THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP

goat IIThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
By Marie Kondo

I love this little book. And I’d recommend it to the tidiest and un-tidiest among you. Whether you become a true convert to the KonMari Method or not, I think there’s a little something for everyone in Marie Kondo’s philosophy.

Becoming a KonMari acolyte was easy for me because I agree with her primary premise: clutter is distracting. I’ll even go so far as to say I find clutter depressing. It saps my energy and steals my focus. Marie has a simple solution for this: only keep the things that spark joy.

Now, I’ll warn you, Marie has a whole system for how to go about doing this and what she’s recommending is pretty intense, even for me. One category at a time, Marie wants you to pull together every item throughout your house that falls into a particular category (for instance, tops) and place every sweater and shirt you own on the floor. Then, pick up each top individually and consider, “does this shirt spark joy?” If it does not, you should discard it. Marie wants you to do this with every item in your house until you are left with only the things that spark joy in you. As you can imagine, many of her private clients end up parting with a good 50% of their possessions this way. Only after you have completed the discarding part of the project are you to consider where you will store the items you’ve decided to keep.

As someone who’s moved a lot over the past few years, I’ve been using a variation on Marie’s system for a while, the conscious criteria being, “Is this item worth the effort to pack, unpack and pay someone to transport?” So while I don’t necessarily have a lot of possessions at this point, Marie had some very interesting suggestions for me regarding folding (yes people, I said folding) and my elaborate storage systems (bottom line: I don’t need them, fancy storage systems are for hoarders with resources).

But here’s what I really want to emphasize to those of you whose finger is hovering over the mouse, a half-click away from shutting down any more references to the perfect fold or drawer dividers. Even if you don’t follow Marie’s systems to a T (no pun intended), she has some valuable insight to offer. By putting our house in order, we clear the physical clutter and the mental clutter lifts as well. Sometimes a lack of distraction forces us to face things we’d rather avoid, but it can also allow us to find focus and clarity. And through her particular method, Marie’s clients find that they have strengthened their decision-making skills. In some cases, this has led to greater professional success and even improved health.

Beyond these quantitative measures, I liked what Marie had to say about gratitude, letting go, learning to live without, and balance. And it is on this last note that she truly won me over because, I have to admit, by the end of the book I was starting to get a little concerned that maybe Marie was going just a little overboard with this whole tidying thing. But then I came across her final message, in which she stresses that her obsession with helping others tidy is really about helping them move to the next stage of their lives. “Your real life begins after putting your house in order,” says Marie.

What do you think? Is this just the latest craze of a privileged class that has time to consider what household items spark joy in their hearts or is Marie on to something here?

Note From The Land That Invented Curbside Recycling: While my adoration for Marie burns bright, during the reading of this book, I did grow increasingly concerned about the lack of references to donating, recycling and composting discarded items. From what I can gather, I think Marie is pretty much fine with people tossing half their worldly possessions into the landfill. Please consider responsible disposal options if you decide to follow Marie’s advice.

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