How Marie Kondo Can Make You A More Productive Writer

Back in 2008, when I first started setting my timer in 10-minute increments to write, I had five children who were 10, 8, 6, 4, and 2. I discovered pretty quick that in order to maximize the writing 10 minutes, the other 10 minutes had to be maximized too.

Every single area of my life that wasn’t writing, has a direct effect on what is writing. The more clutter, anxiety, and disorder in my home, the more I am emotionally sucked away from the things that are important to me. 

Way, way back in 2002, right after baby #3 came, I discovered the Flylady. Through her gentle and logical steps, I learned a great deal about keeping order and not allowing my messes to dominate my life. I also think that it really doesn’t matter which method you use as long as you understand that the more disciplined you are in your environment, the richer your writing time will be. That’s motivation enough for me to shine my sink and keep only things that spark joy. 

Just like you tackled your words one at a time in 10-minute increments, you can tackle your stuff in 10-minute increments. In the same way that you have been trained to prepare yourself, to be organized, to have a plan, you can do the same thing with the stuff that is around you. There is freedom in simplifying your life. 

Marie Kondo, the creator of the Kon-Mari Method writes in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, (2014) “From the moment you start tidying, you will be compelled to reset your life. As a result, your life will start to change. That’s why the task of putting your house in order should be done quickly. It allows you to confront the issues that are really important. Tidying is just a tool, not the final destination. The true goal should be to establish the lifestyle you want most once your house has been put in order.”

Even though her method is vastly different from the Flylady’s, the end is the same: your order makes you free to pursue what you really want to do. 

How do you do this? 

Consider these questions: 

1. Spend a day or two just thinking about your stuff. What has a hold on you? What would be the biggest loss if you lost it all?  Is your identity wrapped up in any thing? 

2. If you were going to tackle one area of your life to declutter, what would you start with?  The Flylady says to shine your kitchen sink. Marie Kondo says your clothing. What makes sense to you? Can you give it 10 minutes’ worth of attention today? What about this week?

3. Do you think that you could communicate with your people to help you? What would prevent this from happening? What can you do to bring it up?

4. Discuss your stuff with your family. Do you need to make some major changes? Do you need to sell? Do you need to start new habits? Do you have aspirations regarding stuff, like my completed renovation, that are causing more stress than they’re worth?

5. Do you have any areas that are simply too difficult to face? Can you ask for help? 

6.  Do you think that some of your clutter is there because you are ambitious with your time? 

With every episode of Tidying Up each family concludes that something good, something they long for, some of their control,  is sucked away because they are so overwhelmed by their homes. In this show, Marie Kondo sweeps in and shows them, with her very specific system, how to gain control over their environments. Without fail, these sweet families have a new freedom, fresh peace, and far, far less anxiety. They are released to pursue the things they want to pursue. I strongly believe, whether you use Marie Kondo’s method or not, that having an organized home is one of the key elements in being a successful and productive 10 Minute Novelist.

You can do this. 

Katharine Grubb is an author, poet, homeschooling mother, camping enthusiast, bread-baker, and believer in working in small increments of time. She leads 10 Minute Novelists, an international Facebook group of time-crunched writers. She lives with her family in Massachusetts.