June 9, 2015

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: A Book Review, with Pictures

I recently read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I've found it pretty inspiring actually. I mean, on the one hand, Marie Kondo is clearly a tiny bit crazy. Take passages like this (about why you should always put coins in your wallet, not stash a jar or bag of change somewhere).
"Years later during my course, they stumble across a bag bursting with coins in the back of a cupboard. By that time, it is pungent with the smell of rust and mold, the coins are discolored, and they make a dull clinking sound instead of jingling. At this point, my clients would rather just ignore the bag’s existence. Writing this description is hard enough , but to actually see these coins, stripped of their dignity as money, is heartrending."
She writes similar passages about the feelings of out-of-season clothes, which may languish in a drawer for part of the year.
"Open the drawer and run your hands over the contents. Let them know you care and look forward to wearing them when they are next in season. This kind of "communication" helps your clothes stay vibrant and keeps your relationship with them alive longer."
I also had a good little chuckle at her assumption that the highest number of books someone would ever reread in their life would be 100. Obviously she's never met a bookworm like me!

My book review of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, with pictures of my decluttering process, and how it's really helping me to choose joy and discard items that I don't need anymore.

But on the other hand, I found her prescription to only keep objects which bring you joy immensely helpful. As you go through your possessions, don't worry about whether or not something was expensive, or a gift, or if you've been "meaning to read/wear/use it", just stop and think about whether it truly brings joy to you. And if it doesn't? Get rid of it.
"People have trouble discarding things that they could still use... that contain helpful information... and that have sentimental value."
If you stop and think about whether an object truly brings you joy, then your list of possessions will suddenly get much smaller.

My book review of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, with pictures of my decluttering process, and how it's really helping me to choose joy and discard items that I don't need anymore.

In my own case, it's meant (so far) getting rid of 3 trashbags worth of clothes - things with holes, things that are too big, things that are too small, things that I don't really like any more. I love what she has to say about how clothes can have fulfilled their purpose if they taught you what doesn't really suit you. You don't need to feel bad, or keep wearing them - they've already served their purpose and they should be discarded if they don't bring you joy.
"Where did you buy that particular outfit and why? If you bought it because you thought it looked cool in the shop, it has fulfilled the function of giving you a thrill when you bought it."

And as for the books - just off the living room shelves I culled more than 100. Then I discarded another seventy or so out of Eleanor's room, and moved 40 more from her room to the living room. That way my living room shelves are nice and tidy (but not full of empty space like the top picture in this post), and Eleanor's shelves have room to breathe, and include space for her Barbies, and a separate stash for library books under that, so that they don't get all mixed in with everything else.

I think Kondo was right too. Every time I look at my shelves now, I just feel joy at how pretty and organized they are, instead of feeling guilt for the titles I keep "meaning to read", or the ones I received as gifts, and never really enjoyed.

So the diaper boxes and totes of books will be heading to a secondhand bookstore with no further regret, and I'll be enjoying my pretty bookshelves for a while to come. And who knows - maybe even more culling will happen in the future, since I'm feeling pretty darn happy about the state of my closet and shelves these days.

I recommend The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing if you've been thinking about decluttering and need a dose of inspiration. Just be ready to take some of her advice with a little grain of salt!

Have YOU read it?

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