The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
As soon as I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, everyone and their mother seemed to do the exact same thing. This little book has been getting a LOT of media attention lately! Decluttering is all the rage for minimalists and non-minimalists alike, and I wanted to share some of the points I found particularly useful and some I found a little bit too kooky for my taste.
The author, Marie Kondo, is a Japanese organizing consultant who developed her own method of tidying aka the KonMari method (a combo of her first and last name).
Does This Spark Joy? Her main principle when tidying is to ask if each item you come across sparks joy. You might ask, how could a sponge possibly spark joy? Well, there are products that do a good job, and there are household cleaners that makes your throat burn (I’m looking at you, Clorox). I chose not to take this principle too literally, and rather decided to keep items that made my life easier in some way.
Tidying Is A Special Event. Another core principle is that tidying is a special event, not an everyday thing. You decide where everything has it’s place once and for all, and when you use something, it’s a matter of putting it back or discarding it. Then, there is no tidying to be done.
tidy in categories
Marie recommends tidying in terms of category, not space. I have beauty products in both my bathroom and bedroom, so she would suggest gathering all of these like-items together, laying them out on the floor, and starting to get rid of things or find a permanent place for them. This is the order she recommends tidying in: clothes, books, papers, misc. (dvds, products, makeup, valuables, household supplies, kitchen goods, etc.), and sentimental items.
Arrange hanging clothes so they rise to the right. Put heavy items on left, by category: coats, dresses, jackets, pants, skirts, tops. I originally had mine arranged the opposite way. Marie proclaimed that doing this would literally make me feel instantly lighter. It didn’t, but it did end up making more sense.
Store folded clothes standing up rather than laid flat. At first I thought I would never store my clothes like this because it seemed like such hard work. Actually it takes the same amount of time as I was spending to fold them flat and it makes it so much easier to find an item you’re looking for because you can see everything lined up next to each other.
Fold your socks and underwear. Excuse me, what? Fold my socks?? Friends, don’t knock it til you’ve tried it. It gives you so much more space than piling them on top of each other in your drawer.
Keep your ‘hall of fame’ books. If you have books that you want to read but still haven’t, just donate them already. I can relate to this one because I’m far more likely to buy a new book then read one of the ones I have had sitting around on my bookshelf.
Discard Everything. This is Marie’s rule of thumb, unless a paper is 1) in use, 2) needed for a limited period of time, or 3) must be kept indefinitely. I hate paper clutter, so this is something I was willing to embrace.
Separate papers into two categories. Papers to be saved (policies, leases, seminar outlines, newspaper clippings) & papers to be dealt with (invoices, tax receipts).
Store papers in clear plastic folders. If you store your papers in plastic folders in a book-like way, you can easily access and read them, unlike one of those horizontal expandable file folders. I love this idea because I can never find what I’m looking for when I need it.
Like Marie, I am a non-believer in storage units. Unless you are between houses, I don’t see a reason for keeping stuff you aren’t using. As someone who lived in England for eleven years, I have to say that storage units are SUCH an American thing. To make use of space in your home, Marie recommends storing everything vertically. Don’t pile boxes on top of boxes because the higher they go, the more likely you are to forget them.
The Tips i probably won’t implement
Don’t keep products in the shower. Marie says it’s annoying to move them to clean, and they also become slimy when kept in the tub. Considering I only have about 5 products that I use in the shower, this wasn’t something I thought I needed to implement.
Empty the contents of your handbag every day. Marie empties her handbag at the end of the day and puts each item away in its designated spot to make it easier to switch bags. The only time I really switch bags is on the weekend when I don’t have work, and I always remember what needs to be moved over anyway: wallet, chapstick, keys, lotion, kleenex, and pens.
Say thank you to your possessions. Marie says she talks to her possessions. She says ‘thank you’ to her shoes for their hard work. I understand the notion, but I don’t think it’s good to put too much weight on material objects. It’s good to be grateful, but these are not living things. If it helps her, that’s great but I don’t think I’ll be doing that any time soon.
so, can you tidy-up for good?
Overall, I think the things we own should make our lives easier. We do not need an abundance of things to live well, and by deciding on a place for everything to go, I truly believe you can stop clutter from accumulating as long as you put your things back where they belong.
I’ve never been a hoarder or a messy person, but I haven’t been the tidiest either. Did this book change my life? No. The biggest change I’ve made after reading this book is to fold my socks. Do I recommend it? Yes. Some people will think it’s too quirky and nit-picky, but Marie has never had a client go back to their messy ways, so she must be doing something right.
What do you think of the KonMari method? Is it possible to declutter forever?
Main photo: Gravity Interior