Author: Marie Kondo
This book really is what it claims in the title: life changing. The author, Marie Kondo, is an organizing consultant in Tokyo. In her own words, she helps clients change their cluttered homes into spaces of serenity and inspiration. In her book, she explains what she does with her clients in an easy-to-read way that guides readers to systematically de-clutter their homes, and, in the process, their lives.
Marie Kondo’s book is different from any other cleaning or organizational book I’ve read. Some of her approaches may strike American readers as a little unorthodox, as she works with mainly Japanese clients. For instance, she often mentions thanking your belongings for a job well done before parting with them. Her system is different, but that is part of what makes it effective. Before you begin decluttering, you have to change your mindset. There are wonderful explanations as to why we should discard those object that truly do not make us happy.
Her process focuses on going category by category, as opposed to room by room, and taking each one of your belongings in your hand and deciding if that object brings you joy. You only keep those things that bring you joy.
Kondo explains that it is only after you have discarded that which does not bring you joy, that you can begin to organize your home. This isn’t a book about storing all your “stuff,” because inevitably all those things become messy again. This is a book about re-evaluating your possessions and realizing that a clutter-free and tidy home is the way to a happier, healthier life.
I’ve been working on de-cluttering and minimizing belongings for over a year, but it wasn’t until I read Kondo’s book that I really made dramatic progress towards an uncluttered, tidy home.
The only shortcoming I found about the book was that it seemed to be aimed more toward childless females. There is a lot of discussion of travel toiletries, but toys, which are a huge issue for most mothers I know, aren’t mentioned at all.
Overall, though, this is an excellent book and approach to home organization. I think anyone could read this book and immediately make positive changes in their home. Even those who, like me, have been working on purging their belongings will get a lot out of her approach. The change in mindset from “figuring out what you can get rid of” to “keeping only what sparks joy” brings a positivity to the process of tidying up.
Parts I like best:
I think what made her approach to purging more effective than other attempts was that she explains, “we should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want tot get rid of” (41).
Kondo guides you through each category, giving you helpful points along the way. Have you ever arranged your (or even more likely, your kid’s) drawer only for it to end up in disarray after searching for a certain shirt? In the clothing category, she teaches a new way to fold your clothes. It may sound minor, but, in my opinion, that alone is worth the price of the book!
Do you ever hold on to things, just because they were a gift? When guiding you through the sorting of miscellaneous items, komono as she calls them, she discusses that the purpose of a gift is in the giving of it. “The true purpose of a present is to be received. Presents are not ‘things’ but a means for conveying someone’s feelings. When viewed from this perspective, you don’t need to feel guilty for parting with a gift” (108). After reading her explanation, I was able to part with quite a few items I only held onto because someone had given them to me.
How this book made an impact in my life, especially as a mother:
Reading this book helped change my whole family’s relationship with the stuff we own. The tone of the process is so upbeat and positive that it’s infectious. My children have started to come up to me with a toy and say, “This doesn’t bring me joy anymore. Let’s give it to someone else.”
Although it’s not directed specifically at mothers, I had little trouble adjusting her suggestions to match my own situation. My family’s home has become a lot less cluttered, and, in the process, so have our thoughts and our lives.
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