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The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
By Marie Kondo
Random House LLCCopyright © 2014 Marie Kondo
All rights reserved.
In this book, I have summed up how to put your space in order in a way that will change your life forever.
Impossible? A common response and not surprising, considering that almost everyone has experienced a rebound effect at least once, if not multiple times, after tidying.
Have you ever tidied madly, only to find that all too soon your home or workspace is cluttered again? If so, let me share with you the secret of success. Start by discarding. Then organize your space, thoroughly, completely, in one go. If you adopt this approach—the KonMari Method—you'll never revert to clutter again.
Although this approach contradicts conventional wisdom, everyone who completes my private course has successfully kept their house in order—with unexpected results. Putting their house in order positively affects all other aspects of their lives, including work and family. Having devoted more than 80 percent of my life to this subject, I know that tidying can transform your life.
Does it still sound too good to be true? If your idea of tidying is getting rid of one unnecessary item a day or cleaning up your room a little at a time, then you are right. It won't have much effect on your life. If you change your approach, however, tidying can have an immeasurable impact. In fact, that is what it means to put your house in order.
I started reading home and lifestyle magazines when I was five, and it was this that inspired me, from the age of fifteen, to undertake a serious study of tidying that led to my development of the KonMari Method (based on a combination of my first and last names). I am now a consultant and spend most of my days visiting homes and offices, giving hands-on advice to people who find it difficult to tidy, who tidy but suffer rebounds, or who want to tidy but don't know where to start.
The number of things my clients have discarded, from clothes and undergarments to photos, pens, magazine clippings, and makeup samples, easily exceeds a million items. This is no exaggeration. I have assisted individual clients who have thrown out two hundred 45-liter garbage bags in one go.
From my exploration of the art of organizing and my experience helping messy people become tidy, there is one thing I can say with confidence: A dramatic reorganization of the home causes correspondingly dramatic changes in lifestyle and perspective. It is life transforming. I mean it. Here are just a few of the testimonies I receive on a daily basis from former clients.
After your course, I quit my job and launched my own business doing something I had dreamed of doing ever since I was a child. Your course taught me to see what I really need and what I don't. So I got a divorce. Now I feel much happier. Someone I have been wanting to get in touch with recently contacted me. I'm delighted to report that since cleaning up my apartment, I've been able to really increase my sales. My husband and I are getting along much better. I'm amazed to find that just throwing things away has changed me so much. I finally succeeded in losing ten pounds.
My clients always sound so happy, and the results show that tidying has changed their way of thinking and their approach to life. In fact, it has changed their future. Why? This question is addressed in more detail throughout the book, but basically, when you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order, too. As a result, you can see quite clearly what you need in life and what you don't, and what you should and shouldn't do.
I currently offer a course for clients in their homes and for company owners in their offices. These are all private, one-on-one consultations, but I have yet to run out of clients. There is currently a three-month waiting list, and I receive inquiries daily from people who have been introduced by a former client or who have heard about the course from someone else. I travel from one end of Japan to the other and sometimes even overseas. Tickets for one of my public talks for stay-at-home parents sold out overnight. There was a waiting list not only for cancellations but also for the waiting list. Yet my repeater rate is zero. From a business perspective, this would appear to be a fatal flaw. But what if my lack of repeaters was actually the secret to the popularity of my approach?
As I said at the beginning, people who use the KonMari Method never revert to clutter again. Because they can keep their space in order, they don't need to come back for more lessons. I occasionally check in with graduates of my courses to see how they are doing. In almost every case, not only is their home or office still in order but they are continuing to improve their space. It is evident from the photographs they send that they have even fewer belongings than when they finished the course, and have acquired new curtains and furnishings. They are surrounded only by the things they love.
Why does my course transform people? Because my approach is not simply a technique. The act of tidying is a series of simple actions in which objects are moved from one place to another. It involves putting things away where they belong. This seems so simple that even a six-year-old should be able to do it. Yet most people can't. A short time after tidying, their space is a disorganized mess. The cause is not lack of skills but rather lack of awareness and the inability to make tidying a regular habit. In other words, the root of the problem lies in the mind. Success is 90 percent dependent on our mind-set. Excluding the fortunate few to whom organizing comes naturally, if we do not address this aspect, rebound is inevitable no matter how much is discarded or how cleverly things are organized.
