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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing


I had a Great on Kindle credit and didn't want for much, but at the moment Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing was on sale and caught my eye. My mom and several friends swore by it, so I gave it a go. 

For those of you who missed the craze, Kondo built the KonMari method. You hold an object in your hands and ask yourself if it brings you joy. If it does, you keep it. If it doesn’t, you toss it. That’s the long and short of it although there is definitely more to it in the fine details. Kondo hates organization tools; she feels it creates a false sense of tidyiness rather than actual tidyness. She has a point there. While some stuff I could get behind, others made me cock my head in wonder. 

Here is an Instagram post I put up a couple of months ago, toward the end of 2018. 



I came to the KonMari method late — both in book time (this book came out a few years ago) and in cleaning time (see the above post). I read it after my big year-long purge, so it was interesting to read the book and compare methods. (Disclaimer: my way was in no way a method. I just have a small child who gets into everything and I don’t have the luxury of doing my whole house in a week anyway.) There were some things that I preemptively followed to the letter — I didn’t lose a lot of sleep about getting rid of things, and I didn’t keep things that didn’t bring me joy — and there were some things that made me curious. I don’t openly thank objects myself; maybe it’s my American puritanical upbringing, but I have a hard time thanking objects. (Although, now that I think about it, I’ve definitely said goodbye to objects.) 

One other things that was important to me in my great purge that Kondo doesn’t address is that it was, and still is, very important to me to get rid of things “ethically.” I can’t just throw things away — in case you haven’t heard, the world has a trash problem — and just dropping things off at a Goodwill means they will likely end up in the trash. So I have a nice amount of things still waiting to leave my apartment for a clothing swap in February and another in June, and a bag of shoes to go with it. 

I appreciated that Kondo doesn’t preach about buying less so much as only keeping what makes you happy. She actually recognizes that you will buy more things, but the hope in the tidying process is that you will recognize what brings you joy. One point of note she makes about clothes is that most of her clients it rid of pieces that others gave her. I’ve noticed that too. I got rid of a lot of beautiful pieces that just don’t fit my postpartum body, but I also got rid of pieces that just weren’t me. Interestingly enough, many of those were gifts.   

There are things I’ve taken from this book. With what’s left over, specifically around my own clothes, I’m evaluating piece by piece which I want to keep. I wear work clothes to work and when I look in the mirror, if I don’t feel 100% confident in how I look, I put the piece in the clothing swap pile as soon as I get home. I commented to my husband just yesterday how much more empty our closet feels — I’ve never had so many empty hangers. I’m also much more picky about what I buy. I subscribed to a clothing rental service (Gwynnie Bee), and I’m super happy with it. It’s rentals, but if you like you can buy. I get to wear something once or twice and see how it wears. I’ve bought a lot of basics through this — black pants and dresses, a top I LOVE — and I’ve been able to change up my wardrobe through new dresses weekly. 

I still have more to do. I haven’t tackled my office in full yet, although I did start yesterday. I feel as though I spend less time picking up on a daily basis now that I’ve gotten rid of things. I also took advantage of Kondo’s suggestion of small box organizers in my drawers and it’s made a world of difference in my calmness while food prepping. All in all, the book was worth the read even if I didn’t, and wouldn’t, follow everything to the letter. Let’s all try to live tidier lives. 

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