The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Posted 12 May, 2015 by Trish in Life, Reading Nook, Review / 44 Comments


The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

TitleThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Author: Marie Kondo
Published: Pages: 204
Genre: Nonfiction (there needs to be a better word for self help)
Rating: My life might just have changed. Maybe. We’ll see.

On Amazon | On Indiebound | On Goodreads | On Audible

In Short: Tidy up your house one final time by examining which items bring you joy.

Why I Read: Because my house is constantly a tornado zone and I’m forever feeling weighed down by stuff.

Thoughts in General: I’ve been hearing about this one ever since Still Unfinished Bryan decided to return it to the library unread. I’ve read a few other books about decluttering and love the articles in my Real Simple magazine, but as soon as I tidy up, my house is a mess again. When Lori of an Irreverent Escape started really talking about the book on twitter and her blog, I started to take notice and requested the book via inter-library loan.

I was totally dubious. Kondo makes some pretty big claims in her book–as a professional consultant she says that not one of her clients has relapsed into clutter after working with her. And not only that, these clients have all experienced life changes due to their decluttering.

Surrrrrrrrre Marie. Suuuuuuuuuuuuure.

But the more that I read into her theories, the more that I could understand just what she was getting at. At the first she says to empty out your entire closet and chest of drawers…every piece of clothing you own…and examine each item for whether it brings you joy. If it doesn’t, toss it. She gives a method for going through the entire house (as quickly as possible, she says) for determining whether objects spark joy.

By the time she got to her second section…books…I was totally onboard. I’m a packrat and a lot of things I keep in the house are out of guilt. Clothes I spent money on but don’t wear enough or clothes that don’t fit me and make me feel bad over the weight I haven’t lost after my pregnancies. This spreads to the whole house–things that were gifts or things that I might need but still never use.

I’m surrounded by stuff that doesn’t necessarily bring me joy…and it makes me feel weighed down!

I don’t want to spoil the book for you (ha!) but I could go on and on and it’s just a little 200 book. I had several lightbulb moments while reading and am looking forward to taking a day off work when I can focus on going through Kondo’s methods (basically going through everything before finding a place for things).

Some things that were too much for me?  Besides Kondo’s repetition throughout the book (which is way way repetitive), there were some parts that truly made me roll my eyes–thanking your items for a job well done at the end of the day is something I can’t see myself doing. Though even still, I do see her points and I do appreciate thanking things that you are going to discard–the idea that items have already served their purpose in some manner (and specifically thinking about how they have served their purpose) will make it much easier for me to discard in the future.

But this…

“Don’t you think it is unnatural for us to possess things that don’t bring us joy or things that we don’t really need? I believe that owning only what we love and what we need is the most natural condition” (197).

Yes! Absolutely Yes!

Bottom Line: I was skeptical but I really do think this little book has impacted the way that I think about objects. While I haven’t gone through any of the motions yet, I have already discarded a few things that simply do not bring me joy. I’ll keep y’all posted of progress I make.

Do you have any secret weapons or methods when it comes to decluttering? How do you keep on top of tidying at your house?



44 Responses to “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”

  1. Bex

    I’m waiting for this to come in at the library because I’m soooo overwhelmed by the stuff we have. Since being on my book buying ban I’m feeling so much more relaxed about my reading because I know there wont be tons of new book arriving and vying for my attention! You should really read Simplicity Parenting, I cant remember the author but I think you’d really appreciate it.

  2. I’ve been waiting for you to talk about this book. It sounds very very interesting!

    I wholeheartedly agree with the passage that you shared. I had a similar revelation regarding the clothes in my closet, and on my blog post from last week talked about wanting to have only things that are “my favourite”. Of course, getting rid of so many things is hard, I find myself struggling and coming up with silly sentimental reasons not to, but I know I’ll feel better when I have only what I need and what I love.

    As for staying on top of clutter in general, I mentioned my tip to you on Twitter: I’ve been trying to clear just one shelf a day. This way, decluttering isn’t overwhelming and I’m slowly making progress. My herbs and spices shelf has never been so neat!

    By the way the tag “Crazytown Trish” is pure brilliance.

  3. Kay

    I’ve not ever read a decluttering book, but I’m kind of a declutterer (is that a word?) by nature. I love the house and the way things are now. Very minimalist. I hate dusting and when I do it, I want to do it fast. So, I don’t have a lot of things around. But, you’re at a different time of life. It’s tough when kids are little or even when they are not so little. And some are just more packrat by nature. My mother was. And my mother-in-law. Good luck and I think the idea of one little section at a time is great.