So how can you acquire the right kind of mind-set? There is just one way, and, paradoxically, it is by acquiring the right technique. Remember: the KonMari Method I describe in this book is not a mere set of rules on how to sort, organize, and put things away. It is a guide to acquiring the right mind-set for creating order and becoming a tidy person.
Of course, I can't claim that all my students have perfected the art of tidying. Unfortunately, some had to stop for one reason or another before completing the course. And some quit because they expected me to do the work for them. As an organizing fanatic and professional, I can tell you right now that no matter how hard I try to organize another's space, no matter how perfect a storage system I devise, I can never put someone else's house in order in the true sense of the term. Why? Because a person's awareness and perspective on his or her own lifestyle are far more important than any skill at sorting, storing, or whatever. Order is dependent on the extremely personal values of what a person wants to live with.
Most people would prefer to live in a clean and tidy space. Anyone who has managed to tidy even once will have wished to keep it that way. But many don't believe it's possible. They try out various approaches to tidying only to find that things soon return to "normal." I am absolutely convinced, however, that everyone can keep his or her space in order.
To do that, it is essential to thoroughly reassess your habits and assumptions about tidying. That may sound like far too much work, but don't worry. By the time you finish reading this book, you will be ready and willing. People often tell me, "I'm disorganized by nature," "I can't do it," or "I don't have time"; but being messy is not hereditary nor is it related to lack of time. It has far more to do with the accumulation of mistaken notions about tidying, such as "it's best to tackle one room at a time" or "it's better to do a little each day" or "storage should follow the flow plan of the house."
In Japan, people believe that things like cleaning your room and keeping your bathroom spick-and-span bring good luck, but if your house is cluttered, the effect of polishing the toilet bowl is going to be limited. The same is true for the practice of feng shui. It is only when you put your house in order that your furniture and decorations come to life.
When you've finished putting your house in order, your life will change dramatically. Once you have experienced what it's like to have a truly ordered house, you'll feel your whole world brighten. Never again will you revert to clutter. This is what I call the magic of tidying. And the effects are stupendous. Not only will you never be messy again, but you'll also get a new start on life. This is the magic I want to share with as many people as possible.
Excerpted from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. Copyright © 2014 Marie Kondo. Excerpted by permission of Random House LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of ContentsIntroduction
Why can’t I keep my house in order?
You can’t tidy if you’ve never learned how
A tidying marathon doesn’t cause rebound
Tidy a little a day and you’ll be tidying forever
Why you should aim for perfection
The moment you start you reset your life
Storage experts are hoarders
Sort by category, not by location
Don’t change the method to suit your personality
Make tidying a special event, not a daily chore
Finish discarding first
Start by discarding, all at once, intensely and completely
Before you start, visualize your destination
Selection criterion: does it spark joy?
