The life-changing magic of tidying up.

The life-changing magic of tidying up.

This book caught me at the right time. 

We moved six months ago. I thought we did a good job decluttering before the big day, but I can’t tell you how many things I’ve given or even thrown away since then. I can’t believe how much stuff we moved that we don’t need—or don’t even like.

life changing magic

I don’t read a lot of organizing books, but when I heard about Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up I was intrigued, because I was ready to tackle my stuff.

Kondo is a Japanese personal tidying expert (she doesn’t like to call herself an “organizer”), and she caught my attention with her radical approach and phenomenal success rate. She claims that her relapse rate among clients she’s personally helped is zero.

To understand her method, forget everything you think you know about decluttering. Kondo’s method is extreme, but it works. Read on for the basics of her approach.

The life-changing magic of tidying up. Forget everything you thought you knew about decluttering. Click through to read 7 tips to get your house in order once and for all.

1. Discard first, store later.

Kondo believes (much like FlyLady) that you can’t organize clutter. The first step is to get rid of everything you don’t need.

2. Tidy a little a day and you’ll be tidying forever.

“Tidying is a special event. Don’t do it every day.” If you do the job right, once and completely, you won’t have to do it again.

3. Storage experts are hoarders.

“Putting things away creates the illusion that the clutter problem has been solved.” But organized clutter is still clutter.

4. Sort by category, not location.

“Tidying up by location is a fatal mistake.” Sort by category instead, in the following order: clothes, books, papers, miscellany, and then things with sentimental value.

5. “Does this spark joy?”

If it does, keep it. If it doesn’t, get rid of it. (Important documents not included, but there are fewer of these than you’d think.)

6. Never pile things.

Vertical storage is the key. Stacking has two problems: you can stack much more than you can store vertically (not a plus if you’re aiming for clutter-free), and stacking is hard on the things at the bottom.

7. Learn how to fold.

Kondo is adamant about proper folding technique, which enables you to store things standing up rather than laid flat. I couldn’t visualize her technique from the book but this video helped. This method is amazing for visual types because you can see everything at a glance, much more effectively than you can if your clothes are hanging or vertically stacked.

I disagree with some of Kondo’s methods (her chapter on what to do with books made me want to cry) but I loved her philosophy of storing and organizing clothes. I put her tips to the test this week and reorganized several of our closets and dresser drawers, getting rid of a whole lot of clothing in the process.

This is Jack’s t-shirt drawer, which used to be two t-shirt drawers. Now everything fits in just one drawer and the contents are much more visible. (Jack is ten. For more info about the life-changing magic of tidying up for kids, click here.)

The life-changing magic of tidying up. Forget everything you thought you knew about decluttering. Click through to read 7 tips to get your house in order once and for all.

This is a drawer of my t-shirts and tops. (Kondo recommends organizing tops from light to dark. I’m learning.)

The life-changing magic of tidying up. Forget everything you thought you knew about decluttering. Click through to read 7 tips to get your house in order once and for all.

This is Will’s sock drawer, which had so much extra room after I rolled his socks into little jellyrolls that I could fill the empty half with neatly folded t-shirts. (I don’t usually even open my husband’s sock drawer, but I was dying to experiment! He says to tell you he didn’t mind.)

The life-changing magic of tidying up. Forget everything you thought you knew about decluttering. Click through to read 7 tips to get your house in order once and for all.

If you want to tidy up once and for all, this is the best kick in the pants you can get for ten bucks. I’ll be attacking more of my clutter in the weeks to come while I’m still riding the motivational high this book delivers.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on getting organized, stuff that sparks joy, and Kondo’s methods in comments. 

P.S. The life-changing magic of tidying up, six months later, and planning for visual types.

The life-changing magic of tidying up: your cheat sheet. If you want to tidy up once and for all, this is the best kick in the pants you can get for ten bucks.

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191 comments

  1. ok I want that book. I like the look of the vertical t-shirts but there is absolutely no way I’m going to fold underwear for 9 people… and I’m still giggling about learning how to fold a thong. 😉

      • Anne says:

        The closet section of IKEA completely overwhelms me (sooo many decisions go into one of their closet systems!) but now I’m curious about their drawer organizers. Putting it on my list for our next trip!

        • We just reno’d some big spaces in our house — and I used IKEA’s kitchen cabinets for what would be typical closet space — they’re taller and sturdier than their closet cabs. It’s more of a coat closet and cubby area (I used pullout pantry shelves for school cubbies, which are covered by a door so they aren’t open to the public) than a bedroom closet, but I was glad we went with those!

    • Elizabeth says:

      This is exactly the reason we all need to declutter! ” Another book to add to our collection”. Media encourages us to buy, buy buy. You don’t need a book. Just stop buying.

      • S says:

        Have you read the book? It is actually worth reading. I just finished reading it and couldn’t put it down. For me it was worth every penny I spent buying it. 🙂

      • Paula says:

        Get Kondo’s book at your public library. It’s a no cost, no clutter solution! The book is wonderful and it changed my whole approach to my wardrobe storage. Thank you for your article, Anne!

    • Laurie says:

      YUP me too and with 5 girls and sexy undies they have to have it drives me batty they throw in drawer without folding at all..thankfully 2 away at college so I only have to see mess when they are home LOL! And does one really FOLD a thong ??!! BTW I have book and have yet to put too much to use..mostly cause DH and kids NOT on board so I am gonna start with what I can! One should know my DH is a organized hoarder :o(

  2. I may read this book to review it, but I have to say, this is really a personality thing. I just don’t get the concept that clearing clutter would be life-changing. I stack stuff. I’m fine with it. I don’t feel like I can’t get stuff done when there’s clutter. If I find myself decluttering, it’s almost always because I’m putting off work that I really should be doing, not because clearing the clutter would help me get it done. I read (likely in Real Simple) a quote a few years ago from an organizer saying that if you looked in a crowded mug cupboard, every time you’d feel like “my life is a mess.” To me, it means nothing — if anything, it’s that I’m spending my time doing more important stuff than obsessing about my cupboards.

    I totally believe that the book chapter made you want to cry. Likewise, Real Simple had advice on getting rid of kids’ toys that made me want to cry. Be sneaky? Basically, you’re teaching your kids that mommy’s need to have her house look like a magazine is more important than trust and your ability to feel safe.

    Humorously, I don’t even know which drawer *is* my husband’s sock drawer. Perhaps this is my key to a happy marriage…

    • Emily says:

      Your last line made me laugh!

      I think it really is a personality thing. I can’t mentally focus when there is physical clutter around me–it’s like my outside environment takes over everything (I just now thought of this, but I wonder if other HSPs feel similarly).

