Book Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

IMG_3697I finally finished the New York Times Best Seller, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. Friends had been recommending the book to me for quite awhile now, and I finally made a pit stop on my lunch break at the local book store and picked it up. The book was a quick read and pretty easy to digest, so I breezed through it in only a couple of weeks of light reading before bed.

When I first picked it up, I was surprised to find that there were no pictures. I think organizing is a very visual activity and I was nervous about reading an entire book on the subject with nothing to help me visualize the spaces. It turned out that the book was less of a step-by-step guide and instead focused on the bigger picture.

My favorite things about the book were her points about the effects of being tidy on our mental state and making the most of the space in our homes. She begins the book talking about the reasons why people have cluttered homes and a bit about the psychology behind it. She goes into detail about how her “KonMari” method is used and how to implement it, and ends with the mental, physical and emotional benefits of living an organized life.

In my mind, one of the most compelling lines in the book is “Tidying is just a tool, not the final destination.” I couldn’t agree with this idea more. Organizing and tidying shouldn’t be your ultimate goal, your goal should be to live a more productive life, void of stress and searching. Organizing is an essential way of getting there. It helps you focus your energy on living your life instead of on your messy home.

In the same chapter, she goes into detail about how being organized forces us to examine our inner state. For many people, having a cluttered and disorganized home is a distraction from a bigger problem in life. When your home is messy, it gives you something to focus your negative energy on. When you have an organized and neat home, you are forced to face whatever else is negative in your life and overcome it.

Another thing from her book that I loved was her take on how you should feel about your home. She talks about living a life you love whether you’re at home, or out and about. She suggests you should only keep “loungewear” that you love and are comfortable in. She finds it taboo that people would keep clothes to wear around the house just because no one will see. She says that your time at home is still an important and valuable part of your life, and if you’re not loving each moment, it’s a waste. I thought this was a very interesting perspective on things, and I plan to keep my wardrobe full of only the things I love and things I’m comfortable and happy in. I value my time to relax, and I should be making it the most enjoyable for myself as possible.

The biggest take away from the Kon Mari method is on purging. When deciding whether to get rid of something, she says you should hold the item in your hand and ask yourself if it sparks joy. She says if it does not spark joy, you should get rid of it. This was interesting to me because I can think of a lot of things in my home that don’t spark joy but I need. My toothbrush, for example, doesn’t make me particularly thrilled, but I know I need it twice a day. In my mind, asking yourself if something sparks joy is a way to help you make tough decisions on purging, not for every item in your home. Her process doesn’t work very well with a toothbrush, but when you think about it in terms of a shirt in your closet, it works really well. How many items of clothing do you keep just because they’re still good? A lot of people hold onto clothes just because they’re still in good shape or because they’re associated with a good memory, even if it doesn’t flatter their figure or they don’t feel great when they wear it. If an item in your wardrobe doesn’t make you feel like you’re killin’ it, Marie Kondo says you should ditch it.

One of the things I didn’t like was her mention that when organizing, you should always strive for perfection. In my experience, nothing will ever be perfect, even in organizing. If you strive for perfection, you’re most likely going to be disappointed. This whole idea is something I talk about in my post on the five most common organizing mistakes. Additionally, she empties her purse each day when she gets home and puts everything into a drawer so her purse  can “rest.” In my mind, organizing is about efficiency. It doesn’t seem very efficient to me to take everything out of your bag only to put it back in hours later. She truly has a deep appreciation for her things, which I’m thinking is part of the Japanese culture and possibly something that comes from her experience with Feng Shui. It’s admirable, but not very practical to most people.

Regardless of her borderline strange appreciation for all of her things, I ended the book feeling even more passionate about organizing than I already do. It made me think a lot about the reasons why I decided to get organized. Her discussions about the emotional and psychological effects of tidying made me realize the effects organizing has had on my own life in ways I didn’t even realize. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a New York Times Best Seller for a reason, and is certainly worth the read for anyone looking to get organized and simplify their life.