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