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The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing Hardcover – October 14, 2014
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ONE OF THE MOST INFLUENTIAL BOOKS OF THE DECADE—CNN
Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles?
Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have lapsed (and she still has a three-month waiting list).
With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy” (and which don’t), this international bestseller will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home—and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.
From the Publisher
“Ms. Kondo delivers her tidy manifesto like a kind of Zen nanny, both hortatory and animistic.”—The New York Times
“A literal how-to-heave-ho, and I recommend it for anyone who struggles with the material excess of living in a privileged society. (Thanks to Ms. Kondo, I kiss my old socks goodbye.) . . . To show you how serious my respect for Ms. Kondo is: if I ever get a tattoo, it will say, Spark Joy!”—Jamie Lee Curtis, Time
“This book lives up to its title: it will change your life.”—B.J. Novak, People
“This book is a cult. A totally reasonable, scary cult that works, doesn’t kill people (a bonus), but does drastically change your life. In this case — for the better.”—BuzzFeed
“The most organized woman in the world.”—PureWow
“The Japanese expert’s ode to decluttering is simple and easy to follow.”—Vogue
“Her voice . . . is by turns stern and enchanted, like a fairy godmother for socks.”—The Wall Street Journal
“Reading it, you glimpse a glittering mental freedom from the unread/uncrafted/unworn, buyer’s remorse, the nervous eyeing of real estate listings. Life’s overwhelm, conquered.”—The Atlantic
“All hail the new decluttering queen Marie Kondo, whose mess-busting bestseller has prompted a craze for tidying in homes across the world . . . one proper clear out is all you need for the rest of your life.”—Good Housekeeping (UK)
“How could this pocket-sized book, which has already sold over 2 million copies and sits firmly atop the New York Times Best Seller list, make such a big promise? Here's the short answer: Because it's legit. . . . Kondo's method really can change your life — if you let it.”—Today
“Kondo challenges you to ask yourself whether each object you have is achieving a purpose. Is it propelling you forward or holding you in the past?”—USA Today
“A brief and bracing practical guide to tidying up your home.”—Financial Times
“[It is] enough to salute Kondo for her recognition of something quietly profound: that mess is often about unhappiness, and that the right kind of tidying can be a kind of psychotherapy for the home as well as for the people in it . . . Its strength is its simplicity.”—The London Times
About the Author
Enchanted with organizing since her childhood, Marie began her tidying consultant business as a 19-year-old university student in Tokyo. Today, Marie is a renowned tidying expert helping people around the world to transform their cluttered homes into spaces of serenity and inspiration.
Marie has been featured on more than fifty major Japanese television and radio programs as well as in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Times of London, Vogue, Ellen, the Rachael Ray show, and many more. She has also been listed as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people.
- Publisher : Ten Speed Press; 1st edition (October 14, 2014)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 224 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1607747308
- ISBN-13 : 978-1607747307
- Reading age : 8 years and up
- Item Weight : 9.4 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.16 x 0.85 x 7.29 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #2,298 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on January 31, 2017
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by Marie Kondo.
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is an absolute gas! I can’t find any other way to say it, but to use that old fifties slang word, for a very new book. I never knew cleaning up your crap could be this much fun.
I’m not sure why I picked it up to read? I had lots of vital reading/research to get done for my own book. I certainly didn’t have time for someone else’s. But that title: ‘Life changing?’ Tidying up could be life changing? Oh, come on. It drew me in. I needed to know what this woman had in mind. On top of that, there was that word: “Tidying.” Who says that? Say the word out loud. Doesn’t it feel strangely wonderful in your mouth. These must have been the things that got me to purchase the book. But could what was inside keep me going?
Well, I’m here writing this review, so you know the answer to that. There was much to keep me going and I found myself totally excited about the potential of ‘tidying’ up my apartment by the KonMari Method. There was really only one spot in my place that visibly looked messy and then, of course, there was the closet. But, I didn’t think this would be all that much of a job; I was eager to go on a spiritual journey by tidying up. I was ready to have my life changed through the KonMari Method.
This book is about much more than just “tidying up.” Let me share how to store your socks according to the KonMari Method. Kondo tells a story about an interaction she had with a client. (Professionally, she consults with individuals and groups about tidying up) She opened the woman’s sock drawer and “gasped. It was full of potato-like lumps that rolled about.” I found Kondos’ reaction hysterical; she certainly takes her work seriously. In bold, she says, “Never, ever tie up your stockings. Never ever ball up your socks.” This sounded like good advice even though I was guilty of this shocking behavior. I thought it made sense because you could stretch out the tops of your socks. But this was NOT Kondo’s reasoning:
“Look at them carefully,” she says. “This should be a time for them (the socks) to rest. Do you really think they can get any rest like that?” I discovered I had been torturing
my socks and knew I couldn’t ever ball them up again. The guilt would be too
great. I switched to the KonMari Method for storing socks. Wonderfully explained in the book.