      • I know something about kids, and I have found that some kids desperately need help keeping their possessions simple. My 9 year old is this way. Her behavior is dramatically different when she has minimal possessions. Other children do fine with more stuff around them. for me it’s not about having a perfect house. I let go of that years ago lol! It’s more about having an environment that’s more conducive to fun and creativity and peacefulness, and that benefits the child. if you can’t find your favorite things then what’s the point of having them? For the most part, I have found that people who have very cluttered homes usually suffer from depression or have some type of procrastination problem or adult ADD or bad habits that show up and cause problems elsewhere in their lives. That’s just been my personal experience … I’m sure there are exceptions

        • Jen says:

          I like your thoughts here. I do have depression and bi-polar and am sometimes obsessive about purchasing things. When I do some de-cluttering I feel completely calm and it’s like a sense of freedom from stuff closing in on me.

          • Jen says:

            I wasn’t done typing! I was going to say that I have donated lots of my kid’s toys before, and the sense of guilt I have had when they realized something that was important to THEM is not worth it! I think the best thing to do is not let them aquire so much stuff in the first place, or what I have found VERY helpful is to ask the kids to pick things they would like to donate before christmas, birthdays, or when they want something new. They gladly pile things into a donation bag and I don’t have to feel guilty. Kids are TOUGH, but it gets easier for them to let go as they get older. 🙂

    • Agreed with all of the above points (by Laura Vanderkam, not Carrie Willard). In fact, I’d argue that it’s life-changing not to be negatively affected by clutter at all! http://nicoleandmaggie.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/cleanliness-is-next-to-cleanser-in-the-dictionary/

      And I know more depressed people who care about clutter and cleanliness than those who couldn’t give a crap. This patriarchy induced idea that your home has to be spotless and it has to be the mom who makes it spotless can be really bad for people! (And what is considered OCD in a man is encouraged in women!)

      (Even if there was a correlation between depression and mess, most likely it would be depression causing mess rather than the other way around, or the patriarchy causing both.)

      Honestly, if you’re happy with your level of cleanliness and it doesn’t negatively affect other aspects of your life, then good for you, but if you’re not then you could either hire a housecleaner (if you can afford one) or you could work on becoming more comfortable with mess.

      Also my house is cleaner when I’m procrastinating too. Because cleaning is not at all important to me on the list of things that actually matter in my life. I get that some people get enjoyment out of it, and more power to them. But my house being a mess doesn’t mean I’m an exception to the adult ADD/procrastination/bad habits/depression rule. It means that’s a ridiculous idea designed to keep women out of the labor force and feeling bad about themselves so they buy more product. For shame.

      • Lea says:

        Wow, a lot of assumptions in this post! For so many women, this has nothing to do with patriarchy,lol. It has to do with finding clean socks for my seven kids, and being able to get out of the house with everyone having shoes and coats! A housekeeper can’t go through seasonal clothing and decide what to keep and what to donate, checking for sizes and fit. It isn’t about being comfortable with mess, or being forced to buy more product. It is about functioning in the world. Every woman who isn’t in the paid labor force isn’t cleaning house, either. If anything, I find your comments old fashioned, and I am a conservative person,lol. Of course this method isn’t going to work for everyone. If you are fine with your home, and you like your particular mess, good for you. I am not, and after years of saying it didn’t bother me, I realized that it did. I was tired of losing papers, bills and other important things. I didn’t want to spend hours looking for things. I wanted to be able to have people stop by and actually have a place to sit down. Have a clean glass to offer them a drink. A bathroom that isn’t worse than a truck stop. Having fewer things out is allowing us to make these things happen. 🙂 Oh, and lots of women LIKE to be home with kids (or without!). I just don’t want to spend all of my time cleaning the house, while they grow up.

          • Tonya says:

            If a person is fine with her own mess, she wouldn’t feel the need to read a book on tidying up or check out anything on getting organized. I dont enjoy working a 12 hour shift and then going home to a big mess. For me, “tidying up” is all about simplifying my life.

        • RNOLL says:

          Agreed, 100%. If I could have back all the time in my life I wasted away because I was searching for that certain shirt, or my shoes, or that paper, or that one book that I know must be somewhere..didn’t I just see it here…or, no, maybe it was here…wait, oh, there’s that pair of shorts I wanted 2 weeks ago…(you get the picture)…with all that time I could have started a business and learned 2 languages by now!!!!!!

        • Jasbir Villaschi says:

          actually I found it helpful to refocus my mind, and just bite the bullet . With each of my kids I made an appointment after they saw my personal drawers and space transformation (I am notorious for spreading out whilst working on a project so everything looks worse before it gets better, but I do know where everything is) and they asked to get the same look in their spaces. Any decision making was purely theirs , I freed them from the fear of ‘wrong answers’ by saying they are your things and if they don’t make you feel good any more then we can donate them, so someone else can love and use them too. My daughter was seven and a bit and she was super enthusiastic to ‘make a rainbow’ of t-shirts in her drawer . Six months on it is still tidy in there and it has given her the freedom to select without wrecking …so it’s a win- win . I have four kids and can relate to the ‘chase down’ syndrome but the initial learning curve actually leads to a massive time save later. I am no longer rewashing the boys clothes because they pulled out other items and then decided it would be better to hamper them rather than putting away . Less unnecessary washloads, less stressed out Mum sweating over the steam generator iron. Calm and tidy home and calm chilled out people…

    • liz n. says:

      Lol, if you saw my mother’s hoarder’s paradise, you’d re-think whether or not de-cluttering is life-changing! The woman will not throw away anything. ANYTHING.

      • Jenny78 says:

        My husband said I’d be a 3rd generation hoarder if it were not for him, lol! I am looking forward to reading more about this technique. I do some of it already, but it is nipping it in the bud once and for all and keeping up with it that is a struggle for me.

    • jl says:

      Maybe you aren’t negatively affected by clutter, but perhaps you could be positively affected by being surrounded only by things that ‘spark joy’. Also she claims you won’t ever have to go through this process again if you do it once the right way. Maybe, instead of clearing clutter to hold off on work, you could be doing something else that you enjoy while you procrastinate :)…just a thought…

    • Guest says:

      It’s interesting that pyschologically decluttering/tidying/cleaning are often a way of exerting control and order when you feel out of control. So while it may be that you have a task that needs to be done, it’s likely not entirely procrastinating. I don’t mind some things being stacked either and I don’t care for completely minimal homes (I need warmth!) but I have found that mentally I’m clearer when my environment is orderly.

      Regarding children, it makes me cringe when people talk about sneaking out their children’s things. It’s a wonderful life skill to help your kids learn to create and maintain an environment that works. My daughter does not like getting rid of things but we do it together and we do it in stages. Now she will actually volunteer things to be donated (also a great life lesson about sharing what we’ve outgrown, no longer use with those who could make great use of it).

