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Marie Kondo’s the life changing magic of tidying up has been all over the all the design blogs for months.  The book, written by a 30-year old organization expert, promised not only a definitive way to clear your house of clutter FOREVER but also that your entire life would get better after you did it.  She reports that her clients, found their purpose in life, became richer, happier, lost weight, and even got better skin after tidying up their homes. The book was translated from Japanese in 2014 and took the English-speaking world by storm this year.

Kondo’s method centres around the philosophy that you should only keep things that “spark joy” and that most of the stuff that you have probably doesn’t.  It struck my interest because it acknowledged the emotional connection that we have to our stuff.  A lot of the philosophies around getting rid of your stuff focus on the idea of use, but there is much more to the value of an object than how useful is it.

after a few months of thinking about the basic idea, I decided to buy a copy of her book (on my e-reader of course).  It was an interesting mix of instruction and personal memoir written in a similar way to The Happiness Project.  We learn a lot about Marie, who has been obsessed with tidying since she was a child, and tried almost all of the most common organization methods before settling on her own, which she calls the KonMari method (a shortened version of her name).

What I like the most about this method is the idea that all of your possessions, even the ones that you are going to get rid of, have a purpose.  Something that you received as a gift but never used came into your life to show you that someone cared about you enough to buy you a gift or to let you feel the excitement of opening a present, but it has now fulfilled its purpose so you can thank it for its service to you and let it have a new life somewhere else.

This idea of re-framing an object’s purpose and thanking it for its service was super helpful to me. I once bought a dress online on an impulse, but I didn’t read enough reviews and when it arrived I discovered that it was too tight in the chest.  It would have cost too much money to return it and so it hung in my closet for almost three years.  The thought of getting rid of it made me feel extremely guilty and so I tried to find ways to make it work; maybe I could lose weight? These darts in the front could be let out, maybe I’ll take it to a tailor? After I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I realized having a dress that made me feel guilty hanging in my closet was a terrible idea, and that the purpose of the dress was to give me joy when I bought it and teach me not to buy something online without reading other people’s reviews.  I thanked the dress for the joy and the lesson and I was able to let it go without feeling guilty.  Now when I get rid of stuff, doesn’t feel like I am abandoning it or throwing away money, because I am honouring the role each thing played in my life.

I’m not a total convert to her method however, because it requires a marathon tidy session.  In order for it to work, Kondo says, you have to go through all of your possessions all in a pile, all in one day. This is supposed to get all of the things that don’t bring you joy all at once, but it just sounds like a recipe for exhaustion to me. The book is also written in such a way that implies that if you don’t follow her methods exactly, then you won’t ever be tidy or happy.

Also she tells you to fold your socks. Who has time to fold socks?

Overall, I think that the KonMari method is an interesting way of looking at your things, and why you own them, and it is definitely worth a look if you’ve had a hard time getting all of your stuff under control.

(But maybe borrow it from the library, so you have one less thing to get rid of)

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