Kondo 0.1 – Marie Kondo and the question of tidiness

A few months ago fellow blogger Stephanie mentioned she had read a book on tidiness – The Life Changing Magic of Tidying. Then Anna Catt, a work colleague, offered me her copy to read.


What did I learn?

I learnt a great deal. I knew some of the theories, but what are thoughts without action? If you find her arguments persuasive you may be compelled to do something. To throw away everything in your home that does not bring you joy. Not necessarily throw away – take your bin bags to the charity shop where I am sure they will be able to turn it into cash to help people in dire need.

Kondo proposes

  1. Get your mind-set right. Decide why you want to have a tidy home (my reasons are set out below)
  2. You are going to tidy completely but once only – you need to dedicate some serious time to this until it is completed
  3. You are aiming for perfection so that the new, ideal space motivates you to live differently. Your home will become a beautiful sanctuary
  4. Approach your possessions by category not by room (ie clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous items, sentimental items)
  5. Handle each item thinking about its meaning to you. Things that you bought but never wore taught you something about what you enjoy wearing. Be thankful for that.
  6. Decide what you want to keep by what you love – select those things that bring you joy
  7. Discard everything else by putting it into the right place eg charity shop, dustbin, but don’t pass them on to others as you will burden them with your unwanted stuff (with few exceptions)
  8. Once you are left with a pile of eg clothes that you absolutely love then store them so you can see at a glance what you have and be sure you will enjoy wearing them and looking after them
  9. Careful folding into rectangular shapes and arranging vertically in drawers allows you to see what you have. Avoid stacking as you forget what is at the bottom and it gets crushed
  10. Once everything you own has its own space always return it to this space once you have used it
Marie Kondo's drawers
Inside Kondo’s drawers

I was challenged by the notion that one starts with clothes, moving towards ever more emotionally-charged, highly valuable and irreplaceable  areas like family heirlooms, letters and photographs. The idea being that clothes are instantly replaceable but things like photographs are not. Yet it was a logic that escaped me. My clothes are emotionally charged, and while they are replaceable I guess I have more invested in them than many things. My family photos are nice but I have hundreds that are similar, and I could scan the ones I love if I could be bothered. I have sold “heirloom” items in the past as I have needed the money more than the sentiment. But clothes have lots of meaning for me, not just the ones I made but also some of those I bought. The book assumes that clothes are less important than books. Also I have the category “fabrics, notions, patterns, and as yet unmade clothes, and craft items, and tools”. I think this would be a separate category for me. So if I am to adopt this approach I may change the order a little.

The other problem area is that my home is shared with my dear husband who has not signed up to this approach. We do have individual areas but we also have shared space. “My” large cutting table is also his “food prep area”. This is economical but not conducive to happiness as we both want to use it, especially at the weekend. Her advice on communal space is to start on personal space and make it perfect. Then it is likely that others in the house will follow suit.

Most questions you may have about tidying are answered in this easy to read volume. I would recommend it as an interesting read. But can I implement it? I thought about this question for quite a long time. Then, on Wednesday I grabbed a pair of red gloves before I left home. They were both for the left hand. Why would someone keep two left gloves? I felt like a total idiot.

Here are my reasons for tackling my home

  • I would like a serene and clutter free environment
  • I enjoy having a clear line of sight
  • I would like my lovely home to look beautiful all the time
  • I would like to know that my home is clean and tidy all the time
  • I feel burdened by having too much stuff to worry about
  • I know I have lots of things that I am no longer aware of that are just taking up space
  • I would rather someone else could enjoy them – if they go to the charity shop then they are being recycled and a donation is also made
  • I have trouble shutting some of my drawers
  • I can’t always find things quickly
  • I forget what I already have and sometimes buy the same thing again
  • I find it hard to discard gifts and valuable items
  • I sometimes think I will get round to something in the future but I haven’t yet (eg knitting two jumpers)
  • I bump into furniture as our home is small and we have a lot of stuff
  • Many of our storage “solutions” are not well used
  • Things are not classified very effectively
  • I don’t want to live like this

I am thinking about making this fundamental change and will let you know how I get on.

16 Responses

  1. Linde

    Be careful with this one. I read a book ‘Creating Sacred Space ‘ a few years ago and as a result decided to declutter the house and mind. I was ruthless and discarded things I had and not used or worn for years. Still after all this time I will go to look for them and then my mind jolts when I remember I no longer have them. I do believe that we get positive vibes from surrounding ourselves with items that give us pleasure new and old so please think carefully.

  2. Joyce Latham

    I have just finished reading this book. So far, it has changed some of my behaviour. I find myself putting things away, where I know they belong…and my life has been less frustrating, not looking in three places for one item. The biggest change so far, is I have adopted the idea of emptying my bag, every time I come in the door, and reloading up a bag when I leave again. This is brilliant! I have a draw that was storeing stuff, which I emptied, and I use it now to store my purse things. I have rolled my clothing in drawers, and it’s so true, you see everything in a glance.
    Your going to see many benifits once you start Kate. I’m excited to hear how it goes!
    Joyce ??

  3. Esme

    I’m with Linde here – yes they’re ‘only’ possessions, but on a recent clear out I was so ruthless I gave away my cheese grater. I bought a new one yesterday!

