Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo


The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
by Marie Kondo
Random House, 2014
226 pages
source: borrowed from the library

When your room is clean and uncluttered, you have no choice but to examine your inner state. You can see any issues you have been avoiding and are forced to deal with them. From the moment you start tidying, you will be compelled to reset your life. As a result, your life will start to change.

A tidy home will revolutionize your life, at least according to Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo. Her book offers a step-by-step approach (called KonMari) to declutter, pare down, and organize possessions until you are left only with items which "spark joy".  She claims this is the basis for a simpler, happier existence.

My friends and family will tell you that I'm already a very organized person and my house is generally tidy. So why would I read this book? Because if you open my closets, cupboards, or drawers, a beast is lurking. I wanted to see if the KonMari method could help me tame that beast... beginning with my own closet.

According to Kondo, effective tidying involves two essential actions: discarding and deciding where to store things. In addition, to tidy efficiently you must do it all at once, as quickly as possible, and nothing should be put away until the discarding is done.

Her basic ideas seem fundamentally sound and, to me, intuitive. She even offers subcategories, to be approached in a specific order, for those unable to tidy their closet in one fell swoop. There are also tips on how to fold and arrange items in a drawer. And all that is fine...

Until it gets to be a bit much. Talk to each of your possessions? Thank them for serving your needs? Be considerate of their feelings? Seriously?? That sounds a little crazy to me.

But I finished reading the book.

And then it was time to tackle my closet... in sections, not exactly in the prescribed order. I did consider the joy-inducing capabilities of each item individually. However, I did not  speak directly to any article of clothing.

Three days (and six bags) later, my closet was a joy to behold.

On the fourth day, I went shopping!

The kitchen cabinets and my husband's closet (with his assistance, of course) are next on the agenda. We'll see about purging books after that.

Much of this book seems like common sense, some of it is certainly over-the-top, and I remain skeptical of any "life-changing" claims. Its primary value seems to be as inspiration and motivation... which was exactly what I needed.

My rating:



42 comments:

  1. I haven't read this book but have read a lot about it. I wonder about the "joy" stuff. We have plenty of necessities that don't necessarily bring us joy, like pots and pans or a hamper. Still, if the book motivates organization, it has to have some good things in it.

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    1. Kathy - I know what you mean... there's just no way around some of those necessities. Although my pink Kitchen Aid mixing bowls definitely bring me joy ;-)

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  2. I actually do talk to my clothes, but I'm usually saying things like 'Why don't you fit me anymore?' or 'What was I thinking when I bought you?' :)

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    1. Audrey - LOL, I may have muttered 'good riddance' under my breath as I loaded the discard bags in my car!

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  3. It sounds interesting...but I am not sure I am ready for it yet! Lol!

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    1. Patty - In your own time... these things can't be rushed ;-)

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  4. I like the idea of only keeping the things that make me happy or that I get joy from using. There was a spatula I had that the handle was just wrong shaped for my hand and I kept it because there was nothing wrong with it but every time I used it it annoyed me. Buying one I actually liked that worked for my hands made me so much happier and cost me maybe $5. I have no idea why it took me so long! But I also don't see myself thanking my possessions and talking to them. I have this book and am looking forward to reading it but I'm glad to know the talking to stuff isn't the bulk of the book and there is some useful if not exactly life changing information.

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    1. Katherine - I can definitely relate to your spatula story! And there are so many little things like that that are annoyances and so easily fixed. Here's to finding joy :)

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  5. Oh, I need this book. I'm pretty organized and very tidy "on the surface." My closets (that were just organized a few years ago) have somehow made it into junk closets for storage of anything and everything. When did I become a pack rat? I've always been a "if you don't use it, get rid of it" person. Yep. I need this book.

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    1. Kathy - My closets are definitely organized disasters!

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  6. I am also a very tidy, organized person. Always have been. And with each move we've made, I've sorted things out and pared down. Of course, then there is the acquiring again, but still. I am well known in our extended family for my love of 'no clutter' lifestyle and lack of 'stuff'. I even did a paring down of my books a while back. I've thought about reading this book, but I'm not sure I'd learn that much. I still might take a look.

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    1. Kay - I'm the no clutter, no 'stuff' family member, too! We haven't moved in decades, but I can see how that would keep accumulation to a minimum.

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  7. "A beast is lurking" in your closets, I relate to that. Plus our attic, garage and the addition to our house. The writer sounds like a gal after my own heart; would she come over and give me advice? LOL

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    1. Terra - She's in Japan, so that would be a VERY expensive house call! It's a good thing we don't have an attic... that would be just one more spot for stuff to accumulate ;-)

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  8. I've been cleaning out my bookshelves along her principles - getting rid of books that I was keeping because I felt I should (especially that I felt I should read). I did get rid of a lot - not just books - when I moved three years ago, but of course I've accumulated stuff as well - and not just books. A friend has offered to loan me her copy. She & her husband found it helpful, but not really life-changing.

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    1. Lisa - That's exactly my opinion of the book, "helpful, but not really life-changing." I'll get to my bookshelves after our vacation. There are so many books I think I should read, but never will... and others that I'm just not interested in any more.

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  9. These do sound like good ideas. I really could do with a de clutter myself...though even the thought of throwing out a pair of shoes fills me with dread!

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    1. Emma - Oh yes, the shoes... My daughters tell me they've never seen anybody with so many pairs of black shoes!

