Having a completely organized life is one of my big dreams that has seemed just out of reach for years. I actually thought I was pretty organized when it came to physical items, and most people who visit my home would probably say that I am.
After reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, I finally get it. Being organized isn’t about organizing. It’s about learning to let go of the things that no longer bring us joy. The rest falls into place.
Marie Kondo refers to this process as tidying. This book is different from other books about organizing because it asks us to make decisions about the stuff in our homes based on one simple question: does it bring me joy?
The KonMari Method of Tidying
Kondo, a Japanese tidying expert, has coined the term KonMari from her own name to refer to her specific practice of tidying. This method focuses on de-cluttering our spaces by way of discarding first and foremost. Where to put things is then revealed to us, because by getting rid of the things that don’t have a purpose, we free up more storage space than we could have imagined already existed in our homes.
The KonMari Method follows a specific order based on item type. The process starts with clothes (which include shoes and handbags). Rather than sort by room, Kondo stresses the importance of gathering up all the items of one type in your home into one space first before sorting. This step is intended to bring to light how many things we have in each category of stuff.
After clothes is books, then papers, “komono” (miscellaneous items), and finally mementos.
Tidying isn’t only for those of us who have been obsessed with planners, organizing, and The Container Store for as long as we can remember. Tidying doesn’t have to and shouldn’t be an ongoing lifetime activity. According to the KonMari Method, tidying is a once in a lifetime event.
Think about a cherished space in your home that is organized and always stays that way. Why does the space work? We can have that same sense of organization throughout our homes, with spaces that are easily maintained.
I will admit that I have been seriously misguided in my belief that I love to organize. No. I just want my life to be organized so I can get on with doing the things that I really want to do.
Fortunately, this is possible for anyone.
How To Get Others To Tidy
I was so entertained by all the stories the author shares of her lifelong quest to live in an organized space. The obsession started at age five. She read home and lifestyle magazines, tried out different organizing methods in her bedroom, and snuck away from recess to straighten up the bookshelves in her classroom, while grumbling about the inefficient organization system already in place.
While growing up, she made desperate but failed attempts to get her parents and siblings onboard with her tidy lifestyle. To her dismay, they only found her efforts to be annoying and intrusive.
She finally realized that, as with anything, the best way to get someone else to change is to change yourself. I was glad to read this before I started tidying my current home, because although I too was the annoying person in my family constantly trying to tidy common areas of our home, I realized I don’t want to be that person to my husband.
I decided to leave his things alone (for the most part), and to wait until he asks for my help to go through his things if he wants. I asked him what to do with a few items while I was tidying, and noticed that he was inspired to do some tidying of his own along the way!
The Spiritual Aspects of Tidying
“you’ll be surprised at how many things you possess have already fulfilled their role.”
One of the many reasons I loved this book was the description of the energy of our homes and our things. The author talks about inanimate objects as if they have their own personalities and destinies. It is really adorable, and I also found it to be quite helpful in the discarding process.
So far, I have gotten through clothes, books, papers, and am now working my way through the many different subcategories of “komono” (basically everything else except sentimental things). I actually found clothes to be extremely hard, but saying thank you to each item as suggested by the book helped me with the letting go process. Now that I have gotten through that category, everything else has seemed easier so far.
Letting go of things that no longer serve us or bring us joy clears up space in our lives for new things that will bring joy, happiness, and excitement. I firmly believe that letting go of things shifts our energy to make way for new things and experiences. And this is why it is called Life-Changing Magic.
I’m still in the process of tidying, and everyday I’m excited for the new opportunity to not only get my house tidy. but all areas of my life. Having tidy spaces frees up energy and attention to get other areas in order and to find ways to spend our lives how we really want.
Have you read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up? Did you love it like me? Please share your thoughts!