The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: I read a book on cleaning. Voluntarily.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

I am beyond shocked that I read and enjoyed a book on cleaning. But I did!

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo was on one of the most bizarre book topics. I mean, cleaning? I don't think I've ever read a single blog post on cleaning, let alone a book! But I'm so glad I read it.

I bought this book for my twin sister, Becky, for her birthday. We are opposite in that she's organized, enjoys tidying, and is not a huge slob. Upon glancing into each of our cars, you would immediately know which twin stole all the clean genes. So, after Becky read and (naturally) loved this book, she recommended it to me. I was skeptical, but went for it.

When you're on an airplane, what else do you do but read? (Or desperately try to convert your seatmate to your religion. This has happened to me. I am (still) not a Jehovah witness, sorry to disappoint.)
The author, Marie Kondo is, quite literally, all the rage in Japan. She's a tidying consultant who travels around Japan (where she's from) and sometimes elsewhere to help her clients take control of their homes (or businesses) in one big special cleaning event using her method. She promises her customers don't "rebound" - and boasts that she has never had a repeat customer! Her passion about tidying and organizing shines through on each page.

It's like if I wrote a book on Tywin.* That passionate! But actually intriguing and applicable.

Marie encourages us to strive for perfection when it comes to cleaning. She breaks it down into 2 big components - discarding and organizing, and emphasizes that you MUST discard first.

But how do you discard things!?! When I was moving in August, it was such a struggle to get rid of random stuff. Don't worry, Marie breaks it down to a science (her science), including the specific order you should sort things. She says:

"Every object has a different role to play. Not all clothes have come to you to be worn threadbare. It is the same with people. Not every person you meet in life will become a close friend or lover. Some you will find hard to get along with or impossible to like. But these people, too, teach you the precious lesson of who you do like, so that you will appreciate those special people even more."

The dress you've never worn? It's purpose was to show you what dresses you actually like. Get rid of it. Only keep books that belong in the hall of fame. Marie's rule of thumb for sorting papers? Get rid of everything. Her approach, in sum, is only keep objects that spark joy. Hold each item in your hands and ask, does this object bring me joy? 

I think all my sea shells bring me joy :)
Then it comes to effective storage, or as Marie puts it "the sacred act of choosing a home for my belongings." She recommends not seeking fancy storage solutions, utilizing shoe boxes, storing nothing on sink tops, kitchen counters, or in bath tubs, and never, ever, balling up your socks!

She breaks things down in simple terms, like: "Clutter has only two possible causes: too much effort is required to put things away or it unclear where things belong." And really just caused me to think about my assumed innate un-tidyness in a whole new way.

And, after using her tried-and-true method, Marie promises that the result is more than a clean house. "The lives of those who tidy thoroughly and completely, in a single shot, are without exception dramatically altered."

She talks of honing your decision making skills with each object, and being able to choose what you want to do with your life, not just your things. She's had clients who have made big decisions -- like totally switching career paths -- after undergoing this process.

What do you think? Will you give a book on cleaning a shot? It could also be a great gift for someone who's tough to buy for. I know spring is the popular cleaning time, but I think the beginning of winter actually makes the most sense - I'm going to be spending a lot of winter time in the warmth of my apartment, so it might as well be tidy. I'm considering giving Marie's method a try - I'll keep you posted!

I hope your "short" week is off to a good start - almost Thanksgiving! :)


p.s. When I was buying this book, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui: Free Yourself from Physical, Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Clutter Forever was also recommended to me. Not sure I'm quite there yet, but if de-cluttering is old hat to you, you might be interested.

*Book deal pending, but I'm optimistic.


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  2. It is only filled with the brightest clothes now. Certainly, they have been always in the closet but they had a low profile buried in other Japanese Magic Method

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