The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese art of decluttering and organizing, written by the Japanese home-organization consultant Marie Kondo, is my latest venture into finding the perfect way to get and stay organized.
I love that what she calls tidying up is really tossing your stuff in one fell swoop - in three to six months. Warrior style: Dramatic and quick. No ongoing battle with your clutter. She advises going through your stuff by category and in order - first clothing, then books, papers, komono or miscellaneous items, and finally sentimental items and photos. It is not so much deciding what to get rid of, but knowing what you want to keep. What brings you joy. By the time you have picked up and touched your every possession and kept only those that 'spark joy' you will have successfully cleared your home of items that have outlived their purpose and you will be living only with those items that you cherish.
Once tidied to the hilt, lessons follow on how to handle what is left: on folding your clothes, storing your handbags, streamlining your bath products, keeping kitchen counters clear, and designating a spot for every possession.
She advocates pulling them all from the shelves, table tops, chairs, bedsides and counters and piling them all in the floor. If you have a large library, you can sort them into categories if you like - pleasure, practical, pictorial. Once the books are all in one place, pick up each one individually. Wait for that "thrill of pleasure when you touch a book" and if it doesn't come, the book doesn't get to stay.
As to books that are hanging about because you are going to read them again, she says that most likely you won't. And the books you have bought and intend to read? Well, here is her take on those:
It is not uncommon for people to purchase a book and then buy another one not long after, before they have read the first one. Unread books accumulate. The problem with books that we intend to read sometime is that they are far harder to part with than ones we have already read.
Ah! The blessing and the curse for book lovers.
Ms. Kondo also suggests we talk to our things. At the end of the day, we should thank our shoes for protecting and supporting our feet, our coat for keeping us warm, our purse for allowing us to carry our daily items. I am not sure I would go that far, but I can appreciate her point.
The text is a translation so the writing seems a little choppy in places and quite often repetitious. And the word for letters and envelopes - stationEry - is consistently spelled stationAry. That irritated me.
I was also surprised at the author's claims that clients have thrown out in one day hundreds of books and 45 bags of stuff. I always think of Japanese living spaces as being crowded and compact and am amazed that there would be that much to throw away.
Tidying Up is a small book and quickly read and you might just glean a few tips for your own struggles with Stuff. Just be sure to thank it for its enlightenment and give it away when you finish reading it.
Yes, that problem with unread books rings a bell. I'm sure that if I put everything on the floor I'd be far too lazy to pick it up again... ;-)ReplyDelete
Vicki, I laughed out loud at your comment! I have enough trouble working around books on chairs and tabletops. Books in the middle of the floor would be dangerous!Delete
This sounds like a "spot on" January read, Belle, and just the read I need. I've been tackling piles, both books and others, with a wild abandon this past week. "Tidying Up" seems just the tool to purge. :)ReplyDelete
Hi, Penny. Somehow her use of the word 'tidying' calls forth a idea of just straightening a few magazines and putting away the winter coats and scarves that accumulate on the back of my desk chair. But she is serious about getting rid of Stuff that doesn't 'spark joy'. I can't see myself being quite as ruthless as she suggests, but inspiring nonetheless. Good luck with your tidying up!Delete
Just finished reading this myself. I wasn't expecting to like it (after reading a review elsewhere), but I did, mostly. I took away a few good ideas (the spark joy principle, in particular) and appreciated a tiny peek into another culture's ideas about organizing. There are a number of items in my home that don't "spark joy" but are necessary nevertheless: such as my cell phone charger, for example. And you'll pry my books from my cold, dead hands! But now as I clean my house, I ask myself, "does this spark joy?" and I can see that I'll be tossing/donating/consigning quite a few things this year. And I borrowed this book on Kindle from my libary, so it's already gone!ReplyDelete
Kathy, I too liked the 'spark joy' decision-maker. My house is pretty well curated but there are plenty of things that have served their purpose and can move on. If I got rid of all the books I Haven't Read I would surely have lots of empty shelf space. Something to consider. Start with a fresh slate. Or maybe pick ten and get rid of the others. Or lend them out?Delete
Getting rid of the books I Haven't Read is tempting...I like your idea of choosing some and letting the rest go. I know I would feel a sense of relief--I may just do that!Delete
Let me know how that works for you, Kathy!Delete
Maybe I could pull them all and see just how many I have that are lingering waiting to be read. I bet I would be willing to let some of them go but, if not, at least they would all be in one place...haunting me 'en masse'.
It sounds like a book my sister should read; she's working on decluttering her house this year. I love the idea of only keeping things that bring that spark of joy; I think it helps bring things into perspective. Do I love it? If not, why am I keeping it? (And what she says about books---I can totally relate!) What a great book.ReplyDelete
Thanks for your comments, Lark. As you say, it gives the chore of 'tidying' a different perspective - focus on what I want to keep instead of what I need to get rid of. Of course there are some useful things - like my oven or washing machine -- that certainly don't spark joy but I guess I had better keep them all the same.Delete
I am working my way through de-cluttering and organizing this year, and this book sounds like a good read to help me stay motivated. Thanks for your review. I love the idea of the spark of joy...just hope I don't confuse it with the wave of nostalgia. I am afraid if my family of readers piled all of our books in one room, we would never get out!ReplyDelete
A wave of nostalgia will get me every time, Amy. Good point. It is difficult sometimes to tell the difference between a spark of joy or fond memory. Could be both, in which case, I vote to keep the item.Delete
And yes, the book piling scheme could keep plenty of us trapped and in danger of an avalanche.
I'm about to start my de-cluttering house project so will keep the "spark joy" advice in mind. The author seems to take an aggressive approach. Though de-cluttering seems overwhelming at times; I guess I'll try to start one closet or room at a time. Little steps.ReplyDelete
I like the way this book suggests de-cluttering by category and in the order stated in my post. I can see that putting together all your clothes - from every closet and drawer and under-the-bed box - would be the way to go. That way you can see everything you have and perhaps are better able to make decisions about the pieces that spark joy.Delete
Another book that takes a similar approach is "30 Days to a Simpler Life" by Connie Cox and Cris Evatt. I reread it every January! It has some wonderful suggestions about everything from simplifying your closets to your computer. It is superb and might give you a map to begin your journey through your clutter.
Good luck with your tidying project!