Book review: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing by Marie Kondo


Spring has sprung at the old cliché says. It’s a beautiful time of year, even here in Southern Cali where we don’t have the four seasons that are as obvious as back east. I’m from Pennsylvania and spent some time in college in Utah, so believe me I know.

Along with longer days, bright new flowers, and warmer temps, spring cleaning is often on one’s mind. Well, I happen to have come across a book that approaches cleaning out closets and drawers that will leave you amazed, according to the author.

the life-changing magic of tidying up
the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing
by Marie Kondo

I have put the title without caps because that is how the author did it. Marie Kondo has had a yen (no pun intended) for tidying the house so that it looks good and stays that way. Since she was five she started reading magazines on de-cluttering, tidying your home, etc. She started on her own room and then was determined to get her family’s house in order. Throughout her life she has tried various methods of tidying as explained by the experts. She has found that there are good tips and not so good tips among them all. Her main complaint is that these methods are temporary. Before you know it you have to go back and re-tidy again. You are back to square one. Marie promises that if you will use the Kon-Mari Method (The name comes from a combination of her names.) you will never have to tidy and organize again. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Could this be true? Marie insists that none of her clients have relapsed and she even has a three-month waiting list for her course.

So, what is different about the Kon-Mari Method that allows her to make such a claim. Most tidying methods involve room-by-room or a little-by-little approach. Marie says that using these methods will doom you to picking at your piles of stuff “forever.” She has a “git ‘er done” method in which you sort, discard or donate, or organize things category by category. Start with your clothes, then your books, then your papers, and lastly your memorabilia.

Her cardinal rule is to discard (or donate) first. How do you know what to discard? Marie says to lay out all your items, of clothes, for example. Then take each item in your hands and see if it sparks a feeling of joy in your heart. If it does, the item is a keeper. If not, it goes in the discard pile. For things you are discarding as you hold that item, thank it for how it has served you.

When that is all done, you can start organizing and she goes into detail in how to store items properly. She recommended a way of folding socks that doesn’t stretch out the tops and makes it easy to see what you need. As silly as that may sound, I did it and now when I am up at 5 am in the dark, I can choose a pair of socks easily.

She asks you to envision your personal style and then go to work to create that for yourself by following her plan. Decreased clutter means less stress and more creativity and comfort.

There were a couple of things she does that made me think she might be a little OCD, which she admits to. A lot of her ideas were awesome. When she has helped people she has seen people discard 20 to 30 45-gallon trash bags full of stuff. Incredible! I hope I am not that bad as I go through my categories. That would be so embarrassing and I would feel so greedy.

I loved this book, especially about the spark of happiness that items can bring you and the need to thank things for their service in your behalf. This I am willing to say will lead to an attitude of gratitude which is a great way to live life.

I easily give this book 5 out of 5 stars. I liked it so much that I am going to re-read it as I do my spring cleaning and tidying.

Happy Reading or should I say, Happy Cleaning?

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