    • 'Becca says:

      Yes, it is a personality thing. For me, a crowded mug cupboard means, “I will always be able to have a clean mug when I want one, even while the dishwasher is running at full capacity,” and this prevents anxiety.

      Sneakily getting rid of another person’s possessions, unless the person is an infant too young to express an opinion, feels very wrong to me. My son (almost 10) keeps a LOT of clutter, but I really really try to give him opportunities to sort it himself, and I “make things disappear” only as a last resort.

      • Coriander says:

        It used to be that I would have agreed with you on your first point, but my thoughts have changed. Purchasing fewer sets of clothing and pajamas for our growing children means that the laundry can only get so deep before it gets washed, and is faster to fold and put away. Fewer sippy cups in the cupboard means that fewer can be dirty at once, and a clean kitchen is that much closer. I am finding that less stuff has equaled less stress and I am able to keep up on the housekeeping more easily, with more free time (and with three little children, that’s something), time which used to be spent taking care of maintaining extras of everything about the place.

    • Karli says:

      The book points out that it is not a personality thing. Your point seems that since clutter doesn’t bother you, you don’t need to bother about it. Marie Kondo’s point is to not just ignore extra stuff but discard negative and neutral possessions so that all that remains are things that make you happy. It’s not about getting of stuff. It’s about keeping the right stuff. Favorite clothes, favorite books, etc. The book also points out that it only applies to your own stuff not the stuff of others. So in a way you both are right. Keep what makes you happy but don’t let the stuff of others make you unhappy. You husband can keep his sock drawer a secret.

    • Alacia Creek says:

      Laura, I was a skeptic at first too. I’m more about making my home look like people live there, rather than a magazine. I want it to feel like home. I read this book because my mom did and really liked it, and hell I’ll read just about anything. It’s not really about perfecting the appearance of your home, but more about getting to utilize what you really love without fighting the clutter to get to it. I was admittedly afraid to throw out any of my daughter’s toys, lest she deem me untrustworthy. So, I put the toys that she never played with or had outgrown into a black bag in the garage. She was so happy when I revealed her room to her because the things she LOVED to play with were in the spotlight. She is able to find the accessories to her toys that she enjoys playing with. She paints and draws more often because she can find her supplies. She’s eight, so she isn’t totally oblivious, but she has never once asked or looked for the things I kept in the garage. It really is life-changing because we get to spend more time living life instead of sifting through it.

    • SS says:

      Healthy thoughts! For real, I like order and organization, but I won’t pay for it with time I prefer to spend on other things that are important to me… and yes, I want to teach my family that taking care of the home is important…and so is self-care, and relationships. Balance is the key and I totally agree with your comment about trust vs magazine cover appearance!

    • Sandra says:

      In my opinion is just a matter of how you deal with clutter: clearly doesn’t bother you and is perfect but in my case seeing my closet a mess it does. I been married for 20+ years and we share the closet but we have our own dresser drawers. My husband is neater and have less stuff, I’m apack rat that have a hard time getting rid of what I percibe as an “usable” item :). To me clutter is paralysing but is something that I need to overcome in order to enjoy my home.

    • Terri Simpson says:

      That’s it–we always find ourselves “decluttering”. We find ourselves under a mess. The steps help us to not make the mess again. Like the lesson I learned as a kid–everything has a place so put it back in its place; and that is why this teaches me a good lesson now about how to make my home into a special place with everything put back in its own place after it has served its usefulness. That is why I understand–waste not, want not, because if something has fulfilled its purpose and has taken its rightful place, then the rest is just excessive luxuries that can be shared with the rest of the world; after all is said and done–we can never forget the poor starving children in other countries. Hey, this book forgot to organize our food, time, money, knowledge and . . .

  3. Katherine says:

    I told my husband this weekend that I spent hours managing our stuff. We have a newborn, so that means clothes in, diapers in, maternity clothes out, etc. So- it can’t be avoided entirely. But the idea of getting to a point where I am not devoting big chunks of a weekend to decluttering and organizing stuff? Sign me up.

    I’m different than Laura V (above)- when I see a messy space my brain definitely hiccups a little. I don’t think “my life is a mess” but there is usually a quick thought of “I would like to get that space organized” and then I move on. But it sort of takes up a little space in my brain in some far-off to-do list. To be in spaces in my house where I am NOT thinking this– gold.

    I think I’d love this book.

  4. Jenn says:

    Finally someone pointed out the elephant in the room. Organized clutter is still clutter. Amen! And then you have to un-organize it to find the ONE thing you should have kept then re-organize it all back. I’m tired just writing about it.

    Another book for the list!

  5. I have this book on hold, and I can’t wait to get it! I agree that clutter probably goes along with personality–I can tell that I function much better in an uncluttered, organized space, but to each his own. I’m going to tackle the T shirt drawers in my house right away–these drawers look amazing! 🙂

    • S says:

      I have just finished the book and I loved it. Monday I start the process of getting rid of things that don’t bring me joy. 🙂 well worth every penny I spent on buying the book.

  6. This book is on my radar screen too, and I didn’t even know about the folding stuff. (My husband’s tshirts are a never ending source of annoyance to me. Who needs so many tshirts?) I wonder how that stand-up t-shirt thing holds up to people pulling stuff out of the drawers? Seems like once the drawer was no longer full, they would all fall over.

    • Dawn Reiss says:

      Yes. I have tried this with my sons’ shirt drawers. It lasts about 2 days, bc they’re 7 and 3. Pull one out and the whole system goes awry. Plus, it’s their chore to put clothes away. I’d rather his drawer be a mess and he be responsible for his clothes. I go in and straighten it out once every few weeks or so.

      • Ana says:

        Yes. Our very small boys’ clothes are all dumped into bins that go into a small Ikea 2X2 bookshelf. that way they can put away/take out/change their mind to their heart’s content and I don’t have to spend time folding T shirts.
        I do agree its a personality thing & very individual. Certain kinds of clutter makes me NUTS, certain kinds don’t bother me a whit. I have way way too many clothes, shoes, books and toys but I don’t mind that jumble in the closets and kids’ room. But STUFF on my dining table or crowding the counters or desks makes it hard for me to feel calm and productive.

    • Anne says:

      Things I never knew: a cotton tshirt will stand up on its own when you fold it her way. But whether or not it will stay folded when you tug on the drawer … that remains to be seen. 🙂

      • Gwynn says:

        I’ve been folding my clothes this way for a few months now, and I can attest that things stay up! Even a single shirt will stay mostly upright on its own. Honestly, my drawers stay MUCH more organized now than they ever did before. In the past, if I took a shirt from the middle of a stack in a drawer, then the entire top part of the stack would come loose and soon the drawer would be in chaos. Now I just pull out a shirt and everything else stays in place.

