The life-changing magic of tidying up, six months later.

The life-changing magic of tidying up, six months later.

I bought The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up right after Christmas last year because I was insanely curious and the cute little hardback is only $10. It was the best $10 I’ve ever spent on my home.

This book is a strange mix of the instructive, the inspiring, and the woo-woo. But it made me want to tidy, immediately. (In Kondo-speak, “tidying” means “massive decluttering.”) When I started tidying, Will was so impressed that he started tidying. We were both so happy with our results that we started tackling the kids’ stuff.

We’ve made some mistakes along the way, but by and large it’s been a fantastic experience. (We haven’t completely finished: we still haven’t finished going through old photos and keepsakes.)

This is what we’ve learned, and our favorite takeaways from the process (which is ongoing).

This is NOT a how-to post. To learn the basics of tidying up, read this post.

(Note: I’ve received so many questions about tidying up with kids in the home that I’m covering that in a separate post, coming next week.)

my desk home office

1. TIDYING IS EXHILARATING. AND CONTAGIOUS.
Getting rid of the crap you don’t need (which sometimes looks like Very Nice Stuff) gives you a big rush. And when Will saw that—and the results I was getting—he couldn’t help himself. (It didn’t hurt that my side of the closet looked awesome when I was finished and his was still a wreck.)

2. TIDY A LITTLE A DAY AND YOU’LL BE TIDYING FOREVER.
When you tidy up in one shot, rather than little-by-little, you get to enjoy the full effect of your transformed space, and this provides the motivation you need to make this a permanent lifestyle change. I needed this reminder, because I tend to chip away at things rather than exert myself to finish the task all at once.

Thankfully, “all at once” doesn’t mean “all in one day.” Kondo recommends taking no more than six months to complete a tidying.

3. MORE STORAGE IS NOT THE ANSWER.
Do you have trouble getting—or staying—organized? You don’t need a better system; you don’t need a trip to The Container Store. You have too much stuff, and you need to get rid of the excess.

(If your stuff still doesn’t fit, try this bit of advice: “By neatly folding your clothes, you can solve almost every problem related to storage.”)

4. DOES IT SPARK JOY?
This is the magical question. With Kondo’s method, you choose what you want to keep, not what you want to get rid of. Keep only those things that spark joy, and get rid of the rest.

I quickly learned that framing the question in this way exposes when I’m tempted to keep things based on guilt or fear.

Life-changing magic pile of books

5. TAKE IT ALL OUT, THEN PUT IT BACK IN—IF IT SPARKS JOY.
This method ensures that you’re deciding what to keep, not what to get rid of: a subtle but important distinction.

6. THANK THINGS FOR THEIR SERVICE, THEN GET RID OF THEM.
This tip helped me let go of so many things I was holding on to out of guilt: because they were gifts, or were expensive, or because I used to love them.

Kondo’s advice is to thank these things for their service, because they’ve filled a role in your life. Acknowledge their contribution (e.g., “Thank you for giving me joy when I bought you”; “Thank you for teaching me what doesn’t suit me”) then let them go with gratitude.

7. THE DEFINITION OF “JOY” IS BROAD.
You may not think of mundane things, like your toothbrush, or a coffee table, or your mortgage papers, as sparking joy. But those things are helping you in your daily life. Kondo says that these things are sparking joy, subconsciously.

In other words, appreciate your stuff.

8. IT’S POSSIBLE TO GO TOO FAR.
Kondo’s rule of thumb for sorting papers is simple: discard everything. In my initial burst of enthusiasm, I discarded a garbage bag full of papers I didn’t need—and a few I probably did.

Kondo acknowledges that there are three types of papers to keep: those you’re currently using, those you may need for a little while (often, one year), and those you need indefinitely. Make sure you know which is which before you start tossing.

Worth noting: Kondo’s definition of “papers” doesn’t include “keepsakes.”

The life-changing magic of tidying up

9. FOLDING CLOTHES THE KONMARIE WAY IS AWESOME. AND ADDICTIVE.
The KonMarie folding method is the best thing I learned in the book. You can fit twice as many items in drawers, the wrinkles don’t set in as much, and it’s perfect for visual types.

(I couldn’t learn how to fold the KonMarie way until I watched this video.)

10. REPLACE, THEN DISCARD.
I felt convicted by Kondo’s admonition to not downgrade clothing to “loungewear,” and got rid of the ratty tees I usually sleep in—before I bought replacement pajamas. Let’s just say this doesn’t make you feel warm and fuzzy about the tidying process.

Related: real pajamas are pretty great.

makeup drawer

11. USE WHAT YOU HAVE.
You don’t need special equipment to organize your stuff. Kondo is a big fan of Apple boxes, shoeboxes, and plastic storage containers. (That’s my makeup drawer, revolutionized with a few Apple boxes.)

I corralled the the rest of my toiletries with plastic storage containers from the kitchen.

file box

12. MOVE THAT FILE CABINET.
When we moved last year and gained a real home office, I was adamant about moving the file cabinet into the office. And then I realized that all the papers I needed on a regular basis fit into a tiny file box—into a few file folders, really.

The file cabinet is ugly and ungainly, so into the basement it went. (Where it now happily serves its purpose, holding onto the papers I need to keep for the time being, for the near future, or indefinitely.)

IKEA Borgsjo puffin classics close up

13. IT’S OKAY TO KEEP THE BOOKS YOU HAVEN’T READ.
Kondo’s admonition regarding books horrified many bibliophiles: she tells you to get rid of any unread books, believing that the right time to read it is when you first get it.

But if those books bring you joy—even the unread ones—keep the books. If they don’t, find them a new home.

14. A PLACE FOR EVERYTHING …
and everything in its place. I used to think that designating a specific place for every single item in my home sounded exhausting. Now I think it’s more exhausting having to decide where to put something back every time you use it.

15. NOT HAVING TO SEARCH FOR THINGS IS A BIG STRESS RELIEVER.
When everything has a designated place, you don’t have to search.

