Ana Veciana-Suarez: Decluttering Has Become Big Business, But I’m Not Completely Sold On It

By Ana Veciana-Suarez Tribune News Service

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) From the proliferation of professional organizers to the popularity of Marie Kondo and her new Netflix special, decluttering has become big business.

Tribune News Service

I live a cluttered life, or so I've been led to believe by the barrage of emails, advertisements and TV shows reminding me that closets need to be organized, countertops cleared and drawers emptied of stuff I haven't worn in ages.

Though I'm vaguely aware that the logistics of my life might need some tinkering, I never realized the problem was so pressing or so ... well, so serious.

Decluttering has become big business. Look at all those storage warehouses lining the perimeter roads of our highways.

Or the shelves in a store's home section, laden with containers, bags and doodads that promise a Zen-like layout of our homes.

Or the professional organizers who make a living telling us what we already know, which is: We've got too much stuff.

Japanese wunderkind Marie Kondo has made getting rid of stuff into an empire. If you haven't heard of her, you've been living under a rock; or, in this case, under a stack of useless junk.

The organizational guru just debuted a Netflix series that promises to help you fill up dozens of industrial-size garbage bags with items that have been holding you down and holding you back.

The series is appropriately titled "Tidying Up," and it's gotten plenty of reaction from people on social media; some who are all about reducing-reducing-reducing, but also others who think she's full of it.

I'm caught somewhere in the middle of the two camps, but judging by Kondo's success, I suspect more people fall into the former category.

The sweet-faced taskmaster became a global sensation after publishing "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing" in more than 30 countries. The book, like her show, teaches people to get rid of unwanted things by bidding goodbye to those items that don't spark joy.

Well, Marie, pretty much everything in my house gives me joy. I love the old, useless Remington typewriter, the wooden bowl of chocolate on my desk, the rusted tricycles on my patio, the scuffed but comfy black flats in my closet, the plastic rose a granddaughter gave me, the toy giraffe that belonged to my late sister, the tiny Don Quixote statue my son brought back from Spain, and, oh, but I digress.

Marie Kondo is hardly the only authority telling us to reduce, winnow out, pare down, and keep everything in its place. If my email inbox is any indication, minimalism is most popular with people and places where there's plenty.

"Bye bye, clutter" reads the subject line of one, which offers to organize my makeup, particularly all those brushes and lipsticks I don't own but maybe should get now that I need more help to look presentable.

The e-commerce website Etsy also sent me an email for storage and organization solutions, including a thingamajig to organize ribbons (so pretty!), a very nice basket to hold magazines (perfect for my living room), and a set of wood hooks that could be useful for something, if I thought about it long enough.

This past week I even read a fascinating essay by a fellow writer about tidying up his desk, a weekly task that I ruthlessly stick to for my peace of mind. I long ago discovered that, contrary to popular belief about a messy desk being a sign of genius, I need to have a clean space to work more productively.

In fact, a recent study in Current Psychology added to a growing body of evidence that shows clutter negatively affects our well-being, not to mention it really prevents you from finding what you need when you need it.

Women, by the way, react more negatively to home clutter than men do, with higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol. This may explain, though not excuse, why The Hubby ignores the stacks of papers on his nightstand and after all these years still can't figure out why I'm hyperventilating about his piles on the dining room table. That said, don't look for any more order and organization from me in 2019.

Right now I'm focusing on something simpler: Not buying anything more in the first place. ___ (Ana Veciana-Suarez writes about family and social issues)

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