KonMari Kons: The Downsides To The KonMari Method

Downsides to the KonMari Method: The 2 big CONS I found after completing the Method | The negative side of the KonMari Method | negatives

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.

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KonMari Kons: Downsides to the KonMari Method | cons

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.

(Read all my KonMari posts or watch my KonMari playlist on YouTube.)

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.

KonMari Kons: The Downsides to the KonMari Method

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.

KonMari Kons: The Downsides to the KonMari Method | stationary | planners

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.

LET ME KNOW...

Are you doing (or considering) the KonMari Method?

If you've done it, did you experience these downsides? Or any others?

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31 Comments

  1. I’m somewhat interested in doing the KonMari method.

  2. Hi Laura, i’ve just started using the Kon Mari method and can resonate with your article. I am so thrilled to have found the book – i’d never heard of it and it virtually jumped off the shelf at me in a backwater secondhand shop… then the next amazing thing happened, and that was finding you. I couldn’t visualise her folding method, and upon a google search i found your youtube video. Half a world away in Australia a Japanese woman and an Irish woman are enabling me to get my 53 years of shit together…

  3. Joy means different things to everyone. What brings me joy is very different from what brings my siblings joy. Sometimes, what I keep causes comments that get me angry. I’ve discovered that this may be because they think I’ve changed, when in reality, they are finally seeing me for who I am. I think that the concept behind the “sparking joy” aspect is that you do discover who you are. We change and yet we don’t. I haven’t rushed through everything in the house. I’ve been working on it for 2 1/2 years. Based on my beliefs and traditions, I must have everything done by July 2018. One of the beliefs is we must give away the possessions of someone who has died. We have four years in which to do this. I feel that I’ve accomplished a lot, particularly since discovering the KonMari method. This method has helped clarify my perspective, my values, and my beliefs. Doesn’t always make it easy to deal with a few of my parents possessions. It does help to “let go and let God.” And I’ve redefined what joy really means to me.

    • That’s wonderful that you’ve found your joy, Mil. It definitely means different things to different people and, because of that, it’s even more impressive that you’ve managed to shut out the outside noise and listen to your inner voice, even in the face of some adversity. Keep up the great work.

  4. i haven’t read the book however i am trying to declutter as mush as possible since i am only working in a different country and to bring back tons of stuff back is crazy. so i think her way is good.

    if you find joy on having decors then do it. you can keep for the next year. i mean, correct me if i’m wrong, but if you have decor for a particular event it’s ok, it’s not like you need to buy every year. it’s like a spare part..

    if you are a scrap (booking) enthusiast go and and get your stuff. if that makes you happy. as long as you use it. i think it’s the art of living with what you need and what makes you happy.

    • You’re right. I think the difficulty for some people arises when they’re buying things that spark joy but not using them, and then end up with too many. The individual item might spark joy, but the size of the collection does not. It can be tricky to get the balance right, especially for creative types or collectors.

  5. I read the book and gave up in total frustration about halfway through.
    Here’s my BIG problem with the KonMari method. At least 75% of the things that I have in my house, spark no joy at all. My toothpaste, deodorant, dishsoap, toilet brush, vacuum cleaner, medications, bandages, microwave oven, frying pan, silverware, tennis shoes, raincoat, underwear, bra, and umbrella spark no joy whatsoever. But without them, I would not smell good, my house would not smell good, I would not be healthy, I would have nothing to eat, and I would never leave the house. Oh, and neither would my dog. While the dog herself sparks joy, her dog kibble, flea medications, and leash don’t.
    The whole notion of “sparking joy” is just silly. It only works for things that are optional: some clothing (not all clothing; naked at work is not allowed), nick-nacks and decorations, and hobby gear. For me, do I need it (medications, dish soap, underwear), do I use it (pretty much everything else), or do I love it (about 15% of my total possessions) makes much more sense

    • There are different types of joy. Not everything will have you jumping up and down in excitement; some things have a quiet kind of joy that bring you inner peace because you know they make your life that little bit easier.

      If it helps, I have a whole video on this very topic, where I talk about what to do when something doesn’t “spark joy” but you need it: https://youtu.be/U7FysCxPOyI

    • Karen, I like the taste of my toothpaste and am grateful for what it does for the feel of my teeth. My deodorant also smells good, much better than I would without it and I like its packaging and shape. My dish soap is an eco one that works on dishes, and cleans my hands without a soap feel after, and smells good and looks nice when in a clear container. My vacuum cleaner does a great job, is easy to take apart and has cool colours. I also love that the inventor of it succeeded despite his rejection by the establishment. Medications I would need I try to look on positively as they are there to help me. My umbrella is Cath Kidston and has a cool design on it and I like looking at it. Does this not count under KonMari?

  6. I’ve used the Konmari method – with some success. There’s some stuff that will never “spark joy” for me, so I used a modified quick question series – favorite, necessary, best? A spatula will not spark joy, and I had 3. Is it necessary? One is, so I kept the best one (which was my favorite because my foodie Aunt gave it to me). Looking at things this way has helped tremendously. I found your site from a Youtube video on the challenges with the Konmari method – and did they resonate! Can’t wait to dive into your site!

  7. I can definitely sympathize with this! I have not yet completed my Tidying Marathon, but I am getting ready to tackle it again this year, and do so in earnest.

