Tidying Magic

A book about reducing the amount of stuff in the home has spun my head around on its axis. Me, the anti-clutter nut of all nuts. If I were a Friends character, I’d be fastidious Monica. Still, this book changed my view of stuff and clutter forever. 

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo is a 2011 Japanese book translated into English. The author’s own Kon-Marie Method promises to banish clutter forever. She claims that if you do it the way she suggests, it will be permanent with no backsliding.

According to Marie, we’ve been doing it all wrong. We purchase lovely storage containers and create built-in shelves. We make up rules like when one item comes in one item goes out. We create piles of stuff when we sort: Keep, Toss, Donate. It all seems so productive and logical but the problem arises three months later when we have to do it all again. The first thing we do wrong is we try to tidy by location. She says we should do it by category, and leave mementos for last because they’ll take the most time. She even has her own method of folding clothing and placing pieces in drawers, on end – not stacked.

Marie allows only one reason for keeping anything at all: it brings you joy. She takes it to the extreme, and that’s where her guarantee comes in. I’m sure it works if you’ve collected all of your clothes from every corner of the house and piled them into one room to go through one item at a time. Frankly, I’m not going to do that. But I did finally get rid of those pieces I’ve been hanging onto even though they don’t fit right or I feel frumpy in them. Buh-bye. No regrets. I’ve been going room by room, drawer by drawer, closet by closet, ruthlessly eliminating those things that I’ve been just silly about keeping. Useless things. Non-joyful things. Those things that are only here because of guilt or obligation. She goes through every type of item and every kind of reason for owning them. No excuses. Take a picture of them if you must, but get them out and feel liberated.

We all have too much stuff. Those shoes that were on a great sale but don’t really go with anything you have. The handbag that’s shredded inside from too much wear. The patterned dress in the back of the closet with the tags still on it that makes you look like a peasant girl instead of a free-loving 60s rock chick from Woodstock like you hoped! (Or maybe that’s just me.) Goodbye!

Marie has no patience for papers and she thinks detailed filing systems are a waste of time. You either keep it or you don’t, and when paper comes in it either has to be dealt with now or later. There’s nothing wrong with surrounding yourself with books that you love. But do you love them all, or have you thrown a few you don’t really care about in there too? Getting rid of those lemons makes room for more that make you happy.

She does get a little kooky about thanking items for being useful to you, greeting your house when you come home, and fully emptying your purse or briefcase every night. But the rest of her advice is so practical that this quirkiness comes off as adorable. This book flipped some sort of switch inside me. No more hesitation. No more hanging on. It stays or it goes, no regrets, and it feels great.

1 thought on “Tidying Magic”

  1. A friend of mine read her book last year and in turn ended up going through my closet for me one day when she was over. I was left with about 1/3 of my clothing and one pair of underwear (only because I begged). She rolled my clothes into these tiny packages and lined them up in my drawers. I admit I haven’t stuck to the rolling up and lining em up method but I don’t miss the 2/3 she eliminated whatsoever. I’m afraid to read the book myself. It would take me five years to go through all I have!

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