The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
By Marie Kondo
Tantor Media, Inc.
@2015

The Konmari method is an organizational and decluttering method devised by Marie Kondo. Marie’s central claim is that “tidying can transform your life.”

And I believe it!

“When you put your house in order,” she says, “you put your affairs and your past in order too.”

I find that listening to the audiobook version of this work is very inspirational. I’ve been doing this while I take shortcuts here and there with Marie’s method. She would not be happy.

That said. I do like her method and think it’s a good one. I just don’t think it works when clutter has gotten so very out of hand, as my case was. I also have to have a way of clearing the mess away while I get back to my work week. Advise such as take all your books off their shelves and put them on the floor, just doesn’t work for me. I would have no floor space left!

I do like her advice to touch each book to see if it brings you joy. This helped me get rid of about 50 books last weekend. And I feel so much better! Just admitting that I am not going to read those books and if I really want to, I can check them out of a library made me feel so much better.

Marie lives in Japan. A web search reveals that the average size house in Japan is about 1,310 square feet. Apartments average at around 250 square feet. My house is 545 square feet. This seems so small. I can’t imagine living in less. But as I clear out the things I don’t love and don’t use, I’m finding that I really don’t need to hold onto all of these things. I would much rather have the space than to have the objects.

“Surround yourself only by things you love.”

This is a great way to live too. I’m not quite there yet, but with Marie’s help, I am getting closer.

“Tidying must start with discarding.”

I like her advice to sort by category, not by location. And you can subcategorize if you need to. The idea is to gather every item in the category you are working on and put them in one place, such as the living room floor. That’s where you start work. What to keep? What to discard?

Marie says that for people who have problems being tidy, there are three types: The can’t throw it away type. The can’t put it back type. And the can’t throw it away/can’t put it back type.

I am in the “can’t throw it away type.” But over the last six months, I have been throwing plenty away. Maybe I’ll conquer that soon.

Tidying consists of two essential actions: discarding and deciding where to put things. Marie says to not put anything away until you’ve decided what to keep.

Tidying should only be done once.

What?

Once an for all—within a specific period of time. Quickly, where “quickly” means about half a year. (I am a little behind schedule.)

Do not put your things away until you have finished the work of discarding (for half a year???). Once you get rid of everything you don’t need, then you can put things away.

Touch each thing to figure out how you feel. “Does this spark joy?”

Some categories are harder than others. Things that bring back memories, such as photos are not a good place to start. Start with the easy stuff.

Things have value in terms of function, information, emotional attachment, rarity.

The correct order for tidying?

  1. Clothes.
  2. Books.
  3. Papers.
  4. Komodo.
  5. Misc.
  6. Momentos.

My favorite tip: “Don’t let your family see.”

It hurts people to see you throwing out stuff they gave you or to see you throwing out things that are still useful. It’s just better to make these personal decisions by yourself.

I loved this book. But like I said, I live in such a small space that I have to have a large chunk of time available to throw it all on the floor at one time. Maybe Marie’s right, but so far I can’t do it. I have given away books, but I might be able to give away more books. I have given away clothes, but I could give away more there too. Right now I am working on papers. Her advice on papers? Throw them all away.

I just love Marie!

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