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Review: Marie Kondo’s “The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up”

Review: Marie Kondo's "The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up"

If you read my post on Monday where I introduced the October Autumn Cleaning Challenge you’ll know that some of the inspiration behind the challenge was the book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo*. I also said in this post that I found this book both inspiring and infuriating at the same time – read on to find out why!

Why I Bought “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”*

I’ve got somewhat limited space for clothes, DVDs, books and office supplies so I’m always looking for tools and techniques that can help me organise and maximise my space. Browsing the web one afternoon I fell down the rabbit hole of surfing productivity sites and website after website was referencing Marie Kondo’s book, sharing some of her techniques which seemed to be just what I was looking for so I ordered the book.

Who Is Marie Kondo?

Kondo is a Japanese “Organising Consultant” whose four books on organising have jointly sold over two million copies, been on best-seller lists and been translated into over 30 languages.

Kondo gives a great deal of background into her life whilst growing up in “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”* as it forms the basis of her love of organising and tidying which started in her childhood and only grew stronger as she got older.

I think this is where my first problem with this book lies. It may be the way that the translation from Japanese comes across but the vehement wording of how she almost lusted after organising materials and magazines at such a young age is – to me at least – disturbing. Sure, I had a thing about pens when I was growing up (I still do in fact!) but Kondo is in a league of her own when it comes to being infatuated with a subject and this caused me to feel somewhat uncomfortable whilst reading portions of this book.

Anyway, enough of my problems with people who are really passionate about something, let’s get on with the review!

What’s “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”* About?

Simply put, Marie Kondo’s book is there to give you the framework and tools to declutter and organise your life.

The book is split into five sections:

  1. “Why Can’t I Keep My House In Order?” – There are reasons why you can’t keep things tidy and have turned into a complete hoarder (well, maybe you’re not that bad!). This section covers why you may have issue with tidying.
  2. “Discard First” – In this section Kondo discusses how you need to remove items from your space that don’t “Spark Joy”. Clearing items lets you only leave the things that mean something to you.
  3. “How To Tidy By Category” – Perhaps uniquely, Kondo doesn’t advocate cleaning one room at a time, but rather by category of item. Kondo has a specific order of categories that are used for her “Konmarie” method of organising starting with clothes and finishing with items of sentimental value. Kondo’s theory is that if you sort by category, you gather everything of the same type together at once so you can see duplicate items and clear more easily.
  4. “Storing Your Things For An Exciting Life” – Everything has its place so you need to figure out what goes where, but when you do store an item the solution you use needs to be simple and easy to use so the storage solution itself is not a barrier to tidying.
  5. “The Magic Of Tidying Dramatically Transforms Your Life” – As the saying goes “Tidy desk, tidy mind”. This section covers the psychological, physical and emotional benefits having a tidy space can have.

The Good Bits Of This Book

Each section is quite in-depth and covers most questions you may have if you’re unsure whether to keep or “discard” and item. Some may see Kondo’s method as ruthless but I found it rather cathartic. I followed some of the tips in the book and was finally able to clear two draws that had been stuffed full of old out of focus photos, random bits of paper and goodness knows what else for years. I also learned that folding (rather than rolling) socks is an absolute must – but not for the weird reason Kondo gives.

The Bd Bits Of This Book

I’ll use the socks as an example. There’s a whole section devoted to storing socks (and tights) and until I read it I never knew that rolling socks into a ball practically made me the devil incarnate:

… But when she pulled open her sock draw I was shocked. It was full of potato-like lumps that rolled about. She had folded back the tops to form balls and tied her stockings tightly in the middle. I was speechless.

Marie Kondo, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up“* Page 94

Speechless? Anyone would think that poor Marie Kondo had found a severed head in the sock draw! She goes on:

I pointed to the balled-up socks. ‘Look at them carefully. This should be a time for them to rest. Do you really think that they can get any rest like that?’

And I think that the above is a prime example of my issues with this book. Kondo imbues everything with it’s own personality – everything – and this was a little too much for me.

Maybe it’s because I’m British (not that that’s much of an excuse!) but the section entitled “Do you greet your house” made me literally throw the book across the room. I’m sorry, but my house is an inanimate object, sure it may feel like it has a personality but that’s due to the people in it. There was just something so… (and I’m really struggling to verbalise my feelings of “Argh!”” when it comes to some of the things in this book) false (?) about this that just didn’t ring true for me.

Would I Recommend “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”*?

My repressed English tendencies aside, yes I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking to start decluttering and doesn’t know where to start, or who has started to tidy up but has got stuck in a rut. If you can ignore the somewhat evangelical writing – and again it may be the way that the book’s been translated but having seen a couple of interviews with Kondo on Youtube I don’t think it is – then there are some real gems of advice in this book.

Who knew that folding, rather than balling socks wasn’t a space-saving idea but was instead giving them a holiday!

Over To You

Have you read “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”*? If so, what did you think – am I being too overly critical with my annoyance at certain things? Or perhaps you agree – let us know your views in the comments.

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