What did Marie Kondo teach me about being a productive mom?
If you wish to skip reading the rest of this article for a full explanation, then you could just read this one sentence: provider management is the most-ignored key to being a productive mom (nod to you, Maria Kondo).
Or, if you prefer...
Here is the full, data-driven explanation.
I like data. It is harder to ignore.
...and, if compelling enough, also hard to forget. Listen, Moms, I do not want you to forget what I am about to tell you. So let’s start with some hard data.
On January 1, 2019, Netflix released Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, a TV series featuring petite, professional organizer Marie Kondo, who shows up to people’s homes and helps them get rid of things that “do not spark joy.” Perhaps you have seen the show already; but if not, I would wager that you have seen its sway--mostly on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Here are three telling stats:
Stat # 1
Google Trends shows an immediate inflection for the search term “Marie Kondo” on January 1, 2019, the day Netflix launched the show. The slope between the red lines--which spans December 31, 2018 to January 6, 2019--is not one I would enjoy running up (and I run marathons, which reminds me, you can get my training book here).
Stat # 2
Chartbeat measured the number of pageviews, and time spent on page, for articles related to Marie Kondo during this same period:
“[T]here was a major spark in interest around Marie Kondo on December 12 and 13, when the official Netflix trailer was released. Chartbeat’s analytics said that readers spent 536,215 minutes reading articles about Marie Kondo on December 12 and another 634,405 minutes doing the same the following day. Compare that with the 57,432 “engaged minutes” the same topic inspired December 11.”
So the trailer release increased engagement tenfold, basically overnight. What happened when the actual show was released 2.5 weeks later? There was another--this time larger--sudden increase across both dimensions. By January 9, a little more than a week after the show was released, engaged minutes had grown to 704,514 and page views to 771,345.
💡Interpretation: the surge in Marie Kondo’s popularity, due to the release of her Netflix show, was not driving traffic only to her Netflix show; people were also actually quite interested in the underlying concepts of getting organized and tidying up, registering millions of page views in a single week on articles discussing her methods and strategies.
Stat # 3
Hashtracking says that Instagram is where most people are posting content about Marie Kondo (although I personally have laughed more at some of the Twitter content).
But now back to Instagram…
Socialbakers tracked Marie Kondo’s Instagram follower-count, which showed that she passed 1 million Instagram followers within the first week after the show was released.
💡 Interpretation: perhaps this surge in Marie Kondo’s popularity got a boost from the precise time of year, when many people were proclaiming new-year resolutions and making plans to trim the fat--and ditch the clutter. Whether true or not, the data strongly suggests that there is considerable, latent demand for getting organized
...and off the proverbial hamster wheel.
OK, that is enough stats for now. Back to the story of how I came to build this free productivity app for moms...
I am definitely one of Marie Kondo's newfound fans--one of several million, according to the data.
I thought about why that is, why Marie Kondo and the whole concept of “tidying up” has such a strong appeal for me (and millions of other moms).
And I realized...
Consistency, I realized, was the key, and systems, when spelled out in detail, enable that consistency.
Now, taking off my mom hat for a moment...
I grant that you do not have to be a mom to realize that many mom-duties do not spark joy (nod to you, Marie Kondo). You realized this even as a child, when you watched your mom soldier through her daily to-do list. From changing diapers to waking up in the middle of the night to attend your crying infant, a mom’s typical, daily to-do list can bring massive frustrations.
You cannot simply declutter and expect all of those stressors to go away. Yes, you need a system that eliminates redundancy and clutter, but you also need that system to make it simpler and easier to actually do the tasks that moms need to do (i.e. no degree of decluttering is going to excuse you from diaper-changing duty).
What I realized--my big aha moment--was that (what I have come to call)...
“Provider management” is the single largest solvable drain on my productivity as a mom.
Why? Because the way that most people manage "providers" (aka all the things a household is regularly spending money on and getting in return) is really quite primitive--because, more specifically, it is both reactive and decentralized.
One element of this (quite pervasive) problem arises from the fact that most providers we regularly do business with nowadays—such as...
—have our personal email address; that allows them to interrupt us anytime they wish, which forces us to be reactive.
Think about it.
Most moms I know who have young kids consume most of their digital content from their mobile phones: social media, emails, and even bill-pay and checking various online accounts. Since that phone is almost always with us, when one of these providers decides to email us, the email notification interrupts us.
This might not seem like a big deal, but this was a big part of my “aha” moment. Imagine a world in which unwanted emails never interrupted you. How much time would you be able to reclaim, the sum of all of those brief interruptions? More importantly, how much attention could you reclaim?
