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Revision as of 01:59, 30 October 2013

Welcome to the explain xkcd wiki!
We have an explanation for all 1 xkcd comics, and only 0 (0%) are incomplete. Help us finish them!

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Clutter
I found a copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but the idea of reading it didn't spark joy, so I gave it away.
Title text: I found a copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but the idea of reading it didn't spark joy, so I gave it away.

Explanation

Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: I'd say this is about done (maybe expand it a little?), but you could explain the motivations for each cleanup more in depth if you want.

As the graph shows, the amount of junk sitting around Randall's house is on an ever-increasing trend. Thus, it will continue to pile up and cause problems.

Randall cleans up sometimes, thinking that he is returning to the same baseline amount of stuff each time, but it is not actually effective enough to keep up with the cluttering trend, and hence his worry.

The four places on the graph where the amount of stuff decreases reference common times when people clean up and get rid of junk or excess stuff. This includes:

  • The satisfaction many people feel from getting rid of things and making the remaining items look neat.
  • Moving, a time when most people will get rid of items they no longer need and use, rather than packing them up and moving them to a new home where they will once again cause clutter.
  • Spring cleaning. In many areas with a harsh winter, it is common to clean in the spring when it is warm enough to open windows for dusting, after months of building up smoke or soot from fires to keep the house warm. In other cultures where the year starts in the spring (a time of rebirth) there are traditions of cleaning up before the start of the new year.

Although not mentioned in the quotes, it is also common in the United States to clean up and donate items (for instance to Goodwill) on December 31st, right before the New Year, to gain the charitable donation benefit on their taxes for that year.

The title text refers to the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. The main concept of the book is that one should gather all belongings and only retain items that "spark joy". Ironically, the thought of reading the book didn't spark joy for Randall so he decided to donate it. Thus, one of the few things that he did get rid of was something that if he had kept and put into practice could have helped him actually reduce his clutter.

Transcript

[There is a panel containing a line graph. The x- and y-axes are labeled "time" and "amount of stuff in my house" respectively.]
[The y-value generally increases straight-line as x increases. There are a few labeled exceptions where the y-value decreases slightly but instantly increases again. From left to right:]
"I need to clean up."
"I've really let junk build up. Feels good to clear it out."
"I hate moving, but at least it's a chance to finally get rid of all this excess stuff."
"Ah, spring cleaning!"
[Caption below the panel:]
I'm starting to worry about my strategy for dealing with clutter.


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