Many of us here are fans of Marie Kondo’s organizational methods. We consulted her first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, for assistance clearing out our closets, stacks of papers, and books. Her latest book, Spark Joy covers more ground, it has helped us create order in our kitchens and it also provides illustrations—helpful for mastering her folding techniques.
We find ourselves thinking about her techniques even when we aren’t following them exactly (or at all). So, for my recent trip to Hawaii, I decided to test her tips for packing a suitcase (found in Spark Joy) and track my ability to stick to them throughout the vacation:
“Packing a suitcase for business or leisure trips follows the same basic principles as those for storage in the home. Clothes should be folded and packed upright. Fold suits and lay them flat on the top. Pack bras on top, and don’t flatten them. Pack small things such as underwear in a travel pouch, and transfer lotions and toiletries in smaller bottles to reduce volume.”
I attempted to follow her recommendations as closely as possible—at least initially.
Packed and ready to go: I am nothing if not a good student.
Okay, this looks bad, I'll admit it. But just the top layer is a mess, it's still fairly orderly underneath. Plus, would you rather spend time folding clothes or watching whales? I rest my case.
Midway through the trip and back on track, though Kondo would not approve of my balled up socks.
Disaster zone. Can I blame this situation on the fact that Kondo never told me what to do with dirty clothes? Am I supposed to refold them all or separate them from the clean clothes? I opted for the latter and refolded everything else for the return home.
Back at home and ready to turn into an unpacking robot. Or not.
After spending the better part of a day in an airport, an airplane, or a car, I’m exhausted, yet thrilled to be home. Marie Kondo professes: “I enjoy unpacking even more than packing.” I’m not convinced. I don’t want to unpack, I want a glass of wine, someone to make me dinner, and to zone out watching television until my body agrees that it’s an acceptable hour to fall asleep. But I’m determined to see this through, so I persevere and read through Kondo's directive:
“As soon as I get home, I remove everything from my suitcase, put the laundry in the washing machine, and return everything else to its proper place. Then I wipe the outside of the suitcase and the wheels. I give myself a time limit of thirty minutes. The key is to pretend you’re an unpacking robot and move quickly and efficiently.”
Well, props to Kondo for accomplishing this task in 30 minutes and enjoying the whole process to boot. Here’s how it went down in reality. I put the laundry in my laundry hamper. I did not start a load of laundry, because it was 7 o’clock at night, and, as mentioned, I wanted to relax, not do chores. I put half of everything else into its proper place, then I made dinner for my daughter, put her to bed, gave up on my dreams of becoming an unpacking-loving robot, and collapsed on the couch.
The Good: I appreciated having the majority of my suitcase packed with clothes upright, it made them much easier to see and access throughout my trip—I’ll continue to use this strategy in the future.
The Bad: I was an utterly unsuccessful with her unpacking rules: I neglected to complete the task in 30 minutes and I failed to enjoy the process. In my defense, I was leaving Hawaii and returning to snow—even Kondo might understand my reticence at having to put my bathing suits away for another four months.
The Ugly: I still don’t get the bra thing. Granted, I didn’t play along for this part, but how does—“Pack bras on top, and don’t flatten them.”—even work? Does one need to leave headspace (chest space?) for them? Won’t they get flattened at some point anyway in transport?
Tell us: What are your best packing tricks and tips?