Book Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

In the ever progressing journey of minimizing our possessions and decluttering our home, I have come across numerous books on the subject.  While most of them are inspiring and motivating, one in particular tops my list so far.  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo, will galvanize you into action.  There is a reason it has sold over 2 million copies and has been #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list: it really works.

BEFORE

BEFORE

 

AFTER

AFTER

The KonMari Method basically revolves around the simple question, “Does this (item) spark joy?”  Kondo recommends holding each item in your hand, and if it makes you happy–or sparks joy, keep it.  If not, get rid of it.  Just using this simple process has had amazing results in my decluttering campaign.  It feels incredibly freeing to let go of items that aren’t positively influencing my life.  The focus is more about deciding what to keep rather than what we ‘have to’ get rid of.

Along with deciding which items in your home bring you joy, Kondo requests that you follow a certain order when you discard.  She recommends you start with clothing, then move on to books, papers, miscellany and lastly mementos.  Rather than going room by room, she tells you ‘tidy’ by category.  So, for example, you take all of your clothing in the entire house and put it in a big pile.  Not only does this help you deal with it all at once, it also allows you to see the extent of your wardrobe and to easily weed out multiples.

Many people–only half-jokingly–say that if they got rid of every piece of clothing that didn’t bring them joy, they wouldn’t have anything left to wear.  I promise this is very unlikely to happen.  What you will probably notice instead is that you really only wear a small portion of the clothes that you have.  Why not give them some room in the closet and get rid of the guilt that you feel every time you look at that dress that doesn’t fit quite right– but that you paid way too much money for?!

Speaking of guilt (I know you have it, too), Kondo gives you a method for dealing with that.  Say you have that expensive, ill-fitting dress buried deep in your closet.   Instead of hanging on to it ‘just because,’ thank it for the joy it brought you when you bought it and donate it to someone who will love it.  This also works for gifts you are given that just aren’t your style.  Thank the item for the joy it gave you and the giftee, and then pass it on.  My mom and sister actually told me this several years ago when I was downsizing and being sentimental about some things they had given me.  They told me that they knew it had made me happy when I received it, and that is what mattered to them.  The gift was given for the moment, and I didn’t have to save it for posterity.  What a relief!

Aside from a few areas in the book where it is quite obvious that Kondo is a single woman with no husband or children (and their included paraphernalia) to work around, it is a simple method to follow.  I have moved on from clothing to books, and I am happy to report that our home and I are both breathing a little more freely.

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