Imagine the Ideal

KonMari Method is a decluttering and organizing method, introduced in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, written by Marie Kondo. There was even a TV series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, about this tidying method on Netflix.

What KonMari Method interested me, is not the main course (the tidying process), but the appetizer (how the tidying begins). The method starts by imagining the ideal lifestyle and it’s details. Once intimately familiar with the ideal life, then one can start tidying up and moving closer to the ideal life.

The interesting thing is, this approach itself has nothing to do with tidying. It could be applicable to something else. Its generalized form, “Imagine the ideal (______), and then move closer to it”, is universal and yet effective!

It is Universal

First, this approach is universally applicable. When facing a problem, we can always substitute the blank (______) with other terms to guide ourselves to the solution. For examples,

  • During the stay-at-home order,
    • imagine the ideal (work-from-home schedule), and then move closer to it.
  • When building software,
    • imagine the ideal (architecture), and then move closer to it.
  • When organizing personal knowledge,
    • imagine the ideal (system), and then move closer to it.
  • When being a role,
    • imagine the ideal (role, e.g., husband, father, engineer), and then move closer to it.

By imagining the ideal workplace, Marie wrote another book, called Joy at Work.

It is Effective

Second, this approach is effective because it sets the ideal direction to move forward. Instead of blindly following or copying existing solutions, it encourages us to take a step back and think outside of the box. What the best solution really is.

Don’t get me wrong, it does not mean we cannot follow or copy. Existing solutions could be better than the ideal we can imagine. However, this approach criticizes the existing solution, and hence, gives us a chance to do even better.

For the same examples,

  • During the stay-at-home order,
    • Instead of sitting in front of the computer all day, think about what else can diversify the schedule.
  • When building software,
    • Instead of copying the old pattern, think about what could be simplified.
  • When organizing personal knowledge,
    • Instead of throwing digital note to the system, think about methodologies.
  • When being a role,
    • Instead of behaving the same day-by-day, think about how to improve.

What is the Ideal?

Ideal does not mean having all good stuff, it is simply impossible.

While you can have virtually anything you want, you can’t have everything you want.

~Principles: Life & Work, Ray Dalio

One can be the best marathon runner or best sprinter, but not both because they require different types of muscle. We cannot cram all the good things into a day because there are only 24 hours.

Instead, ideal is all about identifying the true values, prioritizing, balancing and even giving up. Just like we need to let go some of our belongings when tidying up our living space.

Well, knowing Marie’s approach is one thing, imaging the ideal is quite another, and it is much harder, way harder. At least, this is what I found when imagining the ideal lifestyle deep inside my mind and write it down clearly.