        A couple of days ago, a friend was visiting and watched me pull something out of my drawer. She gasped and told me my dresser drawers were beautiful. It was a proud moment for this chronically untidy person. KonMari for life!

  7. Ashley says:

    I agree that certain personalities are more affected by environmental clutter. That said, my messy siblings invariably gravitated to my spotless room while growing up. Hmmmm

    I definitely want to read this! However I’m trying hard to not mind so much about what shape my house is in as a new mom. Difficult for me.

    Anyway, if you really want motivation to declutter, join the military. We’ve moved 6 times in 7 years. And I still donate and toss so much with every move?!

    I’ve started following ‘becoming minimalist’. Very intriguing!!

  8. Nicole H says:

    I’ve got this book on my nightstand. My husband gets anxiety over clutter, so I’ve been trying to find a happy medium for both of us. I’ve started with the clothing, though I can’t fold as much as the author would prefer since I don’t have much in the way of drawers, but do have hanging space. But I ditched 4 bags of clothing. And am much more choosy about what I bring in. Books are next, but as you know, that is difficult.

    • Coriander says:

      I thought I would never want to go through my large cookbook collection, and our masses of books for children, that those collections were perfect as is, but once I got going on losing stuff we didn’t use or enjoy, I dove straight in to those very areas to clean out. I cleaned house, paring them down to those that we most enjoy, vast quantities were removed! Then I thought, “If I can find lots of stuff to move along from those categories, than anything is fair game!” I went through the kids books about three times, because each time I realized that I hadn’t really gone deep enough. I did read/skim Kondo’s book, which I thought contains some excellent ideas, and some daft ideas. From her, and an organizer that we hired, I’ve learned this: keep only the things that we really use, everything we have needs its own home, and keep things near where they are used. Also, put it away, don’t put it down.

  9. Rachel says:

    I haven’t read many organizing books (I think maybe 2, total?), but they both struck me as having lots of awesome ideas, sprinkled with plenty of OCD tendencies 🙂 My problem with organizing (or tidying or de-cluttering or whatever we ought to call it) is that I cannot for the life of me get my husband on board. And you can only do so much on your own when someone else undoes your efforts (or at least doesn’t help keep them going once you have a system in place). Maybe I’m going about this wrong–HE ought to be the one reading the organizing books!

    • love says:

      I used to feel that way, but slowly over time, if you really stick to cheerfully keeping your own areas and the public areas you clean clutter free, and gently bring the conversation around to how happy it makes you, it might eventually catch on. You’ll likely find that your husband feels the difference and ends up letting things go too. If you’re the one setting up the home, you can set up some wonderful helps in cluttery areas. For instance, if keys get dumped everywhere, put a pretty keyhook right by the door you use most. Or put a pretty plate or bowl on the table in the foyer to corral the keys and wallets and such. If the mail gets dumped, put out a pretty basket or hang a place for it to go on the wall. Then be the one to quickly sort it and place it where it needs to go. Have an easy place for it. Decorate flat surfaces in a way that doesn’t leave space for piles-and get rid of any flat surfaces you can! Make it your goal to have super-easy and preferred places for everyone to put their things, and then do a quick sweep every night (or morning noon and night depending on your level of “OCD” ha ha!) of all the flat surfaces and put things away. My issue now is coats and hoodies left hung up in a pile on the stair railing though there is a closet right there! I aim to put up hooks on the closet door since that is likely to help solve this issue for me. 😉

      • Lisa says:

        HA, a key ring as a solution? Nope, you have not met my husband! He will throw clothes on the floor directly next to the laundry basket. I once pointed out that he had 2 laundry baskets (empty) on his side of the room but he had 3 days worth of clothes on the floor and none in the baskets.

    • Kirsten says:

      My husband has not been on board either. It annoys me like crazy. Turns out his ADHD does not go well with my organizing ideas. I read a book Anne recommended, something about “Organizing fir People with ADD” and it helped us a lot. He has a bunch of open baskets for his things, mine can go in drawers. Things were always left on the bathroom counter and I could not understand why this was a problem for him. Add an open basket rather than a drawer and magically his shaving things, deodorant, etc all go back in the basket. I don’t understand, but it worked. Same with things from his pockets. He has a trash can and small box on his side of the bed and now things go there rather than on the floor. We also took the lid off of the hamper and now he uses it. Go figure.

  10. Tim says:

    I’m not wigged out by clutter although what I consider clutter might be someone else’s idea of speaking clean or a pigsty, depending on personal taste. Your title immediately made me think of a different aspect of keeping he house in good shape, a passage in C.S. Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” where he is talking about not allowing ourselves to avoid mundane responsibilities by claiming we are engaged in more spiritual pursuits:

    Or you may realize that, instead of saying your prayers, you ought to be downstairs … helping your wife to wash up. Well, go and do it.

    The man lived in a different era, of course, but the sentiment of taking care of what needs taking care around the house of still rings true.

  11. Mystie says:

    I’m pretty sure I actually will be tidying forever. 1) 5 kids. 2) It would take me forever to learn the habit of folding my stuff right away instead of saving it for a weekend organizing project. 🙂

    • annette says:

      Don’t despair. There is hope. I say this tongue in cheek, because she addresses this in her second book “Spark Joy”. Temporarily leaving things out happens, even for Marie Kondo.

  12. Anne says:

    Your post yesterday reminded me to request this book at the library. I think I’m mostly looking forward to any inspiration I can glean from her idea of sparking joy. Her track record is intriguing, too. As is her way of grouping- because I’ve read many recommendations about keeping things close to where you use them. That’s advice that is hard to beat, imo. But I love reading about this topic, so I will reserve my judgment until after I read! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on her book! 🙂

  13. Byrd says:

    I need to know before I try this one out — what does she recommend for books that is so horrible? Does she stack them on their ends like the shirts? Because if so, I’m with you. Can’t handle that.

    • Anne says:

      Bwahaha! She believes that you should discard your unread books, because if you didn’t read it when you first bought it, you’re never going to read it.

          • I think it depends. I got rid of some books because their unread status made me have little twinges of guilt. I can read them someday…but I can buy them again when the time is right. They are no longer on my shelves making me feel bad about myself because “should”. Like some people have to get rid of exercise equipment or skinny clothes. LOL

      • love says:

        Oh I so get this! I have books I’ve longed to read for so long, and I am embarrassed because I have friends waiting to discuss these fun books with me! But right now I need to read more practical books, and even then I am overwhelmed. Now I have a Kindle too with hundreds of books on there to read “someday”. Books are my biggest struggle, and what’s been helpful to me is to give away the ones that have been collecting dust. It is true that if I haven’t read them since college or haven’t even gotten to them once yet, they aren’t needed right now. I am trying to learn to happily let them go so others can read and enjoy them. Some of these books are FREE on Kindle or at least at the library. If so, I can more easily set these books free. And when the time comes I can read them, I can still get them again or read them for free. I would not Throw them away though!! Give them away!

