The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up Review
This year we are moving into a smaller house. We are “right-sizing” as we are calling it. We currently live in a home that is larger than we need. Now, this is a real blessing, I know. A first-world problem, if you will. Though it has been an incredibly difficult decision (because I loooooove our home), it is the right thing to do.
Part of right-sizing includes de-cluttering, cleaning out. Enter “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” written by Marie Kondo, a Japanese personal tidying expert (she doesn’t like to call herself an “organizer”). She caught my attention a) because her book is everywhere and b) with her radical approach and phenomenal success rate. She claims that her relapse rate among clients she’s personally helped is zero. Literally zero.
Ms. Kondo’s decluttering theories are unique, and can be reduced to two basic tenets: Discard everything that does not “spark joy,” after thanking the objects that are getting the heave-ho for their service (LOVE this!); and do not buy organizing equipment — your home already has all the storage you need.
Before you recoil, keep going. The title of this book is SPOT-ON! If you read and apply her principles, your life WILL be changed. Seriously. I am learning it first-hand!
To understand her method, forget everything you think you know about decluttering. This method is extreme, but it really. does. work. Here are some basics of her approach:
- Discard first, store later. Kondo believes that you can’t organize clutter. The first step is to get rid of everything you don’t need.
- Tidy a little a day and you’ll be tidying forever. This was a biggie for me. I am a serial tidier. However, Ms. Kondo says that “tidying is a special event. Don’t do it every day.” If you do the job right, once and completely, you won’t have to do it again. Love that!
- Storage experts are hoarders. “Putting things away creates the illusion that the clutter problem has been solved.” But organized clutter is still clutter. This was another area in which I was slightly delusional.
- Sort by category, not location. “Tidying up by location is a fatal mistake.” Sort by category instead, in the following order: clothes, books, papers, miscellany, and then things with sentimental value.
- Ask yourself: “Does this spark joy?” If it does, keep it. If it doesn’t, get rid of it. Now, important documents are not included, but there are fewer of these than you’d think.
- Never pile things. Vertical storage is the key. Stacking has two problems: you can stack much more than you can store vertically (not a plus if you’re aiming for clutter-free), and stacking is hard on the things at the bottom.
- Learn how to fold. Kondo is adamant about proper folding technique, which enables you to store things standing up rather than laid flat. She advocates to fold everything into a long rectangle, then fold that in upon itself to make a smaller rectangle, and then roll that up into a tube, like a sushi roll. Set these upright in your drawers. I had a hard time visualizing her technique from the book but this video helped. This method is amazing for people like me who are particularly visual because you can see everything at a glance, much more effectively than you can if your clothes are hanging or vertically stacked. And last but not least (something I thought particularly unique and wonderful), Ms. Kondo urges: Thank your stuff, it’s been working hard for you.
Marie Kondo. Isn’t she adorable?