You can’t tidy if you’ve never learned how - Why can’t I keep my house in order?

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing - Marie Kondo 2014

You can’t tidy if you’ve never learned how
Why can’t I keep my house in order?

When I tell people that my profession is teaching others how to tidy, I am usually met with looks of astonishment. “Can you actually make money doing that?” is their first question. This is almost always followed by, “Do people need lessons in tidying?”

It’s true that while instructors and schools offer courses in everything from cooking and how to wear a kimono to yoga and Zen meditation, you’ll be hard-pressed to find classes on how to tidy. The general assumption, in Japan at least, is that tidying doesn’t need to be taught but rather is picked up naturally. Cooking skills and recipes are passed down as family traditions from grandmother to mother to daughter, yet one never hears of anyone passing on the family secrets of tidying, even within the same household.

Think back to your own childhood. I’m sure most of us have been scolded for not tidying up our rooms, but how many of our parents consciously taught us how to tidy as part of our upbringing? Our parents demanded that we clean up our rooms, but they, too, had never been trained in how to do that. When it comes to tidying, we are all self-taught.

Instruction in tidying is neglected not only in the home but also at school. When we think back to our home economics classes, most of us remember making hamburgers or learning how to use a sewing machine to make an apron, but compared to cooking and sewing, surprisingly little time is devoted to the subject of tidying. Even if it is included in a textbook, that section is either just read in class, or worse, assigned for reading at home so that students can skip ahead to more popular topics, such as food and health. Consequently, even the extremely rare home economics graduates who have formally studied “tidying” can’t do it.

Food, clothing, and shelter are the most basic human needs, so you would think that where we live would be considered just as important as what we eat and what we wear. Yet in most societies tidying, the job that keeps a home livable, is completely disregarded because of the misconception that the ability to tidy is acquired through experience and therefore doesn’t require training.

Do people who have been tidying for more years than others tidy better? The answer is no. Twenty-five percent of my students are women in their fifties, and the majority of them have been homemakers for close to thirty years, which makes them veterans at this job. But do they tidy better than women in their twenties? The opposite is true. Many of them have spent so many years applying erroneous conventional approaches that their homes 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?

If you, too, don’t know how to tidy, don’t be discouraged. Now is the time to learn. By studying and applying the KonMari Method presented in this book, you can escape the vicious cycle of clutter.