    • jl says:

      She says a books job is to be read. If it’s sitting on your bookshelf for years and you’ve never read it, you’re not letting it do its job. There’s always the library or second hand. Regardless, if it sparks joy, keep it. If it doesn’t then discard. That’s all.

      • SaBrina says:

        I agree, Ms. Marie states in so many words, don’t think about what you are going to get rid of, think about what ” sparks joy ” if it sparks joy keep it. So if having hundreds of unread books on a bookshelf gives you joy keep them. It’s what you desire to be surrounded by.
        It’s a ” Special-Event ” creating joy for you and those around you.

    • Anne says:

      Come to think of it, I don’t think she said anything about ebooks! I personally prefer a book book for something like this (it’s a really pretty hardback, too) but I don’t think there’s a clear-cut answer to that question for this book.

    • jl says:

      She would just recommend whatever sparks joy for you…whatever makes you happiest. If you enjoy reading on a kindle then go for it. If you like feeling the weight of a book in your hand, as I do, go for it. The key is nothing in excess. If it makes you happy, keep it. If it doesn’t, thank it for its service and send it on its way. 🙂

  14. Susan says:

    I’ve just re-done 3 of my drawers and wow! I love being able to see each item at a glance! No more digging through stacks of shirts or sweaters! Now I am eyeing hubby’s drawers…

  15. Hannah says:

    I like a tidy house and I routinely give away things. But! the real litmus test for keeping things versus giving them away is: are we using/enjoying the things we have or are they taking up space? If I’m attached to things but haven’t really used them for ages, I take pictures of them, but I don’t keep them. The upshot is that we host a lot of people in our home (and this is not something that comes naturally to me!). I can do this because it’s easy for me to keep my home tidy since we don’t have a lot of stuff. Instead of thinking, “I would have the Joneses over but it’s going to mean so much overhaul of this place,” I think, “Ok, it’ll take two hours, max, to get this place in top shape, and that’s an investment I can afford to make in order to have people in my home.” I haven’t gotten to the point where I can say to guests, “Come on in and revel in my mess.” Just not there, yet. 😉

    • Terri says:

      I agree with taking pictures of dear things then giving them away. I heard it on an organizing TV show. It made my life much simpler when I gave away my grandfather’s felt hats that I loved. I took pictures of each one. Now the memories are on “polaroid” and I can look at them whenever I want.

  16. Vanessa says:

    As for moving and carrying things along, I have a lot of experience. We move every few years, in and out of our rentals and new houses. Sorting and discarding only goes so far before you arrive and unpack. You have to see the thing in the new place, realize that you’ve grown out of it or there isn’t a space anymore. As for books, we use the library – it the ultimate in “reduce, reuse, recycle.” What a brilliant idea.

  17. Christa says:

    I just read this book too and I totally agree with your review. I found it inspiring and also immediately changed my dresser system (love the way I can see all my shirts!). The idea of sparking joy has also changed the way I treat my knickknacks and keepsakes – I keep them in a highly visible place so they can “spark joy” every day.

  18. Guest says:

    I have two friends who are professional organizers and though I love that each of them enjoys helping people create a home that works for them, I think minimizing is more important than organizing. People spend so much time and money buying cute bins and tubs and this that and the other and I’m sitting here thinking…so, you’re essentially adding more stuff to organize your stuff that you don’t use. 🙂

  19. Julia says:

    I heard about this book on NPR! So intriguing! My husband and I try to be minimal but my piling + organizational habits aren’t great. Just added to my goodreads. Thanks for the reminder!

  20. 'Becca says:

    I hadn’t heard of the book, but I’ve been storing my folded tops vertically, and my folded sweaters stacked in a cabinet so that they’re all visible, for years. It really helps me find things and avoid wearing the same ones over and over. Also, being able to see a rich variety of items at a glance makes me feel like I have abundance and variety.

    My partner and I each have a small chest of drawers, and then for additional storage in our bedroom we have a thing that’s really supposed to be a dining room sideboard. I use the shallow top drawer, designed for flatware or tablecloths, to store my SOCKS. It is exactly the right depth for folded pairs of socks laid on edge. I have many socks because my feet get cold easily, so I wear 2 or 3 pairs at a time in cold weather. Now I can see all my socks and easily find the right weights for layering, particular colors, etc.

  21. ARC says:

    I also loved this book for the peek into another culture. I liked the idea of flipping the question from “can I get rid of this?” to “does this spark joy?”. I’m no minimalist but love the idea of a house filled only with the stuff that we love and find useful.

    • Yes, I love that shift too. I don’t get the agenda of some of the previous commenters. How does having a home that has only things that make the occupants happy (and that can be easily located) part of the patriarchy designed to keep women down? Weird.

      Last weekend my husband, with no help or input from me, cleared out his closet and desk. He tossed a lot of stuff that no longer worked and is now able to easily find things he likes, making his routine a little easier and more productive. The patriarchy made him do it? I call BS.

      • Terri Simpson says:

        I understand a patriarch or matriarch is someone who takes charge of a lot of lives and leads by example; so, if decluttering is hard work for some but not for others, then I don’t stereotype them, just think to myself whatever floats their boat and helps them go with the flow.
        P.S. My sister-in-law said my pets’ initials are BS (Buddy, Berry, Bunny and Barnie Simpson); hey, now they are RS(Roweena, Romeo, Reggie, Rigley, and Ringo).

  22. Beth Kensinger says:

    There were some real valuable ideas in this book,many of which I’m in the process of implementing. I do have to say that in a lot of ways it was just strange, though. Her voice was very young, I thought, and I had a difficult time with her assertions that our socks are grateful when we don’t tie them in knots, or that our handbag feels pleasure carrying around our belongings…

  23. kay kerns says:

    This sounds great. My man and I are both hoarders but once in a while I get the urge to declutter. My boyfriend gets anxious if I throw stuff away or donate it. It is true, stored stuff is STILL clutter. Wish me luck!

  24. Ellen says:

    I just read this on your recommendation and it was a good quick read. About 1/3 of it was helpful and inspiring and about 2/3 made me itchy.

    The good 1/3: I was inspired by the’sparks joy’ concept, as well as the benefits of decluttering all at once. Her points about storage units and vertical storage were good ones.

