Does Clutter Create Decision Fatigue?

I was reading another article on the Konmari method, and I am struck with something. It’s yet another article about going through your clothes closet.

Friends, this method is about more than your clothes. Yes, that’s a great way to start, don’t get me wrong, but that’s not the point of what you do when you’re decluttering using this method.

The idea, and this can be overwhelming, is to physically handle every single thing you own and make a decision about which of those items you want to keep.

Maybe that seems a bit overwhelming for a Huffpost Puff Piece. For that matter, maybe plenty of people do this just with their clothes and decide they’ve done as much as makes them happy.

And ya know what? That’s cool. Your house, your decision how you want to do things, and you’ll never hear me argue with that. I don’t live in your house, so I’m not allowed to make that call *grin*.

But the whole method is about a lot more than that and it does take time, which may be why we’re not seeing as many blog posts about the whole process, and a bunch of pictures about closets. Yeah, that’s cool, but the process is about the whole house. And you’re going to get your real results if you decide to do the whole house.

Is it tiring? There were times when it was more tiring than I expected, yes! I’m also pretty happy with the results.

I’ve been trying to puzzle out why. I know that when I come home from work and walk into the kitchen, I sigh in relief at the counters empty of everything but a few appliances. I know when I get up in the morning and look around a room with the Solitaire poster that makes me smile, and put my feet on the bare carpet (instead of kicking aside dirty clothes) it feels nice. I know that opening my underwear drawer and knowing exactly how much I have at a glance (thus telling me when Laundry Day should be) is really nice instead of having it hard to estimate makes me happy.

But I think it is more than that.

Are you familiar with the term “decision fatigue?” Basically every decision comes with a cognitive cost. We’re inundated with choices in our lives, and we’re surrounded with the opportunity to makes choices. A cluttered home requires more choices than the neat home. No, seriously. Even when you’re accepting Piles o’ Stuff is the way you live and prefer to live (which is fine, no kidding) you have to make more decisions. You hunt through a pile to find a particular thing. You have to make multi-leveled evaluations when you are doing a chore because you need to find the equipment for that chore. Putting things away needs to be a conscious decision because you need to play a little game of Tetris every time you put something away, never mind the fact you do decide whether or not to put that thing away each time.

Again, it’s not that it’s a wrong way to live, but I’ve discovered something about myself. I am not smart enough, nor do I have the willpower to make those decisions on a daily basis and still be effective in other parts of my life. I’ll start to zone out after a while. I’d rather zone out when I am putting away the dishes than when I am doing my taxes, just sayin’.

In her book, Marie Kondo repeatedly comments that she is inherently lazy and that she is easily confused and distracted. That sounds really disingenuous coming from a professional neat freak, but you know what? I totally get it. Yes, I too, am lazy. If there is an easy way to do something, that’s the way I am going to do it. Fortunately, I read The Man too Lazy to Fail as a youngster, so I got the point that you can totally make laziness work for you. I am also easily distracted. Wanna ensure I don’t get what I need to done? Put me in chaotic surroundings. If you think the noisy binging and quick disorientation of theme parks don’t make you buy more… Well, you get my point.

I’d like to see more articles that focus on life post-Konmari. What changed, if anything? Did new habits stick? Are there any insights? The cute little testimonials Kondo writes about in her books about people starting businesses or chucking relationships they didn’t need are cool, but I’d rather see what happened when people finish the process on their own and self-report what they did.

And I’d also like to see what Marie Kondo’s graduation rate was for her course. Because from all the closet pics I’m seeing on blogs, I’m guessing she had a high drop-out rate.

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