Some Tenants of The KonMari Method
1. Do it all in one day (This prevents rebound)
2. Take out all your things—and she means everything—and put them on the floor.
3. Don’t even consider putting anything away. Discard first. (“Keep only those things that speak to your heart and discard the rest)
4. Fold, hang and store by category, not location. (Sorting by location is a “fatal” mistake)
5. The special order for tidying that you must follow is this:
d. Miscellany (Kondo calls this komono)
How to Decide What to Discard
Now, here’s my favorite part of the book. Throughout she tells you things like
you have to pick up every single item in your space one by one, hold it in your hand and ask yourself if it gives you joy. The question is NOT whether it gave you joy at some past time; the question is ‘Does it give you joy NOW.” If not, it goes in the Discard pile, but FIRST, you must thank it for giving you joy in the past. When I was only thinking about doing this tidying project, I found this humorous, later I thought of it as kind of cute and now I love the whole idea of it. Kondo thanks objects all day long and I’ve begun to see what a terrific idea that is. You begin to live in a world in which everything is alive and you’re always grateful.
There are lots more goodies in the book. These were the things that endeared me and made me decide to go on my own spiritual journey. I chose a day (Kondo says the day you choose to tidy up should be especially chosen. Make it an event) I decided that I would not just clean up that one messy area and the closet. I would, instead, use the KonMari Method to tidy up everything: my closets, my drawers, my desk, my medicine cabinet, the whole place.
The Results of My Own Tidying Up Spiritual Journey
I started at seven in the morning and ended at ten at night when I could barely move. I was attempting to follow Kondo’s rule to do it all in one day to prevent rebound.
I got a lot done in that day, but I did not finish. I was slowed down by deciding whether items of my clothes gave me joy or not. The only way I could tell was by putting them on. How I looked in the clothes was what generated the joy, not the simple fabric by itself.
I probably saved some time on the books, however. A few weeks before I read Kondo’s book, I had organized my bookshelves and turned them into a kind of library giving each book its own place and recording the location on my laptop. As a researcher I often have to go back and read a section of a book. I am frequently frustrated by not being able to find a book among the many I have on my shelves. Sometimes, I’ve bought the same book a second or third time. It turned out that my organizational system wasn’t too different from Kondo’s, except there was one giant difference. She says you should throw out books you’ve already read because you’ll never re-read them. As a researcher I may not read a book cover to cover, but I’ll go back to the same section or sections often.
Kondo has a unique way of storing clothes. She recommends folding some blouses in a specific way, instead of hanging them on a hanger. This type of folding allows you you to stand your blouses up in the drawer. I tried it and I liked it. I also liked the extra space I had in my closet.
But as I said before, I didn’t finish in one day and I only have a studio apartment. I think someone with two or three rooms would have a worse time getting done in one day. Kondo doesn’t mention the bathroom, the kitchen, or the bedroom which I consider part of my tidying up.
Overall, though, I learned a lot from Kondo’s book, and I think I’m going to continue using her approach in the future. Instead of risking rebound by doing the tidying I have left in short bursts over a number of days I have planned a second event for next week in which I will complete my spiritual journey.
Kondo says, “Tidying is a dialogue with one’s self…There is a significant similarity between meditation under a waterfall cascading down your body and tidying.
Personally, I’d rather have the waterfall, but I do love Marie Kondo’s approach
to tidying up and life.”
“Does this spark joy? If it does, keep it. If not, throw it out.” (page 47) This approach, although simple, is empowering and frees us from sentiment or allows us to embrace sentiment. Either, yes or no. I’m telling you, my four-year-old daughter had the easiest time with this approach as she doesn’t have as much nostalgia as us adults. HIMG_7673er ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ was quick and fast. I had more sentiment to her stuff than she did and actually kept some stuff she said ‘no’ to (grimace – that’s the mom in me). And she actually likes to keep her stuff tidy (well, as tidy as a kid can keep things) after this experience.
