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The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, by Marie Kondo

01-09 Tidying Book Cover

There’s a lot of advice in the world about how to keep an organized life, simplify, and reduce clutter.

While providing practical advice about removing clutter and then arranging the remainder, Marie Kondo tells her delightful story of being obsessed with cleaning and decluttering since she was a little girl.

If you want to fail, she says, tackle organizing your home (or office) a few minutes a day or one section at a time.

Instead, she recommends decluttering first… and doing so with one type of item at a time. Clothes first (starting with shirts and sweaters, moving on eventually to shoes). Then books. Papers (nearly all of which we can discard, she says). Miscellaneous things. Mementos last (because if you start with them, you are doomed).

After removing the excess, then it’s time to store the remainder. She has recommendations for how to fold clothes, file papers, make use of free storage containers, and get the most out of a closet.

There are a few recommendations that I’m not sure about, for example:

  • Removing everything from my purse every time I come home (although I’m in favor of removing everything that doesn’t need to go out with me the next time)
  • Thanking inanimate objects (although I like the idea of acknowledging grateful feelings)

Still, I’m pretty intrigued by this method. It makes sense to me that going through items that are similar (clothes, books, papers) at one time would work. It takes advantage of the motivational principle of dividing a big project into smaller goals. For example, going through all the novels at once sounds a lot easier than trying to go through whatever types of books on a bookshelf while also working on whatever else is in that whole room.

Marie Kondo says that if you focus on tidying up as one big project, that this is the way to overcome a tendency that most people have to revert. In other words, she says that this method has lasting effects. Work through the whole house (or office) once, live an uncluttered life forever.

From her experience helping many, many clients to put their houses in order, she says that they sometimes have a whole new life, from feeling just generally happier, to reducing anxiety, to gaining confidence, to figuring out what they truly want to do in life.

Does it really work? I’d like to find out. Her excitement about the subject is a little bit infectious.


Book | The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Post | Proximal Goals

Review | 10 Tips to Make You More Tidy Now

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