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

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 out of 5 ⭐️‘s

Drowning in Stuff

I’m not sure if you’re anything like me but as a mom of four kids, and having gone through the baby phase four times— when my daughter was about to turn five I found myself at a point where my house just could not hold any more STUFF. I remember I was lying in bed one night with my eyes wide open and for the life of me— I could not fall asleep. I felt like I was having a panic attack as I thought about how disorganized and cluttered our house had become. Every single closet in our house was a mess and full of things we didn’t need— every bedroom closet, bathroom closet, hall closet, you name it, every drawer was filled to the brim and bursting at the seams, I couldn’t even walk into our storage room without bumping into an eight foot tall stack of bins, and it had been such a long time since I’d opened any of them— I didn’t even know what was in them anymore. Coincidentally, and thankfully, just the day before this late night panic experience a good friend of mine had told me about Marie Kondo’s book, and literally the only way I was able to calm my mind and fall asleep was knowing that I would be able to grab a copy of it in the morning.

Attachment or Fear

“But when we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear of the future” -Marie Kondo

It’s Not Just About Cleaning

Kondo’s method of tidying isn’t just about the act of decluttering and organizing one’s things, but more about doing the same with one’s mind, body, and soul in accordance with the things. According to her philosophy the space that we exist in is a direct reflection of how our internal life is operating. Kondo believes if we have a free and peaceful mind, body, and spirit then the space around us will also possess those qualities.

“The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.” – Marie Kondo

How Does Her Magical Process Work?

In her book, Kondo recommends that tidying always begin by first decluttering, she also emphasizes how crucial it is— before decluttering even begins, to first thank the house, honoring it for what it has brought into your life. According to Kondo, the best way to do this is by physically getting onto the floor, preferably in a central area of the house, and to actually bow down and have a moment of silence as an act of appreciation for everything that is cherished about the home. After proper gratitude and respect has been shown— the next step is to declutter it in its entirely. For this process, she has specific categories, and subcategories in each category to make the decluttering manageable, and efficient.

Categories

CLOTHING

BOOKS

PAPERS

KOMONO (MISC)

SENTIMENTAL ITEMS

 

 

 

 

 

Tops & Bottoms

Cookbooks

Coupons & Receipts

General

Photos & Albums

Dresses

General

Taxes

Kids Stuff

Journals & Diaries

Pajamas

Kids

Files

Office

Memorabilia & Souvenirs

Jackets

Magazines

Warranties & Instruction Manuals

Cleaning

Scrapbooks

Handbags

Reference & Textbooks

Important Documents

Kitchen

Personal Letters

Belts & Scarves

Phone Books

Bills

Decor

Heirlooms

Shoes & Boots

 

Greeting Cards

Garage

Trophies

Hats & Gloves

 

Wrapping Paper

Bathroom

 

Socks & Underwear

 

Checkbooks

 

 

Jewelry

 

Lecture Notes & Handouts

 

 

Costumes

 

Business Cards

 

 

Athletic Clothes & Swimwear

 

Recipes

 

 

**Note: The kimono category is much more detailed in the book.

“We should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of.” – Marie Kondo

How To Decide What To Keep?

Going in specific order through the categories, you hold each item in your hand one at a time and ask yourself if it sparks joy, if it doesn’t then it simply goes into either the trash or the donate pile— you only keep the things that bring you joy. To stay in line with Kondo’s philosophy everything that is disposed of must be properly thanked for serving its purpose and for bringing you joy in the past.

You’ve Gotten Rid of Everything, Now What?

