I believe I first found out about Marie Kondo through the blog of Valerie, someone I met at a blogging conference a few years ago. On her blog “Choosing Figs“, she wrote about how she got started with tidying her apartment, how she went along with it and recently on how she’s doing a year later after decluttering her home.
After reading the blog, I spend some time online reading book reviews and watching videos on the life and work of author Marie Kondo, and last Christmas, I finally asked for a copy of her most popular book “The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up“.
I finished it right before her Netflix series launched, and the world became a bit KonMari-obsessed, and have since also started on reviewing all the items I have in my home and starting to discard things left and right (or better said: started focusing on things that REALLY spark joy!)
In this blog, you can read my review of the blog, with some of my favourite quotes, and I hope you find it inspiring to read as well!
What we'll cover in this article
THE LIFE CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP BOOK REVIEW
About the Writer
Marie Kondo is a Japanese organising consultant and author, who has written four books on organising. Her book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” became a #1 New York Times best-selling book and she was listed as one of Time’s “100 most influential people” in 2015.
She has loved organising since her childhood and began her tidying consultant business as a 19-year-old university student in Tokyo. Today, she has her own company, helping people around the world to transform their cluttered homes into spaces of serenity and inspiration.
Marie has been featured on more than fifty major Japanese television and radio programs as well as in Time Magazine, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The London Times, Vogue Magazine, the Ellen Show, the Rachael Ray Show and many more.
Of course, everyone now knows her for the popular Netflix show “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo”, that was released on 1 January 2019.
The Content of the Book
The book is made up of 5 chapters, each sub-divided into different sections tackling all the elements of which the KonMari-method exists.
In short, Marie Kondo teaches you how you should focus on discarding items first (by category, not by place!), and should only then move on to organizing your space (everything has it’s own place), and you should do this all thoroughly and completely in one go.
She believes that a dramatic reorganization of the home causes correspondingly dramatic changes in lifestyle and perspective. In her own words, her method is life transforming and much more than just about organising alone. It is all about changing the way you think, changing your habits and understanding for yourself what you need in life and what you don’t.
A lot of people (including myself) can’t keep their house in order, because what we often do is just sorting through our stuff and storing it halfway, but in the KonMari method, you’ll literally dig deeper and look at the source of the disorganization in your life, clean up your psychological space and only then clean up your physical space. This is definitely something that comes across well in the Netflix-series, as you hear everyone’s story about how their homes because cluttered.
There are some important strategies in the KonMari method that keep resurfacing, so let’s have a look at them. I’ve included questions above each section that you can answer for yourself.
HOW DO YOU WANT TO LIVE?
Marie says it’s a good idea to start this book by thinking about your own situation and really try and understand why things have become messy and how that makes you feel, to then focus on what your ideal outcome would be (feel like) before you start to actually organize your house.
Draw a vivid picture in your head of what your goal is. What would it be like to live in a clutter-free space? Why do you want to live like that? How does it make you feel?
WHAT CAN YOU DISCARD FIRST?
After you know what you want, it’s time to examine what you own. The great thing about Marie’s method is that you focus on choosing what you want to keep, not what you want to get rid of. What sparks joy in your life? Pick up each and every item you own and ask “does this spark joy?” If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it.
Marie tells us that we should then declutter all in one go, because the longer it takes, the tired we become and the more chance we have of giving up. It’s not clear in her book what she means by ‘in one go’, because in the Netflix series, you can see that the process takes a couple weeks for all people, and she even talks about half a year in the book.
I guess what’s most important is her rule of tidying in the right order, so you are really strict on not putting your things away until you have finished the process of discarding. It’s so easy to just stop discarding things and simply shove things back into a drawer instead, right?
DO YOU BURDEN OTHERS WITH YOUR STUFF?
Another tip that really stood out for me was not to let your family see what’s there. Do the discarding and disposing of items yourself, because apparently it’s extremely stressful for parents to see what their children discard. As Marie writes: “The sheer volume of the pile can make parents anxious about whether their children can survive on what’s left.” This really resonated with my own situation and I have found it much easier to declutter when I do things alone.
It’s not that you don’t want your parents to not keep some of the items if they are useful to them (I don’t like throwing things out when they can be of use to others), but something I’ve experienced over and over again trying to get rid of items in my parents’ house that are mine, is that they retrieve items they don’t want to waste, but at the same time also don’t really need in their own life (*ugh broken suitcase that they might be able to fix, but will never ever use themselves… and with that about a 100 other items…*). This actually increases the burden of unnecessary items in their home instead of that you help them! This was a huge eyeopener in Marie Kondo’s book.
ARE YOU THE CHANCE YOU WISH TO SEE?
Along with the previous point, I also really resonated with the section in Marie’s book about feeling annoyed with your family for being untidy. She says that the urge to point out someone else’s failure to tidy is usually a sign that you are neglecting to take care of your own space, which is SO TRUE! Just start tidying your own things, because this sets off a chain reaction.
WHAT CATEGORY DOES THE ITEM BELONG IN?
What personally really helped me in cleaning KonMari-style, is to collect all the items that fall within the same category at one time. Not only is it then much more clear how many things you have that are quite similar (or even the exact same), it also makes it super easy to break up your tidying process, as you can do for example one category each morning of your day and keep making progress throughout the week.
Marie says that the best sequence is to tackle clothes first, then books, papers, miscellany (‘komono‘), and lastly, mementos. I did stick to this order, but I found it easier to divide the miscellany into further categories. I guess it depends on what you personally have a lot of how you divide that (I have a lot of bags for example, so I made that an entire new category). What I do agree on with her is that the process of deciding what to keep and what to discard will go much more smoothly if you begin with items that are easier to make decisions about.