16. THE ANSWERS BECOME CLEAR WITH TIME.
When Will and I first started tidying, we weren’t sure how exactly we wanted to organize things, especially in our closet.

17. REDUCE UNTIL IT CLICKS.
You’ll know when you’re done.

I’d love to hear about your experiences with this in comments. 

P.S. Your cheat sheet for the life-changing magic of tidying up, and the life-changing magic of tidying up for kids.

 

the life-changing magic of tidying up, six months later.

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125 comments

  1. Lori says:

    This is so timely for me. I started reading the book the other day and just this morning got to the part where she says to decide what to keep, not focus on what to get rid of. After reading that statement I knew that was the way to make a mind shift and be able to let go of things I’ve been holding on to. I’m going to think about my vision for what I want my home to be like so I have a goal in mind for when I’m tidying.

  2. Susan says:

    I have just begun my discarding process using this book, and It is totally addicting. I’ve only done tops and bottoms of clothing so far, and I love being happy to wear everything I own. And I have plenty of clothes, even after discarding over half of what I own. We are about go out of town, so I have to press pause on my KonMari adventure, and I find myself gazing longingly at the rest of my house, knowing the time will come soon to begin again! Thanks for your post! It’s good to hear from someone who has crossed the finish line.

      • Suz says:

        Yep, do it all at once. at least until you are too tired. I purged all clothes and books in one day. I have to say, I really like my closet better after big to small, left to right. I through things out anyway, so finding a shoe box was impossible. I did find a small basket that was perfect for the rolled socks. I am to the messy bathtub and shower, and yes it’s just like she described in the book. Gross!

  3. Jana says:

    Love this book! It, along with 2 others, really got me started on my decluttering journey a year ago. (I found an advanced copy of “The Life Changing…” on eBay before the book was released in the US). A year later and I’m still decluttering. I didn’t think we had that much stuff, but I’m trying to really get down to only what we really need. So once I did the first decluttering sweep, I went back again room by room, and then again, etc. I worked at it for almost a year, and am now in a decluttering lull. Our load is so much lighter, but I really want to go further. The hardest thing has been decluttering my books. I can get most of them at the library or through ILL, but it’s still hard to let go! My one consolation is that I have been able to sell several and save for some things we really needed. ?. I’m going to do another culling of my books this month…..while most books spark my joy, there are too many that have been sitting on the shelf unread for too long.

    • Jacquelynn says:

      Jana, As a former elementary school teacher, I, too, love my books! I was surprised how the method really works as I held each book. Some I kept for my two small boys as they grow older. I thanked the ones I let go, often with tears of gratitude. Then I extended the feelings of thankfulness with my approach to letting them go. I took 17 boxes to a local, family-owned second-hand bookstore where I turned them in for trade. This supported the small business and allowed me an account to purchase future books at a discount. There were quite a few books that they did not need for their inventory. Those books went to a nonprofit that helps homeless families secure housing. Once the family has a home, the kids get to go through the books and choose 4-5 each to start their own book collection in their new home!! Each of those books, whether being purchased or given to a new family is continuing a lifetime of service greater than sitting unused in my basement!

  4. Shelly says:

    After a year of not having time to do any tidying, I spent about 14 hours last week decluttering and organizing. I have bags of giveaway clothes and donated some toys to our daycare. It feels great to see tidy closets and have places for most things. I still have some work to do in the basement and I hope this inspires my husband to do the garage. But it looks and feels so much better!

  5. Amy says:

    I de-cluttered with great zeal after I first read this book (6 months ago, also). Then I lost the fire when gardening season came upon me and I started spending massive amounts of time outside. But we are having a wedding next month, and lots of company, so it’s time to finish the job. I agree with all your points, and am relieved that you didn’t get rid of all your books! *phew*

  6. Katia says:

    I agree with you on all the points, including the one about the possibility of going too far with tidying up. I found my hidden OCD started coming out with the addictive nature of the activity. Yikes! We have de-cluttered many spaces in our home, but due to time constraints (e.g., work, family obligations, etc.), and to maintain my sanity and not develop a full-on OCD, I decided to pace myself. 🙂 I am a lot more mindful now of the items I choose to keep at home and to bring into our home. I also have been letting go of the habit to keep things ‘just in case I might need them someday.’ I’m trying to pass on this lesson to my mom, whose generation is still very big on keeping things ‘just in case.’My parents are coming to live with us for a year, and since we will be sharing our space with them, I know we will need to practise being more flexible. It’s a good balance between being too rigid in our approach to life and staying in a healthy state of flux.

  7. Emily says:

    I’ve read the book a few times now. I bought it in the spring. For me, the biggest issue is the taking everything off the shelves. I have so many books (we can all relate, right? 🙂 ) that taking them all off the shelves would be a huge undertaking. The closet part I am totally on board with, however! So I should probably start there, which is what she recommends anyway.

    • Kori says:

      The nice thing is, even though the *ideal* is to do everything at once, you can still break it down into small categories. If you can’t do all your books at one time, do one bookcase. If you can’t do a whole case, do one shelf. But take it all into another room where you can’t see the empty space before you decide what to keep. And DO start with clothes. Her order works. I’m not sure exactly why, but it totally does.

        • April says:

          I also recommend that after you’ve finished all of the bookcases (having done them one at a time), gather up the remaining books (all of the books you’ve decided to keep on all of the bookcases) and check again. There will be fewer books than you have now, so it shouldn’t be quite as overwhelming. You’ll probably find a few more to get rid of when doing that.

          There really is something to be said for sorting them all at once. Having the big picture is very different than having only part of the picture to decide with.

  8. Julie says:

    I just read this book a few weeks ago and have since completed decluttering my clothes! Next step is books. Her strategies for tidying are amazing and I especially liked what she had to say about papers. I always feel like I have so many papers cluttering up my life. It’s like she gave me permission to not keep them. When have I ever actually used an instruction manual anyway?