    The itchy 2/3: her spiritualization and personification of objects was frustrating. It is challenging enough for me to consider the feelings and needs of all the people in my home, without trying to speak politely to my things as well and to wonder if they feel fulfilled and appreciated. They are things. Also, I have no desire to arrange my home like a Shinto shrine. The book management thing was painful. Finally, her perspective is very single-adult centered and most of the individual suggestions seemed unlikely to work well in a non-OCD home full of children (or even with a partner who isn’t inclined to treat objects with the respect normally reserved for living things).

    Personally, as I am in a stage when almost all the bodies in our home are constantly changing size (mine included – pregnancies), I found her clothing ideals discouraging (and our closets are minimal compared to those of most of our friends’). My 5 and 7 year olds fold and put away their own clothing and do it well, but her methods would be in ruins the first time the 5 year old pulled out her clothing choices for the day.

    There will come a day when my home is less full, when the children’s messes and clutter is entirely gone, when my body is more consistent in size and my closet is therefore more streamlined. But I have a hard time believing that the increased order in my home will bring more joy than the current hubbub of my children.

    • Anne says:

      You don’t thank your boots for a job well done at the end of the day??! 😉

      I’m kidding, I’m kidding. 🙂 A lot of it made me twitchy, too and you’re SO RIGHT about it being single adult-centered. There were YEARS when I had clothes in about 10 sizes in my closet (or basement) because we had 4 babies in 7 years! And that’s not even getting into the clothes, toys, and gear for the kids’ themselves.

      That being said, I love my newly re-organized drawers. 🙂

  25. K L says:

    Knowing why you hang onto things is the real life changer. If you were born or raised during the “Great Depression” or were raised by parents of that time period, you may find it incredibly difficult to let go of things. We were taught “care and repair”, “waste not want not”, “reuse/upcycle”, and had “you’ll never know when you’ll need it” pounded into our heads. Hanging on to “things” is self preservation. It is an act of total rebellion, almost sacrilege to part with anything, NOT depression as some have stated. Until you come to terms with why, you may find yourself sabotaging yourself and your efforts.

    • Anne says:

      That’s very interesting and I’m glad you pointed it out. My grandmother (who was raised during the Great Depression) had that philosophy, and she was always explaining to me why it was so hard for her to part with her things, even small things like unused hotel shampoo samples. That’s always influenced how I treat MY things, but I didn’t consciously think about it while reading this book.

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  27. Shannon says:

    Just read this as my “book that was originally written in a different language” for the 2015 Reading Challenge and yes! My husband’s shirts are now folded her way. I love the way it looks and that he can see ALL of his t-shirts at one time. How has her folding system held up over time for you Anne?

  28. Alma Garcia says:

    I am almost finished reading the book and can’t put it down!!! I am in the process of “tidying up” and couldn’t be more excited about it! Loved reading your thoughts on the book. Hands down one of the most awesome books I have purchased ever!

  29. I read the book in December, and have been organizing since. So far we’ve gotten rid of more than 40 bags of stuff, an air hockey table, chairs, a two lamps. Plus we’ve filled our recycling bin every week with paper. What’s really amazing though is that areas I’ve done according to her system have stayed organized. That’s pretty exciting!

  30. Morgen says:

    I’m a little confused by #6. It suggests not stacking in piles, but does suggest stacking vertically. Vertically would be up and down, perpendicular to the horizon…..like one on top of the other…isn’t that a pile? Is it supposed to read, “Horizontally”…as in, front to back? Can someone clarify this for me, please? Thanks!

    • Anne says:

      “Not stacking vertically” means “don’t pile garments on top of each other.” You know how at the Gap (or any other retail store) tshirts are piled in nice, neat stacks for display? It looks great for the short-term, but in your own closet it makes the garments at the bottom of the pile difficult to get to, and the weight of the stack of shirts presses serious wrinkles into the clothing at the bottom of the pile.

      By “vertical stacking,” Kondo means fold each shirt individually and stand them up in a single layer for storage, like in the photos above.

  31. Christy says:

    I think it is a personal thing. I don’t like to have a lot of stuff. It gets in the way and my children have been raised this way. They have what they really love and not a bunch of extra stuff and they seem to appreciate what they do have and they actually play with everything. Some of us get actual anxiety when there is clutter and can’t help it.

  32. Aimee Wiley says:

    I had to laugh as I read through the comments. As desperately as I want to declutter (or tidy), I always get hung up on deciding what to let go of, especially when it comes to my five kids’ things. The clothes have gotten a little easier, but the toys, games, and books are a struggle. On Easter, I packed up 75% of their toys, puzzles, and games and put them in the attic. There is STILL an unbelievable mess each day! It’s as though I never removed anything. I think children just create chaos with whatever they have at their disposal. Well, anyway, if they don’t ask for the items I removed in the next month or so, I will send them along to be useful (or clutter) elsewhere:)

      • Terri says:

        So true! Years ago when I had 3 children under the age of 5 the house was always a mess. It drove me crazy. I grew up with a Mom who had an incredibly clean house at all times, every minute of the day. I walk through my house and hear her voice saying things about how messy my house is.

        A dear friend told me once, “I don’t think people with 3 children are supposed to have clean houses.” That did wonders for me. I calmed down and understood the priorities. Children first. I though of that comment hundreds of times as my children grew up.

    • love says:

      Impressive! Mine have too much too even with passing things along, but I like what you’ve done. It sounds like you can let the extra go now. I try to gauge whether we have too much by whether or not they can clean up those huge messes every day. It helps. But I need to follow your lead!! Way to go!

  33. vegangel says:

    I’ve been unable to clear clutter my entire adult life, and I’m 53. I’m single and child free by choice, so I have no one to blame my mess on but myself. And it is paralyzing. My mother gave me Kondo’s book, and I read it in two days. Before I even approached my clutter, I knew everything had changed. I knew I could clean up & clear out, and never clutter again. In one day I went through all my clothes and gave away sixteen trash bags full of them. I sent a photo of my underwear drawer to my mom to show her how much she’d helped. For adults, the vertical folding method works even when the drawer isn’t full. I just take something out and move things closer to each other. Also, her suggestion to use shoe boxes and the like inside drawers, rather than “drawer organizers,” has been wonderful. Nothing extra to buy, and things look super. Maybe this book isn’t for you. But the idea of keeping what I love—rather than getting rid of things I don’t need—has been revolutionary.

    • love says:

      WOW! I love your story! I wonder why you were able to suddenly do it? I believe many of us are perfectionists in a way, and that is why it is so hard to begin. We don’t believe we can get it done. I’m so happy for you!

    • Terri Simpson says:

      I understand how you get the idea of “keeping what you love”! When thinking about loving something rather than someone, I now see that loving something can give us something in return similar to that “loving feeling”. And I always keep in mind that cleanliness is next to godliness. I am learning how our minds are being reinforced by continuous thoughts and how reinforcing new thoughts help us overcome old habits. I agree how revolutionary and refreshing this new way of thoughtfully organizing things can be.

