The Last Book on Organizing You’ll Ever Need to Read

A few weeks ago, I was chatting with a new client of mine when she mentioned that she was in the process of KonMari-ing her home. The look on my face must have shown my confusion because she laughed and said, “I promise it’s an actual thing!” After hearing her rave about this amazing organizational method, I decided to check it out. A huge part of any design I create is making sure that the space not only looks good, but functions in exactly the way you need it to, so this was right up my alley.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

By Marie Kondo

The basic gist of this book is that you should be surrounded only by things you truly love—things that “spark joy.” While it’s not exactly a new concept, it’s the selection process Kondo uses that makes the biggest difference.

“Sort by category, not location.”

That means sorting ALL of your clothes at once rather than starting with the ones in the closet, then the ones in the dresser, then the ones in the guest bedroom, then the ones in the attic. You get the picture. The idea behind it is that you’re less likely to end up with duplicates of items and you’ll get a slap-in-the-face view of exactly how much stuff you have.

“Start by discarding, all at once, intensely and completely.”

Kondo has her clients begin organizing by letting go of the things they don’t need before they even begin to think about how/where to store them. She stresses that you should consider this a once-in-a-lifetime event, not something that you simply do every April and October (or monthly, or weekly). Once you’ve mastered the mindset, you won’t need to repeat it.

“Before you start, visualize your destination. Picture the lifestyle you dream of. Identify why you want to live like that.”

I couldn’t agree more—I have my clients do exactly the same thing. You can’t just say that you want to have a beautiful home. (Come to think of it, I’ve never heard anyone say that they wanted an ugly one!) Consider the details. For example, one of the main reasons my husband and I moved to Tennessee was so that we could be close to both our families. We imagined all of our nieces and nephews (and eventually our grandkids) coming to visit and having fun exploring the land. We knew we wanted to be surrounded by trees on a decent little chunk of land a fair distance from the nearest town. Having the picture in our heads of exactly the life we wanted to lead made it very easy to decide what piece of property we wanted to buy. Would it work for what we wanted? If not, it wasn’t something we would even consider. It also made a difference when it came to furnishing our home. If something wasn’t going to work as part of the big picture we just didn’t buy it. Simple.

“Select criterion: does it spark joy?”

I love the idea that if something doesn’t truly speak to you then you don’t need it. Okay, insurance paperwork and tax forms don’t exactly spark joy for most people and you’ve got to keep them. Kondo covers the non-joy-inspiring, purely functional items as well. We all keep far more paperwork than is absolutely necessary. She points out that with the internet being what it is we really don’t need all of those product manuals and old bills. Slim down your paperwork, toiletries, etc. to the things that you simply MUST keep. (She also mentions that there’s no real reason to hoard toilet paper. I think she might have been speaking directly to me on that one.) Other than that, there’s no reason to keep anything that doesn’t truly makes you happy.

“Starting with mementos spells certain failure.”

Kondo has a specific order for tackling the different categories.

  1. Clothes
  2. Books
  3. Papers
  4. Miscellany
  5. Mementos

The reason behind this particular order is that you need to start with the categories with the easiest decisions. As you go along, you’re essentially exercising your decision-making muscles so that you’re ready for the hard decisions. (Whether or not to get rid of the artwork your sweet baby made for you isn’t exactly a no-brainer. You’ll be much better off if you work up to it.)

“Tidying is a dialogue with one’s self.”

This means no music, no TV, nothing to distract you from your purpose because good decisions require focus. (Yeah, it’s hard to do these days, but a little bit of intense focus every now and then is a good thing!) You need to think about why each and every item came into your life in the first place. Consider what the item’s purpose is in your life. “To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose. Let them go, with gratitude.”

“Clutter is caused by a failure to return things to where they belong.”

Once you’ve gone through the process of discarding, it’s time to think about where to put what you have left. Kondo believes that if you want to keep clutter to a minimum you need to pay more attention to how easy it is to put things away than how easily you can get them out. Let’s face it, the easier it is to put something in its place, the more likely we are to actually put it there.

“Human beings can only truly cherish a limited number of things at one time.”

The bottom line of the entire process actually isn’t about getting the clutter hidden from sight. It’s about really appreciating your belongings and getting rid of the visual noise that clutter causes. You’re more likely to take care of what you have when it has special meaning to you. Not to mention, having fewer things that make you truly happy is actually quite peaceful. (The mindset of not buying anything that’s only so-so or is just something that’s on sale is what will keep the clutter at bay.)

“Pour your time and passion into what brings you the most joy, your mission in life.”

Without all of the clutter you’ll spend way less time cleaning and much more time doing the things that make you happy. I don’t know about you, but I’m always going to come down on the side of happy.

As I read the book, I realized that I have already been applying most of the principles to my life. (I’d already limited by wardrobe to just my favorite things and donated all but my favorite books.) I do still have a ways to go—I’m a toilet paper hoarder, remember, and I have a habit of collecting paperwork—but I’ve already seen how much more peaceful things are in my life. Having read about the KonMari Method, I’m ready to finish simplifying my life.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the clutter in your life or struggling to get organized, I highly recommend Marie Kondo’s book. It really could be life changing. (Whatever you do, don’t just rely on my synopsis–I’ve only briefly touched on the biggest aspects of it here!)

**Marie Kondo, her publishers, and have no idea who I am and have in no way compensated me for my opinion. In addition, none of the links in this post are affiliate links.**

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