The previous two posts in this series discussed how Obligers and Questioners can help themselves implement the KonMari method. This post focuses on the third tendency in Gretchen Rubin’s Four Tendencies framework: Upholders.

Upholders readily meet both inner and outer expectations. As Gretchen Rubin puts it, an Upholder’s motto is “discipline is my freedom.” Upholders like rules and are driven to excel at whatever task they face. They also generally find it easy to stick to a schedule, once it is in place.

These traits should help Upholders to follow the KonMari method. For example, an Upholder who is presented with the idea that decluttering should be accomplished in particular categories in a particular order is likely to be excited to have a concrete rule to implement. Likewise, Upholders who have little difficulty sticking to a schedule are likely to be able to keep making progress, bit by bit, even if other obligations are competing for their time.

At the same time, Upholders’ interest in rules can cause some difficulties, including the following:

  1. Tightening. Because they are so interested in rules, Upholders can have a hard time making exceptions to rules, even when they should. In the KonMari context, for example, an Upholder who would find the process much more manageable by dividing clothes into subcategories might insist that the only “right” way to work through that category is by piling ALL clothes together, leading to frustration when that approach proves to be overwhelming.
  2. Frustration with Ambiguous Rules. When rules are unclear, Upholders will sometimes become overly concerned about whether they are doing things right. They are uneasy with vague or ambiguous standards. In the KonMari context, for example, Upholders may find it frustrating to have to think about whether items “spark joy,” when the meaning of that standard is difficult to articulate in a precise way.  Upholders would be more likely to respond positively to a rule requiring them to discard “half” of their clothes in each category, rather than keeping only those items that “spark joy.”

Recognizing these potential pitfalls can help Upholders avoid being sidetracked by them. For example, Upholders who notice that they are experiencing “tightening” can consciously step back and think about whether it is critical to apply the rule in question rigidly. Asking a certified KonMari consultant or asking for help on social media could help these Upholders to stay on track without being overwhelmed.

Similarly, frustration with ambiguous rules can be overcome by seeking additional guidance to better understand the rule in question. Upholders can also help themselves by reminding themselves of the value of being flexible.

If you are an Upholder who is working through the KonMari process or has completed it, what did you find most helpful for you?  Did you experience any of the frustration described above?  If so, how did you overcome it?

Next time, we’ll be back with an exploration of the fourth, and most challenging, tendency: the Rebel.