Unless you’ve been living in a cave—and a very cluttered cave, at that—you’ve likely heard of Marie Kondo. This Japanese organizing consultant’s first book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” has sold over 5 million copies worldwide since its release in 2014. It’s inspired people across America to purge their closets of everything that did not, as she says, “spark joy.” Time magazine even dubbed her one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Think about that for a moment—an organizer!
So I gave her methods a try—and quickly realized that while her approach might work for some, it seems downright dumb to me.
Maybe it’s the fact that she encourages people to talk to their old socks, thanking them for their service before tossing them in the trash. Or the fact that she wrote a follow-up best-seller outlining how to fold clothes so they’re “happy.” Whatever the reason, I’m here to say that Kondo’s approach is definitely not for everyone—and I don’t think I’m alone. Here’s why I hate Kondo (and why, deep down, you probably do too).
1. Not everything in life can—or should—’spark joy’
Kondo’s method has a number of components, but the main thing that she is known for is holding up every item and asking if it sparks joy. If so, the joy-sparking object stays. If not, off it goes.
Let’s unpack that “sparking joy” thing a bit. I have a lot of T-shirts. Do they spark joy? Not really. But when I need to get dressed to go to the park on a Tuesday, they do just fine.
Every now and then I will pull out something that I’ve had for forever and put it on. And out of the blue someone will admire it. I feel like saying, “This old thing?”—but I don’t. I smile and say thanks, and then I feel a spark of joy—because I was able to elicit a compliment for a pair of pants that I rescued from my neighbor’s Goodwill bag or a 10-year-old dress I had first worn to a 30th birthday party and was bringing back for a 40th celebration—yes, that happened. So who’s to say what sparks of joy might lie in the future?
Final nail in the coffin for the concept of relentless purging? Mom jeans. If those can come back in style, anything can.
2. I don’t have time to maintain this ridiculous system
I know there must be people who have oodles of time to neatly fold and put away laundry, and some might even find it soothing. But, alas, I am not one of them. The people in my house are lucky to have clean clothes, and they are more likely to be shoved in a drawer than lovingly folded.
Please, watch Kondo videos and tell me if you could do this while you were on a conference call or simultaneously checking homework and making dinner.
And yet, Kondo dares to term this method “effortless.” Yowza. Throwing my yoga pants and T-shirt on a shelf so I can quickly grab them later is what I call “effortless.”
3. I could never get the kids on board
I can just hear the guffaws (or sobs of panic) if I asked my three boys to determine which of their action figures sparked joy, and then toss the rest. Or their baseball cards. Or, let’s face it, the rocks they collected from the front yard or the toys that came with their fast-food burger.
To kids, everything sparks joy. Given that Kondo gave birth to her first child in early 2016, this reality is probably sinking in as I write this. According to interviews, she admits, “since my child was born, we have a lot more things.” Apparently, though, her daughter is “still not at the age where she’s scattering things about.” Just you wait!
Furthermore, I can quickly see this becoming a valid excuse for getting rid of those items they don’t really want, like shirts with collars, or raincoats.
“Sorry, Mom, this tie didn’t spark joy. It’s outta here.”
4. Someday someone is going to need it
I have an art cupboard filled with colored pencils, crayons, paints, stamps, stickers, etc. My kids have never been too into crafts, but I bought the requisite googly eyes, glue sticks, and so on—all that stuff that prepared moms have on hand.
And there they sit in the cupboard, until someone announces they have a project due the next day. I bet you anything Kondo would have to make a midnight run to the 24-hour Staples. Not me. Joy is sparked when I can reveal the contents of my art cupboard to the little slacker who gave me no warning.
5. What really sparks joy? Not wasting money
I’m not saying your closets and cupboards should remain overflowing, but neither should they be so bare you’re one day left in a lurch. Consider how little joy you’ll feel, in fact, when you wake up next week and have only four T-shirts—and they’re all in the laundry?