But the Konmari Method isn’t just the simple prescription of the question of joy. There is actually a formula. A way to ultimately and practically change your life. You have to do it in one go, or one set time. It took me three days to do it the first time. And I only have a 750 sq. ft. apartment, but I went through every nook and cranny. I have spoken to others who have read the book and tried the approach, but tried to split up the time. Maybe the kitchen one day and a month later the bedroom, but then kind of trailed off. Marie knows what she is talking about as she very strictly says to do it altogether. There’s a reason for this. It’s like (well, it actually is) doing a cleanse and doing it over a couple of days is much more beneficial for us and realistic for us to complete. If we take a weekend and schedule it, then we are actually scheduling rather than getting around to it ‘one day’. Yes, it will take some time, but afterwards cleaning your house on a regular basis is much easier and just keeping it tidy is easier. Plus, you save time in the long run as you know where everything is and where everything goes. Okay, saying all this, if you don’t keep it up, your house can start to go back to crazy land. That’s what happened to me as I became intensely busy and after several months I had to re-set. But this time it only took me six hours to Konmari (yes, I am using it as a verb) my house AND do major deep cleaning. Now, everything – even my files – are all nice and organized. I think every quarter I may need to do this, but at this time I also bagged up more stuff (as did Bella – we did have a yard sale, as well to share our former treasures with others and to have a lesson in the costs of goods), and it is just a regular process that will become easier and easier. (see my vlog and blog for video and pictures! [...])
There is also an order to this Method. Marie gives you a breakdown of which room to tidy and in which order. She even gives you a technique on folding clothes, hanging them up in the closet, and storing them. There are ways to use boxes so your stuff doesn’t scatter in drawers and ways to arrange your vegetables in your refrigerator so you see them and eat them. The only thing missing is that I don’t feel like she really goes into depth for kitchen storage and cabinets like she does for clothing. Maybe it’s because Japanese have way cuter, hIMG_7675igh-tech appliances compared to our American clunky ones, or that they have way smaller kitchens so just can’t store as much. Also, I don’t feel like she wrote very much about tidying with children, but that’s probably because she doesn’t have kids. That might be a great second book. Just saying. But, I still do love this book and it did make a very real impact!
So, how did this change my life? Well, simply being able to relax more in my house and to feel organized is huge. I primarily work from home so I require a tidy space. Also, this has changed my perspective on consuming, especially clothes. I don’t shop a lot anyway, as it is super hard to shop when you have a little one, but I do only shop at places where I know they have quality products. For clothes, I shop at Etcetera (the prices and styles are awesome and I know the owner and want to support her), and at Stilettos (they have good quality clothes and carry limited amounts). I only buy what fits amazingly and what is comfortable. After listening to Andrew Morgan on the Rich Roll podcast, I would also like to start looking at more ‘fair trade’ clothing stores online. I am veering away from quantity to quality and understand now that having fewer clothes, but those that actually fit right and don’t fall apart, is better than having a bunch of clothes that you can’t find in the closet. But, I would like to really examine where products originate from. Has the process for making them been caught up in the system of slave labor and sweat shops? I am so looking forward to watching The True Cost by Andrew Morgan and have it in my Netflix queue for the next movie I watch. I really believe that tidying is life-changing when done right, as it relates to environmental and Eco-friendly ways of living. It may sound strange, but when you are asking the question, “Does this item I am about to buy spark joy?” you really start thinking about many things: Is it comfortable? Does it have a purpose? Will it last? Do I actually like it? Will it be used? How was it made? Will it benefit others if I buy it? The fewer things you have and the fewer things you purchase, you ultimately have more respect for them and simultaneously demand more service from them. So that is how it has changed my life. With the American consumer industry – we IMG_7741just buy and throw away and buy more. Things are cheap so it’s okay if they fall apart, right? No, not at all. Things still cost money and that money is your time. For me, I learned how I was disrespecting myself and others by buying indiscriminately, and then crying about my credit cards (because all those $3.49 trinkets and $.99 bulls*** adds up pretty quickly). What tidying your house can do for you, can somehow lead to social justice empowerment in the strangest, yet most logical way. I know some of you just want to be able to see your bed and don’t want a social agenda. I get that. But, we all care about where our money goes and relish that moment of clarity when our house is in order. I’m just saying – you can get that and more.
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I bought this book on several recommendations. But I should have asked myself if the thought of reading it sparks joy before buying it. This is the biggest take-away from this book. Now I find myself asking this question whenever I go shopping. If the thought of eating it, wearing it, doing it, doesn't spark joy, it's time for reflection.
And that's it. The rest of the book is minutiae of how to discard and store things according to the Kon-Marie method which the writer invented which reads like a self-praising professor who gives boring lectures on how his past students did extremely well due to his teaching methods and how other teachers aren't that good or effective.
The irony is that this book is for hoarders but hoarders would never pick up this book. Or even if they pick it up, they would just pick it up to hoard it and not to read it. Or to read it and never follow through it. And if you are thinking of gifting it to someone you think has a hoarding problem, forget it. Hoarding is a psychological issue and unless the person navigates and cleans rubbish off their mental recesses, reading this book is just another dump in the ocean of mental junk.
The gist of the book:
- Take up cleaning the whole house (or universe) at one go! This probably won't work if you live in a joint family with your kids and parents and parents-in-law because you'll have to spare a week or two for it- on your own without interruption.
