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8 Reasons Why People Can't Keep Their House Tidy

April 1, 2016


One of my 2016 resolutions is to make my house tidier. Soon after I stumbled upon Marie Kondo's book: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art Of Decluttering and Organizing. I got the surprise of my life time when I checked if the city library has it. There were 249 active holds on the book which means there were 249 people ahead of me waiting for a chance to read the book for free. I placed a hold on it with the conviction that I wouldn't have a chance to read the book from the library in this life and forgot about it and went ahead organized my clothes. Then I did a bit tidying up in the entrance of my house where a visitor sees when they first enter my house. Maybe next I should organize my books, I wondered? Then I got a second surprise from the library that the book was available for me. I'm guessing because there was such an amazing demand for this book, maybe the library bought more copies of the book and I got lucky this time. I immediately picked up the book and started to read because I noticed in my account I didn't have renew privilege for this book while every book I have borrowed  before has three renews.


Before I say a word about the book, I strongly recommend you  check out the book immediately from your library, purchase a copy, or sign up Amazon Audible to listen to it for free.


The author is a tidying consultant for 30 years, runs an acclaimed consulting business in Tokyo helping clients transfer their cluttered homes and offices into spaces of serenity and inspiration. Her service has a three-month waiting list, her customer return rate is zero and she has yet run out of clients.   


If you are ever going to read just one book in tidying, I'm sure this is the one. I didn't know someone can write such a common affair as tidying their house in such a philosophical essence. The author also made me laugh in many places with either examples of her clients or her personal stories. I have seen many tidy and spotless houses but none to the degree of what is described in the book. This book also helped me answer my husband's question for me: Every time I reuse a glass jar or cardboard box, I painstakingly remove the label or flip the box's blank inside out before reuse, my husband confronts me with why. This book not only can help someone master the art of discarding, the art of letting things go and be happy, but also benefit the life change magic of putting one's affairs and past in order. I can't recommend it enough you check out the book immediately from your library, purchase a copy, or sign up Amazon Audible to listen to it for free.   Let the CELEBRATION (DISCARDING) begin today!


Below is the 8 reasons I summed up why people can't keep their house tidy, after quickly read the library copy, returned it and then listened to the Amazon Audible copy for free.     


Never Learned  How. "Do people need lessons in tidying?" You may ask. While instructors and schools offer courses in everything from cooking, to sewing, to yoga and Zen meditation, it is assumed that tidying doesn't need to be taught but rather is picked up naturally through experience and therefore doesn't need training. Well, it's a misconception. Do people who have been tidying for more years than others tidy better? The answer is no. Many of them who have spent so many years applying erroneous conventional approaches that their houses overflow with unnecessary items and they struggle to keep clutter under control with ineffective storage methods. How can they be expected to know how to tidy when they have never studied it properly? (I'm guilty on this charge!)


Not proper mind-set. "I clean up when I realize how untidy my place is, but once I'm done, it's not long before it's a mess again." This is a common complaint, and the standard response touted by magazine advice column is, "Don't try tidying your entire house all at once. You'll just rebound. Make a habit of doing a little at a time. Even if you heard or read such advice many times, don't assume it's true, don't assume if you tackle the job all at once, you'll get discouraged. A tidying marathon doesn't cause rebound. Rebound occurs because people mistakenly believe they have tidied thoroughly, when in fact they have only sorted and stored things halfway. The root of the problem lies in the mind. If you have never succeeded in staying tidy to date, you'll find it next to impossible to develop the habit of tidying a little at a time. People cannot change their habits without first changing their way of thinking. How to acquire the right kind of mind set? There is just one way. Paradoxically it is by acquiring the right technique. A dramatic reorganization of the home causes correspondingly dramatic changes in lifestyle and perspective. It is life changing. If you use the right method and concentrate on eliminating clutter thoroughly and completely within a short span of time, you'll see and feel the instant results that will empower you to keep your space tidy ever after.


Not aimed for perfection.  "Don't aim for perfection. Start off slowly and discard just one item a day." What lovely words to ease the hearts of those who lack confidence in their ability to tidy. You will never get your house in order if you only clean up half-heartedly. Casting off one subject a day doesn't compensate the fact that when people shop they buy several items at one  time. In the end, the pace at which people reduce couldn't keep up with the pace at which they acquire new things. Tidying brings visible results. Think about this way, the moment you begin moving furniture around and getting rid of garbage, your room changes. It's that simple. If you put your house in order properly, you'll be able to keep your room tidy, even if you are lazy or sloppy by nature. I recommend aiming for perfection just once. Many people may protest when I use the word "perfection", insisting that it's an impossible goal. But in fact, tidying in the end is just a physical act. The work involved can be broadly divided into two kinds: deciding whether or not to dispose of something and deciding where to put it. If you can do these two things, you can achieve perfection. It is not hard to tidy up perfectly and completely in one fell swoop. And if you want to avoid rebound, this is the only way to do it.


Storage experts are hoarders. What is the first problem that comes to mind when you think of tidying, for many the answer is storage. A booby trap lies within the word "storage". Storage methods do not solve the problem of how to get rid of clutter. Putting things away create the illusion that the clutter problem has been solved. But sooner or later, all the storage units are full, the room once again overflows with things, and some new and easy storage methods become necessary, creating a negative spiral. This is why tidying must start with discarding not storage. (I'm guilty on this charge!)


Not sort by category, but by location. Tidying up by location is a fatal mistake. Don't be ashamed to admit if you are guilty on this charge. It took the author 3 years to see this. The root of the problem lies in the fact that people often store the same type of item in more than one place. When we tidy each place separately, we fail to see that we're repeating the same work in many locations, and become locked into a vicious cycle of tidying. To avoid this, I recommend tidying by category, not by location. (I'm guilty on this charge!)

Changing tidying method to suit different personality. Handbooks for tidying often claim there are different tidying methods for different personality. In fact when it comes to tidying, the majority of people are lazy. They are also busy. As for being picky, everyone is particular about certain things but not about others. Everyone fit all of them. There is no point whatsoever in changing tidying approach to suit your personality. Tidying must start with discarding and finish discarding first regardless of personality type.


Not tidying in the right order. For the best results, it's essential to adhere faithfully to the right order to tidy. There are only two tasks involved: discarding and deciding where to keep things. Just two, but discarding must come first. Be sure to completely finish the first task before starting the next. Do not even think of putting your things away until you have finished the process of discarding. Failure to follow this order is one reason many people never made permanent progress. In the middle of discarding, they start thinking about where to put things. As soon as they think:" I wonder if they'll  fit in this drawer", the work of discarding comes to a halt. We need to excise self control and resist storing our belongs until we have finished identify what we really want and need to keep. To summarize, the secret to success is to tidy in one shot, as quickly and as completely as possible, and to start by discarding and finish discarding first. (I'm guilty on this charge!)   


Not make tidying a special event, but a daily chore. If you think tidy is an endless chore that must be done everyday, you are gravely mistaken. There are two types of tidying, daily tidying and special event tidying. Daily tidy which consists of using something and putting it back in its place will always be part of our lives. Until you have completed the once in a life time event of putting your house in order, any attempt to tidy on a daily basis is doomed to failure. Conversely, once you have put your house in order, tidying will be reduced to the very simple task of putting things back where they belong. In fact this becomes an unconscious habit. Therefore, the work of tidying should be completed once and for all within a single period of time.








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