    The biggest tips I could give to anyone who is interested in getting started are: A) read BOTH books, and listen to the audiobooks as well for quick reference while you tidy. The follow up book, “Spark Joy,” goes way more in depth than her first. B) Don’t do what I did and compare your journey to someone else’s. Your space is not their space. She stresses this super heavily in her books, and I totally missed it. I got frustrated because my fiance and I live in a 12X12 room (which, let’s be honest, is going to look full even if it’s totally empty), and it wasn’t turning into the beautiful minimalist paradise I had envisioned, so I stopped. Don’t quit. Don’t get discouraged. Keep going! You’ve got this.

    • Great advice Kyla. Reading the books is a must, I feel. Before I read them, I was already a member of some KonMari groups on Facebook and felt I had a good grasp of the concept. But reading the book really made it so much clearer, and was much more motivating than I’d been expecting.

      And I wholeheartedly agree with not comparing your space to others (though, in truth, I’m sometimes guilty of this myself).

      I’d also add: take ‘before’ pictures. During the process it can feel like you’re really not making any headway. Looking at a ‘before’ photo will prove how far you’ve come, and will provide some much-needed motivation when you’re in the thick of it.

  8. What a joy sucker!

  9. Haha! Just found your YouTube channel/blog. I’ve been half assing the Kon Mari method for a little over a year. Every Christmas I have a “Favorite Things” gift exchange with 4 very good friends and I gave them each a copy of the book for 2018. They received it with joy 😉 hopefully they still like me as they read through and realize the work entailed to declutter!

    And the show just launched too. Great timing!

    Mari is a Pokémon character. The show ruined the mystique of this Japanese guru who I saw in my mind as a Buddhist monk/goddess. Although I do believe in keeping your crap at a minimum, I think she’s a little cuckoo cuckoo.

    I’m going to say 80% of her book is perfect. The other 20% makes me want to pick up smoking and abuse diet pills.

    Keep making the great videos!

    • I’ve watched several of her talks, and she has 2 or 3 episodes on YouTube of a similar type show, so I was already very familiar with her before the show started. Personally, I’d love to carry her around in my pocket, but maybe that’s just me. Ha ha. Her style definitely isn’t for everyone and, indeed, in the book she describes herself as neurotic. But I think it’s refreshing to see someone so enthusiastic about something, even if I don’t 100% agree with everything she says.

      Are you enjoying the show otherwise? What stage of the Method are you currently on?

  10. I’ve just started on the KonMari method myself (I’m currently at clothes/subcategory: T-shirts). I’ve been watching your videos to answer some of the questions I’ve had after reading Kondo’s first book (haven’t read the second book) and for moral support. I particularly related to your choice to do KonMari again after an international move, since I’ve done an international move myself (I wrote about that in my latest blog post: https://thenoteswhichdonotfit.wordpress.com/2019/01/11/when-you-live-with-the-assumption-that-everything-will-have-to-go/ ). Hopefully I will also get around to writing a blog post about the parallels between the Konmari method and ultralight backpacking techniques.

    To me, #1 isn’t a downside at all of the Konmari method, since I’ve never enjoyed shopping anyway (I do enjoy windowshopping a little bit, but as soon as I actually have to make decisions, shopping is no longer fun). Also, I am a Jew who (at a previous job) used to work on Christmas to cover for my co-workers who wanted the day off, and I appreciated getting the extra hours and wages. So I associate Christmas with working more to get paid more (and eating at Chinese restaurants), not with consumerist pleasure.

  11. Hi, I’ve just found this method, and it is resonating so much. I’m just about to start the clothes…… but has anyone notice that one does things almost by osmosis after reading/listening to the book. My kitchen hasn’t been this tidy in yonks! Almost a ‘don’t put it down, put it away!’ (Went through my kitchen cupboards ruthlessly last weekend as I was so ashamed at finding herbs with a use by 2004 in there! I’ve moved house 3 times since then. love your videos btw.

    • Thanks so much, Karen! And yes, that’s the “life-changing” part. 😉 I’ve found it seep into other areas of my life too, like evaluating experiences I’m having as to whether or not they deserve space in my schedule.

  12. I’m a natural neat freak who did not need to see Marie’s show at all, because I obsessively curate my own possessions, and could have easily written the book myself. My things fit into one bedroom and a few little bins now. I did watch the program, though (cuz that’s my personal version of porn), and I thought her question “Is this something I want or need in my life going forward?” was a better one than whether an item sparks joy or not. It still requires some inner reflection, but it covers things that are less emotionally stimulating too.

  13. I’m just starting my second round of KonMarie. I did my first round in 2016 when I was pregnant with my first son and it made life with 2 kids in a tiny apartment joyful. My 2nd son just turned 1 and I desperately need to get back to a simple joy-filled life. I’ve given myself 13 days to declutter the rest of my house and get on with living.

  14. I think the problem is that everyone is ignoring what marie actually says & just going by the catchphrase.

    • I’ve read the book multiple times, including the sequel, watched various videos of her (including the Netflix series) and interviews with her, and read countless articles, so I’m definitely not one of those people. 😉 But yes, it’s quite obvious that there are a lot of people with opinions who have never even read the book.

  15. You’re article is so true.Something it can happen that even a thing thay does not spark joy is necessary for my daily purpos, should i still throw it out?! But overall the Konmari method is so good and i gave started the method already.Loves and good wishes to you!

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