- Discard anything that doesn't spark joy. (Alas, I have bought things when I was younger and stupider and I have no spare monies to buy them again.) But this book maybe the one to go.
- Sort things by category, not by location. Example, if you are sorting the clothes, then sort ALL the clothes in your house at once, not just in one cupboard. (This is great, but I have all my stuff in their exact location already)
- Then the rest of the book is about how to store items in a cupboard (for which if you follow the book, you might need new cupboards with more drawers and clothes that don't wrinkle), how to clean the bathroom, how to arrange things in the kitchen, how to sort papers and documents and books, how to let go of gifts you do not use, etc. etc. etc. etc. till you get bored of reading the book about cleaning and decide to get rid of boredom by watching a movie and the idea of cleaning goes out of your brain and into the same vacuum of universe you were trying to clean.
(P.S. I read the whole book)
NOT RECOMMENDED FOR:
- People who already follow a routine cleanup of their stuff. For example, I have decided I'm only going to keep a certain number of clothes in my cupboard. I buy clothes ONLY when they get worn out or stop fitting. I do not buy clothes every Diwali or even for any close family member's wedding. Anything unused for 5 years has to go.
- People who are quite organized or like organizing tactics like DIY storage solutions. This book is against storage solutions and instead focuses on discarding.
- People suffering from some form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorders- we guys are already doing great at cleaning. No need to bend ourselves double and ruin our lives over it by reading one more book on it.
- People looking for an idea on minimalist living. This book is not about minimalism. I thought it was so - going by the white cover with the word 'Japan' on it. But that is why we shouldn't judge a book by it's cover and people by their home-organizing techniques.
- People who like window shopping.
- People who go shopping whenever there is a 'sale'.
- People who 'have to have' something when they see something on a store window.
- People who have a hard time discarding things out of guilt or any sentimental value.
- People who have other people (usually mothers or wives or domestic help) to clean and organize things for them.
- People who have overflowing wardrobes and bookshelves.
- People whose lives are out of order (in existential crisis of some sort).
So I held this book in my hand after reading it and asked myself - Does this book spark joy?
It is a very easy read, but like a boring chemistry textbook unless you are really interested in the subject.
[I bought a paperback copy of the book. The font and binding are good.]
1) "I can't get over how she anthropomorphizes socks, treating them as if they have feelings and need to rest. This woman is out of her mind!"
Some people seem to be very hung up on the metaphors in this book. When Marie Kondo talks about socks (and other objects) working hard all day and requiring a proper rest when they’re put away, she doesn’t mean this literally. The point of all the anthropomorphizing in the book is to encourage you to think about your belongings differently and treat them with respect. For example, it’s easy to throw clothes on the floor of your bedroom or stuff them in a drawer thoughtlessly, but if you pause to consider what your clothes actually do for you and the value they bring to your everyday life, you’re far more likely to treat them with care and put them neatly back where they belong. Marie Kondo wants you to be grateful to your possessions, not for the sake of your possessions, but for your own!
2) "She doesn't explain how to deal with [specific category of items]. This book is worthless!"
One of the primary tenets of the Konmari method is the belief that only YOU can decide which things to keep and which to throw away. Your own feelings, desires, and values are the litmus test for each item. Which belongings do you want to surround yourself with? Which belongings bring value to your life? Marie Kondo can’t answer these questions for you, and that’s the point! The book encourages you to take responsibility for your possessions, and, through the “celebration” of tidying, take control of them too. If you want/need some additional instruction on the tidying and storing process, I’d recommend her second book, Spark Joy, which breaks the broad categories mentioned in this book into more manageable sub-categories, and has more in-depth tips for storing items once you’ve decided what to keep.
3) "It's far too difficult to pull everything from one category out of storage all at once. I don't have time to do something like that!"
If you’re looking for a “quick fix” to your clutter problem, one where you can go at it Saturday morning and finish by Sunday evening, this is not the book for you. From her descriptions of past clients, it could take up to a year for someone to completely tidy their home, depending on the number of items they own and the difficulty they have in recognizing which items “spark joy”. As a single woman living in a one-bedroom condo with not many belongings to begin with, it may only take me a few weeks, but if you’ve got a two-story house and family of four, you’d better prepare to be in this for the long haul. Of course, the reward for this massive investment of time and effort is the Konmari guarantee that you will have finished tidying once and for all, and your house will never return to its original cluttered state!
I don’t know if this book has changed my life yet (I’m still in the process of tidying up!) but it has absolutely changed my mindset and my relationship to my belongings. It’s had enough of an effect on me that I’ll gladly proselytize about it to anyone who will listen! Check it out!