  9. Nora says:

    I absolutely loved this book. We had already decluttered a lot of the apartment by the time I read it, but it added a new level of insight into belongings and letting go that helped me push it over the edge. It put into words a lot of what I feel about the objects in my life I am proud of the progress we have made since reading the book. I used to really care about having a lot of books until I realized that they weren’t serving any purpose other than to show off how much I read to others. I don’t need to show that off — I am secure in my knowledge of how much I read.

    Side note totally unrelated to this post: I don’t know if this is happening to anyone else, but the top menu bar keeps disappearing and reappearing when I am scrolling through posts which blocks the text. It is kind of distracting and I am wondering if it is a browser issue (I use Chrome) or just a part of the new site redesign. Feel free to ignore me, I just wanted to raise that in case it was making the blog difficult for anyone else.

    • K. says:

      I dislike that disappearing/reappearing (when you scroll up) bar so damn much! Thank you for bringing it up tactfully. I honestly almost clicked out of the site because I couldn’t stand it, so it is useful feedback, not pointless criticism!

    • Stephanie says:

      I love your comment on keeping books to show off how much you read! I whole heartedly agree. I went through my books a couple of months ago and paired it down to one shelf. Then I realized today that really, only a couple of books on that shelf bring me true joy… so now I have paired down again. I know how much I read, I don’t need the rest of the world to understand how much I read. And I’m not in favor of keeping up with the Jones’ so why would I perpetuate that fallacy? I’m so much happier after having figured this out! Thanks for stating it and bringing it to the forefront of my mind.

  10. Anne says:

    Thanks for posting a followup. I love this perspective. It’s a nod to the idea (or perhaps the idea itself in different words) of curating your home: surround yourself with the things you truly love and want to have around you.

    I did a similar exercise when I was cleaning out possessions from my childhood home. What was so important to me that I could automatically think of it and see it in my old room? http://anneoftheinternetandbeyond.blogspot.com/2014/09/to-keep-or-not-to-keep-childhood-things.html If I can’t think of it, do I really want it or need it? (Probably not.)

    • Anne says:

      Oh my goodness, I completely relate to your “keep or not keep” dilemmas. I’ve gotten rid of my own low-hanging fruit in that department but still have major work to do …

  11. Cindy says:

    I just finished reading this book and my bedroom lookes so much better! I love my closet now and there is so much more space. It is inspiring, but her section on books was painful, especially when she said she ripped pages out of book! Ouch, I winced when I read that.

  12. Kaitlin says:

    Haha, reading this made me laugh because I had the EXACT same experience in the pajama department! Was so excited to finally throw all the rags away and then that night…what do I wear to sleep in?? Had to get by borrowing my husband’s PJs until I could find replacements. 😛

  13. Amy Reasoner says:

    I don’t think “Life-Changing” was much of an exaggeration for this book. I didn’t think it would have much to say to me, since we already practice a pretty minimal lifestyle, but I was surprised by how deeply this practice resonated with me. I had been using a small capsule wardrobe, but was hanging on to a lot of off-season items. I got rid of probably 75% of the items in my closet. I also threw away hundreds of bad pictures and lots of things I was keeping simply because my mom had kept them for me. It took me 2 or 3 months to get through everything, and I was able to sell a few of my castoffs (books, music, jewelry) and use the money to buy or repair things I actually loved. It was a great experience, and I plan to do another purge of my closet and my kids’ clothes soon. (People just keep giving us stuff!!)

  14. My family is just about to move into a new home and I keep meaning to pick this book up. It seems like it would be a good thing to read as we’re setting up a new house and unpacking boxes; trying to put into practice some new habits. But it also feels overwhelming! A step at a time, I know. But when folding clothes is already an uphill battle with my husband, it just feels daunting. He *will* fold the laundry, but I have a hard time even getting him to turn a shirt right-side-out before “folding” it. And underwear? Fugetaboutit. When we first got married he thought it was hilarious that I folded underwear and socks. (Not that I’m great at staying tidy – I’m terrible at putting my clothes away at night and end up with a big pile on the chair in our room by the end of the week.) *sigh* I still want to read the book and try the method; I have the *desire* to be tidier, so that’s half the battle, right? 😉

    • Meg says:

      I agree! I shut down when I feel overwhelmed and then nothing gets done. I love the concept of the book, but I found the book a bit unrealistic to those with families, especially teenagers. It is not logistically possible for most people to remove everything from a space prior to purging! Good luck with your tidying up 🙂

      • Virginia says:

        It’s very much possible! I have 8 children and once every couple months we pick one room to completely empty out. Except furniture. We put back what we love and donate the rest. I struggle badly with disorganization but it works!!!! It’s like magic. Been doing it for years and I was finally able to majorly curb our messy, clutter problems.

        • Meg says:

          Wow….good for you! I don’t know how you can say you struggle with disorganization when you’ve got 8 kids and keep up with this kind of cleaning. I would love to be able to do this but if I were to clean out a room, I have no place to put the stuff in the meantime. That’s why I said its not logistically possible. Where are you putting the contents of your rooms??? My husband and I are painting his office this weekend and we have to paint around everything since we have no where to put the stuff in the room! I guess your house is much larger than mine..it must be, with 8 children (I have one).

          • Barbara says:

            Way before this book, I was so frustrated with the amount of clutter in my kids rooms. I have 6. We saw the show Clean sweep and their method was to clear the room to the outside, then sort. We put tarps out and went through each item to keep, donate, trash. If the keep pile was too much, we went through it again before it went back in the house. In the meantime, the room was deep cleaned. Worked beautifully. And all done in a day.

