REVIEW: THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP


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SUBTITLED
THE JAPANESE ART OF DECLUTTERING AND ORGANIZING
BY
MARIE KONDO

This is a best-selling book about getting rid of all your clutter in one day.

For me, it was a mixed bag of good advice combined with dubious advice plus cultural differences which have made other reviewers either totally befuddled or quite angry.

At least it’s short. But it could have been shorter.

The major premise is to start with your clothing, throw everything all on the floor, then pick up each piece and decide whether it brings you joy or not. If it does, you get to keep it. If not, you have to toss it or give it away. And what you keep has to be folded just so—not many things are hung.

After you do the clothing, Ms. Kondo walks you through the rest of the items in your household, insisting on a certain order of going through them.

Big hole there—the kitchen. She mentions kitchen items maybe twice. And how much joy does that measuring cup bring you? If none, I guess you have to get rid of it. Now, the meat cleaver . . . Seriously, if you include decluttering the kitchen, I don’t see any way most people could declutter their whole house in one day.

Ms. Kondo is obviously single and lives alone in a rather small space. Her advice would work well for others in the same circumstances, but for families, not so much.

All that said, though, the basic premise of taking each item in your hand and deciding if you love it (I’d add or really need and use it), then putting it away carefully in its permanent home and getting rid of all the rest, is sound.

Every so often there’s a mention of inanimate objects having feelings and how you should treat them. This becomes more pronounced as you continue reading. You should greet the house when you enter. You should empty your purse every evening and put things away in a certain place you have for them. You should say good-bye to and thank the clothing and other items you are getting rid of. And so on. From what I can determine on-line, this is a common Shinto (Japanese religious) practice. Hey, maybe it works!

Perhaps the most dangerous piece of advice was to get rid of most all the papers in your house. This can be carried too far. I tend to probably save more than I really need to, but that’s better than throwing out something you desperately need later. She says to save those that do need to be saved, and those that need attention, then a nebulous category where you save some for a while. So, I’d be extra careful with this advice.

And maybe the most annoying advice was to get rid of books by throwing them in a pile on the floor and sorting through then, then tearing out any pages that you want to keep (!), and storing the few remaining books in a bookcase (small, I assume) in your closet. Yes, you read that right—in your closet. The author entirely misses the point that shelves filled with books can bring people joy.

Excuse me while I go put this funny little book away in one of the big bookcases in my home office alongside the other books I’ve collected and annotated about personal organization and time management. It’s not that I love the book, but I’m keeping it for when I need to shake my head to exercise my neck.

Anyone else read it? What do you think after reading my review?


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