I know, you’ve heard about this minimalist book and how it promises to change your life. You know what it’s about and have already decided if Marie Kondo is a genius or crazy. This book is more than a manual of how to organize your things. It’s a user’s guide on how to tidy up and change your life.
The first part of the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Marie Kondo talks about all the ways she tried to organize and purge throughout her life. She’s tried all the methods and explains how all the methods failed her in some way. Things kept piling up. She lost track of things she needed. She forgot what she had and bought a second of the same thing. The only thing that was permanent for her was minimalism.
How to Tidy Up
Everyone has heard of the KonMarie sorting process. Find all like objects and put them in one big pile (every shirt or kitchen utensil you own). Touch each object and use the criteria of only keeping the object if it “sparks joy,” however you define that. If tweezers will bring you joy when you have a splinter, keep them. If it’s a pair of pants that doesn’t fit great and you only wear when nothing else is clean, it’s time to let them go. This is basically her minimalist map.
After making decisions about what to keep, she gives instructions on how to keep it. This includes her folding method (standing thing upright instead of laying flat), what documents need to be kept in a place that is easy to access and putting to use the items you love and want to see daily.
She wants readers to be happy and relaxed in their home. Her method will make it easy to clean because there will not be items that don’t have a place they belong. It’s easy to shop when you know exactly what you have and what you need. Minimalism has benefits beyond saving money. It will save time and most importantly, sanity.
Purge Once to Tidy Up
There are a few reasons for her method of one large purge instead of doing one space at a time or aiming to throw away 30 items in 30 days. First, it’s too easy to lose momentum with these other processes. Once you dump every article of clothing on the floor, you have to face the mess until you do something about it. So why not just keep going and get it finished quickly?
Second, once your entire house is purged, you will have a location for each item and will easily be able to identify if there is space for anything else. This should be a “one and done” process. She suggests an order to go through every category of things in your house. Generally, it’s easiest to most difficult. Clothing is first since it infrequently has emotional significance and is easy to replace. Her suggested order can be found here.
Organize What’s Left
One of her most useful pieces of advice is to put things where it is easy to put them back when you are finished. If you want something, you will get it out. However, it’s easy to leave things lying around rather than putting them back. Make it as easy as possible on yourself. Label, use boxes, fold vertically, hang what you can on the wall, take advantage of closets and under beds. There is a lot of unused square footage in every house. Find it and use it to its maximum capacity.
Another idea I like is using your closet for special items. Once I purged my closet, I had a lot of empty space. Kondo’s suggestion is “transform your closet into your own private space, one that gives you a thrill of pleasure.” I live with five other people, so I don’t get to dictate what all of our spaces look like. However, my closet is now filled with things I love and want to see, but don’t necessarily want to give my kids access to.
How I Tidy Up and Change My Life
I’ve tried several times to start the whole process detailed in this book. My clothes are pretty well curated. I’ve master the KonMari method of folding and my kids usually let me keep their clothes that way. My husband is not on board at all. He still wants to keep EVERYTHING. And yes, this makes him difficult to live with. But I’ve followed the advice in the book that I can’t control other people. Choosing to tidy up and change my life only applies to my own life and possessions.
I’ve also managed to do a pretty good job purging and organizing the kitchen. But I live with five other people. I’m convinced that each additional person inside those four walls decreases the chance that this will be successful to the extent Marie claims. Kids have birthdays and Christmas and friend’s parties with stupid trinkets in gift bags. School aged kids have worksheets and tests and coloring pages and art projects. Younger kids are attached to rocks and leaves and a piece of trash from the library parking lot.
This process is never-ending in my house. I can manage not to buy a kitchen gadget we don’t need, but I can’t stop other people from inundating my kids with love in the form of gifts. And I don’t think I would want to. Some things have changed drastically for the better in my house since reading this book, but it’s not a process that has a defined end.
Learning to Tidy Up and Change Your Life
This book is for someone who is fully committed to being a minimalist. At the time she wrote this book, Kondo was a single woman, as are most of her clients she uses as examples in the book. As a parent reading this book, I suggest you give yourself a lot of grace. This is the ideal. I would love to live with only the things I need and to give little thought to cleaning my house on a daily basis.
However, I’ve learned that I can’t force this ideal on other people, especially kids who are just learning to express themselves and their interests. Take the suggestions that work for you. Start folding vertically or clean out your closet as a place for an extra bookcase or a shelf of items that make you smile. But be gentle with yourself in the process.
I think that even though I have been selective in following the process of this book, I still have seen benefits in my life. I’ve gained confidence in myself and my choices. I have realized that I don’t need a lot of things. I understand what I do need and what I like to have around me. As a mom, it’s easy to lose a sense of self and what actually brings joy. This has brought back a little of my personality and passion.
And while I have not flipped my life upside down, I have seen changes. I’ve been able to work more. I started this blog! I have a strong plan for cleaning and a schedule that works for my family. In my own (non-Marie Kondo approved way), I have manage to tidy up and change my life.
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