The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

· 6 min read


The life-changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing by Marie Kondo is a book in which Marie Kondo shares her approach to tidying/organising that she has named the Kon Mari method.

The book contains 5 chapters, plus an introduction and an afterword.

In the introduction, Marie addresses the big elephant in the room - she tells us she is a tidying consultant. Her day job is helping people tidy and/or organise their homes.

She shares with us some statistics on the popularity of her services and client stories that helped motivate her to write this book to share her Kon Mari method with more people.

In chapter 1, we get to know more about Marie’s childhood days and obsession with tidying - the roots of the Kon Mari method.

She shares with us her experience with the various approaches she has tried over those years and why they failed.

Those approaches she tried, all focused on doing a little bit of tidying each time and tidying frequently. This is where the Kon Mari method differs from those traditional approaches and why the Kon Mari method works.

Kon Mari’s philosophy is to do one big “special tidying event” and that’s it. You won’t need to tidy again.

In chapter 2, we are introduced to the first (and most crucial) step in the two-step, three-part Kon Mari method: discarding.

Marie explains why it is crucial to fully complete the discarding phase before moving to the second step.

She also highlights a big difference in the Kon Mari method’s approach to discarding. In the Kon Mari method, discarding is focused on what we want to keep, rather than what we want to discard.

It is here that we learn about the power of the infamous spark-joy evaluation technique, along with the category order in which we should discard items in.

In chapter 3, we are introduced to the second part of the three-part Kon Mari method - tidying by categories.

Marie provides a comprehensive guide on how most common items should be kept - in short, in a vertical orientation.

In chapter 4, we are introduced to the second step and third part of the Kon Mari method - storage.

Due to every home and everyone’s lifestyle choices being different, the guidelines to storage are not as defined as those for discarding and tidying.

The core guideline for storage is to keep it simple. And focus should be given to how easy it is for us to return the item back to its dedicated storage location rather than how easy it is for us to take the item out of storage.

In chapter 5, Marie shares some life-changing stories she has seen with her clients.

In the afterword, Marie wishes us all the best with our newfound knowledge and to take action - a new and happier life is waiting for us.

Key Takeaways

Does the item still “spark-joy”
Hold an item and feel if it still brings you joy. Feel joy, keep it. Otherwise, discard it.
One big tidy event
Start early in the morning and get the entire tidying done in one-go.
Discard completely first
Make sure to thoroughly discard everything before moving to tidying and storage.
Organise by category
Complete every phase based on categories and not location.
Designate a spot for every item
Every item should have a “home” they return to.
Store by ease of return
Items should be stored for ease of return. We leave things lying around because it is too difficult to put them back.
Buy, because you are going to use it
Buy items because you want them and are going to use them.
Send possessions off with joy
Parting with items that no longer bring us joy should be a joyous occasion.
Put your house in order
Putting your house in order means being surrounded by things that bring you joy. This leads to a happier life.


Who would have thought, reading a book on tidying can be so life-changing.

The Kon Mari method has certainly changed my life.

I used to be a hoarder. I had and still have no idea why I used to hoard stuff. After reading this book and coming to this realisation. I discarded a lot of stuff. Afterwards, I felt like a heavy weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

Truth-be-told. I feel this book is more of a book on philosophy than in tidying.

This book challenged my way/approach to certain things. If you are someone with a curious mind or someone who finds joy in seeing things from another unique perspective; you will certainly find this book an enjoyable read.

For those looking for a practical step-by-step guide to tidying. You may find the Kon Mari method might be a bit outrageous and not what you are looking for. Especially the points around keeping things in vertical positions and conversing with your house and belongings.

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