The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up - such great ideas

Since my  Clutter Countdown Challenge, that began in October and continues to trickle on, I’ve come to realize that it’s an issue in my life that I will continually need to tackle and address. Everyone has something in their life that is just that little thorn in their flesh and for me, it’s this. Therefore, when I see something that jumps out at me, I’ll share it.

At Barnes and Noble the other day, a title did just that. I’m pretty picky with my titles, so when I see the words MAGIC and TIDY in bold, you can bet I’m biting. Drat, that marketing.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing sucked me in.

I admit, so many phenomenal insights hit me, ones I KNOW I NEED to apply in our own home, but  instead of pondering my next steps, guess what I did right then? I googled the author’s name and the question, “Does Marie Kondo have kids?”

HA! Yes, I admit I just needed a little validation. She doesn’t, but when Katie emailed me the following week and asked if I had heard of the book, I knew I needed her insight because I’m jaded. (When I read the author’s major suggestion was don’t try and tidy a little every day, it has to be done all at once,  I googled the kids question. ;))

So Katie is taking it away.

How many bags of clutter could you stuff and haul out of your house? Marie Kondo is quite certain that she can have you hauling out dozens if you strictly adhere to the techniques she describes in her book,

Have you heard about it?

Kondo’s popularity is sweeping through the US right now. Her book’s been on the bestsellers’ list since October, challenging readers to ask themselves one simple question about their belongings:

Does it tokimeku—does it spark joy?

Kondo (30) and I are about the same age, and recently I think we’ve probably filled a comparable number of garbage bags, both our things and other people’s.

My husband and I live in a 720 square foot home in the back of an airplane hangar. But before we could start building, we had to clean out the hangar. We bought it as-is from a Depression era pilot, which meant the entire hangar was filled to the brim with everything you could imagine: hundreds of used spark plugs, tires, enough lightbulbs for everyone in the county, and an untouched emergency food stash, which equaled almost two years’ worth of food for one adult male.

It took us months to empty the place enough to even begin construction of a tiny home in the back, and we were on a first name basis with everyone at the thrift store and even the dump and recycling center.

But we did it!


Now we have a son sharing our 720 square foot space. It’s plenty of room for all three of us … as long as we constantly keep tabs on what we bring home.

As Jen and I discuss ideas for the Clutter Countdown with you, I thought it might be useful to know how this book that’s getting so much buzz might help you (and how it might not).

1. Tidy a little a day and you’ll be tidying forever.

Kondo argues that “tidying is a special event. Don’t do it every day.” Do it in one enormous swoop, and be done with it. Boom.

2. Sort by category, not location.

Don’t tidy up a corner of the house, she argues. Pick a particular item like clothes or papers. More specifically, she wants you to go in this order: clothes, books, papers, miscellany, and then things with sentimental value.

3. Never pile things.

She stores absolutely everything vertically–from sweaters to even her laptop. This Wall Street Journal article has great illustrations on how she folds her clothing. (I’ve been storing my shirts the same vertical way for years, and it really is something I highly recommend. You can actually see what you own.)

4. Storage experts are hoarders.

Sorry folks. Organized clutter is still clutter.

5. Toss cards, photographs, and sentimental objects ruthlessly.

(During our Clutter Countdown challenge, we’ve addressed some great ideas and suggestions for parting with sentimental baby clothes here, as well as decluttering sentimental objects here.)

I paraphrased that a bit. Being an avid journaler and storycatcher, this part of her book really bothered me. She urges you to read your mail over the recycling bin. Open a card from someone, read it, then immediately toss it. In a culture where handwritten notes are so few, should we treat them with such carelessness? Whenever I receive a meaningful card, I tuck it into this. When my son gets something, we put it in this. Old letters from grandparents, photos with friends, and even letters from siblings away at summer camp years ago–those pieces of memorabilia all tell a story about who we are. That shouldn’t be discarded.

I feel like Kondo has some really amazing ideas. Her advice on clothing is excellent. I’m confident you’ll walk away with some great tips for making your closet more enjoyable. If you’re also battling with clutter other people in your house create, she’s got some great insight on how to handle it.

However, I wish that Kondo dove into more detail, especially with paperwork and kitchen items. If you are a book lover, you really don’t want to see her advice there. I know we all keep more books than we should. (Remember this amazing book decluttering strategy? It works wonders.)

If you want to make huge decluttering change, I highly recommend at least reading this book! The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

Just remember:

Keep room in your home for the things that make you you. It’s your sanctuary.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Think you could remove bags and bags of belongings from your home?

What tips and tricks would you suggest for tackling clutter? Kondo’s method?