Picture of the cover of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

So for the last, I dunno, three years? I have been waging a war on clutter, and while I have won some victories the war is far from over. Somewhat hilariously, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo has been sitting in my pile of books to read for a similar length of time. Anyway, it finally floated to the top of the pile. When I was halfway through, twitter started twooting all things Kondo. At first I thought it was just a bit of frequency bias, but it became louder and louder until I eventually learned that Marie has just launched a Netflix series as well.

Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a decent read that I found helpful, Marie’s approach to minimalist living, the ‘KonMari method’, is relatively simple. It’s all about throwing away redundant objects:

  1. Work through categories, starting with the least sentimental:
    • Clothes
      • Tops
      • Bottoms
      • Clothes that should be hung
      • Socks
      • Underwear
      • Handbags
      • Extra Items
      • Clothes for specific events
      • Shoes
    • Books
      • General
      • Practical
      • Visual
      • Magazines
    • Papers
    • Miscellaneous items (Komono).
      • CDs, DVDs
      • Skincare products
      • Make-up
      • Valuables
      • Electrical equipment
      • Household equipment
      • Household supplies
      • Kitchen goods
    • Sentimental items
  2. Gather every item in the house belonging to a certain category and dump them in a central place. Like the living room floor or dining table or whatever.
  3. Go through each item one by one, picking it up and ask yourself ‘Does this spark joy?’. This might sound a little ambiguous but I guess it’s really just a loose metric for curating the objects in your life. I’m not sure how else you would qualify the items that are the most important to you and your value systems.
  4. Anything that doesn’t pass the spark joy test gets thrown away, while everything else gets methodically packed away. Folded and ordered. But never stacked. Apparently shoe boxes are the bees knees for storing things vertically without stacking.

The most value I got from Marie’s book though? A whole host of reasoning that tackles excuses for keeping clutter. Quotes like:

The most common reason for not discarding a book is “I might read it again.” Take a moment to count the number of favorite books that you have actually read more than once. How many are there?

Yup, I’m very guilty of that one. But I also see value in maintaining a modest library of books. There are many books that I have kept not for me to read again, but for my daughter to read… Something that has started to happen fairly frequently. Plus she is at an age where she does love to read and reread her favourites.

I totally agreed with Marie on her thoughts about study materials:

People often insist, “I want to restudy these materials sometime,” but most never do so. Moreover, the majority of them usually have materials for multiple seminars on the same or similar subjects. Why? Because what they learned at the seminars did not stick.

That’s the big reason why I set out to write about thirty articles a year. It’s all about reinforcing ideas that I’m trying to learn about. Plus I end up with a nice handy digital reference that is easy to search.

Out of the whole book, the quote that I found the most helpful? It is this one that captures Marie’s thoughts on gifts:

The true purpose of a present is to be received. Presents are not “things” but a means for conveying someone’s feelings. When viewed from this perspective, you don’t need to feel guilty for parting with a gift. Just think of the joy it gave you when you first received it.

I give the The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo four out of five stars.

4 stars out of 5.