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  10. I will say that going from a situation where one is very disorganized to one of organization can make a bog difference in ones life. As someone who has been on both sides of the fence, at least when it comes to particular aspects of life, I can attest to this.

    On the other hand, going too far and getting too crazy about organization is not a good thing either.

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    1. Brian Joseph - Good point. I've worked in some disorganized spaces that drove me crazy, but I've also worked with people who would pick up my pen and put it back in the holder every time I took two steps away from our common work area. So irritating!

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  11. I' ve heard a lot about this book. I'm pretty good with weeding out unnecessary things, with, maybe the exception of books. Coincidentally, I am with my daughter helping with a move. She has decided to purge, and have a garage sale.....have I mentioned I hate garage sales ??? Enjoy the organizing.

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    1. Bonnie - Maybe this book would help your daughter decide what to purge. I'm with you on garage sales... have never had one in my life and son't plan to!

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  12. I just read another blog post that mentioned Kondo says bookshelves should go in closets...what did you think of that?! I haven't read this one, but I would think (well, at least for people like us) that books are one of the things that actually do "spark joy" and would pass Kondo's decluttering test, but then bookshelves in closets?! Hmm...not sure what to make of that....

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    1. Sarah - I think that made me so mad, I just blotted it out of my mind!! Looking up and seeing my books on open shelves definitely brings me joy. I chalked her position up to cultural differences...

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  13. People accumulate things for various reasons and a failure to get rid of things has its own reasons also. I once asked my Dad why he didn't get rid of an old pair of bedroom shoes sitting on a shelf in the basement. To which he replied, somebody out there might could use them. Of course, I then asked, how will they get to use them if they remain in your basement. Ah well, I think his holding on was partly due to having grown up without a pair of bedroom shoes, and some things acquired later in life are just hard to part with. Also for some folks, having lived through the Great Depression has something to do with it. We each have our own reasons for our many accumulations.

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    1. JudyMac - So true! I see many of those same characteristics in my own parents.

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  14. I caved, too. Was tired of waiting to get this from the library and bought the darn book. I really need to go through my jewelry and 'stuff' drawers - I seem to keep every little tiny box that jewelry comes in and then they sit empty in the back of the sock drawer. I am a tiny bit of a hoarder of boxes.
    Her tone is a bit annoying. I did laugh at the line "Most people are just lazy. And busy." yep!

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    1. Care - I should have mentioned how I got around our library hold list!! I ended up borrowing the ebook version from the library I use in Florida... either those folks don't read ebooks or have already tidied all they want because there was NO hold list at all.

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    2. LOL! The difference between NY and FL?! Don't get me started.

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  15. I've never had a problem with keeping too much stuff, other than books and lighthouse figurines, but still thought this would be a good book to read. But...talking to your stuff and thanking them? That's just weird!

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    1. Vicki - I have a lot of books, but have never really been much of a collector. I do tend to buy a lot of shoes though ;-)

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  16. I saw the talking to possessions less about the possession themselves, and more of a philosophical difference. If you acknowledge what your possessions do for you, it helps YOU to be more conscious of the things you're grateful for. I really liked the communion of all things sections. But I don't really think the objects themselves have feelings - only that the feelings she's assigning them are really her own feelings, helping her to become a more positive and grateful person.

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    1. Amanda - I agree that talking to possessions is more for our benefit than theirs... and I did think about what each discarded item had done for me, or the lesson learned when I purchased something but never wore it. I just didn't vocalize anything ;-)

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    2. Yeah, I can't imagine saying anything aloud, haha!

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  17. My girlfriend and I are having great fun with this book. Laughing about conversations with underwear or blenders. I must say though I have taken about 15 bags of things to op shops and am feeling fine about it. I am currently going through the many books I have and the conversations are quite argumentative. Enjoying the clean closets and I didn't need the bottle of antiseptic I found under the bathroom sink with use by date od 1995πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

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    1. Pam - As much as I'm poking fun at talking to my clothing, I feel pretty good about organizing and getting rid of things I no longer want or need. My biggest find was a box filled with journals from high school and college... so much fun to read and relive those days. But now they need to go ;-)

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  18. I do believe that living in a cluttered space leads to restlessness and stress and I often feel oppressed by our possessions. My biggest problem is that most of the possessions that oppress me belong to my husband and kids. We have quite a lot of dog-related clutter too. Admitting this may make me seem mean-spirited, but when I'm the one who is constantly picking up and putting away everyone else's things, I tend to get resentful. I'm on the library hold list for this book, but there are still over 100 people ahead of me.

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    1. Patience_Crabstick - I totally agree! Plus, we have less control of other people's clutter. Our house feels like a totally different place when all the girls are home, but their clutter does tend to bother me. Nothing I can do about the husband and dog though ;-)

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  19. I'm a big fan of decluttering and keeping stuff to a minimum. My house is starting to creep up on me, though, so I feel a cleaning out spree coming on. Now if I can convince my husband.

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    1. Andi - That's definitely the hard part. I'm still waiting for his help to declutter his closet.

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  20. I stood reading this in Barnes and Noble until I, too, felt it got a bit too much. I don't necessarily have a problem with keeping things tidy, but I'm always fascinated by a.) all things Japanese and b.) order. I just can't imagine taking the time to fold each item of my clothing eight thousand times until it can stand up on its own. But, watching the technique on YouTube surely was fascinating.

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  21. I found that this book helped me with the closet but I'm not so sure about other things. I'm a work in progress. :)

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. These conversations are my favorite part of blogging. Please check back, I almost always respond to comments!

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