I don’t think you can surf blogs about simplifying and decluttering without coming across mention of the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organzing (affiliate link) by Marie Kondo, at least once, but probably multiple times. This book is hot right now. I believe it was number 1 in the non-fiction books this week.
I finally read it. I actually purchased the e-book, which I rarely do. But I was really interested in what Kondo had to say and why so many people are raving about it. I am in the middle of decluttering my house, so it seemed appropriate to read it now.
It was an interesting read and I read it fairly quickly.
What I enjoyed:
The deciding factor of deciding whether to keep or throw away – You don’t calculate when the last time you used it, or how many you have; simply, “does it bring you joy?”
The order in which she suggests you “tidy” (I prefer “declutter”) – Clothes first, then books, papers and komono (miscellaneous), and then sentimental items and photos.
A place for everything: I think this is a great idea. Everything you own has the correct place. And you put it back in it’s spot every. Single. Time. Kondo even says to empty out your purse every day. Crazy? Maybe. But I know my purse wouldn’t be full of random receipts and gum wrappers or a month old crumpled candy if I followed her advice.
Her folding method – Don’t stack them on top of each other, fold them into lovely bundles and stand them up! The “konmarie” folding method worked amazing for my husband’s shirt drawer. Mine, not so much, as my drawer isn’t that full, so camisoles and other small items don’t stand up as well (all I need are some organizers). But my husband’s drawer looks amazing. More shirts fit in the drawer and everything can be seen. My toddler’s drawer looks awesome as well – his drawer is shirts and shorts. I need to put some boxes in mine to help the process. My underwear drawer (that sounds sexy, doesn’t it?) looks pretty great, though. I should take a picture of my husband’s drawers, but here is my infant daughter’s clothes:
The extra motivation: Reading the book helped me up my declutter game and get rid of things that really does not make me happy to have and to take a harder look at things I may think to keep.
What I was skeptical of/not my favorite:
Bath items: Removing shampoo/conditioner/body wash/face wash/etc. and drying them after every bathing event seems like too much work. I get where she is coming from – without all those bottles or bars in the shower, it is cleaner and it is easier to clean your shower. I hate that nasty film that grows on unused bottles on a shelf… which is why you should toss that bottle that isn’t being used. And just say no to most shower caddys (that I do agree with Kondo). But, removing and drying everything after you bath will not save you time in the long run – it takes me 3 seconds to remove the shower stuff and clean. It would obviously take much more than that to remove, dry, gather, and put back every time.
Washed dishes: Kondo says that she washes her dishes, she sets them out on her balcony for the sun to dry and sanitize them. That sounds lovely, but not really an option over here. I’m not going to pile up all the dishes we use and wash throughout the day and sit them outside. I don’t think I would have the room (maybe the patio table could house them) and they would be covered in dirt before they were dried. I could get behind never using a dish rest, though. I hate that thing.
Using the book and methods for families: I think with families, you really have to pick and choose and make it work for your unique situation. A lot of what she talks about can easily be done with singles (in fact, the majority of her examples are young women still living at home). You want to Konmarie your bedroom? Sure. Konmarie your office? That works. Konmarie your three year olds bedroom and the family kitchen (not that I know anyone with multiple kitchens)? Eh… I don’t know. Kondo does give an example of having a three year old client, but I’m skeptical. The ton of toys your child has may all bring him joy, but not for you, so you would have to take a step back and only “Konmarie” your specific areas.
The lack of talk about “useful” items: Maybe I missed a chapter or section about tools and other useful, every day items while I was trying to nurse my infant and keep my toddler from getting the Costco-sized pickle jar out of the fridge. Or maybe I am too cheap to totally throw out all my kitchenware and buy only items that “give me joy.”
What you declutter is trash: Kondo doesn’t say your items are trash as soon as you decide to get rid of them, but she talks about clients getting rid of “x number of bags of trash” and how many things a client “threw away.” Again, maybe I missed something, but I felt like everything she had clients get rid of, went straight to the garbage. I hope that they at least were donated and the book’s wording just got lost in translation.
Your stuff has feelings too: I’m exaggerating a little bit, but I am not sure I can get behind Kondo’s notions of talking to your items and thanking it for their a job well done.
Overall, I think I enjoyed the book. But I don’t think it was life changing or 5-star worthy. I actually felt a little sad for Marie Kondo. Her book is fairly upbeat, but when she talks about her childhood and her dreams and aspirations, I feel a little bad for her and think that maybe she might have had some mental issues growing up. She became obsessed with tidying at 5 years old – after the birth of her sibling and her need to get attention from her parents and to make them happy. I hope she is happy now and loves her career helping others tidy up.