Japanese organizational guru Marie Kondo recently launched a show on Netflix and has inspired millions of people to get rid of the clutter in their lives. Perhaps predictably, now some people are extending that advice to their digital lives too, as the WIRED UK article linked here points out.
In this quest to rid ourselves of anything that doesn’t “spark joy,” we may perhaps be giving up something that is crucial to the creative process … a certain amount of disorder. Tim Harford wrote a great book a few years ago about the power of disorder in our lives called Messy. At the time I remember thinking that it was one of the first times I read about the virtues of saving ideas in a way that allows them to evolve over time and become meaningful on their own.
It’s this point that I think bothers me most about Kondo’s “Konmari” method. Just because something doesn’t spark joy now or inspire a new idea now doesn’t mean it never will. I have had books that sat on my shelf for years before I read them. They still changed my thinking. So the real question is, in a world where we are consistently encouraged to take on our own methods of “Extreme Uncluttering,” when is it ok to keep the stuff that doesn’t spark joy now but might inspire us later?