I’ve read two Minimalist books, and now I bear the consequences

Here I go again, but this time with a graver post than you might expect.

A few weeks ago, I listened to Marie Kondo’s much-praised book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (I say listen because I found a free audio-book version on YouTube. If you look it up, you might be lucky, and it’s still online). Today, I gulped down in two sittings Leo Babauta’s minimalist productivity book The Power of Less. Both books shared a few common things.

Firstly, they both fall into the category Non-Fiction, which I rarely read. The fact that I did means that I was really curious about them. They both fulfilled my expectations of what they contain. Both led to the same conclusions about my current life.

But let’s start from the beginning.

The charming lady-voice reading Marie Kondo’s book to me gave me a pleasant impression of the little woman behind the minimalist craze I’ve read about in various threads. I knew the premise of the book, yet not how it could deliver such a simple message in so many pages? Yes; after a while, it did become subtly repetitive, but that might have made the message even more powerful.

I liked it, nonetheless, and I thought the advice given was spot-on. A lot of things were touched on that I did not even think worthy a consideration. The book is not simply telling you to throw out half your house, rather, it makes you re-consider the true purpose of your possessions, and why we acquire what we acquire. It was beautifully radical, which I appreciated a lot.

Yet, it’s also got its weak points (of course, what doesn’t?). We all understand that we cannot get rid of every single thing in our house that doesn’t make us happy (tax files and warranty cards, anyone?). So let’s skip the “it’s sooooo unrealistic”- argument and move on.

What did baffle me, after all, was a criticism that wasn’t so straight-forward. (I unsuccessfully tried for quite some time to find the article again that touched on the idea, yet I can’t find it. If you’ve come across it, please leave a link in the comment section.) The one problem with Marie Kondo’s method is that she seems to define the value of one’s life, and one’s happiness, by domestic success. Let me untangle that for you, in case the last sentence was incomprehensible second-language English.

Yes, I believe the KonMari method works. Yes, I believe it allows people to see through their consumption habits. Yes, it will make a lot of people happier. Nonetheless, I cannot help myself but to agree with the criticism that she persuades people to take a perspective on their life in which they cannot be happy if their house is not a perfectly tidy idyll. And it is this task of house-keeping which is still traditionally assigned to women. (An assumption which still seems to hold true, as women are the large majority of Kondo’s readers and clients.) So, in a way, the book’s premise confirms stereotypes that should be outdated in the era of omnipresent feminism. Is women’s greatest task in life to create a perfect home as their first step to self-fulfillment? The book itself never makes such direct implications, mind you, but the idea keeps on creeping into my mind regardless.

A few weeks later, I spotted The Power of Less in our library. Its author, Leo Babauta, is a known blogger, and the fact that he made it onto the very small list of blogs I still read regularly made me borrow it and give it a try.

The book is primarily about productivity, and how a simplified approach creates a more effective and efficient approach to working and achieving the goals one has set for themselves. To be fair, it didn’t offer anything I hadn’t heard of – yet it did something more than that. It gave me that little push. Reading all the different chapters, I felt a constant nudge. Because it didn’t just talk about physical possessions. It touched on issues we too easily overlook when decluttering: workloads, commitments, goals. It showed how too many projects just exhaust our resources. It just made so much sense, that all I wanted to do is jump up and start getting up early and meditating and whatnot.

But no, says Leo, you have to limit yourself, start small, only tackle one thing at a time. That was my greatest turnoff. I don’t want to limit myself! I want to do everything, take part in all the fun things around me, and live life to the fullest! There’s so many amazing things to do, and you want me to do just one for a whole month? Have just one goal for the year? Wouldn’t that be incredibly boring after a while? After all, he makes enormous lifestyle change sound so simple that I cannot believe it is as straight-forward as he claims. Did he ever live a chaotic life? Probably. Which is why I will probably try it out.

I think, he’s right after all. At least I can say that my way of doing everything fun doesn’t work too great. So a little measure cannot harm, can it?

Which brings me to the initial motivation to write this post. Oh yeah, I’ve read the books, I believed the promises, I followed the steps, and now I finally have to admit to myself that I have to eliminate the non-essential. And the first thing that’s on the to-ditch list is this very blog.

Don’t get me wrong.

Marie Kondo’s argument held when I first contemplated the necessity of this blog. It does spark joy, writing and editing, commenting and taking pretty pictures. But then came Leo, and explained to me to prioritise the things that advance my goals, and that’s what cut it.

So thank you, all those who followed this article through until the end, it’s been a pleasure to have you as my trusted readers on this little thought-experiment, but it ends here. This blog was never intended as professional activity, and I have always turned down invitations to make it one. I used precious free time to post things that are, in my opinion, abundant on the web without my contribution. And although I’d love to continue, I know that in the long term, writing this blog has little value for my future life, compared with all the other commitments I have and love to do.

Thank you again for being great readers, and this blog will stay live for as long as the internet allows, so I can maybe return one day and complete the 10 articles that are still in my draft folder 😉

And so this is the end. For now, at least.

 

 

 

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4 thoughts on “I’ve read two Minimalist books, and now I bear the consequences

  1. Nadine says:

    Wow! That was unexpected! I’m glad you have found inspiration and a new perspective from your reads. Too bad you are stopping the blog, but you write for you and not others, so if that doesn’t fit anymore, it simply doesn’t fit anymore! Good luck with your future adventures and endeavours; maybe we will hear of them yet.

    Like

  2. Annika says:

    Thank you for this long and insightful comment, I really appreciate it 🙂 To be fair, I love writing, and I love doing all the pretty photoshop tricks to make my posts look amazing, but even without adding images a post takes me at least 3 hours. I know that if I don’t “officially” quit, I’ll have the need to write something looming over me every time I have some air to breathe. Even after writing this post yesterday, there were so many new blog ideas popping into my head!! However, I know that I love volunteering and film making and university a lot more, and I now know that I will always prioritise them over blogging. The more I get into minimalism, the less I can deny these facts about me, which is great and sad at the same time 😦 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Near-O Waste says:

    I love this post in so many ways. #1: I, too, read Tidying Up and have scheduled two posts about the book on my own blog. On what you said about not being able to be happy unless your house is tidy: I can see how someone could take it that way for sure. I had a conversation with my cousin and she said, “I have all kinds of crap in my house and it doesn’t bother me at all.” There’s the difference between me and her. Some people are not bothered by clutter (or maybe don’t notice the chaos it can bring?) and will therefore never be unhappy about it. Others are aware of clutter and I think they *would* be happier without it! I was a very happy person before I discovered minimalism, but I did realize that clutter and disorganization make me crazy. I truly feel happier and more at ease when things are tidy because then I can forget about all the “house stuff” and just live my life. #2: My husband was into minimalist ideas even before I was and he read The Power of Less two years ago 🙂 #3: I am a teacher on summer break and I have been spending some of my extra (night) time writing weekly blog posts in advance to carry me through December, at which point I, too, am going to “retire” in a sense, meaning blog *much, much less*. I’m not going to quit altogether, but I’m thinking of doing a post per season, or something like that. I have been writing weekly posts all year long, and I love it! But it does take a ton of time. With all the time I have gained from zero waste, simplicity, and minimalism, it’s ironic to spend so much of it writing about the benefits, when I could just be enjoying them! Thanks for this post. Bravo for having a blog in the first place, and for knowing when to quit. (I’m finished writing through October, and reading this post has made me very inspired to finish the rest of my blogging year before school starts in September.) Go live your life and do as much as you want to do as quickly as you want to do it 🙂 And thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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