Is Marie Kondo’s “Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” Truly Life Changing?

As the year 2019 kicks off, its a good time to think about de-cluttering and re-setting. Lately the time I spend cleaning (okay I don’t really clean that much) and or organizing has really been grinding my gears. I feel like I am in an endless cycle of clothes piling up and then putting them away, only for them to pile back up again. Anytime I spend on this or dealing with the other clutter that piles up around the house feels like a colossal waste of time. 

Ipso facto when I came across this title “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up – The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo, somewhere on the internet, it spoke to me and I immediately ordered it. I tore through this book and dove into the process. As Marie Kondo’s new Netflix show ‘Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” has debuted, it reminded me of the magic that was this book. So, I ask myself, was this book truly life changing? Honestly kind of. 

The Author…

Marie Kondo, the author, has perfected the art of “tidying”. Seems like a dry subject but she manages to write the book in an endearing way.  She has thought about “tidying” to such an extreme degree that its definitely an obsession. “Tidyness” is a sport to her that she’s been working on perfecting since birth. She is a professional organizer who runs her own organizing company. She is now a TV star w/ her new show. Marie is nutty in every way and I love it. She is a true inspiration, changing lives one tidying session at a time.

Takeaway #1 The Process – ONLY KEEP WHAT BRINGS YOU JOY

  • Gather together all of one’s belongings, one category at a time. For example all clothes and then sorting them by pants, shirts, etc. Then all kitchen supplies. She specifies NOT to go room by room. All the like items need to be together. So if you keep clothes in different spots (for example, jackets in a bedroom closet and then jackets in a hallway closet), you need to get all the clothes together to go through them to be successful in decluttering. 
  • Keep only those things that “spark joy” and getting rid of the rest 
  • After that point, anything you keep needs to have a home, somewhere for it to live and thrive
  • All possessions must be honored and cared for

If you do this properly you shouldn’t “rebound’ i.e. have to do another big organizing session not long after. The goal is to only be around objects that make you happy, thereby maximizing the joy in your life and enter the life changing benefits. The underlying existential question is can gaining control of your possessions improve your quality of life. The criteria for keeping or getting rid of something is whether the object brings you joy. Not about how much it cost, or how often you use it, you should be surrounded by things that make you joyful. If it doesn’t bring you joy, then out it goes! 

Takeaway #2: The Spirituality of Possessions…

One of the main take aways of this book is that there is a spiritual and emotional component to owning possessions. Kondo recommends greeting your home when you arrive “Hello I’m home!”

She is big on treating possessions with respect and care. It just feels wrong sometimes to get rid of an article of clothing that is still wearable, even if you didn’t like it or it didn’t fit right. Or, if you have gotten a ton of wear out of it there can be some sentimental value to the item. She justifies this by saying they are moving on to their new life where they will be happier. This honestly makes it easier to get rid of things that you don’t use, because it gives you a positive incentive. Instead of feeling bad for buying something you never wore, you are sending the object along to its next opportunity. 

Takeaway #3: Gratitude for Possessions

Along the same lines as #2, Kondo treats all of her possessions with great respect. She also recommends expressing gratitude to your possessions for serving you. You can thank your house for protecting you, you can thank your clothes for keeping you warm.  Before reading this book I would often whisper “thank you” or hug/kiss clothing items goodbye right before I am putting them in a pile to give away. I thought that was bizarre of me, but since Kondo certifies the practice I will be less bashful about it. Kondo recommends thanking your items as you discard them, and sending them onto their next journey. When she got a new phone, she even texted her old phone to thank it for serving her (lol). Kind of wacky but I can get down with this practice because it brings into awareness the purpose of the items around us.

Take Away #4: The Signature Folding Method

Marie’s folding methodology consists of folding clothes in a specific way, so that they sit upright in your drawers – NOT folded on top of each other. This is a game changer. If allows you to grab one item out of the drawer WITHOUT disturbing the other items. So instead of folding a whole stack of T-Shirts, and then disturbing the whole pile when you go to grab one, and then having a mess until you decide to fix it, you could avoid all of that. How many hours have I wasted with sub-par folding tactics. SO MANY!!!!

Take Away #5: The Alleged Life Changing Benefits…

The inspiration (and I agree with this) at the end of the book, is that once your personal possessions are in order you are making peace with your past in a way and are ready to face new things because you have gained control of your life, should spend less time organizing, and have room in your life for new thoughts and things. She says ““When you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order too.” She also says before you tidy you should set a goal or intention for how you see your life once you have everything together. 

Kondo claims at the end of the book that people who have cleansed can sometimes enjoy inexplicable benefits, e.g. clearer skin, loosing weight. Okay sign me up! Sounds outlandish but I actually would tend to believe this because being organized can improve your time management, reduce stress, and give you more time to do other things.

The Reality…

I was pretty jazzed up after reading this book. I never took on one major de-cluttering every single thing session like she recommends. I more have done it in iterations. I moved during this year as well so that was another opportunity to de-clutter. The area I have spent the most time de-cluttering is my wardrobe.

Although I can’t say I’m 100% organized by any means via Kondo standards, I have made some major improvements. 

  1. I have less stuff – I have gotten rid of ALOT
  2. My house is cleaner – I don’t have as much stuff everywhere as I used to
  3. Her Folding Methodology definitely helps, because you don’t disrupt every item in a drawer  when you grab something
  4. It’s easier to decide getting dressed etc.
  5. When you have less physical clutter you have less mental clutter
  6. It does help other areas of life, when you spend less time de-cluttering, and it allows other areas to be less cluttered and more time

What I won’t be doing: 

  1. Drying Shower Equipment: Kondo says to dry off and put away all shower items after using them. E.g. drying off your shamppo and conditioner and putting them somewhere after using them. That’s a definite no
  2. Emptying Bag When Getting Home: She says when you get home you should empty your bag and put all of the objects away somewhere. This might not be the worst habit, but I would 100% forget something everyday if I did this.

More Ways to Reduce Pain of Getting rid of Things…

One thing I’ve done that helped with the agony of getting rid of clothes is for things that are new or close to new and a good brand, is tag them to bring to a thrift shop for re-sale. This could be a whole other post, but getting some small reward for getting rid of things can help part with it. There are ways to do this online as well, but I haven’t had as much luck with that versus the time spent. 

Another thing you can do is give clothes away to friends or relatives when you are over something/have overworn it. Only do this if they would really like the item, it’s important as Kondo says to not burden other people with your stuff unless it brings them joy. That’s not truly de-cluttering/letting go.  

In Conclusion…

Was Reading this Worth It? Definitely. Even if you are already pretty organized, it is still a good read, and goes surprisingly quick for a book about organizing. It could even be life-changing.

In keeping w/ Marie Kondo’s practices, I would like to thank her for producing this delightful gem of a book that has brought me value and has been catching on like wildfire! 

Further Reading…

I am pretty visual, so when Kondo was describing her signature foldings methods I didn’t fully comprehend them. This goop guide serves as a handy guide. It also offers an overall summary to the book.



3 thoughts on “Is Marie Kondo’s “Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” Truly Life Changing?

  1. I find the Marie Kondo approach mad silly and a bit cloying, “spark joy” and “Hello I’m home!”?? But if it makes keeping things tidy a little less tiresome, then I don’t see the harm.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not kissing my old junk goodbye, but the folding method is so practical it makes you wonder why it never occurred to us as an alternative to stacking everything in drawers.


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