Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

the life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing by Marie Kondo
Published October 2014 by Potter/Ten Speed/ Harmony/Rodale
Source: checked out from my local library

Publisher's Summary: 
Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles?

Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have lapsed (and she still has a three-month waiting list).

With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy” (and which don’t), this international bestseller featuring Tokyo’s newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home—and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.

My Thoughts: Although I didn’t start organizing my things when I was only five, as Kondo did, I’ve long been looking for the best way to keep the things we have organized and to keep the number of those things from becoming out of control. When this book first came out, I certainly considered giving Kondo’s methods a try. But the whole idea of touching every single item in my house and deciding if it “sparked joy” started to seem more and more preposterous and turned me off from looking into her methods further.
Having recently enjoyed Kondo’s Netflix show, I decided it was time to give it a try. I still think touching every single item in my house and deciding if it sparks joy is a bit nuts, particularly assuming you look at things strictly as needing to be something that makes you happy.

After watching the show and reading the book, though, I feel like I can broaden that out a little and make it work for me. Would not having a particular object make me unhappy, for example? Take, for example, a toilet plunger. I doubt even Marie Kondo looks at hers and finds that it sparks joy. But not having one would certainly make me unhappy.

I do think Kondo is all too eager to convince us to part with some things. She recommends, for example, we toss all boxes that purchases come in, suggesting we can always find another box to put that item in if the need should arise. This doesn’t take into account the fact that some manufacturers require you to return items in the packaging in which they arrived. It doesn’t take into account the idea that people may move frequently and having the originally packaging for an item will absolutely be the best way to pack that item up for transport, as my son has found in his many moves. Mind you, those boxes are stored in my basement, not his apartment, so that might not work as well if he had to find storage space for them. It also goes against Kondo’s dictum that shifting your things onto others is a no-no.

The absolutely craziest thing I found in this book was Kondo’s idea that dishes should be dried on the veranda. You know, the place were bugs might (in Nebraska, will) land on them. Sunlight may be a good disinfectant, Marie, but not good enough to kill off the fly poop that’s getting on my dishes outside, to say nothing of dirt. All that being said, I did find a lot of good to take away from Kondo.

I’ve previously tried the idea of getting rid of one thing every day. I’ve done 40 Bags In 40 Days for several years now, working on one area of the house each day. And still I feel overwhelmed by the amount of things we have. Clearly those methods are not doing for me what I need done. I like the idea of breaking the process down into categories and working through one category before moving onto the next. Kondo’s order that the categories should be done in makes perfectly logical sense to me, guiding people through the easier categories first and leaving sentimental items for last.

It makes perfectly logical sense to me to make sure we are gathering all of one category together before we start deciding what to keep. In my house, there are writing utensils in three different places on the first floor alone; there is no one to know if we are holding on to far too many pens in total if we never see them altogether. And Kondo provides good guidance on how to part with items we are only holding onto out of guilt. And while I balked when she started talking about getting rid of large quantities of unread books, suggesting that if you didn’t read them when they first came into your house, you never would, later she did make allowances for people who might want to hold on to more, as long as their remaining books made them happy.

Kondo clearly developed her method around the Japanese way of life. Some of the things she’s done to make her method work for her would not work for me. Kondo and I will just have to agree to disagree when it comes to talking for our inanimate objects and expecting a response. But, as I do with all methods, I’ll take what will work for me and give it a try. If it fails, Kondo would clearly believe it’s because I didn’t follow all the rules, including thanking my house and all of my things for the great job they are doing, but I’m good with that.


  1. I read this book and found some points helpful but other things just no practical. I agree there are many things that don't bring me joy but that I still use and feel like I need to keep.

  2. The biggest takeaway I had from this book is that you should only use one spot to store like things. I have hair stuff both upstairs and down because I sometimes have to do my hair downstairs. I also have cleaning supplies upstairs and down and according to Kondo this is a no no. I guess she is right though because when I checked to see if we are low I have to check both places. I loved the idea behind the book but she is a little kooky.