I read this book as part of my read goal to read these 12 Books By Female Writers of Colour in 2018. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo has been around for a couple of years now and I decided I would finally dive into it since my eyes just light up when I think about organizing cluttered spaces. Kondo’s organizing method she calls KonMari can quite easily be summarized by her now popular phrase “Does this spark joy?” – a guiding question to sort out your mess.
This was an extremely easy read which I read through Audible (my first audio book by the way). Many of her ideas are things we already know, but that did not take away my enjoyment of going through the book.
These are the ideas that stuck with me as I was reading this book:
- Storage is a false myth and so do not just buy organizing systems without fully evaluating the things you really want to keep. Storage solutions basically give you the cosmetic look of being organized but really all you did was arrange your clutter. So do not buy storage systems without first visioning and evaluating your clutter.
- Aim for perfection just once. Throughout the first two chapters she says that organizing should be a big event once, and not always. It is useful to differentiate organizing as more of a laborious, “spring-clean”, and tidying as the day-to-day habits of putting things where they belong after you use them. She discourages cleaning that carries on as she says it will demotivate you from doing it as it feels never ending, so just do it all in one shot.
- Everything must have a place because at the heart of it, not having designated space for everything you own is what creates mess to begin with. If something does not have a home then you should probably get rid of it.
- Tidy by category, not by location because sometimes items of the same category are located in different parts of your home (or work). Take everything you own of this category out of the closets and lay it or pile it out in the open so you can see all you’re working with. For that category, visualize how these items will look when they are in their destination. As you go through each item ask yourself a couple of times why you have this item, and why you love it using the guiding question “does this spark joy?”. After examining where you stand with the item you put it in your purge and keep piles.
- Don’t start with things you really like because they are the hardest to get rid off. We all have things that we generally have a harder time getting rid of than others. Sometimes the reasons are more apparent to the rest of the world, many times they are not. You must figure out what those categories these are for you and make sure you save them till the very end.
- Don’t let anyone see your purge because what you do not need, your family doesn’t either. It is very easy for your friends and family to want to take your purged items because they are really nice or they are new so surely you can’t just get rid of that. Rather than letting them watch you purge, only offer them something you know they actually would use otherwise you are creating another messy home.
- Organize vertically because when you create piles, you will create mess when you are taking something out. While this concept easily applied to my drawers I was skeptical of this suggestion for my awkward closet at first. Organizing vertically in cubes can create a happy medium for awkward closet spaces like mine.
- Use shoe boxes and dividers to create neat drawers and separate your items. Kondo recommends using any square or rectangular boxes and their lids to organize your cupboards and drawers. Apple product boxes are a nice sturdy example of ones you might want to try.
Overall it was a good read to begin a new year. There are some ideas that felt a little regressive or unhelpful to me like the idea of packing purses in each other, or emptying my bag everyday. My favourite nuggests from Marie Kondo are firstly always asking if “this sparks joy” and also her folding technique – my closet and drawers look amazing! I am yet to properly implement the “organize from right to left, dark to light” tip but I will be trying it out.
The main goal of decluttering the KoMari way is not so much about getting rid of everything, but more about surrounding yourself with only things that spark joy – which is a philosophy I have been intentionally living for last two years. Being attached to anything of your past is an expression of the fear you have about the future. And the best way to figure out what you need is by getting rid of what you don’t need – so just do it!
live + love,