Friday Reads: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, by Marie Kondo

kondobookI am pretty much what my grandmother used to call a “mess pot.” Despite dozens of bins, drawer organizers, labeled shelves, color-coded files, and all my good intentions, my place is mostly a jumble. So, hope springing eternal, when I heard about this book, I knew that I had to read it.

Yes, I was looking for a silver bullet—that one quick, easy, wonderful thing that would transform my life, or at least keep shoes from accumulating under the coffee table. Any book that offered “life changing magic,” well, it wasn’t a wand from Olivander’s, but I was ready to try it.

It’s a little book, didactic (perhaps the result of the translation from Japanese) and charming by turns. Taken literally, I thought it was kind of nuts. Ms. Kondo requires things to be done in very specific ways—and her ways wouldn’t necessarily fit with my mental processes or lifestyle. There are YouTube videos, and plenty of articles and reviews that illustrate. But the spirit of her advice resonated for me:

  • Decide what you are going to keep, don’t decide what you are going to discard.
  • Keep only those things that “spark joy.”
  • Many things are not meant for forever. If something’s time has passed, it’s okay to discard it.
  • Most papers can be thrown away.
  • Tackle organizing and purging by category of items, not by location.
  • Appreciate the things you have and care for them.
  • Store things in ways that make them easy to find and access.
  • Develop habits that make it easy to maintain orderliness.

I felt that the underlying message was to practice mindfulness, to not be overly materialistic, and to make sure that possessions were working for me, not burdening me. So for me, the attitudes were more valuable than the specific methods—although her way of folding and organizing an underwear drawer was pretty slick.

 

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