The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up first made its way into my life from a dear friend of mine. Kyle and I were staying with her at her apartment (at the time) in Astoria, NY and we were talking about life stuff… and somehow this book got mentioned. I asked her what the core premise of the book was and she told me, “You take everything out of where it belongs, touch every item, see if it brings you joy, and then you discard what doesn’t and keep what does. When you put away what does bring you joy, you do it in a way so that everything has its place and that’s that.”

I quote this from memory. However, I’m sure it was a littttttttle different. Regardless, I was officially intrigued. When we got home from our trip, I ordered the book and immediately upon receiving it began to dive in with my orange highlighter and metaphorical learning cap. Today, I’d like to share with you what my experience with The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up was like – organized into the author, Marie Kondo’s, chapters.

Why Can’t I Keep My House In Order?

Similar to how I speak about most human beings not getting enough education around communication or sex in relationships – Marie Kondo feels that way about keeping a tidy house.

The first line in the contents of this chapter is “You can’t tidy if you’ve never learned how.”

In this first chapter, Marie tells her story as you read about how this book will help you and your life. She does a great job of putting in life examples, combined with her techniques. It’s almost like you’re having a conversation with her as you’re reading it – which I enjoyed. Marie Kondo says that “people cannot change their habits without first changing their way of thinking,” and while some may argue you can change behavior and the thought follows, she believes the opposite. Her point with this is that if you tidy up a little bit a little each day – you’ll be tidying forever. What I took away from this chapter is that her tidying system is a way of life. Now, she does say something in the first chapter that got under my skin and almost made me stop reading – “Why You Should Aim for Perfection” – right there on page 17.

My heart stopped.

“FUCK NO! MARIE KONDO, DON’T YOU KNOW I’M A RECOVERING PERFECTIONIST!?!”

It was at that moment; I realized that I was going to like/agree with some concepts in this book and others…. well, not so much.

Finish Discarding First

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

This concept of non-human physical objects bringing joy has now become a running joke in my entire family. Whenever someone says out loud, “I’m not sure if I want to throw this away or donate it or keep it…,” or anything of the sort, someone, usually my sarcastic little brother will say, “Well, does it bring you JOY?” and then glance at me. Marie Kondo recommends that you tidy up in one quick shot so that the change is sudden. She states that this will engage a change of heart that wouldn’t be able to happen if the process is more gradual. It is in this chapter that she goes over the order of things to tidy and brings up the concept of items bringing us joy. I love how she focuses on mindset and often asks, what is the visualization at the end of all of this?

Okay, so this joy thing. Here’s how it goes. Marie concluded that the best way to choose what to keep and what to get rid of is to hold the item in your hands and ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?” If it does, keep it and if it doesn’t, get rid of it. It’s pretty simple, right? I swear, your body WILL react to each piece of clothing differently.

When tidying up, Marie recommends doing it by category, not place. So, for example, when I began this process, I did all of my clothes – regardless of what room they were in at the time. I moved (following instructions) every piece of clothing that I could find, and I spread them out on the floor. I picked each up, one at a time and had a moment with it. Did it spark joy? Did it speak to me with something to say? If it was yes, I kept it and if not…

life changing tidying up

This part of the process was challenging and yet super empowering. I was surprised at some of my reactions towards certain items of clothing. What was crazy was seeing every single piece of clothing I owned on the floor. Honestly, the most striking part of this beginning process was accepting that some items I had bought, never worn, and yet they didn’t bring me joy. Marie addresses this by thanking the item for what’s its purpose was. For example, “thank you for bringing me joy when I bought you,” or “thank you for teaching me what kind of dresses I don’t like.”

Tidying by Category Works Like Magic

When you’re working within the categories, Marie says that people have trouble getting rid of things for four different reasons:

  1. Functional Value – you can still use it
  2. Informational Value – it contains helpful information
  3. Emotional Value – it has sentimental ties
  4. Rarity – things that are hard to obtain or replace

Because of these reasons, she recommends tidying in the following order of categories:

  1. Clothes
  2. Books
  3. Papers
  4. komono (the Japanese word for misc.)
  5. Mementos

Clothes are the easiest thing to part with – so your intuition will be honed through this process. I found it much simpler to decide once I got through books. She also breaks down these categories a lot more explicitly in the book. The rest of this chapter is thoughtfully detailed information about folding, displaying things that you use on a daily basis and I tried it all! I learned the Konmari Method of folding (see THIS YouTube video) and maintained it for about six weeks.

Honestly, while I loved having my drawers so beautiful and I did feel more connected to my “stuff,” the process of folding my things differently from my husband’s was annoying, and I realized that I wanted to spend more time on other things. Now and then, when I’m stressed or just feel like organizing, I’ll redo all of my drawers, and it’s great! That’s what I have enjoyed about this book – is that I have made it mine. I haven’t taken it too seriously.

Storing Your Things to Make Your Light Shine

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The above is an excellent example of the Konmari folding technique! One of the important process moments of this journey is to find a place for everything. I learned about the importance of keeping things vertical, rather than piling things up. Finally, present the things that bring you joy as a shrine on the top of your bookshelf! Or, somewhere where you can see it often. 🙂

The Magic of Tidying Dramatically Transforms Your Life

“Put your house in order and discover what else you want to do,” Marie Kondo says. To me, this means that if the basics are not only taken care of but done with mindfulness and gratitude, then I’ll always be surrounded by things that bring me joy. So, it opens up your mind and life to other experiences because you’re not worrying about your messy bookshelf! My trust and confidence in myself and my intuition increased, and I appreciate the overall idea of this book. Ultimately, I learned that I could live without, and that was a great lesson. My mindset and views were shifted and challenged by both reading this book and implementing its techniques.

You can buy your copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo by clicking this link.

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