In the section on clothing, Marie shows how she divides these in further subcategories such as tops (shirts, sweaters, vests), bottoms (pants, skirts), clothes that should be hung (jackets, coats, suits, dresses), socks, underwear, bags, accessories (scarves, belts, hats), clothes for specific events (swimsuits, sports clothing, uniforms) and shoes.
As you could see in the Netflix series, it really helps to gather all items from around the house (check everywhere!) and place them in a pile on the floor or on your bed to see the amount of items you actually own. Shocker: it’s A LOT.
After deciding on what you want to keep, it’s time to fold them properly! The KonMari method’s goal is to fold each piece of clothing into a smooth rectangle. Then fold again, in halves or in thirds, so you can stand the garment on edge, fitting the height of the drawer. Even socks and stockings get folded, or rolled up like a sushi-roll.
Any clothes that “look like they would be happier hung up” go on hanger, with the same category side by side and with heavy items (long, heavier material, dark in color) on the left side and light items (short, thinner material, lighter in color) on the right.
For books, the recommendation is to divide them into four broad categories: general (books read for pleasure), practical (references, cookbooks), visual (photograph collections) and magazines.
Which books gives you a thrill of pleasure when you touch it? Make sure you don’t start reading it. Reading clouds your judgement, as Marie says it. The only moment that’s the right time to read a book is when you first encounter it…
Let’s be clear: Marie does NOT like paper. As she says herself: “My basic principle for sorting papers is to throw them all away.” Right. She recommends to only keep papers that are either currently in use, needed for a limited period of time or must be kept indefinitely.
For storing, keep everything in one spot and let go of things like lecture materials, credit card statements, warranties for electrical appliances, greeting cards, used checkbooks and pay slips. What paper can you let go of?
KOMONO (MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS)
Marie’s rules are simple: keep things because you love them – not “just because”. That makes it much easier to sort through things such as CD’s / DVD’s, skin care products, make-up, accessories, valuables (passports, creditcards…), electrical equipment and appliances (cameras, ALL.THE.CORDS.), household equipment (stationary and writing materials, sewing kits…), household supplies (medicine, detergents, tissues…), kitchen goods / food supplies (spatulas, pots, blenders…), hobby-related items and other items (spare change, figurines…).
I liked the section about gifts, because as Marie says, “the true purpose of a present is to be received.” They are a means for conveying someone’s feelings, so when that’s been done, you can let it go if it doesn’t spark you joy anymore. Just thank it for the joy it gave when you first received it. Who knew?!
SENTIMENTAL ITEMS / PHOTOS
Our items either have value in terms of function, information or emotional attachment and Marie suggests to deal with emotional items the last.
When you get there, consider carefully why you have that item, when you got it, what meaning it had for you and then reassess the role it plays in your life right now. This way, you process your past and you’ll be surprised at how many of the things you possess have already fulfilled their role. Simply thank these items and let them go. Marie says that truly precious memories will never vanish even if you discard the objects associated with them, which I really think is such a nice thought!
STORING YOUR THINGS
When you’ve reduced your belongings through the process of tidying, you will come to a point where you suddenly know how much is just right for you. Marie Kondo calls this the “just-right click point”. When you’ve reached that, it’s time to store the things away!
I think the most important lesson from her book is that every item should have a designated spot, or as she says “a home”, and that all items in the same category should go together. I often find when trying to clean my house that I just put things in a random spot, because a) I’m lazy and b) I am not really sure where it’s supposed to go. When you’ve chosen your belongings properly, you can find a nice home for them and will be left only with the amount that fits perfectly in the space you currently own.
Another eye-opener: your storage solution should reduce the effort needed to put things away, not the effort needed to get them out!
I started tidying my house and even got a nice message from Marie Kondo herself!
“Tidy a little a day and you’ll be tidying forever.”
“Effective tidying involves only two essential actions: discarding and deciding where to store things… Once you have put your house in order, tidying will be reduced to the very simple task of putting things back where they belong.”
“Things stored out of sight are dormant. By exposing them to the light of day and jolting them alive, so to speak, you’ll find it’s surprisingly easy to judge whether they touch your heart.”
“People who have a convenient place to send things, such as a parents’ house, are actually quite unfortunate.”
“Because I was poor at developing bonds of trust with people, I had an unusually strong attachment to things. I think that precisely because I did not feel comfortable exposing my weakness or my true feelings to others, my room and the things in it became very precious.”
“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.”
“Mystical electrical cords will always remain just that – a mystery.”
“Someday” never comes”
“The best way to find out what we really need is to get rid of what we don’t.”
At the end of the book, I really got a good sense of Marie’s message that tidying is all about transforming the home into a sacred space and finding our for yourself what truly sparks joy in your life. But it goes much deeper than that. As she writes: our possessions very accurately relate the history of the decisions we have made in life and by tidying, you actually get much clearer on those decisions and become more confident in making them in the future.
If you dive into the reasons why you can’t let certain things go, you will find out it’s because you’re attached to something in your past, or because you fear something in your future. So how do you really want to live your life? What do you want to achieve? Once you know all this, you can start seeing tidying as a celebration!
Your real life begins after putting your house in order. So you might as well enjoy the process. Thank you Marie.
Make sure you grab a copy of the book! Highly recommended, especially for those of you that have seen the Netflix series and want a bit more in-depth info!
GET THIS BOOK YOURSELF!
Title: the life-changing magic of tidying up – the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing
Author: Marie Kondo
Publisher: Crown Publishing
Where to buy: Amazon
PIN IT FOR LATER!
Disclaimer: I asked this book for Christmas. Thanks mom!