These days it seems like every other book and clickbait article is trying to sell you the newest life hack. They advertise the secret to boosting your productivity, ‘mindful’ tidying methods, or some other supposedly clever trick to set you up for the perfect (and Insta-worthy) life. 

A prime example of this trend is Marie Kondo and her philosophy on tidying, known as the KonMari method. What started as a bestselling book has now been turned into a reality show that has taken over Netflix, preaching the gospel of a tidy home to millions of stressed out people just trying to find a way to make life easier.

It seems like the Netflix show has elevated KonMari-mania to never before seen levels, and although I hear that this is making it an excellent time to pick up some sweet deals at your local thrift store, I can’t help but wonder if this is just another clever marketing trick designed to make us think that a) we can have everything we want, and b) there is actually enough time in the day to make it all happen.

I must admit I was intrigued by Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up when I first heard about it five years ago. I like to organize my shit, and there is definitely something satisfying about having a home for everything. 

However.

If I have to choose between putting away my laundry and getting enough sleep? You had better believe I’m choosing sleep. Ditto for finding spots for every last one of my kitchen gadgets so that my counters are immaculate at the end of the day. 

The reality is, in this day and age finding the time to accomplish everything we need to do much less everything society expects us to do is a challenge. Especially when you factor in our complete addiction to screens. 

So how about this for a new productivity hack? It’s called letting go.

Yes, I have about 7 late reports due at work. Yes, I have last weekend’s laundry still hanging up waiting to be folded and put away. And yes, I wonder when my apartment is every going to look like it belongs to a grown up. But lately I’ve realized that no matter how hard I push myself, or how many to do lists I make and check off, I just never, ever, manage to finish it all.

And this neverending to-do list, this overwhelming feeling that I’m constantly failing? I think this is the root cause of our current obsession with productivity hacks. With tidying systems that promise to eliminate the stress of our lives.

The problem is, you can’t reduce the to-do list or the stress by adding more things to your to do list (Fold your clothes with love! Into perfect rectangles that can stand up by themselves!).

What if instead we aimed to do the bare minimum? Rather than obsess over the perfect outfit for work just show up on time in something that fits the dress code (written or unwritten). Instead of aiming for a 6-pack or bikini body, how about just being happy you can run for the train when you need to and fuck the gym? 

Sure there are things you may want to prioritise, but is it worth the stress of obsessively analyzing every option, every possible path to ensure you get it done perfectly in as little time possible? Or might it be better to aim for ok? Making dinner from scratch once a week and then just making sure you eat regular meals (packaged or otherwise) the rest of the time. Ensuring you get some fresh air even if it’s not training for a half-marathon.

I’ll be honest, it requires some pretty ruthless not-caring at first. Consciously recognizing that you are obsessing over a tidy kitchen even though your eyes can’t stay open, and choosing to go to bed instead.

But once you get the hang of it there is something so incredibly freeing about taking the time you need to unwind and take care of yourself. And in this age of doing it all hyper productivity and obsessive perfectionism, the most rebellious act I can think of is opting out. 

Not only does it shrink the to-do list, it also helps to slow down, unwind and get off the proverbial treadmill. 

So it turns out there might actually be one productivity hack I can get behind.