After I went through the entire process I was surprised at how empty my house looked. It felt really bare, cupboards had space again, and drawers looked empty– I even had a whole empty clothing rack in my bedroom closet. Even though this was shocking, I felt relieved because the items that were kept I was now able to actually see. In the book Kondo provides tools that can assist with keeping one’s house in this same state moving forward, even once the frenzy of life sweeps back in. She has some pretty strict expectations for maintaining this. Some examples are— always go through your purse or bag that has been taken out of the house with you as soon as you return home, get your mail (and go through it immediately) everyday, never keep paper unless it is absolutely necessary (Kondo says most everything is online now, things like— instruction manuals, forms, school related information etc.), and never buy new things unless you are disposing of old things that no longer bring you joy. Also, she suggests folding one’s own clothes regularly (with joy and appreciation), and each time an item is folded to identify if it still brings you joy.

Kondo On Folding

“The act of folding is far more than making clothes compact for storage. It is an act of caring, an expression of love and appreciation for the way these clothes support your lifestyle. Therefore, when we fold, we should put our heart into it, thanking our clothes for protecting our bodies.”

Kondo Says If You Declutter Properly— You’ll Never Have To Do It Again, Ever.

“…my students never experience rebound. Once you have experienced the powerful impact of a perfectly ordered space, you, too, will never return to clutter.” -Marie Kondo

Marie Kondo Has a Series on Netflix Where She Helps People Put Her Method Into Practice

Criticisms

If you have any resemblance of a life then a lot of the instruction in this book will be extremely difficult to adhere to, especially on a regular basis. It will prove even more challenging for those with a large family, a growing family, or small children. For families the biggest impediment would be the obligation to constantly micromanage each and every person in the family and to regularly evaluate their items to make sure everyone is keeping up with the method. I have a hard enough time squeezing in a shower everyday, let alone time to ask each of my four children if their items are still sparking joy.

Speaking of sparking joy— I found that when I used that technique on my clothes, it happened to be during the winter, and none of my summer clothes sparked joy. Well, surprise! I now have zero clothes to wear in the summer. So that ended up proving to be impractical and expensive.

Lastly, I have issues with Kondo’s folding technique. It just didn’t work for my household. After using her method for only a couple of days I found everything tipped over in the drawers, leaving just a giant ball of clothes for my kids to sift through. Also, with regard to folding, she suggests teaching children to fold their own clothes (even very young kids), it’s hard enough teaching kids to fold the regular way —I haven’t even mastered this with my teenager— and to suggest teaching it to toddlers… has she ever folded with toddlers around?

Take Away

If it weren’t for this book I would still have a messy, cluttered house. I would also likely be feeling very stressed out, overwhelmed, and unsure of how to even begin getting my house in order. Using her method took days, and we were moving so we had a reason to go through with it, but without that reason I’m not sure how long it would have taken or if we would have been able to get through everything. When all was said and done we donated and threw away enough bins and bags to fill two living rooms. It felt great, my mind was clearer and I felt motivated to live a more empowered life. The book jumpstarted the process and gave me the inspiration I needed to tackle such an overwhelming job. The categories also proved useful as they made it easier and more efficient than if I had tried to tackle all of it without any organization. Going forward, it gave me the knowledge and practice (having already gone through the entire process) to recognize how to handle a new dilemma of whether to keep something or get rid of it. I have found that I keep less things, and I also buy less things— since I have a better understanding of how easily my clutter can accumulate. All in all, this book will change your life IF you apply her method all at once, and then maintain your home in a way that best works for you while keeping her suggestions in mind. It reframed how I think about things and I know that in the future if I get to a point where I feel I’ve accumulated too many things again and am in need of decluttering— that I will recognize it a lot sooner and that it won’t ever be nearly as overwhelming of a project as it was the first time around.

“People cannot change their habits without first changing their thinking.” -Marie Kondo

Have you read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up? If so, did it inspire you to do an overhaul on your house? If so, how did that work out? Are you still living a life free of clutter? If you haven’t read the book, did this review inspire you to pick up a copy? Please let me know your thoughts below!

hugs, danielle

 

If you haven’t read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo you can purchase it below through my Amazon Affiliate link.

 

Marie Kondo also has an illustrated book available called Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up (The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up) for anyone who is interested—it is available below!

Look, Marie Kondo also has a journal for us!

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