Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and OrganizingThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was completely delightful. Whether or not I follow any of Marie Kondo’s advice, I just loved reading about her eccentric approach to decluttering her home.

She does have a number of useful ideas: Instead of decluttering room by room, or drawer by drawer, Kondo advises that we declutter by genre. For example, start with clothing and declutter the tops, then the trousers, and so on. Otherwise, you can end up with duplicate collections of things throughout the house.

She flips around the usual way of looking at decluttering. Instead of deciding what to get rid of, Kondo recommends we look at our possessions in terms of what we want to keep, and for each item ask ourselves, “Does this spark joy”

The book becomes more eccentric as she starts to anthropomorphise possessions. Don’t store clothing in stacks – how would you feel if you were that t-shirt squashed at the bottom of the pile? Kondo even thanks each item of clothing she wears for their service to her the end of the day. At first this seemed delightfully odd, but, as I continued reading, I realised that by ascribing human feelings to each possession, it encourages an appreciation of each item in our life. There is something very appealing to me about taking a moment to appreciate what I have.

Yesterday evening, I tried her method with my clothing, even though I’d already decluttered a lot of it at the end of summer. However, using Kondo’s question, ‘Does this spark joy?’ I was able to thin my stock of clothes significantly – though I kept a number of items that don’t spark joy: I need SOME things to wear. By the time I’d finished, there were 5 more bags with clothing to discard.

There can be quite a lot of guilt attached to throwing things out. There were things I was hanging on to because they were still in good condition. Even if I no longer like them or they don’t fit properly, it seems wrong and wasteful to throw them out. So I tried Kondo’s method of thanking them for their service. Unexpectedly, it seemed to work. I felt a lightening of the guilt attached to throwing them out. I could acknowledge that they’d served me well in the past, but now its time to move on.

Kondo also recommends a way of folding and placing clothes in drawers so that nothing is stacked and all the items are clearly visible. I re-packed my drawers like that and am very happy with the result. I can find everything easily, nothing is crushed and a couple of the drawers that were overflowing now have space for all that I had previously stored in them and more.

This was an unexpectedly delightful and quirky book. I’m not sure that I will follow all of Kondo’s methods, but I’ve enjoyed the results I’ve seen so far.

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