Culture, Simple Living

Review: “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”


The Magic of Tidying Up

The phrase “life changing” gets thrown around a lot. “This chocolate fudge is life changing!” “Try this lipstick, it’s life changing!” “Eliminate carbs/fat/fun from your diet, it’s life changing!”

But Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up lives up to its title. It isn’t your typical organizational book. Thousands of resources exist on organization and decluttering, but Kondo’s book speaks to something that organizational websites, books, and articles rarely address:

We simply have too much stuff, yet most of it doesn’t make us happy; we waste time organizing over and over again until we stop and let most of it go.

Most organizational resources involve systems: walls of color-coded and labeled storage bins, flow charts that ask you 20 questions about an item to determine if you should keep it, weekends spent crafting drawer dividers out of miscellaneous cereal boxes. It’s exhausting, and it never feels like I finished anything. Kondo’s method is deceptively simple in comparison:

Only keep items that “spark joy,” and let everything else go.  

When you have fewer items, you don’t have to waste time organizing them over and over again when they inevitably overflow their allotted space or don’t have one to begin with. The book goes into more detail about how to do one sweep of your home, organize once what remains, and be done with clutter once and for all.

I’m still warming up to the idea of one massive sweep of my home to donate/sell the items that don’t bring me joy, or that I just don’t use. So I haven’t had the home transformation to its fullest extent- yet. In the back of my mind, I have a running list of what items need to go, but I’m more comfortable with tiny sweeps. So I do those instead, and it’s a work in progress (today I packed two boxes for moving, and four boxes of things to sell. It felt good!).

Some of the methods in the book I don’t use (talking to my clothes wasn’t for me), but I really do feel lighter and happier when I only keep the items that spark joy. I find I’m less frustrated when I can actually get the kitchen utensil drawer open, or I’m not staring at clothes that don’t fit my life anymore every time I open the closet. And I had a sobering epiphany:

Many, many of the items I had didn’t spark joy at all. But realizing this made it so much easier to let them go.

When you get truly honest with yourself, you’ll find yourself looking at many items and thinking they don’t really spark joy- instead they evoke feelings of guilt, bad memories, overspending, or someone else’s expectations.

Take all those things that don’t spark joy and sell them on eBay or Craigslist. I’ve noticed it’s much easier to let things go when I can make some $ back. If you don’t have time for selling them yourself:

Enlist the help of a friend to sell the items for you, and give them a percent of your profits in exchange.  Sell items with lesser value at a garage sale, and donate anything that doesn’t sell.

I also find I buy less when I ask myself, “does this spark joy”? along with the standard, “do I need this?”  Asking both questions together helps me walk away from something in a store that might be something I need, but it’s just not quite right. As I get older, my goal is to only surround myself with things that are quite right- that spark joy.

Have you read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up or used the “joy” method? What did you think?

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6 thoughts on “Review: “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up””

  1. I read it and it was life changing! I adjusted some of her rules to suit myself but 7 months in the mess hasn’t creeped back in and I’m now better able to assess if I’m keeping something because it makes me happy or due to guilt. It’s freeing to keep things for no other reason than I like them.
    The only downside is I’m now a pain to buy gifts for because I don’t want a lot and I only want things that I think will be joyful. Rather than stuff, I’m asking for consumables e.g. tea, lotions, wine etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m in the process now and it is life changing. And I don’t throw around that phrase. The practical benefits — being able to see my entire wardrobe and knowing exactly what I don’t have — are huge. But the emotional, psychological self examination was truly life changing. I found I was keeping things out of guilt, almost to punish myself, to show that I was unworthy or made stupid choices or as evidence of things I used to do. Reminders of mystery, though neatly stored, but if I happened upon them they made me sad, guilty, angry, anxious. I feel better that such things are gone. I also noticed a pattern of having clothes that don’t fit well or flatter me. But they were inexpensive or given to me and things that “I coukd get away with ” or “good enough .” Being the youngest of girls and a mother of many, accepting hand-me- downs has been a way of life. No more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for sharing- it’s much better to open up a random box and find things that you love rather than things that invoke sadness, guilt, or anxiety as you said! I understand the hand-me-down dilemma: I used to accept a ton of them whether I really liked or needed them, just because they were free. I ended up with so many things that weren’t right for me. But not anymore! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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