We’re opening up the book club with the #1 best seller: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing* by Marie Kondo. I’ve heard so much praise for this book. I had to find out what it was all about.
Full disclosure: I listened to the audiobook because I’m a busy lady. That may have colored my review. I didn’t love the reader’s voice. It was robotic and put me to sleep several times. Not even kidding. At one point the reader broke from the deadpan and did several different voices to represent different testimonials. It was such a 180 that I laughed for a good 10 minutes. I even backed up the audiobook to listen to that part again. So there’s that. Anyway, on to it!
Kondo’s approach to “tidying” is this: keep only items that bring you joy. Honestly, I found that idea to a bit far fetched. Do any of my socks bring me joy? No. Do my washcloths bring me joy? No. But both are necessary for life. At one point, she suggested that we throw away our sweats and women should dress elegantly for bed. I was cussing up a storm after that one.
But Kondo did present a few gems of decluttering wisdom. She suggested that we only declutter our own stuff. I love that approach and always suggest it to friends/family who want to minimize. The best way to help others declutter is to set an example. It’s dangerous and rude to throw away other people’s things. It leads to mistrust and you could really harm someone’s emotional ability to get rid of stuff in the long run. I also liked her hippy-dippy theory of thanking items for their use when getting rid of them. It takes some of the guilt away.
On the other hand, I’m not 100% sure I agree with her approach to decluttering. The “KonMarie Method” suggests that instead of moving room by room, one should declutter by item type. For example, you’ll first find all the clothes in your house, gather them in a pile on the floor, then ask if each one brings you joy. If not, the item is thanked for it’s one-time purpose and put in a bag to be thrown away. In theory this seems like a good idea, but I only live in 188 square feet and I am overwhelmed by the thought of finding every single piece of clothing I own and dumping it in a pile. She also claims that none of her clients have ever rebounded into clutter. That just seems unlikely.
We are having a canned food drive at work so I tried the KonMarie Method with all my canned goods. (That’s not one of the items on her list, but I thought I could try to see if it was applicable to other situations.) I took all the canned goods out of my pantry and put them on the floor. I asked myself if each one gave me joy. They were food, so the answer was “yes” for almost everything. I got distracted half way through and ended up leaving a pile of cans on the floor for half a day. That’s something else I didn’t love about the system, there’s no estimated time line. I know it will take a different amount of time for different people, but it could take some people months to go through all their clothes that way. I don’t know without a personal organizer standing behind them that most people could keep up that kind of momentum.
Overall, I give this one a big, fat “MEH.” Was it “life-changing magic” for me? No. Will it work for some people? Yes.
Did you read “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”? I’d love to hear your opinion in the comments!