The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

Yes, it can actually work some magic!
About The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo: This #1 "New York Times" best-selling guide to decluttering your home from Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes readers step-by-step through her revolutionary KonMari Method for simplifying, organizing, and storing. Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles?

Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you'll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever.

The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo's clients have lapsed (and she still has a three-month waiting list). With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house "spark joy" (and which don't), this international bestseller featuring Tokyo's newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home--and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.

My two cents

If you'd like the exact principles, I urge you to pick up the book and scan the table of contents (and read the book, it's not very long!). Here are some key things that I personally picked up from this little volume:

The first task: discard. You can't start tidying without discarding. Besides, there is less to tidy!

There is an order to discarding. The idea is to start with the things you are less attached to and do the most sentimental things last: clothing, books, papers, komono (miscellaneous stuff), mementos.

Touch every single thing you own. Decide whether it "sparks joy" in you (yes, go by gut feel!). If its a "no," get rid of it. By doing this, you will be populating your home with only things that make you happy.

Everything has a place or a "home." Something with a "home" will never become clutter.

A tidy home can change your life. (And I believe it.)


I've seen people declaring this book and the KonMari Method as the next best thing since sliced bread!

I thought this book was quite simple and based on common sense.The problem lies in that we becomes attached to our stuff, have emotional attachments (some very deep seated!) which makes parting with things difficult and sometimes seemingly downright impossible. Common sense gives way to emotion, plus there is always some denial, right? (No, I'm not a hoarder; I really need this... sound familiar?)

I picked up this book because I'm always open to ideas for getting my house in order, from decluttering to storage. I've already moved to another continent and dealt with the mountains of stuff that we can't seem to help but accumulate over the years. Faced with a tight schedule and potentially exorbitant shipping costs, our family was practically coerced to empty the house and decide what was essential. That really changed my perspective! However, I did leave a pile of things in my childhood home which I still have to deal with. In our new place, I am finding that things are starting to accumulate once again albeit I am much conscious of it. Habits certainly die hard.

This book also ties in nicely to some principles in Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project, another book I liked. Principles like "let go" (discarding stuff!) and "spend out" makes it easy for me to continue down the KonMari road.

While Marie Kondo emphasizes that things be done in one fell swoop, I don't have the time at the moment. I don't want to start something I can't finish (i.e. discarding) when it's still in that weird winter-spring mode so I've picked a few things to do and looked at my drawers and closets and have made some progress!

What I liked

This book is simple, deceptively simple. While touted as tidying or decluttering book, the heart of this book is about changing one's attitude and relationship to the things one owns. I love the idea of keeping only things and surrounding myself only with things that spark joy.

There are some tips and tricks, too: like very specific ways to do things, like folding (upright), putting things in the fridge (upright), in the bathroom (no silly wire mesh holder, just wipe down shampoo containers bottoms). I realized that our carrots have been "standing" in the fridge just like Kondo's!

I already (partially) subscribe to the folding method Kondo describes (instead of stacking one on top of the other, folding garments and standing them like files in an upright filing cabinet) because it's made a huge difference to my underwear and sock drawers which were crammed full and often just stressed me out. After the discarding, I managed to put order into two drawers and realized that I have so much more space. Yay, I can finally find things! Several laundry sessions later, my drawer still looks the same, and I pretty confident that I can keep this up (at least for these two drawers!). (I may have to give up an update when I've done my full discard session during warmer weather.)

Here's how to fold socks and underwear, and what to do with bras :

I also like the idea that Kondo says that we each have our own gauge for determining when we have discarded enough, what is "just right" for ourselves. So book lovers, don't despair if you have hundreds of books because you, and only you, can determine what you think is "enough".

Lastly, I think the idea that we are all personally responsible for our own thing is key. Don't feel pressured to give something up because someone else said so.


This isn't a book for everyone.

For those looking for a quick solution, don't expect this to be a magic bullet. Contrary to that lovely title, to experience the magic, you will have to face up to your stuff, and yourself. This book will only be as useful, like many self-improvement books are, if one follows it. Unless you're open to its ideas, no matter how simple or even silly they may seem, don't expect any results. Put the book aside for a time when you are ready.

For those who have already embraced minimalism and/or a generally tidy, you may find a lot of this as elementary, dear Watson. You may feel these things are so obvious that you even wonder why a book like this has been written. If you think you've got things under control, you may find this book entertaining.

I think one big area that has the potential to rub people the wrong way is that this is written from a Japanese perspective and hence, be ready for cultural differences. Kondo suggests talking to things as they were alive (thanking them for the things they do in our lives), and references putting up mini shrines in our homes, and knowing how to discard of "expired" charms.


The state of tidiness of one's home is a reflection of one's attitude and relationship towards things. Deal with your attitude and use Marie Kondo's principles, and you will certainly reap the benefits of a tidy home that reflects and is an extension of the person you are. Skeptical? Don't knock this book just yet, it may just help!

Google Talks

1 comment

  1. I like books like these and am a fan of everything having a home. Wish my boys felt the same way. I feel like I am nagging all the time for them to put stuff back. Thanks for sharing with Small Victories Sunday linkup. New linkup starts at 8pm EST tonight. Hope you join us again.


© guiltless readingMaira Gall