Review: Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying

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Hi!

Wow, this has taken me much longer to find time to write than I expected! But, on a brighter note, our new house is much nearer to completion, so it’s not all bad news!

When we do finally move into our new home, I want the fresh start to stretch into our lifestyle as well, regarding the house, maintaining it and keeping it organized and clutter free. I will be the first to admit that at present, our house is much messier than I find comfortable. And yet, we struggle to keep bringing in that level of tidiness that we want.

That’s what prompted me to buy Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying, available at Amazon, here.

I liked the cover promise of ‘a simple, effective way to banish clutter forever’, and to transform your home into a permanently tody, clutter-free space…’ Who wouldn’t want that? I promptly got stuck in.

I liked that the emphasis wasn’t purely on minimalism, although incorporated some of the same principles. It’s not about doing without, and learning to do so, but more about living only with what you truly love. I liked that it explored dealing with other people in the household, and their belongings, too. After all, you can’t apply an approach such as ‘keep only what sparks joy in you’ to other people’s items. But I didn’t finish the book and immediately start the tidying process.

And I still haven’t. And more so, I won’t be applying this approach when I come to move, either. Not in the exact method described, which Marie Kondo will tell you, is the only way to make it work. To summarize, the basic principle is to, in one single period, go through all of your belongings, holding each one in your hand and only keeping those that truly ‘spark joy’. There is a set order in which you should go through your belongings, the order helping you to learn and hone your craft to really narrow down what you do and do not need in your life.

However, I didn’t feel this was a practical approach to my belongings. I’ll admit, not wanting to get all of my clothes together into one room (literally, everything, that coat on the back of the door, the dressing gown from the bathroom, the scarves and the handbags and the shoes that probably aren’t inside your wardrobe either, the laundry…) was part laziness. I’d recently gone through the majority of my clothing and donated what I no longer wanted to charity. I also kept a pile of things to sell on eBay – some which did, some which are still in a storage box under the bed. I didn’t want to get everything out again. And also, I felt the book didn’t cover a huge proportion of belongings – those things you don’t necessarily love, but need regardless.

Maybe it should be taken for granted, if you need something, you keep it. Maybe the KonMari method is for those items that aren’t essential, this wasn’t really specified. Take for instance, my work clothes. I don’t have a uniform, I just have to wear black. Now I don’t particularly wear black outside of work. These items of clothing don’t spark joy in me at all. I just need them. I don’t have the option of throwing them all away and buying items of black clothing that truly spark joy in me, because I don’t have the funds to do so and because I don’t think buying clothing for work purposes would ever really spark joy for me.

I also struggled at the concept for non-work items too. For example, my jeans. I have five pairs of denim jeans. If I really had to think about it, none of them are that great. The newest pair, too loose around the waist. The previous pair, grey (I don’t like grey) sit in the eBay box under the bed. The pair before that I loved, fit lovely, have a stain on the front. The others, look wrong with all kinds of shoes but flip flops. The last pair haven’t fitted in five years and I still keep them. Not even because I hope to fit in them again – just because they remind me of what good jeans are like! This pair is probably my favorite, even though I can’t wear them. But I don’t have the option of getting rid of them all and buying new. And I can’t reasonably use reading one book as justification for doing so. So I just can’t work with Marie Kondo’s method of tidying, and if I never achieve tidiness to her scale, so be it. It’s not my version of tidy.

This isn’t to say I didn’t take anything from the book. There were some passages that gave me a new way of looking at things. For instance, the purpose of items. Take gifts. The purpose of a gift is to give it, and to receive it. No more. If someone gifts you an ugly umbrella for your birthday, and you don’t, and won’t, ever use it, Kondo’s reasoning for getting rid of it is that it has already served it’s purpose. Those acts of giving and receiving were enjoyed and marked the birthday. It is now okay to get rid of the umbrella if it’s current purpose is just to make you sad that you don’t want to use it. I’m not sure I’m totally comfortable with this, I tend to keep gifts whether I like/use them or not, as they still serve to remind me that someone at least thought about me when choosing the gift. Nonetheless, it was an interesting way to think about things.

You cannot ignore either, that the book has sold 1.5 million copies, worldwide, and is raved about. I thought that perhaps I didn’t take much from it because it was a little too specific for Japanese culture and didn’t fit in with my ideas and belongings. However I have heard and seen many references to the book online from the USA and UK, all from people who really believe in the principles behind it. The 300+ reviews on Amazon (where I first heard of the book, and went on to buy it from) are overwhelmingly positive, with an overall rating of 4.5 stars.

I’m sure Marie Kondo would think that by not trying her approach, I’m only failing myself, but I’m ok with that, and I still have the knowledge should I ever decided to put it into practice. I’ll be thinking carefully about what we move into to our new house, and how to store and organize things. When I come up with solutions that work for me, I’ll let you know.

If you’ve read the book, I’d really like to know your thoughts, and what you learned from it.

For now, with love,

Ellen

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