Tidying Up and The Big Downsize

If you haven’t watched it, I’m sure you’ve heard people talking about it.  “Tidying Up” with Marie Kondo is a Netflix series that has been viewed by millions, millions of her books have been sold and she has even introduced her own line of storage boxes.  Hmmm….isn’t that adding stuff back into your life?

And now there’s the exciting launch of “The Big Downsize” on Vision TV on March 11, 2019.  The premiere episode of this 5-part Canadian documentary series will air at 10:00 pm Atlantic every Monday for five weeks. I am thrilled to have been part of this awesome project filmed in Halifax in the summer of 2018.  

We follow the lives of two families who are downsizing for very different reasons. The MacNeil siblings are facing the monumental challenge of cleaning out their childhood home to prepare it for sale.  The house has been in the family for 50 years and there is literally 50 years of stuff to deal with.  Our other client, Pam, needs to move from a packed three-bedroom house into a one-bedroom apartment as part of the process of separating from her husband Scott.  

I have been asked by so many people about the Tidying Up show and what I think of it, so I had to sit down and really think about the similarities and differences between the two shows.  Marie and I are totally on the same page when it comes to helping people value and take care of their possessions.  While she has a specific method that she follows with every client, I am more interested in customizing the decluttering experience to the needs and preferences of my clients so I rarely work the same way.  Although there is a basic need to follow a similar path to the end.

You do need to begin with an assessment of the situation and looking forward to exactly what it is that you hope to accomplish.  Then you need to look at each area of your space and decide where to start.  Marie has all clients work by category starting with clothing, then books, then paper, the “komono” (disposables) and finally sentimental items. My process depends on the client, their availability and their timeline. We decide together how to best tackle the downsizing process. 

Whether my clients are moving to a much smaller space or looking to embrace a more minimalist lifestyle, my goal is always to try to help them discover the freedom of living with less.  As I watch the Tidying Up series, I’m not convinced that there is any discussion of how much is a manageable amount of stuff to keep.  Marie’s singular criteria is if an item “sparks joy” then you keep it.  And her process seems to be to make a huge pile of a specific category (sometimes piled to the ceiling) and then leave her clients to sort through it on their own. 

My process involves working side-by-side with my client so I can encourage them to let go, to understand why they hold on and to start to perhaps think about how they will find true freedom from stuff by keeping their possessions to a minimum in the future.  I like to think I am also instilling better decision-making skills around purchasing and teaching them how to keep their stuff organized. I am not sure that perfectly folded clothing is the key to happiness as Marie seems to think, but who knows, if it works for you, go for it.

If you are facing the challenge of too much stuff and you feel overwhelmed and out of control, maybe check out both TV series and draw your own conclusions.  I’m sure you will learn something from each of them or at least question how much stuff you have and what you might want to do with it someday. 

I watched four episodes of Tidying Up with friends and promptly came home and got rid of almost all of my books except The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and Everything That Remains by The Minimalists (I have two copies in case I want to loan one to someone) and a book about procrastination called Eat That Frog plus one coffee table book called Retro Living (you guessed it, pictures of original mid-century design). I also have five books written by my Aunt which absolutely “spark joy”.  It seems to me that 10 books is an acceptable quantity for any minimalist, right?

Drop me a comment or two on your viewing takes of “Tidying Up” and “The Big Downsize”.

4 comments

  1. Thanks for the precise information on where and when to find The Big Downsize. I look forward to taping it. Never could find Tidying Up

    1. Hi Nola – you are most welcome. You might also want to check out the webisodes at VisionTV.ca for some tips. Enjoy!

  2. Watched your 1st episode Downsizing, looking forward to series I’ve pvr’d so I can review. I’ve let a friend know about this too. Marie Kondo Netflix, I didn’t really get anything beneficial from it. My god-daughter gifted me Kondo’s 2nd book in 2017 and I did make and achieve positive effort for my bedroom dresser. Maybe 60% still good. My problem is I don’t put things away rather pile on top each other until stuff over balances.
    But I keep the faith, look forward to your series and especially your newspaper articles. I am reading them as you have them archived. Thank you, I believe I don’t have to throw in the towel.
    Judy LaFortune
    Powell River, B.C.

    1. Hi Judy – Thank you for reading my column in The Herald and for watching The Big Downsize. I have faith, you can do it! If you can find the motivation to let go of as much as possible, make a place for absolutely everything, reduce the amount that you bring into your life and then work on changing the habit of piling by stopping yourself every time you go to do that and putting the item away, you will achieve complete success. I know, that’s easy for me to say and not as easy to do but it can be done if you can dig deep and figure out why it might be important for you to make the change. Good luck!

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