Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, has sold over 2 million copies worldwide since being published this year. Clearly it is resonating with a lot of people!
I also enjoyed reading the book, although, I didn’t agree with all of the author’s points. Here’s a recap of Ms. Kondo’s main ideas and my take on them.
Points I (Mostly) Agree With Marie Kondo on:
Everything You Own Should Spark Joy – While joy may be a strong word for some items, such as a can opener or shoe polish, I completely agree that everything you own should be something you use and/or really enjoy.
Organizing Your Space Can Transform Your Life – Although I have seen the transformative power of organizing your space, I can’t make that promise. However, I do believe that clearing clutter reduces distractions, in turn helping you to focus and think more clearly, which can be very energizing and empowering.
“Tidying” Must Start with Discarding” – I agree that it’s important to discard those things that have outlived their purpose to you and that getting rid of what you no longer need is neither wasteful nor shameful.
Store Only after Discarding – Ms. Kondo cautions against storing your belongings until you have finished identifying what you really want to keep and I completely agree. A trip to The Container Store is not the way to kick off your organizing project. Wait to get storage containers until you know if and what you need them for.
“Tidying” Improves Decision Making – She says “tidying” means considering each item, asking yourself whether it sparks joy and then deciding whether to keep it. By repeating this process over and over, Ms. Kondo believes we naturally hone our decision making skills. I don’t know if this process improves decision making in all areas of life, but I have found that when clients start with a category of items that’s easy for them to decide on, it then becomes easier for them to make decisions when working on a tougher category.
Points I Disagree With Marie Kondo on
You must Organize your Home in One Go – Ms. Kondo contends that “tidying up by location is a fatal mistake.” She believes that if you eliminate clutter thoroughly and completely within a short time span, you’ll see instant results that will keep your space in order forever. For most people, her approach is impractical and I’ve had hundreds of clients organize their homes one room at a time with much success.
Every Category Must be put in One Heap – The author states that all clothing from all over the house should be put in one heap when considering it. The same method goes for all books, all photos, etc. Depending on how much you have this could be overwhelming and unnecessary; if you have categories in more than one place you can always merge them later if need be.
You must Physically Touch each Item – The author feels touching is necessary to determine if the item brings you joy. I have found that for some people, it is easier for them to detach and discard the item if they aren’t handling it and if someone else is holding it up for them to consider.
Once you Put your Home in Order you will never be “Messy” Again– This is a very alluring promise but one I don’t believe can be guaranteed. I think that’s like saying once you lose weight you will never gain weight again. Having an organized space and system that fits your lifestyle is extremely helpful but you need to change your behaviors, too. For some, behavior change comes easily but for others it takes practice. Organizing one space at a time allows you to practice maintaining your space and develop those skills.
Inanimate Objects have Feelings – Ms. Kondo says that clothes like people, can relax more freely when in the company of others who are similar in type and therefore organizing them by category helps them “feel more comfortable and secure”. I don’t believe inanimate objects have feeling and have seen it impede progress in letting go.
Thank your Items – Along with the above, she believes you should thank your items for their service before letting go. She recommends using “joyful words” like “have a good journey” as you release them. While I do not think this is necessary I have noticed that for some clients who have read her book, doing this seems to make it easier for them to get rid of things. So if that’s the case for my client, I’m all for it!
You Only Need 3 Folders for Paper – The author says her “basic principle for sorting papers is to throw them all away. After all they will never inspire joy.” (She’s not including sentimental papers). Ms. Kondo recommends you dispose of anything that doesn’t fall into one of these categories: Currently in Use, Needed for a Limited Time, Must be Kept Indefinitely and not subdividing them further by content. I like how this idea stimulates thinking about how much we keep that we don’t need, but such a limited number of files would be overwhelming and make it much harder to find what you are looking for.
Final Thoughts on The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up
I love that so many people are reading this book and getting energized about letting go and organizing. And while, I don’t agree with all Marie Kondo’s methods I do agree that we can all get along with a lot less. I will close with two of her quotes that I particularly like:
“The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”
“Life becomes easier once you know that things will work out even if you are lacking something.”