The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
By Marie Kondo
Ten Speed Press, 2014. 224 pgs. Nonfiction
Professional organizer Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing has been topping nonfiction bestseller lists for months now, and for good reason. Her methods differ from what readers might find in other organization books. Rather than offering tips on storage and how to maximize space, she instead urges readers to discard any items that don’t “spark joy.” The ultimate goal is to have a particular spot in the home for every remaining item. Theoretically, one never has to organize again.
If taken seriously, Kondo’s book has the potential to live up to its title; her methods really can be life-changing. As I read my way through the book, I spent a month going through everything I own and carefully deciding what to keep. After selling or donating at least fifteen garbage bags full of items, my dresser drawers, closet space, and book shelves have opened up. (I’m not alone, since consignment shops and used bookstores around the country have seen an influx of recent donations due to the “Kondo effect.”) I found it especially helpful to consider each item individually, analyzing whether it really brings me happiness right now, regardless of its cost, who gave it to me, its past sentimental value, or its potential usefulness. I also love the way my dresser looks after following Kondo’s advice to store folded clothing upright in the drawer so that you can see everything at once and remove an item without displacing anything else.
In general, I feel more relaxed in my space and have found it much easier to keep things tidy.
Perhaps the most eye-opening aspect for me of reading Kondo’s book and following her instructions has been how great it has felt to get rid of things. I expected to feel guilty or anxious, but instead, just as The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up promises, I felt only relief. I definitely found Kondo’s tendency to anthropomorphize belongings a little foreign (she talks about storing items in ways that will make them happy and recommends verbally thanking possessions before discarding them), but there is something strangely freeing about acknowledging what a particular possession has done for you and then letting it go. Decluttering may well become a way of life after reading this book.