Review of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Title:  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up:  The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

Author:  Marie Kondo

Publication Information: October 2014 by Ten Speed Press

How I Got This Book:  I purchased a copy at Barnes and Noble

Goodreads Synopsis: 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 featuring Tokyo’s newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home—and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.

My Thoughts:  I read this in one afternoon the day I bought it.  At a couple of points I was almost in tears as I confronted thoughts about my stuff and my mess, but in a good way.  Parts of the book felt like a therapy session or having a bottle of wine with a good friend and having a real and serious talk.  I underlined something or some things on many pages.

Kondo walks the reader through the act of decluttering and storing one's personal items--clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous items, and finally mementos.  You pick up each item and determine whether it gives you joy.  If so, you keep it.  If not, you get rid of it.  She preaches that you shouldn't have shame for getting rid of something that is lightly or not at all used.  Sometimes the purpose of the object was to buy it and hang on to it for a while, but it's time to let it go.  For someone who has tremendous guilt over getting rid of things I haven't used, I appreciated that.  Once you determine what you are going to get rid of, she walks you through some advice on how to store each category of item.

This process could also be applied to kitchen gadgets and other stuff throughout the house.

She explicitly says to never ever take the liberty of going through and getting rid of someone else's stuff.

Her students have had tremendous success after following her method.  And to date none have ever backslid into clutter.

I like that she doesn't prescribe how much stuff you should keep.  She allows that different people have different interests and are bound to feel joy from owning more books or shoes or clothes than some other person.  She also doesn't say that you need to get rid of so many items or so much percentage of each category.  It's all up to you and your gut.

I like that she doesn't have you go out and buy various organizational implements.  She says that at first you just need to get rid of stuff, then you store it and that happens all in one fell swoop.  Frequently, you can find all the boxes and whatnot that you need already in your home, but in the cases where you can't, take some time to find boxes or whatever that you really and truly like otherwise you'll start the cycle of clutter over again.

I love that before you even start getting rid of stuff, she counsels you to envision the kind of space you are wanting to create and why.  And add a couple of more whys as follow-up questions to your answers until you finally get to the ultimate reason--because it will make you happy.  Every person is different, but by getting rid of their excess, we can all get to that point of happy and relaxed in our personal spaces.

I also love that you get the whole thing done in one marathon day of decluttering and storing.  The important thing would be to make sure you donate what you're going to donate, recycle what you're going to recycle, and trash what you're going to trash immediately.  So that you don't talk yourself into changing your mind and so that someone else doesn't either guilt you into keeping something or decide to take it for themselves (which would add to their personal clutter).

Now.  The negatives about the book.  At times it gets a little woowoo, such as thanking your possessions on a daily basis for doing what they need to do (I mean, I went ahead and tried thanking my bra last night as I got ready for bed, but I felt a little silly for saying "Thanks for supporting the team.") or unpacking your purse every single night when you get home in order to give it a rest.  But other of her suggestions are totally worth trying, such as her folding techniques for various articles of clothing.

I absolutely plan on trying this next week when I have a couple of days off.  The decluttering and storing part will get done the first day, but anything I decide to donate will likely have to wait until the next day to actually be dropped off, though we shall see.

If it works, I'll only have to do this once.  :)

I'll absolutely write a post about the process when I do it.  Hopefully there will be pictures!


  1. Ha! How sweet of you to be supportive of the support your bra has provided you. ;) The woowoo stuff is hard for me to swallow sometimes, though I admit that I have a lot of guilt over keeping some items. We have this really nice digital photo frame that was gifted to us but we have NEVER used it. It's been sitting in our kitchen for probably 5 years.

    Though I am dubious that I could get this done in a day. Even without kids! Thanks for sharing Lori. I'm bummed that my library doesn't have a copy.

    1. I completely agree with you--I'm not sure I'll be able to sort and store clothes, books, papers, and mementos all in one day, especially if I take stuff to various donation centers. I have a LOT of papers and I think that's where I'll get most held-up. We shall see.

      I think, as with any plan, you have to be able to customize it. Maybe you need to do some pre-clearing out of stuff you know you don't want so that the actual day is just making decisions. Or maybe you do need to split it up into two days. I can see how it would get easier to make decisions as the day passes, so maybe it really is doable in one (long) day. I'll keep you posted!

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  2. So curious, if she doesn't suggest going from room to does one tackle the project without getting overly overwhelmed?

    School papers were HARD for me to let go of. I finally decided to keep all of my papers and some of my notes for favorite classes but ditch the rest. I had a HUGE box full of stuff. I still have some of my teaching/grad school books on my shelf but I've slowly started letting them go as well. It's tough! My biggest hang up is I'm afraid I'll regret letting something go.

    1. You go category by category through your personal possessions (this just deals with your personal stuff--not your husband's, not your daughters', not kitchen or craft stuff). You pull out every single scrap of clothing you own and go through it piece by piece, only keeping the items that give you joy. Then books. Then papers. Then mementos. She doesn't cover a process for kitchen items or other rooms of the house or how you'd go about going through your daughters' things.

    2. But I would imagine that the process (done on a different day) would be similar--item by item within the same category. I think she does this so that you don't have to shift gears from clothing, which you probably don't have as much of an attachment to, to mementos, which are special to you or were at some point.

    3. Blowing up your comments. Obviously you can tell I find this whole thing fascinating. I have the easiest time going through the girls' things--though I have to do it when they're not around. I'm continually tossing away their crap AND IT'S EVERYWHERE IN THE HOUSE OMG MAKE IT STOP I'M DROWNING IN KID CRAP.

      I requested this one through ILL so hopefully it comes soon. I like the idea of tackling objects one by one. I NEED to do this with my clothes. I have too many things that don't fit and after two babies probably never will...well anyway.


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