  4. Laura

    I actually enjoy getting rid of things, and I despise clutter! But, there are still things I have held onto for sentimental reasons. Moving helps clean things out big time :-) My tip for keeping things tidy is to pick everything up every day. Since the kids were old enough to walk, we taught them to pick up before bed. So their rooms and the playroom is always clean at the end of the day. And I always put away laundry right away and do dishes after each meal. It’s so nice to get up in the morning to a tidy house!

    • And now that I have read beyond your request for a different term for ‘self help’… One idea we had before packing to move (which is a great way to reduce crap) is to ask myself if I would have room or need this if I lived on a boat. So my boat is my space guide.

  5. So, I have been waiting to read your review. Part of me now really wants to read this book, part of me does not want to go through the repetitiveness. But I do so like the sound of making this into a project. This seems to be my way of making everything seem more easy to accomplish but mightn’t this be something to turn into a larger blogging project where we report on how things went in a set amount of time? Somehow I have become incredibly excited about decluttering since last week.

  6. Laura

    I just thought of another tip that seems like it would be a really good idea (though I haven’t really tried it myself yet). If you are going to buy something new, whether it be a book, item of clothing, decoration, toy for the kids, etc., you must get rid of the one of the same kind of item. Seems simple enough, and would probably help with not buying things you don’t really need too. :-)

  7. There are definitely parts of this that are a little cuckoo, lol ;) BUT I really liked it so much and I’m feeling VERY inspired right now! (I just finished it late last night.) The lightbulb moments came frequently while reading it.

  8. This book was an ENORMOUS help to me earlier this year. I went through my entire apartment and got rid of so many things. I now have room for everything – nothing spills out of closets and drawers! It’s so liberating. I think I’d like to do one more “round” of purging, but the major efforts I made this winter have stuck. The best part of all is that it’s helped me to BUY less junk as well. My home is in such good order, and I’ve learned to value what I have, that I now waste less money buying things that I don’t need, and don’t bring joy.

    My review of the book is here:

  9. This is the first I’ve heard of the book (though I have heard of the konmari method of decluttering on a minimalist site). I REALLY want to declutter my house. I threw out a grocery bag full of toiletries and makeup yesterday just from my dresser because I was sick of all of it taking up my precious space when I don’t even use it. I am thinking the bathrooms are next. I’m not ready to tackle the closet until I’m a few months postpartum.

    But the books. I can’t let the books go. I love being surrounded by them even when the torment me for not every reading anymore.

  10. I think I need to read this book! I’ve heard lots of great things about it, but I should probably get hold of a copy so I know exactly how to remove these joyless items from my house. I’m worried it will be a lot harder than it sounds!

  11. It’s so weird that you and others have brought this book up so much lately because a few months ago, I started reading about a capsule wardrobe and have been steadily removing things that “don’t bring me joy” – except I think of it more as “hey, this is cute but really uncomfortable…done!” and move on.

    I do think some of these types of books are repetitive on purpose, but no to thanking my items at the end of the day. I will have to pick this up, though.

  12. After reading several books about hoarders—I was obsessed with the topic ever since one of my daughter’s friends called me a hoarder!—I did conclude that I could use some decluttering. No, I am not a hoarder, but I do have many collections, albeit “attractively arranged”—that was always my mantra…LOL.

    But my things were definitely making my life harder. Dusting, etc., became too much of a chore.

    I can see how this book would be helpful. In the end, I had to ruthlessly toss (donate) many books. I have three empty bookshelves in my garage. And the process goes on.

    But I can’t seem to stop purging! LOL That obsession might turn out to be as bad as the original collecting…

  13. I’m very much a minimalist, other than books and video games. Even then, I curate very carefully. It it doesn’t have a purpose, doesn’t get used, or doesn’t bring something to the table, it goes. Living with two roommates, this helps keep clutter in check, as well as make it easier during moving time!

  14. Susan in TX

    This was the first book I read this year, and I had much the same reaction. That said, I haven’t had an opportunity to act on it yet. YET. My goal for the summer is to go room-by-room “Kondo-ing” the house! :) I had more than a few eye rolling moments. I will not be thanking my stuff as I go, nor will I be greeting the house when I come home. But, as you said, she had such good advice that it’s worth a shot. I, like you, thought that I would be the exception to her rule of making it stick…I suppose the success will be in executing the plan correctly the first time. Happy de-cluttering to you! I’m hoping you’ll update us as to how it’s going. We’re in our last week of school and then we graduate our second dd the end of the month. After that, it’s project de-clutter! (And I’m with you that we need a better term than “self-help.”)

  15. Trish, are you planning on de-cluttering soon? I want to see if the book helped you any. It helped me, but I’m still de-cluttering as I go (homeschooling = lots of paperwork). The repetitiveness of the book was ridiculous.

    • I am!! I’m mentally warming up…actually, I’m planning to take a day off work so that I don’t have any littles distracting me from the job at hand. I’m nervous and excited and will definitely share my progress. Have her suggestions helped you? I know you were a bit lukewarm on the book.