    I’ve also ruthlessly chucked out clothes in winter; the summer dress, which I’ve then had to replace come June.

  4. Chris

    I regularly declutter my rooms as I feel energised when a space is neatly organised.”a place for everything, and everything in it’s place” is something I picked up from an old job that is very useful at home too! Having said that things regularly fall out of place thanks to playful kids!
    Something that gets in the way of purging items I don’t love, is that I usually can’t afford a better alternative… Be it clothes, or household items. Sometimes you’ve no choice but to make do with what you have!

  5. Demented Fairy

    Hmmm in principle yes, in practice, not so much. I had a ruthless clearout when my first marriage ended, and that was very therapeutic. Then again, we had very very few nice things anyway, poverty and kids saw to that. Once that house sold, I set out to have a lot of nice things I’d always wanted, and I now have quite a lot of beautiful things that make me [and the wife] very happy. There is clutter, but it’s NICE clutter. I know I couldn’t sustain a minimalist approach, it’s just not me. And the books…and the sewing stuff…and the boxes of random bits and bobs,,,

    • indigotiger

      Bunny, I had to look twice, but those are not pairs of earrings, those paired objects are chopstick rests, and I suspect that what look like pencils are chopsticks, and those sorts of things make sense to have in the same drawer with other kitchen and food tools and silverware. After all Marie Kondo is Japanese and lives and teaches in Japan

  6. Stephanie

    You know, I read this book because it was amusing and I have always been a bit clutter-y. My mind just doesn’t work in a “neat” way. (I found a label on my dresser the other day that I had cut off a bra…do I really need to keep washing instructions in twelve languages for a bra? What was I thinking?) I haven’t yet implemented her approach as I didn’t finish the book at the time, though I have thought about it. That said, I agree with the others that it is possible to throw out too much: years ago I tossed out a bunch of photos because I was mad at a person in some of them, but I’m sorry now not to have preserved any photos from that stage of my life. On the other hand, I sorted through and tossed out almost all of my mementos from my running and racing days and I have no regrets. I cut out the front designs of t-shirts from races and kept a few medals, photos, and one pair of racing shoes and that is it. The stuff fits in one very small box and doesn’t make me crazy! Then again, I’ve always liked not hanging on to the past too much. I think it’s possible to do this with both ruthlessness and balance. That said, shared and multi-use space is more difficult. PS She has received criticism for missing categories of stuff and having an ordering that maybe suits a single woman best. But of course each person can re-categorize according to what is important and necessary for them.

  7. Jenny

    I am reading this at the moment and can take some of what she says on board but I am afraid some of it makes me laugh. When she talks about not rolling up socks and tights because they won’t like it, my northern common sense says “What a load of rubbish”. Clothes aren’t sensitive for heavens’ sake. I do like the rolling up and stacking idea but I also like to hang as much as possible. I usually sort by colour rather than item of clothing and today I changed it all around. I think I will also sort by colour within the categories. I use plastic coat hangers in various colours and I try to choose a colour that matches the item of clothing. Sometimes I think I have OCD because I enjoy organising, sorting and filing but then somebody has to! I don’t know how far I will get as my husband is very anti the idea and we have decades of shared clutter.

  8. BeccaA

    I like her ideas for reorganizing drawers so that you can see what you have at a glance, and I have done that. I look forward to reorganizing my paperwork and throwing most of it away–very liberating! However, I just can’t throw away as much as she seems to recommend. Why wouldn’t I keep extra clean sheets for guests? (This is how far I’ve gotten in the book).

  9. Jaclyn

    Loved this post! My drawers look similar to kondo’s, separated into mini compartments by small boxes – my husband seems amused by my constant ‘ooooh this box is amazing, I’m keeping it!’
    I’ve popped her book on my reading list as I would love to de clutter our home and think I’ll need her assistance!

  10. Sheree

    I read this book a few weeks ago and felt very enthused about it all. She makes a lot of sense, but came across a “bit loopy” – I really can’t see myself thanking my house and possessions. My first drawer to get the treatment, was the sock one. I realised that I was only wearing the very top ones, the ones at the bottom having been lurking there for years! It felt great to throw them out and have all the ones left, neatly folded. My problem is, am I going to be able to keep this up? I now find that in order to fold my husbands and my socks neatly, I am smoothing them down when hanging them to dry. It makes me feel slightly mad – what AM I doing! And that is only the socks. I have watched videos on youtube with Mums folding for the whole family. This seems to me quite an impossible task, probably only practical in single or couple households. Time will tell.

    • fabrickated

      I have had exactly the same feelings and experiences Sheree. I don’t think I could have done this when my children were living with me. It is hard enough with a non-compliant husband. But I am finding it fairly easy to keep tidy now I have less stuff. I am on a mission and will write up my experiences as I go along. I did the bathroom this weekend.

  11. Sandra

    Marie has a new series on Netflix on Tidyness. Each segment deals with a different household. Couple with children, couple having their 1st child, Gay male couple,
    Lesbian couple, Emptynesters, Newly married-new house. Newly widowed-old house. It follows their processes.
    I have the book, but had not read it yet. But, I am inspired to start decluttering w/her
    methods. Would love to see diagrams of clothes folding. I have shelves for clothes,
    not sure how that will work.

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