Spark Joy or Leave Sh*t Everywhere – Which Are You?

After listening to a recent discussion on CBC radio about two very different approaches to organizing, I felt it would be fun to explore this topic further. Based on two books, Marie Kondo’s mega bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, and Jennifer McCartney’s backlash book, The Joy of Leaving Your Sh*t All Over the Place, the show focused on the benefits and pitfalls of organizing following the methods outlined in both books.

For those of you not familiar with Marie Kondo’s books (and new series on Netflix), her method suggests that to be happy we must keep only what “sparks joy” in us, and release everything else. No matter who gave it to you, what you paid for it, what significance it once had, or how sure you are that you’ll fit into it again one day, if it does not bring joy to your life now, it must go. It’s an all or nothing approach. At the other end of the spectrum, Jennifer McCartney’s book finds evidence to show that being messy gives you freedom to be more creative and less burdened by the stress of “having to clean up all the time.” She argues that the price we pay for trying to be clutter-free is stressing us out big time, and that we should leave more sh*t around to stay sane, and focus on living our lives, messy rooms be damned.

As a professional organizer, I have to admit my bias towards the Marie Kondo end of the spectrum, which promotes a systematic method of organizing, sorting, grouping and deciding what to keep and what to let go of. My organizing mind likes to group like with like in order to really see what we really own. Only then can we decide what we need, and place on the necessary items (that spark joy of course!) in labeled containers, drawers, bins, etc.

Having seen firsthand the numerous benefits of organizing clients’ spaces and belongings in a systematic way, I am partial to not leaving sh*t everywhere. It’s in my nature to find a practical home for everything so that life functions more easily. The challenge of doing this for clients is what motivates me to find ways to help others manage their space and belongings better! However, I can’t forget that not everyone operates in this pragmatic way, and for some people, controlled chaos is ok. Perfectionism can be equally as stressful as disorganization! Perhaps there is room for “creative mess”, as long as we know where the mess is, how to manage it, and what function it serves. This less structured and more “creative” approach to organizing can be beneficial to those who see controlled structure too rigid and stressful.

I do believe both approaches have a place in our lives; the last thing we want to do is create more stress in our lives trying to choose one method over the other!

Ultimately, the goal of organizing is to gain more understanding and control over your space and belongings so that you can enjoy what’s most important in your life.  Too much, or too little, organizational structure can be stressful, so finding a suitable place along the organizing spectrum is the key.  If you like order, order will serve you well and will make you happier. If you’ve always operated in the “messier” zone, then leaving things scattered and knowing how to find them is a good choice.

Picturing how you want to live in your space, with your belongings, takes vision. As professional organizers, we have the ability to see potential and envision an easier way.  So, if you’re wondering which organizational approach is best for you,  ask yourself whether you’re a spark joy kind of person, leave sh*t everywhere person, or a combination of both, and start from there – starting is the most important decision you can make!

Your comments, suggestions and feedback are always welcome below or email me to learn more.