In my experience, there are at least two major downsides to the KonMari Method, both of which will have a negative impact on your life and your enjoyment thereof. If you’re doing the Method or considering doing the Method, these are the things you need to know. ‘Cause it ain’t all sunshine and roses, folks.
I’ve gone through the KonMari Method twice now and most of you will already know that, in general, I'm a fan. It’s really helped me clear out a lot of clutter and let go of a lot of crap that was holding me back. (And not just physical stuff.)
And, day-to-day, my house is a lot cleaner and easier to manage. Tidying is a lot quicker when you've less stuff and you know where everything goes.
BUT, in all the pros, I have noticed two very definite cons to the Method. And I’m not just talking about the fact that it takes a lot of time and it’s bloody hard work 'cause, y’know, you're expected to suck it up.
No, I’m talking about the ways it’s just not all it’s cracked up to be.
The Downsides To The KonMari Method
Con #1: It sucks a lot of the joy out of life
Ironic, given that the whole premise is to surround yourself only with stuff that brings you joy. But you may find that things that previously brought you joy just don’t anymore. Shopping is a big one. Whatever small bit of happiness retail therapy brought you beforehand, forget it. That's pretty much gone forever. There’s no room for fun and frivolity when you’re second-guessing every single purchase. Yes, it makes you a more mindful shopper, and it keeps a lot of crap out of your house, but it also keeps out a lot of the craic.
It's the same with Christmas. I’m a big child at heart. My birth certificate will tell you I’m 32; my heart will tell you I’m 5. (My brain, on the other hand, will tell you I’m 90.) But when you're doing the KonMari Method, it’s hard to enjoy a season of what is essentially, for a lot of us, all about gift-giving and abundance and excess and over-indulgence.
I’m obviously on the minimalist bandwagon and I’m veering very much away from the consumer-led, fast-fashion, quick-fix life. I’m trying to focus more on the things that really matter to me. But I still want to be able to enjoy Christmas without breaking out in a cold sweat, and to buy a new t-shirt without feeling guilty.
So, while the KonMari Method is great for eliminating clutter and chaos from your life, some of the simple pleasures can get lost in the process too.
Con #2: “Joy” isn’t a great barometer
It may help clear out the crap, but the fact is that what brought you joy yesterday may not bring you joy today. And vice versa. The Method is predicated on the basis that the “joy” in items is this ever-present, never-changing thing, and that’s simply not true. You can’t constantly surround yourself with things that bring you joy because you won’t always feel joyous.
But the real problem, I think, comes afterwards. After you’ve got rid of all the clutter and you’re into maintenance mode. “Sparking joy” is not always immensely useful when it comes to buying things. (Because we do still have to buy things.)
Let’s take a silly example: socks. I love fun socks with cute sayings or whimsical characters, so it doesn’t help when I’m out and about and I hit the sock section of a store. Normally I can look at things and ask, “Do these really spark joy?”, and end up putting everything back. But if I were to buy all the socks I see that spark joy, I’d be living in Sock City.
Something bringing me joy is not a good enough reason for me to own it.
Notebooks bring me joy. Stationery brings me joy. Books bring me joy. If “joy” were the only premise on which I was basing my decisions, I’d have to buy a joy-sparking second house to store all that stuff.
So, in my opinion, it’s not enough to simply ask if something sparks joy; you also have to ask if having twenty billion of that thing sparks joy, and if it's the ownership of the thing that sparks joy or just the item itself (in which case, you can leave it).
Here's another good example: I spotted two jackets while out shopping recently. Both sparked joy, but I only bought one because it was the warmer of the two and I needed a warm jacket. The other sparked joy but it was "just a jacket", of which I already have several.
Does that make sense?
In essence, I need to ask if it sparks more joy to buy an item than it does to walk away from it.
I hope my crazy brain has managed to convey those two things in a coherent way.
Essentially, the two downsides are that evaluating everything for whether it sparks joy can actually have the opposite effect -- no joy whatsoever. And ‘joy’ on its own isn’t necessarily the best basis for buying or keeping something. You need to know if it sparks joy to have that many of an item, and if it sparks more joy to keep it than it would to donate it.
I’d still recommend the KonMari Method overall, but those are two things that I think are worth keeping in mind.
Know someone who's about to do the Method? Share this post to give them a heads up.
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