2018 Reading List: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

I finished reading Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up in February and I couldn’t bring myself to write a review. First of all, I was waiting until I actually tried implementing some of her tips. Second of all, I couldn’t figure out if my review would be good or bad.

This book (apparently) became a word-wide phenomenon soon after it was published. It’s been on my list to read for awhile, simply because I wanted to see what all the hype was about. Mostly I’d heard about it on the minimalism blogs that I follow, so I knew that whatever she said, it would be along the lines of purging your belongings.

Though the book elaborates quite a bit about clutter, how to get rid of it, and how to organize it, Marie Kondo has a couple points to her philosophy that stood out to me in particular.

  1. Do it all at once.
  2. Do it one category at a time.
  3. Store everything within each category in the same place.
  4. Get rid of everything that doesn’t “spark joy”
  5. You don’t need fancy organizing stuff from the Container Store to get organized.
  6. Marie Kondo is a little weird

Let me break these down.

  1. Marie Kondo wants us to declutter the whole house all at once. She says that if we try to just clear as we go, or organize one drawer a day, or whatever else any other experts say, then it will never get done and we’ll just be cleaning all the time for the rest of our lives. She has a point – but there’s no way I can declutter and organize my whole house all in one go. I don’t have that much time to dedicate toward decluttering. It’s tiring and frustrating and daunting.
  2. The next step is to make sure that you are only decluttering one category at a time, but you have to do everything in that category. For example, she says if you’re decluttering your books, you need to pull out all the books you have in your whole house – from the bedroom, to the living room, to the office, and put them all in one place and go through all of them together. Then move on to the next category. The only way you truly know what you have and declutter to exactly what brings you joy is to have them all in one place. This actually does make a lot of sense to me. It’s no use to go through a drawer full of winter hats and gloves and get rid of some if I just have another drawer full in the basement that I haven’t gotten to yet.
  3. The next part of that is to then store everything from one category in the same place. The storage should make sense for the item you are storing.
  4. This next point is probably the most well-known, and possibly the most controversial. Marie Kondo’s whole book is based on the premise that the things you own should be only the things that spark joy. You should hold an item in your hand and feel it bringing you joy. This is one of the reasons she wants you to go through every belonging, categorically, all at once. You need to hold each item in your hand and feel the joy. I’m going to have to say I’m of the party that doesn’t quite agree with this philosophy. It’s a great thought- that you only own things you love. But it’s not practical. There are things you have to own that can’t possibly “spark joy.” I have to own a toilet paper holder that sits next to my toilet, but it doesn’t spark joy. If I got rid of it, my toilet paper would be on the floor and that’s no good. There are things in a home that are necessary, practical, and realistic to own. Not everything is lovely and beautiful and joyful. That’s just the way it is. I think the trick is to own only the things that spark joy or are practical. Don’t own things that you don’t love and also don’t serve a purpose.
  5. You don’t have to get fancy with your storage containers. This one surprised me. Marie Kondo literally makes her living organizing people’s homes. I thought she’d be the first to tout the benefits and practicalities of specific containers, shelves, bins or boxes to suit the space. Instead, she says you can find the storage you need around your own home. Either you clear out enough that you don’t need the storage in the first place, or you can make or find the storage you need just using items you already have. Shoeboxes, cardboard, etc. It’s so easy to think that all your clutter problems will be solved if only you had the right boxes to put it all in. But that’s not the case if you don’t get rid of the stuff you don’t need first.
  6. Lastly, Marie Kondo is a little off her rocker. Anyone who knows that she is going to be a professional organizer at age 5 is bound to be weird. Marie Kondo likes to thank her purse for working so hard all day carrying her belongings. Then she empties it every single night, only to put the stuff back in the next morning. She believes her items need to breathe, they don’t want to be squished and stacked and stifled. If she is making a point to have gratitude for everything she has, then her show of affection toward her purse makes a little more sense.

 

After reading this book, I felt this huge urge to get rid of so much stuff in my house. I wanted to declutter immediately and organize my life. I wanted my things to spark joy and to feel more peaceful in my home. But I just couldn’t do it. Not only was I completely daunted by the sheer volume of items I have (and it’s not even that many compared to other people), but also some life circumstances (unexpected water damage and restoration) caused me to put household organization on hold for a few months.

Now that most of the renovations in the house are done, I can go through my stuff and reorganize. But I don’t think I’ll ever get down to the full KonMari method. I just don’t have that kind of discipline right now.

 

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