The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – by Marie Kondo

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I love this book.

It’s (surprisingly) spiritual, (helpfully) practical, and (playfully) eccentric.

On the spiritual front, Kondo describes in a very matter-of-fact style the soulful benefits of organizing:

Mental Clarity

She describes how putting your home in order can put your past affairs in order too. The act clarifies what is important to you. Kondo explained how when one of her clients was clearing out her book collection, she discarded most of her old business books, but kept her books on social welfare. The tidying up process helped her to realize that she wanted to move away from her past career in business and towards something that would be more meaningful to her: working on social welfare issues.

Higher Self-Value

Another by-product of tidying up is being surrounded only by the things you love – reinforcing a mentality that you should not be around things that detract from your joy.  Kondo also alludes to the fact that your home affects your self-image. If it is messy, you will perceive yourself as messy. If you are embarrassed by it, you will be embarrassed to invite people over — and that embarrassment can translate to feelings you have about yourself.

Living in the Now

In her way, Kondo advocates against a mentality of living in the future. She unapologetically criticizes people who are reluctant to get rid of useless possessions because they might use them “someday.” The problem with “someday” is that it exists in a dreamworld, outside the now. It makes it okay to defers your ambitions to an undefined time that’s given no priority. The attitude of “someday” backshelves hopes and dreams. I fully embrace the outlook that your possessions should reflect what your real ambitions and desire are — not the ones that you’re willing to let gather dust because they’re not important enough to you.

On the practical side of things, these are my favorite Kondo take-aways:

Only Keep What Sparks Joy

This is Kondo’s thesis. If something doesn’t spark joy, get rid of it.

Understanding Clutter

There are only two sources of clutter: 1) things not being returned to their rightful home and 2) things that don’t have a home at all. Once I understood this, cleaning up clutter became so easy!

I systematically returned rogue possessions to their proper place, and was then left with the real culprit: the clutter diaspora. These are the odds and ends you possess that don’t really have a place of belonging. It’s the random notepad, unused coupon, or hotel lotion you don’t quite know what to do with. And so they get shuffled from one corner of your desk to the other. The good news is that with clutter diaspora, you only need to give it a permanent home once in order to eliminate it.

Storage Tips

  • Store vertically
  • Use old boxes as dividers in drawers
  • Keep things on one location – for example, there is no need to have a place for nail polish in both your bedroom and your bathroom. Choose one place and stick to it.

Finally, I cannot deny how much I love what an oddball Kondo is!

She seems to layer a Shintoist outlook over basic appliances. When she got a new phone, she describes in a charmingly heartfelt way how she texted her old cell phone good-bye to thank it for all its hard word. How can you not love this lady?


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