If becoming a verb is the ultimate sign of achieving the status of genuine cultural phenomenon, then Marie Kondo's book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up has managed this milestone.

"Tidying Up has quickly developed a cultlike following. Fans share photos of their underwear drawers. They've started clubs and Facebook groups. And they use the author's name as a verb that can refer either to purging or meticulous folding: 'Waiting for kettle to boil ... So I Kondoed my recipe books,' Elaine Colliar, a family-finance columnist for Scotland's Sunday Mail, proclaimed in a recent Facebook post," reported the WSJ recently.

But where there's hype, there's also always a backlash. One that, in this particular case, is sweet music to the ears to those, like me, who shudder in horror at the idea of one extra moment of cleaning in their lives. Who is the champion of us, the slightly (and proudly) slobbish? Enter The Guardian's Oliver Burkeman.

You'll never win the war against digital clutter.

In a reassuring recent op-ed, Burkeman insists that you're more likely to change your life by accepting your clutter than by taming it.

He kicks off his argument by highlighting exactly how pointless it is, given today's tech, to try to organize your digital "possessions." Far better not to waste time trying to tidy your hundreds of thousands of photos, but instead just to use the best available tool to occasionally sort through the mess when you need to.

"For those of us with neat-freak tendencies, it's a harsh truth we have to keep relearning: treating your digital 'possessions' like your physical ones is a loser's game. You could spend a lifetime trying to keep them tidy.... it would take so long, and search technology is now so good, that you'd be wasting countless hours," Burkeman points out.

Or your physical clutter for that matter.

Which is a fine point (and one several other tech experts have also made), but if that's as far as it goes, then Marie Kondo might still be onto something here in the real world. But Burkeman insists it's not just digital clutter that needs to be accepted rather than battled.

"Letting go of the craving for tidiness isn't only useful in a digital context, though: it applies to physical possessions, too," he writes. "Listen to Marie Kondo and other evangelists of a clutter-free life, and you'd be forgiven for thinking that the key to serenity in a consumerist world is getting rid of your stuff. Yet that soon becomes a fixation on getting your surroundings just right - when being 'zen', in this context, is really a matter of finding peace of mind whatever your surroundings."

Are you on team Kondo or team Burkeman: is extreme tidiness the route to peace of mind or life-wasting obsession?

Published on: Sep 20, 2016