The Truths & Myths from the Tidying Up with Marie Kondo Netflix Show : Clearly Written
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The Truths & Myths from the Tidying Up with Marie Kondo Netflix Show

by Dorothy L. Clear, CPO on 02/24/19

Recently, I was asked by the owner of a local consignment shop named Consignment Cottage to do a presentation for an after-hours ladies night out. As we were talking what topic would be relevant to discuss, she said since Marie Kondo is back in the media with her Netflix series, perhaps I could speak on that topic. Since I had watched a few of episodes, and read a few news articles and blog posts from other people in my industry, I agreed this is a hot button topic right now. Kondo’s new television exposure is abuzz in every media outlet.

The sign-up sheet for the presentation was filled to capacity immediately! We added a second presentation the following week and that one filled up too! In preparation for the talks, I dug in by binge watching the remaining episodes. As I watched I also took notes of the differences and similarities to my work as a professional organizer over the last seven years. The first thing that I noticed was how much I smiled while watching her interact with her clients. She is reserved, professional and respectfully, and culturally true to herself. Not to sound condescending, but because of her quiet demeanor and short stature I just find her adorable.

Here are truths I discovered:

  1. Different life events necessitate de-cluttering or tidying up. Or, as we say in Pittsburgh, “Redding up”. The diverse life events highlighted in the show's clientele do line up with the variety of people that I help with my services: people who have lost a spouse, empty nesters, families who have outgrown their space, young people setting up a home for the first time, and couples downsizing.

  2. Kondo encourages everyone in the household to respect each other and their decisions. You have to listen and embrace every individual in the family, as they all play a role, and each of them should learn to organize.

  3. Organizing or downsizing your home is an emotional, eye-opening experience. There are emotions associated with grieving, in looking at your internal beliefs about your stuff, or how the process or your habits affect your personal relationships.

  4. The tips that Kondo gives in-between her show segments are universal. You can find them on any Pinterest board or by reading an organizing book.

  5. Being organized changes you. Going through the process makes you re-evaluate everything you have, if you don't give up the exercise before you finish. You will gain more space, but also a sense of pride, better self-esteem, less stress, and better health. Here is a Kondo quote from episode five, "From Students to Improvement": "Tidying not only changes your home or life, but it also allows you to create a space that suits your ideal self."

Here are three myths I discovered:

  • The cultural traditions derived from her Shinto beliefs may not translate to everyone. Shinto incorporates worship of ancestor and nature spirits and a belief in sacred power in both animate and inanimate things. This is why she greets the house on her knees, taps on books to awaken them, and thanks items before they are discarded.

  • One method of organizing does not fit every client. Most Professional Organizers customize their method of working with clients based on each individual client's situation, what frustrates them the most, or the way they think; i.e. right-brain or left-brain dominant. A client may only have one room that needs decluttered. Some people don't have the skill or time to organize on their own, and they may work best with an accountability partner.

          Marie labels herself tidying consultant. You really don't see her working hands on with her clients that much. She instructs them, gives them homework assignments, and then follows up on the next visit to see what they accomplished. She is more of a coach. There is nothing wrong with that. She markets to her ideal client and the people she can best help. We should all be doing that. Many Professional Organizers specialize with clients who may have ADHD, OCD, chronic disorganization, students, creatives or crafters, or grief. They market to their ideal clients.


            Additionally, the majority of Professional Organizers that I know through the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals (NAPO) work side by side assisting their clients sort, purge and organize. We help them make decisions, we put organizing systems into place based on their lifestyle, and we recommend places to donate or recycle. We can provide referrals for other companies our clients may need for their project: hauling, moving, closet installation, photo organizing & video transfer, consignment shops, handymen, designers, etc. Professional Organizers may also recommend or help clients purchase organizing products, functional furniture, or may offer home staging services to prepare a home for sale. We may work collaboratively with other professionals such as social workers, building managers and therapists.

            Personally, I am proud of Marie Kondo for the popularity and the publicity she and her methods are bringing to the organizing industry. I have even adopted some of Marie's folding methods. I feel the same way about Peter Walsh who appeared on the TLC television show Clean Sweep and Oprah; Julie Morganstern who is a renowned international expert, speaker and author of multiple best-selling books on organizing and time management; and, Matt Paxton the extreme cleaning expert on the A&E television show Hoarders. I have learned from all of these professionals. I have read many of their books all the way through, I've seen them in person speak at events, I even worked with Matt Paxton on an episode of Hoarders and took two of his training classes. There are many other thought leaders in the organizing and productivity industry that I admire that have not reached celebrity status.

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