    • Anne says:

      Well, changes that you make during a major life milestone like moving are likelier to stick, no matter what you decide to do with this …

  15. Corrie Anne says:

    I read the book last week, and I have a ThredUp bag and trash bags ready to go this morning! People always comment that my home looks pretty minimalist, but they haven’t seen my closets. I liked this book because of the whole “inspiring joy” thing. Tiny capsule wardrobes don’t appeal to me because I really love shoes and dresses! However, I did just have a baby and have quite a few things that don’t fit my shoulders since I started doing CrossFit three years ago. Time to pass them on!! I’m happy to work on this right now when my first baby is still tiny. We’ve actually done a really good job limiting his stuff and passing on things that we’re given and don’t care for pretty much immediately!

  16. Sassy Apple says:

    This was one of the best book recommendations I’ve ever received. I started with my closet and all the clothes ‘that might fit again someday.’ Anybody else have those? I allowed myself to keep one small tub of clothes that didn’t fit RIGHT NOW, but that truly brought me joy. Then all clothes that didn’t fit went into designated bags for friends.
    Next, I tackled clothes that did fit. As a plus-size woman, IF something fits is often the only criteria I use. Not any more. I ruthlessly slashed through my clothes and kept items that made me happy to wear. All in all, SEVEN trash bags of clothing to be given to friends or donated to charity.
    Perhaps one of the most surprising outcomes from this was the realization I spend WAY too much on clothes I don’t need. Little bit of a shopaholic problem going on here. So, three months in, my bank account is plumper, and I’m not buying any new clothing because I can still remember the overwhelming amount of clothing I gave away.
    My next project is the kitchen…..coffee mugs, skillets, pots & pans, bowls without lids, lids without bowls, and how many knives do you REALLY need?
    Thanks so much for recommending this book. It’s a game changer.

    • Annette says:

      Thanks for this comment. This is where I’m getting stuck in my closet. I’m encountering clothes that I used to wear and love, but can’t fit in. And I’m finding clothes that I’ve purchased just because I needed something to wear! Can’t say they give me joy because I just feel guilty about not staying slim and in-shape. I like the permission to have a tub of clothes that I love and hope to wear again. Also, the comment earlier about keeping something until you can replace it. That seems to be the case for most of my wardrobe….

  17. What a gorgeous post! And LOVED seeing The Butterfly and the Violin in that book stack. How amiable is that, Mrs. Darcy? 😉 Love your website and I’ll be following.

    Blessings,
    Kristy

  18. Debra G says:

    Thanks for posting this. I read this book back in February, but didn’t really have the time to implement it. I started on my clothes, but then fell off. I have recently felt the Lord telling me to do a major purge, but I’m not getting much done. Thanks for the reminder of this method. I’m going to go get busy.

  19. Bonnie says:

    I read the book and had to draw the line and talking to my stuff and getting rid of books. Ummm, no. And thanks for the link to the video on shirt folding. I know this is probably what she’s most famous for, but the book didn’t help me “get it,” so I’m going to check the video. The thought of physically touching every item in my home is daunting.

    • Anne says:

      I agree, I just couldn’t “get it” from the instructions in the book. And I try not to think about the fact that I’ll eventually be touching every single item in my home—every photo, every piece of paper …

  20. Dana says:

    I have done her method of folding with clothing in my drawers and I love it. More space in the drawers and I can see everything. Got rid of lots of clothes. Kept one item that does not fit anymore but I have to keep…the jeans I was wearing almost 29 years ago when my husband proposed. We call them the “Marry me” jeans… : ) They are blue and maroon plaid so even if they fit I would not wear them anymore. I guess I should make a purse or a pillow or something out of them. They do give me joy every time I see them in the drawer! Need to tackle closet and ( shudder..) my books!
    Books will be last I am sure. I could more easily give up shoes and clothes.

  21. Kate says:

    Very timely! I haven’t yet had a chance to read the book, but some friends did recently and ended up passing on a big pile of their clutter to me 😀 After a big downsize in living space a few years ago, I’ve been trying to be more ruthless about getting rid of things I don’t need, especially letting go of things that belonged to my parents and therefore have sentimental value but that don’t really bring me joy. My difficulty is how to divest myself of things that have some cash value, but are a hassle to get rid of, like antique clocks, etc. Dealing with Craigslist or ebay seems overwhelming, so I end up doing nothing and the stuff stays piled up in my bedroom.

    • Katie says:

      I have the same sort of problem. We don’t have a lot of money, so I feel like I should try to sell things I get rid of (Craigslist or garage sale or SOMETHING), but I think that’s really just another way to hold on to the items and not get rid of them because they just end up piled around the house and in the garage and never sold anyway!

      • Meg says:

        I feel this way but not about money….I feel like I have to make sure my discards go to someone that needs them. I could never, ever just throw things away! It’s hard because I don’t have space to store the items I’ve purged while I prepare for a charity pick up so I tend not to purge because of this reason 🙁

    • Anne says:

      Marie Kondo talks about this a little bit in her reddit talk linked to above: if it brings you joy to sell stuff (especially the high-value stuff, then SELL IT). But I also keep in mind something that I heard Flylady say years ago: most stuff doesn’t hold its value, and we’ll be much happier if we bless somebody else who needs it instead of selling $10 shorts for $1 or less at a consignment store or garage sale. With that in mind, we hassle with selling big-ticket items but always donate or pass along clothes and kids’ stuff.

    • Chelsea says:

      I used to struggle with that as well until I realized that it hadn’t added to my wealth the entire time I had it, so clearly I wasn’t really in need of the money I could get for it. By that point it was more detrimental to my mental state while decluttering so some lucky person can find it at Goodwill and spend the effort getting money from it. Having that space clear is priceless to me.

  22. Suzanne says:

    I picked this book up after you mentioned it here six months ago, knowing I needed some major help in the clutter department. It’s such a funny little book, but the title really doesn’t exaggerate. It is life-changing, and I love seeing how other people are impacted by this book and implement her tips. Thanks for sharing the update.

  23. I have got to read this book! I loved your point about the pajamas 🙂 I think I’d be much more willing to get rid of my old, faded, college shirts (I graduated over ten years ago!), if I allowed myself to get a nice pair of pajamas.