One category at a time
Starting with mementos spells certain failure
Don’t let your family see
If you’re mad at your family, your room may be the cause
What you don’t need, your family doesn’t either
Tidying is a dialogue with one’s self
What to do when you can’t throw something away
Tidying by category works like magic
Tidying order: follow the correct order of categories
Clothing: place every item of clothing in the house on the floor
Loungewear: downgrading to “loungewear” is taboo
Clothing storage: fold it right and solve your storage problems
How to fold: the best way to fold for perfect appearance
Arranging clothes: the secret to energizing your closet
Storing socks: treat your socks and stockings with respect
Seasonal clothes: eliminate the need to store off-season clothes
Storing books: put all your books on the floor
Unread books: “sometime” means “never”
Books to keep: those that belong in the hall of fame
Sorting papers: rule of thumb—discard everything
All about papers: how to organize troublesome papers
Komono (miscellaneous items): keep things because you love them—not “just because”
Common types of komono: disposables
Small change: make “into my wallet” your motto
Sentimental items: your parents’ home is not a haven for mementos
Photos: cherish who you are now
Astounding stockpiles I have seen
Reduce until you reach the point where something clicks
Follow your intuition and all will be well
Storing your things to make your life shine
Designate a place for each thing
Discard first, store later
Storage: pursue ultimate simplicity
Don’t scatter storage spaces
Forget about “flow planning” and “frequency of use”
Never pile things: vertical storage is the key
No need for commercial storage items
The best way to store bags is in another bag
Empty your bag every day
Items that usurp floor space belong in the closet
Keep things out of the bath and the kitchen sink
Make the top shelf of the bookcase your personal shrine
Decorate your closet with your secret delights
Unpack and de-tag new clothes immediately
Don’t underestimate the “noise” of written information
Appreciate your possessions and gain strong allies
The magic of tidying dramatically transforms your life
Put your house in order and discover what you really want to do
The magic effect of tidying
Gaining confidence in life through the magic of tidying
An attachment to the past or anxiety about the future
Learning that you can do without
Do you greet your house?
Your possessions want to help you
Your living space affects your body
Is it true that tidying increases good fortune?
How to identify what is truly precious
Being surrounded by things that spark joy makes you happy
Your real life begins after putting your house in order
About the author
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I have read more organizing and minimalist books than I would like to admit. And while they all inspired me in different ways, I was still unable to clear out and clean up the years of accumulation and clutter. This book is a gem. It changed me. Kondo's method is so simple. No algorithms for determining what stays and goes, no investments in complex organization. I could write out the basics of her system here, but boiled down to the basics is not where the value lies - it's the journey through the book that makes all the difference. I will always be grateful I came across this title. I will likely never read another book about organizing again, it's that good. Highly, highly recommend for anyone interested in this topic.
This book is not life changing unless you are a hoarder. Honestly, I am surprised that it is a best seller. I like books about organization and usually come away with at least a few good ideas that are framed in a way that I normally wouldn’t think of. Not this book. Her message is redundant and is to get rid of anything you don’t love. The first chapter was mildly interesting and then the book switched to how to have OCD. The way she talks about socks was crazy (she thinks they have feelings). She had an episode when she was young and she broke down crying about dirty shampoo bottles in the shower and now she dries each bottle and puts it away after her shower. The author also obsessively talks about that we must strive for perfection. She has very unhealthy attitudes and it makes me cringe that this is listed under self-help books. I worry that the author shows many signs of OCD. The other problem that I have with this book is that there is not any mention on how to live in an organized way with children and/or a spouse. This is only for those who are young, live alone, and have a hoarding problem. It is not for the average person who occasionally needs a little inspiration. Her attitudes come off as judging and naïve. She clearly is a young woman without much adult life experience. Any references she does make to family involve her mother or siblings. I will be getting rid of this book promptly because it does not bring me any joy. I only wish I had checked it out from the library and not wasted money on this.
I'm a very messy person. I've always been. I picked up this book on a whim, expecting nothing. Turns out it actually helped. It took an entire day just to clean my room, but it's been 2 weeks and there hasn't been a huge mess since. Cleaning was such a hassle, and granted, old habits die hard, but I can feel myself becoming more and more organized. There's a completely different vibe radiating from my bedroom. I don't feel trapped, weighed down, or heavy here anymore. It's an amazing feeling. I shared the book's tips with my younger sister and she's also benefited greatly. Highly recommended.
If I could give this book 10 stars, I would. It will take you no time to read it and put its suggestions into action. Although I did not follow Kondo's advice to the letter, I managed--after decades of disorganized closets--to completely clean out all my clothing by following her suggestions. That was about two weeks ago and, as she predicted, I have been able to keep my closets and drawers "tidy" and organized. I gave away 11 or 12 bags of clothes! My next project is the hundreds and hundreds of books on my shelves...Kondo is a miracle-worker!
