Book 26 of 2016
I have always faced certain facts about myself, one of these facts being I’m not “tidy.” My bedrooms in university were notoriously messy; in fact, in freshman year my roommate Nicole and I shared a bathroom which housed a mountain of clothes that we nicknamed ‘Mount Clothesmore.’ We even made a sign for it. Other other roommate and friend, Mallory, was happy to have the other bathroom in our unit to herself.
Post-university, I got better with cleaning (I don’t actually enjoy cleaning, and I doubt I ever will, but it’s obviously mandatory). But tidying? I am so hit-or-miss. At least there is some part of me that has matured in the world of tidying since my late teens: surprisingly, I am very Type A-organized with my filing and work-related organizing, and I also have been color-coordinating the clothes my closet for years; but other than that, I could use some help in the clutter department. I have a hard time letting things go… don’t get me wrong, I’m not a hoarder, but at the same time, I hold on to some things for too long. That being said, over the past few years, I had heard about The Life-changing Magic Of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. I decided it was time for me to crack it open for myself.
After reading TLMOTU, I can say that I have benefited from a few of Kondo’s recommendations and practices, but her general lifestyle isn’t for me. I have used some of her suggestions, like storing purses inside one another and using shoe boxes as storage containers. I have donated even more clothes than usual to charity, and I have thrown out products I no longer use, or don’t plan on using. I did as Kondo recommended and took all the clothes out of my closet and put them into various piles, debating if I really needed them and then forcing myself to make a decision. These aforementioned tips from Kondo, among many others, were definitely helpful.
Since I had a baby this past year, however, I didn’t think that all of Kondo’s suggestions made sense for me and our small family home. Kondo is a cut-and-dry, all-or-nothing person who is very extreme, and she feels that in order to be tidy- I mean really tidy– you must be as ‘all in’ as she is. As I read some of her more extreme tips, I would shake my head, utterly bewildered. (For example, saying thank you to my shoes when I take them off every day isn’t something I am going to a) take seriously, and b) make time to do when trying to get my one-year-old out of his snowsuit, on top of my own shoes, coat and accessories. I don’t think Kondo has children, I’ll say that). If you can make all of Kondo’s teachings work for you and your home life, well-done, I am beyond impressed. Me, however? I decided to continue practicing some suggestions that made sense for me and my life. Hopefully Kondo isn’t reading this review in her sparse home somewhere in Japan and cringing.
Below I have compiled some notes that I made while reading TLMOTU. This is something I like to do for non-fiction reviews, and I hope it helps my readers understand some of the main points that the author is trying to convey. !
- People cannot change their habits without changing their way of thinking
- Clutter distracts us from the real issues in our lives
- Storage “experts” are hoarders themselves
- Tidy by category of items, not by the area things are located in your house
- Tidying must be done in conjunction with discarding and deciding where to store items
- Number one rule: finish the process of discarding before storing. Do it all in one shot!
- Visualize before diving in and identify you goal
- Handle each item and make sure it sparks joy if you decide to keep it (this is a big theme Kondo reiterates throughout the book)
- Designate a spot for every last thing you own
- One note I made is Kondo’s ‘beautiful lifestyle’ and the order she maintains in her living space when she comes home from work is a bit ridiculous… I made note of this above, stressing that I wont be speaking aloud to my shoes on a daily basis anytime soon.
- Kondo says no to piles….vertical stacking
- Kondo’s favorite storage containers are shoe boxes
- Store purses inside one another
- Stand things on their edges in drawers
- Keep everything out of the shower, bath and kitchen sink
- Thank inanimate objects (see above)
- Care for your possessions
- People who lack confidence in discarding lack confidence in themselves
- The magic of tidying: When you tidy, note how it makes you feel and how it leaves you able to focus on other things
- Discarding: an attachment to the past, with fear of the future
- Color coordinating works! (I did one thing right before reading this book, ha ha)
Kondo has made it her life’s mission to be the tidiest person in the world, and I think she has succeeded. I am satisfied with the information I took from her book, and I would recommend it. It’s a unique take on organizing, and is different from any other book on home organization and clutter that I have read to date. And it’s a book that actually inspired action. Drop me a comment if you have read Kondo’s book and had any success yourself!