      • It really helped to do all the clothes/books/whatever at the same time, category by category instead of room by room. But it is time consuming, so taking a day off to get it done is a good idea. I did the same thing. It felt really good to get rid of so much stuff.

        Don’t listen to her when it comes to the books. She’s nuts! My suggestion for books is this: if you know you’re not going to read or reread the book, if the library has a copy of an ARC at the library, get rid of it.

        When you declutter, I hope you make a post. :-)

  16. I’m in the long line at the library for this one. This is my year of decluttering. I have gotten derailed from the decluttering so I’m hoping this book might help.

  17. Yup, this is exactly what I keep hearing. Her philosophy is good, but the “thanking of objects” is a bit much!

    We are definitely in need of some spring cleaning/decluttering around this place!

  18. Li

    I read this and did some KonMari-ing – well, actually, I KonMari’d using the techniques I read online and then read the book properly, don’t think I missed anything.

    I literally gave away bags and bags of “stuff” (mostly clothes, but some books too!), and the interesting thing is that I don’t miss anything I’ve gotten rid of at all. And I feel as though I’ve so much more space. I’ve stalled somewhat but want to do another round.

  19. Diane

    I could easily get rid of more stuff if my husband wasn’t around:) He’s a saver – just in case.

  20. I have this one and have been meaning to read it for a while now. My goal though is to do a major decluttering on the week between jobs. My closet and my drawers are stuffed to overflowing, even though I am someone who considers herself a minimalist. I’m excited to take back that portion of my life!

  21. I’ve this book in my pile and I was anxious to hear what you’ll think of it. Hmm… not sure if I’d hurry to read this book after reading mixed reviews on it. I’m a packrat too and it’s so hard for me to give away old clothings and books. And even if I gave away some, new acquisitions would be made so it’s a vicious cycle. Getting rid of toys are equally hard too. Hmph.

  22. Ti

    I am always clearing house but my problem is sentimentality. I get sentimental over certain items. I have some baby outfits that I still hang onto. Do they bring me joy? No. They bring me comfort. If I threw out everything in my closet that did not bring me joy, I’d have nothing left. I do like this idea though. I like the capsule wardrobes making the rounds as well. It would be nice to choose from just a handful of really nice pieces and not look like a tired housewife.

  23. The girl hosting my book club this month chose this which I thought was an interesting pic, but I loved it! Although I think I laughed out loud after the intro when she basically promised no one has ever relapsed. I totally get what you are saying about how she goes too far with some of that thanking our stuff.. BUT I sort of related it to mindfulness in therapy like rather than actually thanking your clothes it’s more about just recognizing for yourself that it’s okay to let go of things when you acknowledge for yourself the purpose they played in your life for that time period. But I don’t see myself thanking my purse at the end of the day for holding my things, etc. LOL. I am itching to get started “tidying” though!

  24. I’ve heard a bit about this book too and I don’t know. I don’t have a problem parting with some things but then there are others that I’m like, no way. I’m not giving that up! haha… And, yes, my house is constant chaos! :)

  25. I’m starting to buy in more and more to the her ideas but here’s where I get bogged down – I’m only one of the people that live in this house. And, frankly, I get a little pissy when I think of going to all of that effort to go through my things when someone else refuses, absolutely refuses, to consider getting rid of his things. On the other hand, I do feel weighed down with all of the things. Wouldn’t it be great to walk into every room and there was nothing in it but the things you need and the things that make you happy?

    • Just jumping in to say that I definitely understand that frustration. However, I am trying to see it this way (mind you, trying is the key word here): at least I’ll declutter my stuff and feel more at ease about that.

      • She does address others clutter in the book–she basically says not to touch it. :( Which I KNOW is not helpful as there are so many things around the house that drive me crazy…though funny how other people’s clutter bothers me more than my own. :-/

        She does say that when you start overhauling all of YOUR clutter/stuff, the others in the house will be more likely to join in with their own items. We’ll see. ;)

        But I hear you both on the frustration! I get it!

  26. I’m on hold for this at the library. Typically I love getting rid of stuff, and I am pretty good at it when it comes to clothes and shoes. But books? That’s hard for me. Also I have a TON of kitchen stuff that I never use and should probably spend some time going through. I am looking forward to reading this one.

  27. I recently went through the house and disposed of everything I hadn’t worn or used in the last two years. No more “one day I’ll wear that again” or “I might have to feed 20 people soup” for me! I came undone on a few books though – but they are now on the desk promoted to “read next”.

  28. I too have been skeptical of all the hype surrounding this book, but the tips you shared make a lot of sense to me. I’m surrounded by a lot of stuff that brings me no joy but I can’t seem to part with it. I’m going to try to keep that in mind the next time I go on a clothing purge!