    • Dana says:

      Yes, get some pajamas. I love having nice, comfy PJs. It is my personal indulgence. I buy a new set of top and bottoms each summer and get rid of a pair that are looking limp and tired. At Christmas I always ask for a new pair of winter pjs and get rid of an old pair then too. It is nice to have 2-4 sets per season. I like to to have nice pi’s for when we go out of town to a B&B or hotel. They are also great to snuggle in when I am sick or when I just need a pajama day!

  24. Yes to having a place for everything! I find the only things I consistently find lying around are things that don’t have a home. If I really can’t find a good spot for something, I rethink if it’s even worth keeping. I can’t wait to see your tips on tidying with kids, especially since my 10 month old is in that phase where she can take everything out, but not put anything away.

  25. Alicia G says:

    We are mostly through the process and LOVE our results. I feel better in our home. I feel like the things that I have are the things that I LOVE or the things that I NEED. I got rid of 14 Rav4 trunk loads of things to donate & 2-3 of straight up trash. We still have to do tools/misc in the basement b/c that is Spider Land and I need my husband’s help there due to a phobia. ha

    • Alicia G says:

      oops my cat sat on keyboard so my entry wasn’t done….anyway….I feel lighter in our house & am so so so much more conscious of what we purchase & why. I bought a lot of things (ahem, books) b/c they were at thrift stores for amazing deals but I didn’t really love them. It is an emotional process & I had a hard time sleeping during it b/c it was like the giant caffeine buzz, but I am so so glad I did it.

  26. Emily says:

    I bought the book…but haven’t read it yet because my husband got upset that I would do what some random person would write a book about rather than listen to him, since her message is the exact same thing he’s been telling me for the last ten years (except the “spark joy” part). I’m curious – is that photo of books the ones you kept or the ones you gave away?! I need to read the book to get my tidying mojo going; I’m feeling overwhelmed by ALL THE STUFF.

  27. Erin says:

    I have been trying to work on this in my house. The parts I have done are amazing! My closet is wonderful and my bedroom is not significantly more relaxing. I have not gotten too far in the rest of the house. I need to get refocused on it. It really does work. The areas that I have done, have not regressed.

  28. Liz says:

    I haven’t even finished the book, but her method really helped me take a hard look at my cookbook collection and kitchen gadgets. I had a whole pile of beautiful cookbooks, but did it give me joy knowing the perfect recipe must be somewhere in the tens of thousands of recipes on my shelf? No–it gave me anxiety. So I sent piles off to goodwill. Also, that slow cooker. Everybody sings its praises, but does it give me joy? No. I never really love the food that comes out of it, and it gives me guilt knowing that if I just had *planned ahead* I’d have a steaming meal right now. Out the door it went. My pressure cooker does the same type of one-pot meal cooking at the last minute, and THAT gives me joy!

    • What great comments. I actually got the book for my 64th birthday last month and have promptly lost it in the clutter here 🙂 So I’ve reviewed a number of posts and videos online and taken off two extra days from work. Tomorrow, Thursday, is the Big Event in my bedroom and bathroom.
      This is the room I used to store items brought from my parents home when they passed away almost 2 years ago as well a lot of papers. I’ve gotten rid of a lot but a lot is still hanging on. I’ve put it off for way too long. I am really excited and hoping I can complete all of it by Sunday and maybe include another room or two. Looking forward to feeling the magic 🙂

  29. Ellen says:

    It’s funny… I wasn’t a fan of the Kondo book in general (aside from a few helpful tips), but I am loving your updates on how the method is playing out in your home! 🙂 Thanks for sharing… am now inspired to do another sweep through our house.

  30. I have decluttered and then decluttered again and yet recently we still feel like we have too much stuff. I think a big part of our problem is having schedules that are really full right now and so the general upkeep around the house isn’t on the level it usually is. But reading your success and how much it’s benefited your family makes me want to take up the task again. Of course, we have three young children (5, 3, and 1) and another on the way, so that complicates both the process as well as the end result. I feel like the answer isn’t simply paring down their things but helping them learn to maintain them better.

  31. Hannah says:

    I so want to read this! I saw this in a store the other week and even though I am a nomad so tidying is less a part of my current lifestyle, it looks like it would a super satisfying, relaxing read if you get my meaning!

  32. Tara says:

    Thanks for this! I read the book too, but didn’t really get started. I got hung up on what to do with everything I was discarding. I didn’t just want to take everything to Goodwill, so I was spending time trying to figure out which items should go to which charity or consignment shop. I cleaned out my closet but had bins of clothes in my bedroom for months because I couldn’t figure out where to take which items. I’d love a follow up post on exactly what you did with everything you got rid of, because that’s where I’m finding myself stuck and that’s something that Kondo doesn’t really address.

    • Sarah says:

      That is exactly my hangup……what to do with all the stuff I’m getting rid off. Right now it’s getting moved from the house to the garage and there it sits, still giving me anxiety.

  33. Jenn says:

    This has become one of my all-time favorite books! We moved across the country and lived for 11 months with my parents, while most of our belongings sat in a storage unit. During that time, I read this book (and read a lot of it out loud to my family!) while also doing a serious re-evaluating of our life as a whole.

    Now we’re in our own home and, instead of rushing to unpack and fill each room with our old stuff, we’ve slowly and purposefully unpacked, touching each item and asking our heart-questions. We phrase it as:
    1. Does it have a purpose in our life?
    2. Does it bring you joy?
    The answer must be ‘yes’ to both in order to pass our evaluation. Amazingly, even the kids are onboard with it all and are quick to toss things out that they previously thought they just had to cling to!

    What we’ve discovered as a whole in our home is that now, instead of our precious things being lost amid a sea of clutter, we can place them in a spot of prominence. And in those places, they can bring us joy!

    Thanks for your recommendation- it truly was life-changing!!