This book is incredibly helpful in learning not how to both get and stay organized. Written by someone who has worked in her field for years, she knows through experience what works and what does not. This book is certainly a page turner, and I finished within two days! Because I felt so motivated, and because it was written so clearly, I got started on the the kitchen and bedroom as soon as I finished it, and have kept both rooms tidy since, while I continue organizing the rest of the house. I actually find organizing fun! I highly recommend this book to anyone wishing to create a pleasant and organized living or working environment.
I have not heard of Marie Kondo before but I am an organization addict. This book is a gem compared to the dozens of organizing books out there that orders you to buy stuff from the Container store. Basically the author points out that the goal is to not have that much stuff in the first place. Kondo might be the exact opposite of a hoarder. It offers a lot of insight on why there is clutter in the first place and why there shouldn't be in your home at all. Proving that she practices what she preaches, one can go through this book in no time--no superfluous pages or chapters, it goes straight to the point. Reading it is almost therapeutic because it tells you exactly what you need to hear.
My drawers will never look the same as long as I live. After reading this book I just had to try out the suggestions laid out by Marie, even though I did not believe her promises. I am young, living in an apartment with my husband, and have very few possessions...how on earth could I dramatically increase the space I have in my closets? But now I no longer need to place my seasonal clothing in storage, because I have so much room in my closets now! The book is laid out a bit messily (ironically) with her suggestions disorganized throughout the book, so do wait to finish the book before you begin your tidying process. Also, I feel that if her suggestions were better categorized, she could cut down on the size of the book as well, because she repeats her ideas at times. Some of her suggestions were just not something I could do, (ex: speaking to my clothes, etc. and thanking them for their support of my lifestyle.). However, I understand her point of view and even if you don't take her literally, you can adopt her main point which is to treat your things respectfully so that they last long. Despite these flaws, I highly suggest reading this book and partaking in the process of refining and organizing your belongings. The most important things I gleaned from this book are how to choose my belongings carefully and how to fold my clothes so amazingly that my once full closets now echo. I recommend it! Source: I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.
I enjoyed the book. It gave me a perspective on life in Japan. I agree with another reviewer who stated that the main idea is only keep the things you love. Or said differently, get rid of crap. That's very true. Another reviewer pointed out that it was inane when she said she was respectful of the job that certain inanimate objects do, like socks, and she handles them in a way that allows them to "rest" from their job. Another example is thanking your handbag at the end of the day for being so helpful to you. But, I looked at this another way. She just wants you to stop and appreciate all the things we do have (use) that we take for granted. My takeaway from all of this: If we take the time to show care to the things the are useful as well as loved and we remove all of the unloved (unused) items from our lives, we have time not only to love the space we are in, but love those who share it with us.
This is a fresh take on decluttering, as you need to take ALL your stuff out, hold each item and determine whether you're keeping it or not. As is the case with all books like this, there are some circumstances that the reader can't accommodate, but the idea and practice of tidying once hugely and then making that the standard mode of operation is a good one. One other book that is equally helpful and quick to implement is Clutter Busting by Brooks Palmer.
Kondo's system comes out of careful thought about how our things shape our life. She helped me get rid of all kinds of baggage, both physical and the kind that keeps me from doing what I want. I am just getting started. Time will show whether real change happened.
I actually questioned the term, “life-changing”, but my curiosity and determination to free my home of advanced clutter and disorganization made me start to read it. I am more than thrilled that I did, and it really has changed my life! Letting go of my “stuff” has been more than impossible, but after reading this book I have been tossing and donating all those items that I “really don’t love and don’t bring me JOY”! Sound silly? IT WORKS! It works because the author brings you into the world of Zen: You start to respect everything about you—all the clothes you wear, all the items you own. Everything you own becomes special, and is treated with respect. Everything you own is stored in a way that provides for easy access, and it actually produces feelings of serenity! I am not finished with my project, but even now I feel free and calm and have more energy for creativity . I no longer rampage my closet for items I need “in a hurry” because it’s all there at my fingertips! Putting away is a pleasure! Yes, I not longer “ball” my socks! I allow them to “rest” by folding three ways and turning them up so that they are all in a row in the drawer to be seen and appreciated! All my sweaters are folded sideways so that all are seen in the drawer and none are hidden under another! And, there is nothing in my closet that is not totally loved and used--and appreciated! It feels good to be grateful for all that I own, know exactly what I own, and keep it in perfect condition! This is what the author shares: Finally, a life of ZEN!
