I have an unhealthy relationship with housework. Sometimes it is my greatest pleasure, while other times it is my worst nightmare. Despite my reputation for sequined lunacy, deep down, I am very orderly person. Nothing makes me more happy than walking into an environment where I know where everything is. That doesn’t mean it needs to be perfect or minimal, it just needs to be in order. I’ll bet a lot of messy people are like this — we love the feeling of an orderly space but we don’t always know how to get there. Well, my friends. This book might just be the answer.
Have you heard about this book? Images of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing started popping up all over my Instagram just after Christmas with the term “holy balls” attached in alarming frequency. Of course, I bought it immediately. Just like I bought the 30 other home keeping and organizing books on my bookshelf. I’m like that friend everyone has who compulsively buys cookbooks but rarely cooks outside the microwave. It just makes me feel better.
Well folks, that hype? It’s real. This little Japanese woman Marie Kondo is no slouch. The book is a long-term strategy, not a quick fix, but only 30 pages in you are going to start itching to clear out your cupboards. AND. Get this: she vehemently discourages you from going out and buying organizing supplies or hanging hanger things. Ever. All she gets you to do is examine the quality of every object in your surroundings and ask yourself one question; “Does it bring you joy?”
So simple, right? Doesn’t sound like much. But, honestly, after this book you’ll understand. When you pick up an object and ask yourself that question, if you cannot feel it in your gut, it’s time to move on. Thank the object for its time and service to you, then put it in a box to donate so that it can be of joy to someone else. Set the bird free!
Warning: If you buy this book, and you are serious about it, I suggest you clear yourself a weekend or at least a single day. Maybe a Saturday. Maybe read the first couple chapters of the book Friday night, then start work early Saturday. Her methodology will walk you through books, then clothes, and so on. She’s very particular about that. I’m making this sound easy but really it’s an in-depth boot camp. Even as a single-person-household, there is no way I could do my whole place in a single weekend, so I can only imagine how long it would take someone with a whole house. This is one elephant you have to eat one bite at a time. The good news is, once that elephant is good and gone, Marie promises zero upkeep. You just have to do the whole house properly one time and in the process your mindset for acquisition (ahem, hashtag: hoarders) will change drastically.
Confession: I ignore the rules and went about it backwards and started with my junk drawer with plans to do one small project a day, as that’s what most professional organizers will tell you to do. My mistake, but also my win. A normal clean out would mean getting rid of maybe 30% of the contents in that junk drawer. This time I got rid of 90%. Maybe more.
It felt incredible.
After the junk drawer I moved on to other areas. I have probably taken 15 bags of stuff to Goodwill, and don’t even ask what ended up in the recycling bin. Problem is, I fell off the wagon the last couple of weeks, which, Mary said would likely happen if I didn’t follow her *exact* method the first time (which I didn’t). So now I’m forcing myself to let things pile up, read it fresh from cover-to-cover and start again, this time, I’m doing it properly.
I love that book! I’ve been purging for a big move this summer and it is incredibly helpful. The pile of clothes was more than a little intimidating though.
Yeah, I went through my closet as is and got rid of stuff but didn’t do the whole empty-closet-giant-pile-thing. It’s on my schedule though. Sort of looking forward to it. Might even try the whole capsule wardrobe thing.
I am a natural purger, but I’m such a sucker for books like this. In fact, just reading about this book makes me want to get up and start rummaging through drawers for stuff that doesn’t bring me joy. The trouble comes when the things that don’t bring me joy do, in fact, bring joy to some other person living in this house. So far I’ve (mostly) refrained from tossing out things that don’t belong to me. I make no promises for the future.
Wish I had a natural talent for purging stuff! This article will also get you in the mood for sure!
I read that article a couple of days ago — and, yes, it did send me on a rampage. Winter makes it worse, I think. I get sick of looking at all my stuff when I’m stuck inside because of the cold.
It sounds really really cool until she mentioned the word “books”, and then I kind of went “no fricking way does anyone suggest I get rid of ANY of my books and I let them live.”. Do you still think it’s for me?
Okay. So, I got rid of 20% of my book in November, then read it in January, and got rid of another 20% or more which I NEVER would have thought possible. I think it just depends how pack-ratish you are about the books. If you know you will reread the book in the next five years, keep it. If not, and it’s just a physical archive of a memory, then by her philosophy, you are doing a disservice to others and the book by keeping it prisoner on your shelf. In any case, I’m not doing a great job of explaining this, so I suggest reading the book first! Even if you skip her book methods, just adopting her attitude toward new aquisition is HUGE.
Thanks for the rec, Peaches, I am becoming more and more interested in this book.
The hard part for me is figuring out the best way to get rid of some of this crap in a responsible way. Books & clothes are easy, but I invariably have a pile of stuff to try to sell (which takes time & effort), and stuff to cart to the municipal recycling plant, which is a bureaucracy and a half…. Stuff can sit in my “outbox” for months if I can’t figure out what to do with it. Anyway, that is my battle.
I’ve been reading a lot of the new articles about this book but haven’t seen the book itself. A few reviews pointed out how it lends well to condensed living for an adult, but isn’t really geared for children and all that they entail. The clutter in my life is due to my kids needing whole, complete new wardrobes within months of each other, so I guess the quantity of stuff I’m dealing with just feels insurmountable anyway. I DO like the quote someone else wrote about the author’s feelings that papers will never spark joy, so get rid of any papers/receipts/etc you can. So so so so so true, I need to file those out of sight and pitch more often.
Its also challenging to be a crafter and purge- some many little bits DO end up finding a project they are perfect for (in fact, sometimes it is the “clean-through” itself that inspires a project). So I struggle with actually getting rid of materials unless looking at them makes me realize that I have no desire of working with that fabric/item.
I am a natural purger in other areas, however- my tupperwares are all purged every 2-3 months (if they start to turn color or are missing their lids, or I realize I have some to return to our parents, etc).
My #1 tip is to turn on Hoarders (Netflix), let a few minutes soak in, and by the time they get to emotional breakdowns, bury yourself in a purging pile. It is such a motivator. My mom is dealing with a hoarder-like room, and she struggles a lot with what to do with gifts she’s received. The only obligation you have to a gift is to thank the giver, then treat it like every other item you own when considering its place.
Agreed. I’m not sure how this method can be applied for those in a shared house, especially with kids, other than kids will learn by example, and I have found it REALLY does change methods of acquisition. You know that expression, “Ounce of prevention…”
I used to watch Hoarders for inspiration before I realized how manipulative A&E was at putting folks through emotional wringers to get “good tv” out of them. Now it’s just sad to watch people’s mental illness being exploited for entertainment. I’m all for documenting harsh reality, but that show isn’t in it for hugs, you know? There is a reason they hardly ever do long-term follow ups. 🙁
…Take a pic of each gift, and then give away the gifts…an actual photo album that she can hold in her hands, hold in her arms…she’ll get that warm feeling..
This book is so popular my public library had 279 holds on the 10 books the county has in the library system the first week of January 2015. I thought it might have something to do with New Year’s Resolutions as well as how different her approach is to lightening the load of stuff in our homes. Thanks for the recommendation Aunt Peaches!
Hopefully your library gets more copies — I predict this thing will get even bigger as more and more people start spreading the word!
Thank you for this, ordered a copy from Amazon and will have it tomorrow. 🙂