  34. Kelty says:

    “This book is a strange mix of the instructive, the inspiring, and the woo-woo.” Ha! yes, quite a bit of woo-woo! And yet, there were lots of good nuggets, even among the “woo-woo.”

    I’ve only just begun (or even just begun to think about beginning a Konmari-esque purge,) and maybe this will make more sense when I’m doing it but in her order of purging (Clothes, books, papers, miscellany, mementos.) I’m with her until she gets to miscellany, which seems to cover 60% of the items in my house (kitchen gadgets, laundry room, garage, etc.) This category holds a lot of excess to be sure but it seems the trickiest to me. I mean, my food processor – does it bring me joy? meh. But is it useful? Yeah! That seems to make it fuzzy.

    I don’t know, maybe I’m over thinking it and it will make sense when I get to that part. Would love to hear anyone’s experience here.

    • Anne says:

      I agree, that didn’t make sense to me either at first. You might want to check out the reddit interview I linked to, where she addresses this topic specifically. (In short: if it’s contributing to your daily life, it’s a keeper.)

    • April says:

      I’ve noticed a lot of Westerners balking at that. The thing is, in Japanese culture, the kitchen doesn’t have as much presence as it does in Western culture (especially American culture). So, from a Japanese perspective, the kitchen easily fits into “and such”/miscellaneous.

      But for Americans, where kitchens are often the heart of the home and contain a lot of big and small appliances—as well as various gadgets—and where people stockpile food in a pantry and a full-sized fridge instead of grocery shop every day like the Japanese do, her categorization doesn’t work well.

      I think it’s one of those things that just didn’t translate well culturally, that readers will have to adjust to their lifestyle (along with other adjustments, like KonMari-ing with kids, etc.)

      Disclaimer:
      My opinions above are based on my experience, having lived in Japan for a total of about 20 years.

  35. So I am genuinely curious: what is it about this book that has made it so popular? Isn’t the premise extremely simple: Keep what you love and what you need, and get rid of the rest? I don’t have a big home (less than 1000 square feet) and my husband and I cleared out nearly 15 bags and boxes of trash and stuff to be donated a couple weeks ago, entirely on our own motivation. I’m very curious about this book but I only want to spend money on it if it’s going to be really useful–or, indeed, life-changing. 🙂

    • Anne says:

      Good question. In a nutshell: I think it’s the combo of the VERY specific plan for how to tackle your stuff, the heavy dose of tough love, and the encouragement to actually DO IT. Her approach to decluttering is so different that I think it’s triggered paradigm shifts for how many people approached their belongings, me included.

      We did what I thought was a major major decluttering in preparation for our move last year (30 bags of stuff?), but when I read Marie Kondo I realized that we had just not been taking it seriously enough. She’s operating at a whole different level.

  36. This book was one of my ideas for the 2015 Reading Challenge for July – a book everyone has read. But then I reserved it at the library, and I am number 26 on the hold list. I’ll get to it eventually, but I’ll have to pick another book for the challenge.

  37. Rosalie Hinrichs says:

    Kate @ Mom’s Radius, I to put my name on the list at our local the library to reserve this book. I was number 237 . I decided the $10.00 purchase was going to be money well spent. With a list of 300 on the waiting list after me, I knew I would not be able to re-check out the book if I was unable to complete the process in the 3 week borrow time. I am so happy I own it. I am reading through it now and getting myself ready to start tidying up. The inspiration of those who have started is giving me the push to get started. Discarding books will not be a problem for me. I only have 2 or 3 this being one of them. My decorating magazines will be most difficult for me to part with. A new beginning awaits all of us who feel the need to be free of the clutter that no longer brings us joy.

    • Jill says:

      Thank you for your comments, Rosalie. I was beginning to feel on the outs because I, too, am more a design magazine person than a book person. I have a hard time throwing them out because my guilty pleasure at the grocery checkout line has ended up costing quite a bit over the years when I started to add it up. 😕 this post has been great and explains to me why I never felt satisfied after my previous declutter sessions.

  38. Amy says:

    Thank you for recommending this book! I read it shortly after you reviewed it the first time and it has been life changing. I have probably read every organizing, decluttering book and website out there! This biggest take away for me was to make it an event and get it done. No more of a little here and little there…that was huge! Granted, I’ve haven’t been able to do an “event” for every room in the house, but just doing the rooms I have done has made it easier to gradually declutter other areas. The first room I did was my 17 year old sons. He was about to turn 18, had a free day and was ready to clear out his room. It actually made it a fun time, he teased my about the book, but bought into the things I was suggesting. I literally laid the book on the bed and decluttered step by step with him. Sounds cheesy, but it made it so easy to thank your items and say bye! I’m weird, but to know that I’ve used something, even it is just used to know I don’t like that kind of jean or whatever, made me feel a lot better about getting rid of things that I felt hadn’t served their usefulness. It helped my son realize some of his bad habits of too many clothes, etc. It has been since March and he has been able to keep his room neat and has spent way less money on “stuff”. This is going to be long, sorry! Next I did my seven year old daughters room. The best part was the clothes and the clothes folding. I buy her too much, or at least I used too. She is our forth child, after three boys, so I have a little too much fun buying girl stuff! I bought some dividers from Ikea, they are white plastic and you can cut them to the size of the drawer and configure them a million ways. I know the author says use boxes and things you already have, but we needed a lot and I love the look of everything matching. Anyway, having her leggings and such folded the books way, has made me be able to see what my daughter has to wear. There were clothes at the bottom of her drawers that never got worn because we never saw them. Irresponsible, I know, but we have learned and now I only buy what she needs to replace and she wears all her clothes. And, we were able to fold more items, leaving space in her closet for storing toys and such. Can you tell I am a fan?! No, my daughter doesn’t always get her things put away color coordinated and in a neat little package, but it is usually good enough and doesn’t take me long to tidy up when it gets past the point of tidy. We then tackled the other two boys rooms. My kids literally have empty drawers in their chest of drawers because once everything is folded neatly, they don’t take up much room. To reward my self I had my house professionally cleaned…talk about motivating to keep it tidy! Spending money on something I know I can do myself is not easy for me, but it was such a treat! I know not everyone would need this book, but we did. We are a family of six and not even the busiest of families, but we didn’t need to be wasting time looking for things and trying to clean rooms that were impossible to clean because no one knew where anything went. Last point to my long story…getting rid of things. This was probably the most challenging thing for me. I grew up having a garage sale every year at my grandmas houses. The whole family would put stuff in and we’d hang out for two days and make some extra money. Fast forward to the reality of that 40 years later. Yuck! But, I can’t seem to let go of trying to make money from discards. So, we had one garage sale. I did it with four friends and we had fun working together for a few days. I have always sold my kids clothes at a twice yearly consignment sale. I generally make enough to buy whatever they need for the next season, so it is worth the time and effort. (I don’t work, so I have time to fit this in.) The rest we are donating to friends or local thrift stores. Again, I’m weird, but some things I do have to imagine them blessing a family to let them go. Phew…sorry! But, this book has been great for us. Like I said not everyone needs this, but if you even half think you need to get rid of some stuff, go for it. It’s quick and easy to read. Funny because some things are definitely cultural, but I liked that. It seemed to make it more of a game than more work in the day.

