it flies.” It’s from a William Blake poem, though probably not his original meaning. It reminds me of Marie Kondo’s way of thanking things you are finished with.

  19. I loved this episode probably because I’m a big Konmari fan.

    I actually think a lot of the debate/ controversy comes down to personality – do you prefer your environment orderly or not? I used to think this was a J/ P thing on Myers Briggs but if I remember correctly, Laura, you’re an INTJ so there goes my theory.

    In any event, I think some people prefer to have their things out and some like me like to have it all put away. Someone once told me some people like PILES and some like FILES 🙂

    For me, outer calm leads to a peaceful brain so I’m a huge advocate of clear spaces, minimal stuff lying around, and also, like Sarah, I actually get huge satisfaction in tidying a space.


  20. Thierry says:

    Hi Laura,

    you’ll have to excuse my English, as a French person I hope my writing won’t be too bad. Since I’ve watched your TED Talk on Youtube, I’ve bought and read all your books about time management. They are a pretty useful resource for me and I would like to thank you for that.

    Ever since the first episode of the podcast with Sarah (Hi) I’ve been listening, with my male perspective, and I’ve been able to relate to most subjects you’ve talked about.
    My wife is a nurse in a cardiology department where she works out of schedule, I am an engineer in a logistics company and we have a 4 year old boy.

    I just wanted to intervene in the discussion as you wanted to have men’s opinions on the
    KonMari method, so I wanted to share my opinion. It should be known that in our home, I like to think that we have an equivalent distribution of the “tasks” of the home, with a dominant for the planning on my side, and our son activities of for my wife.

    To return to the subject of the book, I read and appreciated the general message without fully applying all the concepts. I applied a number of principles on the sorting of my personal belongings and enormously reduced the number of objects and especially clothes that I kept since high school and that I did not put any more of course. I shared this method with my partner and she did with me the exercise on the objects of the house (mainly furniture and decoration).
    Before reading this book I already had a great tendency to organize and preserve the essentials. It simply gave me a basic idea of how to do it more efficiently.

  21. Sarah says:

    One thing that I’m a big fan of that helps me minimize the “cleaning in the evening” compulsion is the 5-minute family pickup. It doesn’t seem like a lot, but if my husband, 4-year-old, and I are all working together for 5 minutes, that’s plenty of time to pick up the kid toys/books that have gotten strewn around the living areas during the day. We do it right after the 1-year-old goes to bed, but right before dinner could be a good time too!

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