Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Lifechanging Magic of Tidying Up

I'm late to the game reviewing this weird little book, but I just read it over the weekend and it's really stuck in my mind.

I'm a fairly neat person, and I like to declutter. I'm not terribly sentimental (example: I throw out Pickle's preschool art projects with impunity!). I have a slightly bad habit of thinking I'll get around to things that I won't get around to (example: fixing broken snaps on cloth diapers) and I definitely have a bad habit of saving things that I think I can make money from selling, instead of donating them as soon as I decide I don't need them anymore.

Even so, this book gave me such a kick in the pants.

Basically, the author says to ask - of every item that you own - "does this spark joy?" Most decluttering books encourage you to find things to get rid of (Flylady's 27 Thing Boogie, for example) but this one asks you to focus on what you want to keep. This slight but fundamental difference in approach becomes huge when magnified by each and every possession in your home.

For me, it helped identify the guilt aspect: the things I was hanging onto because I used to love them, or thought I should love them, or because I wanted to get around to making/fixing/doing/reading it someday (even though I knew I wouldn't), or because someone had given it to me. If the item is tinged with any of those things, it cannot also spark joy for me, and so this question has helped me identify a LOT more things to get rid of. All the old cloth diapers, books upon books, almost an entire closet full of clothing. I haven't gone through the kitchen yet but can already think of things to donate. It's obscene, really, to see how many things I have here that I don't love.

Another thing the author suggests is to thank your things for their service to you. She takes it a little too far in the woo direction for my liking (thanking your handbag each day for its work? Um.) but the general principle of appreciating what something did for you when it came into your life - even if you only wore it once or had fun imagining what you would do with it, that's enough. Acknowledge that, and pass the item along.

Combine those concepts with her approach to organizing clothes, and frankly, I'm astonished at the difference in my home in just the last three days. As I job-search in earnest, I'm starting to feel a little guilty about all the things I didn't accomplish while staying home these last three years (cuz, you know, I wasn't busy from dawn til dusk as it was!). So I'm trying to clear things out in anticipation of truly never having the time to do it again.

Have you read The Lifechanging Magic of Tidying Up? What did you think of it?


  1. I haven't read it but it seems like most of the people I do read have. I've been actively weeding things out on the principle that I can only have things that have meaning or good function for years, so it doesn't seem like there's anything new there for me. I thank our indoor plumbing but thanking any other inanimate object's a little too woo for me too :D

  2. I read it and actually employed some of its suggestions...until I backslid and went back to my old ways, so in that sense it "didn't work" for me. I've always been a messy person, so any progress is good for me, and I appreciated her emphasis on "letting things go" (even though it's hokey, I think we all should hear it). But I also own stuff that, while it doesn't spark joy, is functional and useful, and that's part of life.

    It has been pretty funny to see the "KonMari" mania taking over the world. I think one thing that attracts people to the method is how extreme and "forever" the author paints it to be. Sometimes I look at that hashtag on Instagram to check out the beautifully organized things and before/after pictures.


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