  39. Natalie says:

    I got to that moment where it clicked and it’s awesome! I have been gradually decluttering since I graduated from college – four years ago. I have a tiny room with a tiny closet in NYC. It took a long time but now that I am almost where I want to be it is such a life saver and greatly reduces my day-to-day stress!

  40. I haven’t read this book yet, but I have read so many different reviews and blogs about it that I feel like I have… I have been slowly decluttering portions of my house, bit by bit, but it sounds like maybe I need to take a more intense approach to follow the Kondo method.

  41. Yes, yes, and yes. To everything you said. I’ve read declutter books galore – I am a therapist and need to know the resources to offer people who are drowning. I’ve read minimalist blogs galore, too. But THIS book made it all fit together, for me. My favorite parts: 1.The joy is the key. 2. The rolling! 3. The stages of the process. Once we got going it all fell into place. I was kind of on my own with the decluttering until I read it. Now my husband is actually AHEAD of me in his decluttering. He’s really good at it!! Everyone needs to read this book to find out if it is a fit for them.

  42. Yes, yes, and yes. To everything you said. I’ve read declutter books galore – I am a therapist and need to know the resources to offer people who are drowning. I’ve read minimalist blogs galore, too. But THIS book made it all fit together, for me. My favorite parts: 1.The joy is the key. 2. The rolling! 3. The stages of the process. Once we got going it all fell into place. I was kind of on my own with the decluttering until I read it. Now my husband is actually AHEAD of me in his decluttering. He’s really good at it!! Everyone needs to read this book to find out if it is a fit for them.

  43. Cathy says:

    I began to struggle a bit with the definition of ‘joy’. Is the shirt a good fit and a good color for me? Not necessarily. Have I had it for 7 years which brings me joy for actually getting my use out of something I paid for? yep. Does it represent my home state and what I believe in? yep. So which factor wins the joy or not category? It is on the perhaps pile for now. I am enjoying your writing.

    • Marie says:

      I now love coming home and thanking my house for being there for me. And thanking my diaper bag for helping me take care of kids while I was out, and then emptying it and letting it rest. It is actually therapeutic for me to do these woo-woo things she talks about! Let alone getting tidy. This is life-changing. It is up there with The 5 Love Languages in my top two change-my-life books.

    • April says:

      I think you’re overthinking it. The whole point isn’t to think through the typical organizer questions, which seems to be what you’re doing. The point is to look for your gut reaction to the item. Don’t ask yourself questions to determine if it brings joy, just pick it up and watch for your body’s reaction. If it doesn’t make you instantly light up (if you feel the need to ask yourself questions because you’re not sure) it doesn’t bring you joy and you should get rid of it. I seem to recall that somewhere in her book she said pretty much everything in “maybe” piles would end up in “get rid of” once her clients were really honest with themselves.

  44. Dee says:

    My AHA moment in the book was when I read that you could get rid of your extra buttons. I have buttons from decades ago that I never used. You know, the clear ones with two itty, bitty holes in it. That made the process work for me after I gave the buttons to a seamstress friend who was overjoyed to get the container of buttons.
    I did have so much stuff that I could not drag it all out. So I started with my closet and dragged the clothes out and onto my bed. That seems to work for me. I have teens too! We went through their school papers. You know I have a box per grade for each child! They told me they did not want anything!! So I chose one item from each grade and it all fits into a file folder. That was the best!
    I hope all of you keep up to good work. It will someday be ‘enough’.

  45. Patricia says:

    i plan to check out this book soon. As I read your update and the comments that followed, I began thinking about the flip side of that coin…GIVING to others. Do those wedding, birthday, shower gifts just become clutter for someone else? Even though I often check gift registries to purchase something the recipient wants, I am struck by how really unnecessary that item will probably seem to them once reality sets in. And more challenging is trying to come up with something NOT on their list. I don’t want to just give money or gift cards…although that seems to work FINE within my immediate family. I’m just kind of sharing my frustration concerning adding more clutter someone else will have to contend with. Any thoughts?

    • April says:

      Gift experiences or consumables? Like a hotel stay for a weekend, a subscription to Blue Apron/food service, a member’s pass to an aquarium, gift certificate for a house cleaning, etc.

  46. Sarah says:

    Thanks for including “woo woo” in your book description. While I’m on board with about 80% of the author’s tips, I do not have 20-30 minutes to remove everything from my purse upon returning home each day. What?!?

  47. Hi, I have recently finished the book and enjoyed the start of our home transformation! You give a great summary, thanks! Great to read back and quickly remember the various parts of the method 🙂 x

  48. This book is such a gem! I read it cover-to-cover, and now I follow the advice in increments as energy permits. Can’t wait ’til it’s all done! Sharing this wonderful post – thank you!