I took this from Jon Levy’s TED Talk (pictured above): “In a time where everyone can be heard, what really matters is where we grant our attention.” Who would you prefer to grant your attention to--your kids or some marketer trying to sell you something?
I started spit-balling with my entrepreneur-hubby about what a solution might look like.
By pure coincidence, this was a little less than two months prior to the release of Marie Kondo’s Netflix show. During those two months, we came up with some ideas, ways we figured we could mechanically solve the key problems--the two key problems being:
My hubby presented me with hours and hours of white-boarded descriptions of what we could build--in an app--to address these problems, specifically for moms. I actually liked what we were able to come up with (although I admit that words like "workflow" were not my first choice ;)
But for me, as the mom who is reminded daily just how big this problem is, I still felt as though something was missing. Unlike my hubby, I was not used to the exercise of identifying a problem and then designing an app as the solution. So I wondered if what we had designed would actually be enough.
Then Marie Kondo’s show launched.
I was immediately hooked!
A few episodes into watching the first season, I heard Marie say this--which I am paraphrasing--in response to one of her show participants worrying out loud about whether the clutter would soon return after Marie left and the cameras were gone:
You only need to do the Marie Knodo de-cluttering session once for it to stick, to enjoy a lifetime of tidiness. Why? Because at its core, it changes your relationship with stuff, and you will be less likely to purchase items you do not need anymore, or, more generally, less likely to regress to your old way of doing things.
Bingo. That was the final puzzle piece I needed to begin getting excited. I started looking at what we had designed through a fresh lens, one that asked simply: is our solution going to stick?
That led me to Dan Ariely (pictured below) and behavioral science.
(I encourage you to read up on Dan if you do not know who he is.)
By applying behavioral science principles to the app we had designed (which we are calling “Hubscriber”), we were able to identify a few last-minute modifications that we thought would make the moms who use our app…
Here is what we came up with.
What is Hubscriber exactly?
The platform connects to a user’s provider account information—such as cell phone and ISP, meal delivery and box subscriptions, and streaming and digital subscriptions—and presents the information in a single place.
Once connected, Hubscriber automatically updates and categorizes account information in real time, so users can see the status of their provider accounts, track their interactions, loyalty rewards and discounts, and instantly switch to new providers.
🔦 (Cheat code for understanding what Hubscriber is: if you have ever used a CRM at work, then think of Hubscriber as the opposite of a CRM, something customers use to manage their provider relationships, which you might therefore call a PRM; if you have never used a CRM and have no idea what this means, no worries--it is not vital that you get this analogy.)
How does the connection between Hubscriber and providers work?
Hubscriber connects to a user's provider accounts by providing users with a secure email service, so the user can replace his/her personal email address with his Hubscriber email address as the account email of record with all of her "regular providers"--recurring and non-recurring, including providers like grocery stores, clothing retailers, and coffee shops--allowing the user to easily avoid unwanted intrusions in his personal inbox.
Why did we design Hubscriber specifically for moms?
Well...obviously, first out of self-interest, I wanted something that would make my life easier and make me feel like the household hero.
Secondly, the data actually suggests that focusing on moms as the primary Hubscriber users makes a ton of sense otherwise. Moms make an estimated 80% of the household spending decisions and do most of the household management work, including managing all of the providers they buy from on a regular basis. So the decision was kind of a no-brainer.
If we can make moms more productive, then everyone in the household wins.
I am impressed that you have read this far :)
Here is the takeaway.
Your life does not get better (or easier) as a consequence of getting rid of items that “do not spark joy.” Your life gets better as a consequence of devising a system for identifying those things, including pre-determined rules for what you should do with joyless items. Then, you must use the system over and over again. You already understand this to be true in other areas of your life.
I work in wellness. So here is an analogy: your health does not improve as a consequence of you not eating the cupcake today; it improves as a consequence of you being able to decline the cupcake regularly, on an ongoing basis; and for most people, the key to that consistency is having a system.
Hubscriber is a free system for being a more productive mom. It is not something you use once and then the cameras leave. It is something designed for moms to use daily, weekly, and for as long as your household continues to pay providers money and expect to get things in return (which will probably be forever).
Someone has to manage those provider relationships, and that someone is usually moms like me.
As a mom, I can assure you that provider management does not “spark joy.”
--now that sparks joy ;)
If Hubscriber sounds awesome, you like the idea becoming a household hero, and you also blog, then you can sign up for early access by clicking the button below.
(As an added bonus, we will give you exclusive access to our 50% affiliate program once we go live.)
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(right now, only accepting moms like me who blog)
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