I don't consider myself to be a hoarder, but my house was in serious need of decluttering after being in it for 14 years. I've read many books about organization and decluttering, but this is the only book that has worked! The author's suggested method of working by category rather than by room has truly been life-changing for me.
It's such a psychological theory.....very good examples and consistent is the key! Really enjoying this book and highly recommend it! I am a true believer that when you have so much clutter in your home or space ...it's representing the clutter you are holding in your mind. I will buy and recommend this book to many friends! Thank you so much! Stephanie
This book is quite readable, and offers not only good suggestions, but a glimpse into the perspective of a young Japanese woman. From an early age, she has been passionate about order and a beautiful, peaceful living space. She shares her trials and errors, as well as what works. I am reading the book for a second time, and have already applied one technique - folding clothes so they sit vertically in one's drawer. It actually creates more room. I can now see every tee-shirt at a glance. Nothing is crushed or forgotten at the bottom of the drawer.
Fun to read, goofily over the top -- no I am not going to empty out my purse each night so it can "rest", and yes, some of us DO re-read our favorite books -- but inspiring nonetheless. I had no intention of following any of this program at all, but suddenly I found myself reorganizing dresser drawers, to fabulous effect. Easy to take what suits you from the book while still enjoying the craziness of the rest of it!
Let me summarize the entire book in one sentence: Throw out crap, then reorganize anything left that's not crap. Come on people this is a non-fiction book it's usually always filled with stories about others. Yes the book is repetitive but cleaning is just cleaning. So maybe it's not that repetitive. Maybe you just didn't know that there are other BETTER ways to clean and you're just mad because you saw every mess as one big pile when there are different types of messes and different ways to clean them. Man that was repetitive.
I started this book on Saturday evening and finished it on Sunday afternoon. It was a very quick and easy read. It was also, surprisingly, a pretty compelling read -- I found it hard to put down. It's true that the author doesn't really say anything new or particularly innovative -- she is implementing principles that have been in use for a while. What _is_ new (at least as far as I have seen, admittedly) is the way that she implements the methods. She has a solid understanding of human psychology and understands _why_ getting rid of stuff (even if we don't like it or don't use it) can be hard. She also understands why following all those piecemeal methods (do one spot a day!) doesn't work (because you can't get a handle on exactly how many redundant items you have until you see them all in one place). Some months back The Atlantic had on their website a fascinating article on an economist's take on her book and it explained very well what she was doing and why it worked (this was the article that originally piqued my interest in the book). Kondo weaves personal stories and stories of her clients into the book in order to illustrate each principle, how she arrived at it, and why various ideas do and don't work. (It's also obvious from these stories that she doesn't have OCD -- she tidies not out of compulsion but out of joy; there's a huge difference between having a special interest in a subject and being compelled to do something out of misery). Contrary to what others say, there are no zen principles here -- Kondo is not a Buddhist. She draws from Shintoism (quite explicitly stated numerous times). I suspect that this causes a cultural clash of sorts for Americans/Westerners who do not understand Japan or animism. Thus they cannot understand her anthropomorphizing objects. Treat it as a metaphor and move on (also -- it _is_ good for fabrics to "rest" so what she says on how to fold socks, etc. is not even close to crazy but actually makes perfect sense). I give this book four stars out of five mainly because I had a nagging feeling that sometimes ideas were being lost in translation. I wish the publisher had been more careful on this front. But otherwise, I found the book very helpful, clear, and insightful. Kondo has written four books in Japanese and has said that her second book should be published in English soon(ish). I am hoping that in her later books she elaborates on her ideas in ways that she has otherwise had to explain further in every Q&A I have seen with her (look up her Reddit AMA and her Talk at Google for more details). I'm also intrigued by her current work on researching cultural differences and how they apply to her method.
