My Thoughts on: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Marie Kondo

In January, I discovered Marie Kondo from someone I follow on Twitter. With all of the news of her Netflix series buzzing, this person tweeted about how Marie Kondo changed her outlook on life, not just in a physical tidying sense, but also mentally. Intrigued by this, I picked up The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, by Marie Kondo and started reading.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up covers how one should change their mentality of what tidying is. Marie Kondo is a firm believer of discarding everything that does not ‘spark joy’ or is of some crucial use. She also covers different techniques to store possessions, and how to identify the items that really add to our lives.

One of my greatest takeaways from this was that clutter is made when you either don’t know where something should be put, or the place that something belongs is too inaccessible. Just realizing this was enough for me to take action. Although it took some thinking, I designated a ‘home’, as Marie would put it, for all of my belongings. Since I live in a residence, all I really needed to worry about was my room and a small kitchenette area that I share with a roommate, so I immediately saw how big of a task this would be in a full house. Doing this, I began to understand the reason why cleaning was so difficult is because I didn’t know where stuff belonged; I found I had too many areas that acted as junk drawers or piles of random things that I was afraid to touch. After choosing a home for each type of items, and ensuring that they were all easily accessible, I felt the difference immediately. The greatest benefit of this is that I got the hard part done and finished, and when my living space begins to get untidy, the thought of cleaning is a lot less stressful since I know where everything goes.

Another takeaway, was that I held onto many things that I didn’t really need. Marie Kondo recommends that people discard whatever it is that doesn’t spark joy, and this is probably what she’s infamous for. A lot of people don’t agree with her telling them to discard things like books or clothes, but I can see the value of doing it to some extent. Going into it, I never acted as if The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up was a bible, but I did end up discarding a lot of my stuff since I don’t get overly attached to my possessions. I could probably discard more, but there are a few things that I know could be useful in the future, or are collector’s items that still bring me some value. Still, I’m guilty of not fully discarding things that don’t spark joy. I have boxes of clothes that I don’t wear anymore underneath my bed, still there because I know I won’t hear the end of it from my parents if I get rid of them.

Marie Kondo's folding technique

The most fun that I had with The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, was when it covered a variety of storage tips and tricks. This part was just fun to follow, especially because of smart little techniques that Marie invented that not only help store, but also show off and celebrate your most beloved possessions. She’s famous for her folding techniques, and what kind of storage solutions you should implement (ensuring that any container’s contents is visible). The way she goes into organizing clothing is also fantastic, where she recommends ordering how you hang your clothes as well. There are just so many helpful bits of information that make sense, ranging from a small tip on a good way to do something, to a way you should shift your mentality toward organizing. This is easily the most substantial and engaging part of the book.

Finally, Marie Kondo’s philosophy about sparking joy is the key takeaway from The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Essentially it’s the notion that any possession that you own that adds great enough value to your life will cause a physical reaction in you, known as sparking joy. When I first read this, I was pretty amazed, since I fully believed this. I knew what items I owned that were special to me, and I was aware how they made me feel something. It’s just that until I read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I didn’t have a solid thought to encapsulate this. I am a firm believer that sparking joy is a physical reaction of the body, and that the only way to identify it is to make physical contact with the item.

There is a lot of good information in here that can be applied to how you think as well. A takeaway that I had gotten just from this mentality shift was that you should only do things that spark joy as well. For example, you shouldn't force yourself to finish a movie, TV series, or a game if it doesn't spark joy. If you're doing it for entertainment, don't turn it into homework.

Overall, I can say that The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up had given me information that I can apply to my life, and I do so on a daily basis. My living space still gets a bit on the messier side at times, but the thought of cleaning is no longer a chore. I definitely recommend this book to anybody who is seeking to live a more simple life, or to those who seek to clean more easily. It is quite a bit of work, but the payoff is invaluable.

I recently picked up Spark Joy, An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up, written by Marie Kondo as well, and I’ll be reading it fairly soon and will update my findings here.

Anyway, thank you for reading this thought.