The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Japanese organising consultant Marie Kondo. A generally tidy person, Knight wasn’t in dire need of Kondo’s advice.
In 2015, Sarah Knight quit her job at a major publishing house, where she had spent 15 years, to become a freelance editor and writer. It was then that she came across the best-selling self-help book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Japanese organising consultant Marie Kondo. A generally tidy person, Knight wasn’t in dire need of Kondo’s advice. But within hours, she worked magic with her husband’s sock drawer, which was in need of getting rid of socks he didn’t like or never wore. Knight’s husband, too, joined in the clean-up act and later began to organise his sock drawer himself.
If life is better with a decluttered sock drawer and makes you happy, Knight thought, what about not spending time, energy and/or money on things that neither make you happy nor improve your life? After all, you could get more time, energy and/or money to devote to things that bring happiness. Kondo’s book dealt with discarding items that do not spark joy to transform the home. Knight, who began to write her own, takes the Japanese writer’s two-step ‘KonMari Method’ further to magically transform life. Her tool is the two-step ‘NotSorry Method’.
The brief of Knight’s book is in its long subtitle: How to stop spending time you don’t have doing things you don’t want to do with people you don’t like. When she was wrestling with the idea of quitting her corporate job to become a freelancer, Knight was anxious about all aspects of her decision, like abandoning her career track, depleting her bank account, and what would other people think? And she unpacked her feelings with the NotSorry Method. A major worry for many when they take a decision is how it would affect other people’s lives. Knight’s life-changing magic takes care of that too.
The magic, Knight says, is all about prioritising—job over annoyance, choice over obligation, opinion over feelings—and sticking to a budget. She promises that it’s an extremely liberating experience to decide on the course you want to take. Doing it, without hurting others, is even better. But to achieve that, a lot of work is necessary to declutter the mental space, just like Kondo’s work outside of it. There are many aspects to take care of—like things; work; friends, acquaintances and strangers; and family. When she goes about her strict regimen, Knight is like an army sergeant at a training camp, building the mind and body of a disorganised cadet.
Knight, who has written two other self-help books—Get Your Sh*t Together and You Do You—also tells us how to negotiate social media. “In our modern world, not being on Facebook is akin to being a Communist in 1950s Hollywood,” she writes. “But if you’re one of the happy few committed to a ‘Like’-free life, stay strong. There are no hashtags where you’re going,” Knight adds.
Unlike other self-help titles showing the key to stay stronger and happier, Knight draws diagrams, and makes charts and lists to prove her point. There is no psychological evaluation or long analyses. If her methods offend you, the author has a solution on page 25: “You need to stop giving a f**k about what other people think.” That kind of approach to make people happier is not surprising when we find out that on Knight’s “Hall of Fame” is American Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who fell asleep at former US President Barack Obama’s State of the Union in 2015… because she was drunk.
Faizal Khan is a freelancer