I Threw Out Half Of My Clothes, aka Review Of The Magic Of Tidying Up By Marie Kondo + Extra Tips!

   Last year I was singing the praises of having a plentiful wardrobe, my summer closet was bursting at its seams with pretty stuff, I was regularly editing out items that I didn't like or that didn't fit and I had a well-curated wish-list that would bridge the gaps in my wardrobe.. I wanted a bigger closet and more hangers for my summer stuff, and I definitely had too few winter clothes. I thought that once I fulfilled these wishes, I would have the perfect effortless, practical and stylish wardrobe.
   Then I read The Magic Of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, a small tome written by a pint-sized soft spoken cross between a fairy godmother and a dominatrix. Since then half of my clothes have been sold or donated, my closet is beautifully arranged with items that I love, there is plenty of free space and I even have the luxury of keeping some cold-weather clothing there for chillier days (it's normally stored in the attic). I also got rid of half of my (already slim) winter wardrobe. Shockingly, I almost always have the right thing to wear, it takes me minutes to pick out an outfit, and it gives me joy to see my closet with lovingly-arranged pieces that I love. I still can't get over the surprise. Marie Kondo's method is like peeling away layers of everything that was weighing me down, what is now left are all the pieces that are right for me, and surprisingly (or not) they all match and flow together. I actually deleted my wishlist since after some months I noticed that I didn't need most of those items any more.

   If I were to recommend just one book on taking care of your home, your wardrobe or any other possessions, The Magic Of Tidying Up would be it. It is very different from other uncluttering and organising books I have read, it changed my approach to my belongings. The book is written simply and gracefully and reads really smoothly. It's Japanese-ness and her Shinto background makes it quirky, at least to westerners -- but I find it delightful.

   What I like best about the Kondo method is the feeling I get afterwards -- a feeling of lightness and happiness, like a pleasant after-taste. Her method puts you into a happy and grounded happy mental space and doesn't stir up guilt or fear.  And from what I have I have seen, other people also report getting a Kondo-ing high.
  And this feeling and her methods spill over to other areas of life -- I have very few urges to shop, I rarely buy things unless they are just right, and I have a much better radar for what "just right" means. I feel a quiet satisfaction from the things that I already own, at least in the categories that i have already Kondo-ed.

by Carli Jean

   What's so special about The Magic Of Tidying Up? Marie Kondo's method connects you to your actual desires. Asking "does it spark joy" is a simple yes or no question which connects us with our actual desires, and bypasses the whole guilt and backward-logic of the brain. If you use the regular approach while uncluttering and organising, your logical mind will remind you that you should be wearing those shoes even if you aren't yet, that they cost you good money, and that black pumps are a classic and versatile basic that every woman should own. With Marie Kondo's method, your emotional response will go "I don't actually even like these shoes. They feel uncomfortable." And you are free to let them go, even if they cost a lot or are a present from your best friend.

   Also, Marie does not tell you what you should and shouldn't keep -- if a collection of rubber ducks or pink crocs bring you joy, you keep them. She just tells you that if something is in your home, it should be because it gives you joy or makes your life meaningful in some way. When you own what you love and love what you own, your surroundings are an expression of yourself and you live intentionally.

"The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life. Attachment to the past and fears concerning the future not only govern the way you select the things you own but also represent the criteria by which you make choices in every aspect of your life, including your relationships with people and your job."

Marie Kondo recommends a very specific way of folding clothes, which saves a LOT of space and is surprisingly easy to maintain. This is the drawer from the bloggers of AsianCajuns, who have done the whole Konmari cure!

   The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up taught me about that Japanese way of being mindful towards material objects. I am often careless and unmindful with my things and then get upset that they get damaged or misplaced. But I was fascinated by glimpses of the deliberate, simple and mindful Japanese approach: the concept of Wabi Sabi, the sparsely elegant aesthetics of their products, the way my Aikido teacher smooths and folds his Hakama, the slow movements of the tea ceremony I watched at a Japanese cherry-blossom festival, the beauty of the endlessly patched Boro. The Magic Of Tidying Up is a beautifully simple introduction to this way of life.

   You need to read the whole book to understand the method, as there is much more to it than just "does it spark joy". I have noticed that people online who just read an article about the method often misinterpreted the instructions and were missing a lot of information. The book has a lot of big and little tips, for example little rituals to help you let things go, a really great approach to gifts, and most importantly the explanation of how some things have already fulfilled their purpose the moment they are received or bought.

A couple of tips for those that have read the book and are Kondo-ing their life:

* "Spark of joy" can also mean a quiet satisfaction, or thankfulness for the work the item does. For example you might not exclaim with joy when you see your ugly juicer but drinking fresh carrot juice every Saturday is something you really enjoy.
* It really helps to take a moment to "warm up" before discarding, to get into the right frame of mind. Marie Kondo greets her apartment and claps, but you can do whatever you like, for example taking a moment to imagine how you want your home to feel like; simply breathe in and out for a moment, play with your wind chimes, whatever calms you and helps you to concentrate.
* I like to start the tidying session with an item I really love. As I take it into my hands, caress it and smile, I immediately get a "reading" on what the "spark of joy" feels like.
* It's ok to have a "maybe" pile. However I strongly suggest dealing with it at the end of the uncluttering session and not leaving it till another day. At the end of the session you are in a flow and will make better decisions, if you leave the pile till the next day it's just a fear of dealing with the stuff, plus the pile will just bug you and make you feel guilty.
* The sushi rolling method is easy for kids to do, and they rummage less when they can see everything
* Her rule of decluttering by category and not by space is also genius, since otherwise I would never have realised that I own over twenty votive holders that were scattered all over the place. Don't ignore that rule.
* She is right about the socks. Two of my friends who knit their own socks tell me that they would never ball up the socks because it loosens up the tops, so there is something in that.
* Kids can learn to Kondo too, in fact my daughter is much better at it than I am. I think it's a valuable tool to teach them!

    For those of you who have already read the book, you'll be happy to know that at least one more book will be available in English soon. Meanwhile you might like her talk as well as her Reddit AmA, both have some extra tips and answer some questions. Oh, and here is how she shops.

   Any other Marie Kondo fans out there? Did you like the book? How much did you purge? What is your favourite bit of Konmari advice?

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