  34. Jaybee says:

    I am currently half way through this book, and have already cleared out two bags of stuff, and I thought I was pretty un encumbered to begin with.
    I haven’t started folding my clothes yet, still having more to de clutter.
    My Mother who had more clothes than Lady Diana always used the folding method of storing her clothes, and I used to tease her mercilessly about it……funny how that works isn’t it?
    In all, I am so happy I have come across this little book, and already know it will change my life forever. I recently installed shelves all the way around in one of my basement rooms to house my deceased Moms pictures which I need to get to ‘someday’, my kids year books, odd stuff etc, (none of my five kids have lived at home for over 15 years now),my cd collection, etc etc…..so empowering to know I am ready to deal with it all NOW!!!!

  35. Ronica says:

    I finally took the plunge and bought this book a couple days ago. I’ve read up through the clothing chapter and I’m ready to tackle the clothes.

  36. kimberly says:

    I’m actually co-hosting a book club on Facebook with my sister called SoulSpace book club and we started by studying Xorin Balbes’ book, SoulSpace, and now we are also studying Marie Kondo’s book. Feel free to check us out. I make up these zany exercises every week. Anyone who’s interested can find us at https://www.facebook.com/groups/579156148894833/ but its a closed group because we’re sharing our deepest housekeeping secrets. Ha! Thank you Mrs. Darcy.

  37. Susan M. says:

    I think there are several points the naysayers are missing here, the first being that this book is for people who WANT to declutter. She’s not saying everyone SHOULD or MUST, but rather, if you do feel overwhelmed, crowded, disorganized, try this simple method to get your house in order. If you’re not one of those people. this book isn’t meant for you.

    Secondly, how much stuff you are happy with is a personal thing. You may feel happy with five treasured books, someone else may feel happy with five hundred. There’s no magic number.

    Finally, the only standard that applies is this: Does it spark joy? KonMari recommends applying that standard to every single item in your home. Every single thing. So, with those five hundred books, you take them ALL out of ALL their shelves, boxes, nightstands, cupboard and put them all in one place. Then you pick up and consider each one individually, asking yourself “the question”: does this spark joy? and listening for the answer. You have to really tune in to your feelings to hear the truth, because “I want to keep this” isn’t an automatic “yes, this sparks joy”. Sometimes what you feel, if you’re paying attention, is guilt (this book cost so much, I should really keep it; my sister brought this book back from Scotland for me, it would hurt her feelings if I got rid of it; etc) or fear (what if I decide to start making jewelry again someday, I’ll need this; what if I want to re-read that short story someday, I should keep this just in case)… If the answer to “the question” is no, let let it go. If it’s yes, keep it. KonMari asks you to consider whether guilt or fear are good reasons to devote your space and energy to things you don’t otherwise care about, and she gives you permission to let go of those things. If you do this with every item in your home, in the end you’ll be surrounded by ONLY things that spark joy. No guilt stuff, no fear stuff, no “meh” stuff…just joy.

    The life-changing bit comes in two ways, the first being the practical matter of knowing what you have, and where to find it. The deeper change comes from asking “the question” and paying attention to the answers. Maybe you didn’t realize you were still holding onto painful memories, or that you were surrounded by artifacts of a past you that no longer fits. By weeding out the things that no longer spark joy, you can see clearly what DOES matter to you NOW. For many, that in itself is a transformational revelation.

    Finally, if you’re weirded out by thanking your thong for keeping you pantyline free, or apologizing to your socks for wadding them in balls, remember that this book was written in Japanese, for Japanese readers. Cultural differences aside, there’s still much to take from this book.

  38. Nancy B says:

    I got a lot out of Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD by Susan Pinsky. Her main idea is to take away extra (often unnecessary) steps in organizing. Don’t nest things, for example, because then the ADHD person will never put away that large bowl. It’s just too many steps to take all the bowls out of the cupboard, put the large bowl in the cupboard, and put all the other bowls inside of it. Folding a thong is another good example. Pinsky would probably take issue with the organizer in the video saying that as long as that thong is in a drawer with nothing but other thongs, it’s organized enough. Who needs it to be in a neat little package.

  39. RJF says:

    I think there’s a lot to be said for having less stuff. It’s easier to have a place for things and to find them. I declutter partly to avoid re-buying stuff we have already. Regarding toys: my kids accumulate loads of stuff they don’t play with and they would rather give it away and have more space. The konmari folding and organising techniques for clothes are great: it is a real pleasure to get dressed in the morning when you’ve organised the closet according to her instructions. Also, since clothes need folding anyway, it’s not more time-consuming to do it this way than any other. If you have a housekeeper then just teach him/her how to do it or give them the video url. I did that, and also taught my sons how to do it. Maybe they will one day be good husbands!

  40. Aimee Wiley says:

    I read your review of this book a few weeks ago, after hearing about it from a friend. A few days later, it magically arrived at the library after being on hold for forever. I read through half of it before heading on vacation, reluctantly leaving it at home, since I wouldn’t be able to implement her ideas while away. I did manage to part with probably half of my wardrobe, though, before I left (and I subscribe to the 40 hanger challenge Ruth Soukup wrote about. Somehow, holding each item in my hand and allowing myself permission to admit that certain items didn’t bring joy or had served their purpose was so freeing.

    I especially like her idea that, in following this approach, we strengthen our decision-making abilities. I find that I am always asking and deferring to others instead of listening to my own heart and mind on matters, and it was empowering to make decisions based on how I felt, not what others thought. It also enables us to live in the present and not cling to the past or fear for the future, as she explains.

    I do struggle with the idea of letting old letters and journals or schoolwork go because I hope it will be a treasure to one of my children to know a part of me that existed before they did. I love ancestral treasures and consider them a gift to enjoy.

    Finally, I was a little concerned for her mental welfare; her tidying compulsion from the age of five worried me. However, she is quite endearing and enthusiastic about her approach and seems to have made peace with her earlier tendencies.

    I am looking forward to following through with the rest of the categories and hopefully helping my children to do so as well, when they are ready. It is important not to miss that tidying all at once in a “short” amount of time according to this method can be a six-month process. I think the thoroughness of the method is what guarantees such a high success rate.

  41. Mya Rae says:

    Wow, if only I had found this blog post BEFORE we moved across the country… lol. We downsized so much and yet I still feel the clutter getting to me every once and a while. Thank you for sharing, I will definitely check out this book!

