The KonMari Report –Six Months

Okay, I think I am going to have to refute Marie Kondo’s claim that once you go through the house according to her method, you’ll never be untidy again.

No, my house is not particularly a mess. My bed is made, my clothes put away, the only laundry that isn’t put away is either in the laundry basket waiting to be washed, in the washing machine being washed or is currently drying in the dryer (yes, I’m doing laundry this morning).

My drawers and closets are still neat, sure enough. But I do have a craft project on the dining room table. There are dishes in the sink because I need to empty the dishwasher (I think my husband ran it this morning before he went to work. Thanks, sweetie!)

There is a napkin on the arm of my chair.

Is my house messy? Maybe by Ms. Kondo’s standards, but I can’t think of anyone else who might think so.

So, no. The house is not perfect. I do not empty my bags and purses the second I get home every day. I have a gym bag (emptied of sweaty or wet stuff, true) sitting on a rocking chair in the jungle room. I’ll be filling that to go do my swim in a few minutes, so I am fine with that.

Does this mean I think that Marie Kondo’s method didn’t really work?

Goodness no!

I am very glad we did it. We really did keep only what we use and makes us happy. I have plenty of storage space for my stuff now, and it is easier to put things away. That means I am generally quicker to do so.

I think part of the problem was a simple one. It doesn’t look that dramatic because in general, the house didn’t look too messy to begin with. We recycle properly now, and have a place to put recycling because we cleaned out the mudroom properly. We have a nice place to store cleaning supplies because we cleaned out a junk storage place properly. The changes are less dramatically visual and more centered around the fact that we don’t waste house room on things we don’t use and love.

Do I ever look in a closet or drawer and ask myself, “Does this spark joy?”

Totally. So I weed a little bit every now and then just on a routine basis. I’m quicker to toss the pen that doesn’t write well, or the makeup that doesn’t really please. It does keep storage under control.

But that little bit at a time stuff? That’s FlyLady habits.

It was a thought I was having as I was comparing the two methods, and I think we’re getting into a “right tool for the right job” situation.

For a massive declutter, you need the big shovel. That’s absolutely the Konmari method. Hands-down, I think it is better for the Big Declutter.

For daily maintenance? FlyLady. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up doesn’t address maintenance at all, and I think that’s a big hole in the process. She claims you’ll just naturally stay all tidy. I’m not so sure about that. Don’t get me wrong. The reboot was wonderful. Having good storage space and a big, dramatic change in how much I had was great. It is hard to put something away when you have nowhere to put it. I agree wholeheartedly that expensive storage systems are silly. I did buy a charging station for my bedside table for my devices, and I really love it, though.

But the Konmari method presumes you’ll magically maintain this. I’m don’t. Not really. I have to think about it. I do scans of the house to see that things are put away. I don’t get up and put things away the second I am done using them. I put it away the same DAY, which is certainly fine, but I do have to clear off flat surfaces that are collecting stuff like mail, packages and general detritus from the dailiness of life rather than putting it away immediately. I really think that the habits of dailiness and daily routine that I’d been working on for fifteen odd years were what made the whole big declutter a more useful thing. It’s been years since my house has gotten more than fifteen minutes worth of messy, barring a party or something.

I may get to things a little quicker than before. I’m less tolerant of my surroundings being messy for a long period of time, so I do take five to put stuff away more regularly. But do I keep it perfect and pristine all the time?

Nope. And I’m cool with that.

Focus and Flow

I like playing on

It’s cute and silly. The basic concept is that you gamify habits you want to create and keep. You can join a party and do quests to defeat monsters. You “attack” by staying on habit.

What I’m really using it for now, rather than specific habits in specific areas, is balance.

I keep my house clean. I work out regularly. My diet is as good as it needs to be.

What I am having a problem with is obsessiveness with one activity to the exclusion of others. While it’s okay to have a Major Focus, I don’t think it’s okay to let everything slide in the face of that.

A skill I’d like to develop now, and one I haven’t before, is the ability to hyperfocus not based on what seems shiny at the moment, but what needs to be done.

I knit well because I got obsessed with it for a while then went on to another thing. Same with my sewing abilities, or my skill with spreadsheets and various other things. For the most part, I think that’s okay. Obsessions can be fun and useful, and the hyperfocus I apply to them has netted me a wide range of skills over the years.

What I don’t like is when I’m focused on knitting, I don’t want it to be hard to think about swimming, or when I’m focused on weight training, I don’t want it to be hard to focus on teaching, and so on.

The skill I want to develop now is that of being able to choose to pay attention rather than randomly focusing on what seems like most fun at the time.

What, you mean like actual grown-up self-discipline?

Yeah, pretty much. I can do it a little. I’d like to be able to do it nearly on-demand. Yes, this article is part of that — writing my 750 words every day!

The problem is that I feel like my time is so often chopped into little pieces. I’m fine with context switching from time to time, but it’s really hard to get into that flow state if the phone is ringing or someone is asking for my attention or help. Creation becomes hard that way. I am sure that at least in part, my focus on knitting had to do with the fact the projects I choose are easily picked up and put down. Same with my sewing.

I am also sure that’s part of why I love swimming so much, and why I resist certain types of training. That flow state is easier in the pool when you’re just swimming those long, slow distances. You swim and while you’re thinking about your stroke and balance and what have you but after a awhile, your mind grows quiet and your body just takes over and you go.

Writing is also like that when you get a large swathe of time. You write, letting your thoughts flow out into the computer. Your surroundings disappear and it’s only what you want to communicate and convey that becomes the whole of the Universe.

I adore that feeling.

It has been postulated, and I think with some justification, that women are socialized to make flow states difficult. We must have some part of our attention out for others. We cannot do anything or dive into anything that allows us to ignore the demands of others. Even when we try to break out of this, our socialization will slam back pretty hard.

Can we simply announce, “Hey I want some time to myself” and then get it?

I can.

But the ground state presumption is that I’m available mentally and emotionally for interaction.

I sometimes wonder if that is why I tend to guard my solitude so very carefully. When I am able to be fully and utterly alone is when I can do and create better. Certainly that’s why swimming holds such an attraction to me, and why the idea of training on a team holds almost none.

It’s not that I won’t get better/faster doing intervals and watching the clock and interacting with other members of the team and coaches to get feedback. Totally will. There’s no doubt at all about that. And for things I really want to do, I do need to get better/faster.

But that means it would be one more aspect of my life where the opportunity for flow is taken away.

And that does more than irritate me. It actually scares me a little.