Book Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, Emily Woo Zeller

Title: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Author: Marie Kondo, Emily Woo Zeller (translator)
Published: January 15, 2011
Type: Audiobook
Language: English (translated)
Goodreads Summary: This best-selling guide to decluttering your home from Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes readers step-by-step through her revolutionary KonMari Method for simplifying, organizing, and storing.

Japanese organizational consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly declutter your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Whereas most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, the KonMari Method’s category-by-category, all-at-once prescription leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have been repeat customers (and she still has a three-month waiting list of new customers!). With detailed guidance for every type of item in the household, this quirky little manual from Japan’s newest lifestyle phenomenon will help readers clear their clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home–and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.

Thoughts on Tidying Before the Book

My room is a constant mess. I’ve yet to meet someone who’s even remotely happy about how their space is put together. Whether it’s a room, an apartment, or a whole house it just doesn’t seem like anyone has ever had success in cleaning. What’s surprising is how we’ve normalized negative emotions with the task of cleaning, and that’s what Marie Kondo pointed out to me in this book.

Let’s think about it for a bit. In my pool of family and friends we all spend eight to ten hours of the day at a job few of us like. Personally, I spend an hour and twenty minutes on commuting a day which is six hours and forty minutes in a week, and while I spend that on audio-books the concentration I use on it while driving does tire me out. If you add in the amount of people I must come face-to-face with I’m exhausted by the time I come home; I don’t want to do anything. I’ll look at my mess and tell myself I need to do it soon, but the process of choosing what I need and don’t need becomes muddled. I’m not alone. I’ve talked to a few people about this and our habit to hoard isn’t unusual. For one reason or another: guilt, love, obsession, obligation, forgotten; we become attached to these material things, and we simply don’t know how to handle it. That’s where the author-coined, KonMari method, comes in.

After the Book

I don’t remember when I first heard about Kondo’s method. Maybe you’ve come across the shirt folding method from Japan; you pinch point a and b and lift up the shirt and fold, turn and done. I think that piqued my interest first, and I think that’s how I came across one of her presentations on YouTube and being thoroughly impressed by her take on tidying.

In her book she divulges that she’s been on the hunt for the right cleaning method since middle school. I mean, how many of us think we want to clean at that age? Not many so you know she’s going to be unique.

Right off the bat, I can tell you Kondo’s book lives up to its reputation.

She talks about her history for the first parts of the book to lay the foundation of her trial and errors. This in itself was a lesson of growth because tidying and keeping your environment tidy is a mindset; it has to dig deep to be successful.

I found myself frequently relaying things back into my own life: what I’d done, what I can improve, and if there’s something new I could learn. I started to see it more as an overall self-help book than just about tidying.

She repeats that one should take each item and holding it in your hands. You must thank it for all it’s done for you and that you’ve learned more about yourself and your surroundings because of it. This actually works for me as someone who keeps gifts and items I don’t use because I keep things out of this guilt.

Her recommended process goes from large to small. She suggests starting with dividing things into clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous items, and items sentimental value. In this order you can start to discard everything you no longer need. When you’re left with all the things that you value and use you sort them and give them a home, the place it will return to every time it’s met it’s use or purpose. Now I’m making this as simple as can be, but there’s something about reading and coming to terms with the book itself.

My biggest take away is: a clean room is a clear mind, a concept I’ve been going against for far too long. It was only a matter of time before I’d come around to it I guess.

I really do recommend this book.

Now, I leave you with a simple, but powerful quote about tidying and life from Kondo herself:

There are three approaches we can take towards our possessions: face them now, face them some time, or avoid them until the day we die. The choice is ours.

*For any disconnect I started this post in September and finished in November.*

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