The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo

fitfor15in15

Marie Kondo gets to the heart of decluttering

“Effective tidying involves only two essential actions: discarding and deciding where to store things.”

There are hundreds of decluttering and organising books on the market, guiding you on your chosen journey to ‘get rid of stuff’. I’ve read many of them over the past four years, after a “my stuff owns me” revelation in early 2011. Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying (or The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, depending on the version) is possibly one of the most extremely simple, because she gets down to the nitty gritty by asking one brilliant question.

“Does it spark joy?”

When you hold something in your hand, and really feel it, does it make your heart sing, or do you feel indifferent, or, at the other end of the scale, repulsed? We think we might have indifferent reactions to, say, kitchen utensils, but if you hold your whisk and think, “That makes lovely scrambled eggs for breakfast on Sunday mornings” then the association is a good one, and therefore the item stays. If you hold a book in your hand and think “I disliked the main character immensely”, then, obviously, it’s a goner.

I read this book quite quickly, because Kondo has a very relaxed style, with the occasional anecdote and story from a client. She is a Japanese tidying expert, and has been decuttering, cleaning and organising things since she was a small child. It was her calling, so to speak. Once she’d finished with her room, she did her siblings’, and then her parents’, with mixed results! So she strongly suggests sticking with your own personal things at the beginning of your what-will-soon-be mania. Organising is divided into clothes, books, papers (sorting through papers! Argh!), miscellaneous items and lastly, sentimental items and keepsakes and should be done in this order.

As mentioned before, we live in a small house, which I love, because it limits what we can bring in. We have a wardrobe, set of three large drawers and two smaller chests of drawers each. Before reading this book, I was an advocate of Project333, where you have about 33 pieces of clothing in your cupboard for each season. I hadn’t quite got around to whittling my wardrobe down, because I pretty much had 33 items of clothing for EACH season, and stored the out-of-season clothes in the three large drawers and hung the in-season things, including t-shirts etc, in the cupboard. Then I only needed to look into the cupboard to decide what to wear. Surprisingly, I miss this a little bit – knowing everything you’d decided was right for the season is right there in front of you. I hung t-shirts and singlets and shirts and skirts and shorts and jeans in the cupboard. No guess work really.

Now, everything that needs to be hung is hung, so summer and winter skirts snuggle side by side. Seeing these summer skirts when it’s -4 outside does seem like a bit of a waste of space at the moment, but I’m making a commitment to the KonMari Method and know there will be an adjustment period! But one thing I am truly excited about is Kondo’s great way to fold clothes. When you read about it you slap your head in disbelief that you’d never thought of it before. For example, instead of putting all your t-shirts piled up on top of each other in a drawer, so the bottom ones rarely see the light of day, fold them all on their side, from the front of the drawer to the back, so you can “flick” through them easily and see them all in one go. This little change means I’m now wearing things I’d forgotten about.

Kondo could be classified as a little bit odd, but by goodness, she is passionate. And you cannot hold that kind of harmless passion against anyone. She loves it. She’s made a business of it. She’s written a million-copy bestseller about it. She’s into it! And I like that about her. She has many sweet ways to help you let things go and most of the time her logic is sound (note that I use “most of the time” … if you read it, I think you’ll know what I mean).

But her undeniably intelligent strategy is this – once you have only the things that spark joy, and you’re found the right place where they should live, you will never have to tidy or declutter again; the day-to-day house stuff solves itself. When you love what you see around you, the promise is almost there that it will be a life filled with much more joy. And therein lies her perfect pitch. After a recent clean-out, I still have the last three sections to attack (Papers! Argh!) and in a strange way, despite my joking protestations, I’m actually quite looking forward to it.

6 thoughts on “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo

  1. I loved your review! (I loved the book..) I think she is also quite a clever psychologist – her thinking is more profound than I thought at first reading. Very impressive. I’m at paper too, but feeling confident I can do it….

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  2. We should have come across each other ages ago, as I’ve been interested in Project 333 for about 3 years, now! 😉 I’m actually just doing the 6 Items Challenge for the second time, for Labour behind the Label.
    And I enjoyed Marie Kondo, too, food for thought there. I laughed at your example of the whisk – I have two whisks, the smaller of which I use far more often and it does bring a smile to my face every time I use it (though the handle is cracking) because a dear neighbour gave me a tiny saucepan and the whisk when my first daughter was born 31 years ago, to make her “Breili” (baby food) in, a concept which hadn’t even occurred to me at the time (I was a very young single mom!).
    Your house is adorable and in a gorgeous setting 🙂

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    • What a great story swissrose – I can imagine it would be hard to part with something that has such a wonderful story attached to it. The simplicity, and effectiveness, of a whisk! Aha! Your house is also wonderful too – the styles are just so heart-warming. I think it would/will be hard living in a modern house if we ever have to move.

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  3. […] For giggles, I also looked at my stats for posts on fitfor15in15. By far the most popular story I’ve written is “The KonMari Method, with gusto!” Published on February 2, the story has been read every day without fail, and as of this afternoon, it’s been viewed 478 times. I have no idea how readers are being led to it, but I’m guessing most traffic comes from searching the internet for information about decluttering expert Marie Kondo and her KonMari Method (read my review of her book here). […]

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