  49. Sandra says:

    I went through the tidying up process about six months ago as well. It has been life changing, in many small satisfying ways, but I still have areas to work on. It is so relaxing to be in my tidy home now, much easier to keep things picked up because there is space to put things away! I love my pared down office supplies (haven’t had a rubber band or sticky note emergency yet) and I love knowing where to look for a specific book (on the bookcase, with every other book in the house). I still have work to do in my closet and I still own too many drinking glasses, but my kitchen cupboards just seemed to fall into place when we got rid of all the extra stuff. For two years I stood on tiptoe every morning to get a plate for my toast, but now everything we use daily is easily reached. I have gotten better at “listening” to objects, and my hubby has gotten used to hearing things like “the colander wants to live with other prep tools, not with the cookware”.
    There are thousands of “just started reading today” reviews, I really appreciate hearing from someone who has lived it for awhile!

  50. TC says:

    Hi! I don’t know if someone already addressed this issue but I need advice. I love this book and I am so ready to get started! My problem is that I have a LOT of valuable things that I have been slowly selling online. I can’t bring myself to give away what would amount to a lot of money if I sell it.

    • Jessica says:

      Have you ever thought of having an estate sale? You could get rid of a lot at one go and still make money. Selling things online can take a very long time and your time is valuable.

  51. Carolina Girl says:

    I haven’t read the book, but the several blog posts you’ve written on this resulted in my ordering the book. I love Christmas but dread the amount of gifts my kids get from family. My mother-in-law makes it a point to outdo us or Santa. I’m left with the kids absolutely not wanting to get rid of their new toys, nor am I able to par down what we already have enough to accommodate the new. I’ve had the conversation with her MANY times but I think it’s a shopping sickness for her and really not fair my kids to have to choose. What do I do? Also, we recently adopted a little girl and received TONS of (nice!) clothing donations – she will be set for the next 3-4 years (not to mention getting my older daughter’s hand-me downs). The amount of clothes in boxes is really overwhelming, but it will be so nice to not have to shop for new clothes for her. Thoughts? Finally, does she mention, or does anyone have an opinion, about holiday decorations? Thanks so much!

    • livingsimply says:

      We’ve asked grandparents to leave the gifts they get the kids at their houses. This way, the kids have things to do when they visit. Since we are a military family and can’t travel back home often, they’ve all started just sending money, so that we can buy what the kids really want/need instead. They didn’t realize how much they were cluttering MY home until it started cluttering THEIRS.

  52. Veronika says:

    I purchased this book in August and methodically worked my way through my closet (which I loved!!) – I also donated all of the clothing bins of excess clothes that I have been holding onto for no reason. This book has certainly changed my life. The books were pretty easy for me… However, my husband has a really hard time parting with cook books and his woodworking books so I gave in and let him keep a lot of it. Frying to argue whether he will ever cook from all of those cookbooks did not spark joy at all!
    I still have more than half of the misc. section to do (I have tackled office supplies and decorations and candle holders and bathroom stuff and vases, etc,..). The big one left for me is the kitchen and the picture frames (I have a gazillion of them for some reason ?!?! – still wrapped neatly in boxes from our move this past March). And of course sentimental items and the ever dreading electronics… Urgh…
    I am just a few weeks short of my due date so I can’t really lift or do anything strenuous so the rest of the items may need to wait until after our Christmas baby arrives.
    I can definitely recommend this book as it certainly had me look at things differently. I am very critical of what comes into the house these days as well and it’s making it much easier for me to purge. This has really allowed me to keep the house fairly tidy (which is not one of our strong suits)
    I recommend this book to everyone I speak with and I often say in the week: “does this spark joy??” – my husband has now developed the same habit. Lol

  53. Darlene says:

    I haven’t read the book yet (on the wait list at the library), but I have great hope for this method taking us where we want to go. My husband and I are less than five years to retirement. We know we will sell the houseand move into a much smaller place. We would rather not cram the job of getting rid of excess stuff into the short months when we’re trying to ready this house for sale, so we’ve started early.

    We got rid of a lot of stuff in 2015. Had a garage sale and sold some furniture and high-ticket items on Craigslist. There’s a lot of work left to do, though.

    What I’ve learned so far: it’s easier to clean a room with less furniture in it. Adult clothes don’t sell too well in garage sales, best to just donate them. No one buys knick knacks at garage sales. Frames weren’t even glanced at in our garage sale. Most of what we own isn’t really used by us, and yet it can still be hard to decide to part with this stuff.

  54. Karen says:

    I am part way into the process, and here’s my 2 cents worth:
    1. I have a limited energy level, so I found it necessary to break down the categories quite a bit so I would be able to completely deal with one “category” at one time. (“Long sleeve t-shirts” instead of “clothes”)
    2. I got through the clothes and a few other things fairly quickly, but now find I need to take an interim step of sorting a room or area to a)find out what categories are actually in that room and b)enable me to gather items in a category from different rooms. I find myself going back and forth between sorting and tidying and it is working well for me.

  55. Joanna says:

    Am I missing an inside joke? Why do so many people omit the letter f? It’s missing a lot in the article, but now also in the comments?

    • Karen says:

      When I wrote the last note, I’m pretty sure the f’s were in there. I always read things several times before posting. So I don’t know where they went, but no inside joke on my part.

  56. Lynn says:

    You’re so right about “you’ll know when you’re done.” I started with clothes and moved on. But my closet just didn’t click yet with me. After a month or two, I went through it and KM’d it again then finally tossed my wire hangers for beautiful felt lavender ones. Instant “click” and I was done. But i just didn’t see what was missing right away. Give it time and keep working it until it does. 🙂 Love this process.

  57. Jessica says:

    What really has motivated me is to invite people over. I just had a party and through out tons of duplicates, gave away books, put things away in a nice way and really cleaned my apartment. It felt amazing! When people come to my home I want to feel proud of my space.

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