  42. Andrea Brown says:

    I bought this book last month and have been telling everyone who will listen to me about this method. I have started my purge..and happy with the results. I would say that it is life changing. It is addition by subtraction! Life is so much more enjoyable surrounded by people you love and also with the things you love. Getting rid of the clutter brings a feeling of calm and control.
    I enjoyed your article above on a child’s perspective. My kids have been watching me through the process and are really starting to get into it as well. They see the benefits of the tidy …you can enjoy what you love,find what you need..no stress! Who would not choose that!

  43. Sarahna says:

    Just started reading this book and so far I love it!
    Thank you for posting a video of the folding method….read it and was lost.

  44. cherie says:

    I came across this method about 6 months ago…and it really just struck me. “if it doesn’t bring you JOY, get rid of it”. We moved to FL from VA 3.5 years ago and, tho we thought we’d weeded and decluttered before moving, boy were we wrong. We brought WHOLE lot of JUNK with us!!! So I went through every closet and drawer in our 4 bedroom home – and literally gave away 500 lbs of clothing, blankets, shoes, suits, pillows, small kitchen appliances, dishes and the list goes on and on and on. Can I tell you how GREAT I feel today? Wow…only the essentials and what brings us joy in our home today. Feels so good to be truly decluttered for life!!! 🙂

  45. Just Some Girl says:

    i’m a bit confused about the “vertical storage” point you brought up. You said that it’s better than stacking things, but stacking is vertical storage, is it not? Did you mean to store things horizontally? I’m so confused, please explain how to store things vertically without stacking, because I have stacks and stacks of things I don’t like stacked! I am very into bohemian decor, and I enjoy some clutter, I tend to like the look of stacked books, boxes, anything that can stack and still look cute and not overly sloppy, but right now, I’m in need of a MAJOR storage and organization renovation (my family of three lives in a space of about 16×18, I would say), and I’ve got stacks and piles of things everywhere, and they are just driving me to the brink of madness. Also, completely broke, so can’t buy the book right now, so please explain this vertical storage thing to me!

    Sorry for rambling so much, I tend to do that.

    • Karli says:

      Think of horizontal stacking as a pile of mail or newspapers. You can’t pick up something from the bottom without disturbing the stuff on top. A good example is the background image of the stack of books. Vertical storage is being able to fold things so nothing lies on top of one another. A good image of that is the picture of the t-shirt in the drawers above. As for the book, I checked it out at the library. It was well worth the wait.

    • Ann says:

      Does she recommend buying those velvety hangers? To keep things looking uniform? Also, I’ve always folded my pants, knit or jeans in half and hung them on hangers, good idea? Or is it better to put them in drawers? Also, I have ADHD, and even though I have perfectionist tendencies, I can’t EVER imagine fastening my bras before I put them in my drawer! ( and unfastening them, just to have to RE fasten them again!) Nope! I’m retired, and that’s not how I plan to spend my “golden” years! Lol! And I’m a sock roller, put em thru the wash like that! If they get lost, they BOTH get lost!

  46. Tina says:

    I’m a digital girl so there was no clutter with this book. I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Until it came to paperwork. I can’t throw it all away. The accountant in me cringed, well more like screamed. I will not throw it in a box and go looking through every thing for one piece of paper. There is a happy medium.

  47. Terri Simpson says:

    The steps help me answer the reasons why we get rid of clutter after messing it all up; for example, roll clothes up to get rid of folds and to easily see and pick up with one hand, sort by category from most used to most difficult to make it easier to determine subcategories from sorting clothing to papers.

  48. Jane says:

    When you say not to stack/pile things, but instead to arrange them vertically… I don’t get it! Isn’t it the same thing?! Surely you mean that things should be arranged horizontally?

    • Anne says:

      As in: don’t stack shirts on top of each other, because the weight of the items up top crushes the items on the bottom of the stack. Each individual item should stand up on its own, vertically. To see what she’s advocating, take a good look at the way the tshirts are arranged in the drawers in these photos.

  49. Jane says:

    Oh I see now! Thank you! So the tshirts are arranged in a horizontal row, but each individual item is vertical! It’s a great idea!

  50. Heather Lima says:

    Anne, PLEASE write an article on philosophy of toys and how to define (and subsequently combat) you clutter. I have an 18 month old and feel torn between a desire for simplicity and the fun to be had with toys.

  51. Brandyn says:

    I did step 1 (clothing) and felt great. My closet looked amazing all my clothes were visible and fit nicely into my dresser. But I totally stalled on step 2 (books). I just couldn’t do it. I have lots of unread books and I will read them eventually. I find joy in re-reading and tons of joy in having books to lend/push on friends.

    • Coriander says:

      When I started really getting rid of things, I considered my large collection of cookbooks and all of our children’s books as untouchable, I wanted them all and didn’t want to consider moving any along. As the rest of the house got less and less full of stuff I didn’t use/want/need/enjoy, I thought, what’s the harm in just looking through the books. I was able to cull an enormous amount of twaddle from the children’s books, and boxes and boxes of cookbooks as well. This led to me weeding out my recipe binders and handwritten recipe cards, of which I had thousands. After I cleaned out all of those areas which I had previously thought of as untouchable, I was left with lovely shelves of only the best and most-read, a feeling which continues today, a year later. I now regularly go through the kids books, pulling out the lame and boring books, and plan to go through my cookbooks again soon, lately realizing that I’m still holding onto some that offer me hardly anything but a placeholder on the shelf.
      Another major benefit of going through the books, a hard place for me to consider getting rid of things, it made it so much easier to weed through other less “treasured” areas of the house.

  52. Debra says:

    Has anyone here done the full 5 categories to completion and lived with it for a year (more or less)? Has the method continued to work and lasted for you? I’m curious about the claim that it is a one-time event.
    There are tons of YouTube videos/blog posts about the first two categories but not a lot of paper, miscellany, sentimental. Nor are there many on the follow-up; how is it a year on? Sustainable? Worth all the initial effort?
    I’ve read the book twice and did clothes, books, and papers. I didn’t have much beforehand (relatively speaking–I live in less than 500 sq ft, have moved 11 times in the past 25 years, twice overseas, and I’ve never been a cluttery type) so while I did get rid of a lot , much of what I got rid of was my late husband’s. No category took more than an hour because I purge my closet every season and have done since my early 20s, and have been very interested in minimalism for years so regularly assess my home and belongings) but I had never used this kind of criteria (do I love it, does it “spark joy”). That was an eye-opener. Also a huge take-away from the book was that things must be easier to put back than to take out. so true for me, with paperwork especially.

    Actually, I suppose I also did sentimental things too, but that was easy because I’m not sentimental about physical things. (I’m very sentimental about people, just not their stuff)

    I realise that the category most difficult for me is the miscellany. It’s so vague. And that’s what I have most of. I like minimalism but warm minimalism–I like decor items, changing up vignettes seasonally, etc. At least I have put the kibosh on buying more decorative items.
    Anyone have tips for that category?

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