Not only is the Kon Mari Method an amazingly simple approach philosophically on how to declutter & organize your belongings, the author's experience and candor add to the validity of her approach. I will continue to share her methodology with others as it had been invaluable to my friends, family, and I.
I didn't do an entire clean sweep of my closets as she instructed but I got rid of 75% of my clothes and donated them to Goodwill and a yard sale that helps other ministries that feed the homeless. She is very, very thorough, although I don't necessarily agree with putting my carrots on the door of the refrigerator so they will stand vertical. I roll my tee shirts instead of folding them vertically due to tiny drawer space. The book is well written and reads like a story. I have watched YouTube videos of her cleaning out someone's room, even though it's entirely in Japanese but you can follow along just on the visual end of it. I will eventually get around to do all the cleaning out, but sometimes my poor health stands in the way and makes it difficult at times. But do buy her book.
I have a problem with clutter. We've lived in our house for 15 years and raised five children. We are now empty-nesters. I have been diagnosed with a progressive, degenerative, incurable, rare, and orphan disease called Stiff Person Syndrome with parkinsonism. My interests in hobbies have changed. I know clutter can cause stress and stress aggravates SPS. I've been reading and working on my clutter for two years. The difference between the Kon Mari method of removing clutter and other methods is that you hold the object and you keep what you love or what brings you joy. She teaches how to fold clothes. She talks to her belongings thanking them for their services. I gather the Japanese live in smaller living quarters then we do. We must remember that Marie is from a different culture. The one star reviews showed me how ignorant some people can be of the Eastern culture. There were many remarks about about OCD. I feel a little OCD is needed to keep things tidy, organized, and clean. It promotes a routine. Getting rid of things you don't love helps you figure out what truly matters in your life. Kon Mari is a different appoach. I would recommend it.
I'm not sure why this method worked for me when others did not, but this method absolutely worked for me. I enjoy folding my clothes now because they have a perfect tidy place to be. I only have the things that I really like. When I open my drawers, I can see everything. No dusty old forgotten things in my home anymore. The only downside is that I have been spending too much money on sites like etsy because I just want everything in my house to be beautiful and special. Vintage file folders and things like that. I love this book.
This book is useful even if you don't use each and every recommendation. And while a few of the concepts are rather bizarre, the basic approach is sound. I particularly liked some of the strategies for getting over the psychological hurdles of discarding unneeded items. Let's face it, sometimes we need more than logical rules such as "if you haven't used it in 2 years..." If nothing else, it is a motivational pep talk to de-clutter and simplify, which really does have positive effects on the quality of life.
This book has totally changed how I tackle all the stuff accumulating in my house. The author's simple idea of only keeping what brings you joy is a foreign idea for me when it comes to organizing, but it tried it and she is really onto something! I still have a long way go go as far as completely organizing my whole house but I think this is a wonderful method to try. If you would like to tackle all the stuff junking up you house, give this book a read. You might be very surprised about how much stuff you actually really need. Enjoy!
This book gave me a new look at home "organization". One doesn't have to be as metaphysical about it as the author to get a huge benefit from this book.
I consider myself a minimalist but since marrying I feel my possessions are beginning to posses me. This is the Fight Club of home organization or really home that is home if that makes any sense. I've tried lots of organizational tricks and every few months i get rid of a trunk load of stuff to charity, but i still always felt there was more to be done. That junk drawer in the kitchen always bothered me and it expanded to drawers in other parts of the house. Now i know exactly what to do with those drawers. Previously I would review the contents of each drawer and discard a few things and organize the drawer to appear "tidy" but what really needed to happen was removing all the contents of all my drawers and seeing it aall together then choosing what mattered from the pile. Then and only then was the time to put things away. Half the stuff I discarded and most of it ended up in different places entirely. The kitchen junk drawer is now storing my favorite spices. Now on to the rest of my stuff and getting my wife to read this book!