What I'm Reading: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

I was excited to find Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up at the library since I had read great things about this book.

It's a tiny book full of wonderful tips and information about decluttering and organizing your home. While I found her references to treating items as living things a little disconcerting at first, I thought that the different perspective that the author gives on this subject was interesting and thought-provoking.

I have read lots and lots of books, magazine articles and blog posts about organizing and decluttering. Every year, right after Christmas, you can find me going through each room in our home and trying to organize and declutter the same things I organized and decluttered the year before. I thought this would be just another book that would give me the same information in a different way. But that was definitely not the case. Right from the first page, the author throws all the accepted organizing rules right out the window. Her advice on organizing by category, instead of by room, what to throw away and even how to fold clothing was different from anything I had read before.

One of the most eye-opening things I read was the advice the author gave about the greetings cards we can't bear to part with. She writes:
"This means that each card has fulfilled its purpose the moment the receiver finishes reading it."
This advice freed me of the guilt I feel when thinking about throwing away a card or letter. I realized that I don't need to feel guilty because I have received the message that the sender wanted me to have. She goes on to say that we should keep cards that "spark joy" in our hearts, a recurring theme in her book.

For me, organizing and decluttering has always been a tug of war between my frugal self and my minimalist self. I hate to let anything go that might be used in the future and might save us money months from now. This quote from the book was especially thought-provoking:
"Of course, I am not saying that my clients have never regretted discarding something. Far from it. You should expect this to happen at least three times during the tidying process, but don't let it worry you. Even though my clients have regretted parting with something, they never complain. They have already learned through experience that any problem caused by lack of something can be solved through action."
I don't need to let the fear of regret stop me from letting go of something. If I do find myself in that situation, I can take action and challenge myself to find something else that I could use or find some other way to solve the problem.

Two other quotes from the book that challenged me:
"But when we really delve into the reasons for why we can't let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future."
"...we should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of."
I really enjoyed the new ideas and insight into organizing and decluttering that I learned from this book. Now the hard part begins: putting the ideas into practice.


Jenn in Indiana said...

I have read both of Marie Kondo's books. You definitely have to look past the "weirdness" of the books. I couldn't thank a shirt for its service to me! The biggest thing I took from the books is letting go of things that we think we might need someday. That once something has served its purpose for you at that time in your life, it's time to let it go. I have developed a new attitude in getting rid of things. I do think that some of her rules are hard to follow. When she wrote the books, she didn't have any children. Well, children come with owning things. Someday when that season is gone, so will a lot of the clutter. And she doesn't cover what to do when your spouse wants to keep everything (which that is my husband). My house is basically neat and tidy but not perfect. I guess it is a work in progress. I have gotten rid of tons from reading the books but don't agree with her idea that once you de-clutter it will never be a problem again. I have to continually work at it and probably always will. I also watch "How Jen Does It" On YouTube for cleaning and organizing inspiration. I wish my house was that clean and uncluttered. But like I said I am always working at it. My house is too large for my taste, 4,000 sq ft. I blame that on a lot of the problem and realized the problem is myself! Do you follow "Humorous Homemaking"? She loves Marie Kondo and has de-cluttered truck load after truck load. She is on YouTube, Periscope and has a blog. Have a great weekend.

Vanessa said...

I watched a talk that Marie Kondo gave on YouTube with a question and answer time and I feel like I got a better understanding of her ideas and what she was trying to say in her book. She says to do each category all at once for the shock value - to help people understand how much stuff they actually have. The thought of taking all the clothing in the house and putting it in once place and sorting through it all at once was very overwhelming to me, but I think I understand better the reason behind it. I was surprised by the tone in some places in the book, but after watching her on the video, I'm wondering now if it came across that way in the translation of the book.

On the video, someone did ask her about family members who aren't organized and tidy and she said that people should not organize and tidy other people's things. She says that if a family member sees us cleaning up our things, that they will slowly start to do the same. I'm not completely convinced that that really works. :)

I agree with you that decluttering is a constant process, especially with children, but I have certain times of the year that I declutter their things so that it doesn't get out of control. I usually declutter the kid's clothes in the spring when I am getting out their summer clothing and in the fall when I am getting out their warmer clothes. I always help them declutter their toys right before or after Christmas. I also always feel the need to declutter our home right after Christmas.

I have been following Stacy from Humorous Homemaking. I followed her off and on back when she wrote Stacy Makes Cents, but have followed more closely since she started her Facebook live videos. I didn't see her posts about decluttering, but I would be interested in reading them - I'll have to see if I can find them.