Lessons from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Although I hate labels, I do class myself as a minimalist. Not an extreme minimalist like these guys, but minimalist nonetheless.

I don’t like ‘stuff’.


I can tell you exactly where everything I own is kept.  I like to have a few empty cupboards. I don’t have a junk drawer. I banned asked my friends and family politely not to buy teddy bears as gifts for my daughter. I just don’t see the need for hundreds of soft toys piled on the bed, which will then one day be moved to bin liners and stored in the loft because she can’t bear to part with them. Don’t worry, I’m not a complete grinch, she has some teddy bears, she just doesn’t need more.

Along with many people who enjoy tidying, and many who don’t but who should, I recently came across Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

I’d put off reading the book several times because I’d heard the author dedicated a chapter to the art of folding clothes. I don’t need to be taught how to fold, thank-you-very-much. But I came across an audiobook version and, since listening is less effort than reading, I thought I’d give it a go.

While I don’t agree with everything – I can’t see myself thanking my socks or unpacking my entire handbag when I get home tonight – I did learn some tips and was able to do some more de-cluttering in my already clutter-free home.

The KonMari method

In short, the KonMari method goes something like this: if an item does not bring you joy, you should discard it.

With traditional decluttering methods you might consider the usefulness of an item; but with KonMari, you’re supposed to hold each item (touching it is important, apparently) and ask “Does this spark joy?”

a feeling of great pleasure and happiness.

“tears of joy”

synonyms: delight, great pleasure, joyfulness, jubilation, triumph, exultation, rejoicing, happiness, gladness, glee, exhilaration, ebullience, exuberance, elation, euphoria, bliss, ecstasy, transports of delight, rapture, radiance

My first thought was: “This book is weird, how can I get joy out of a potato peeler? A jumper? A bath towel?”  But slowly, it started to make sense.

If this potato peeler is crap, if it scratches at the top of the skin without actually removing any, it doesn’t bring me joy. Ok, peeling potatoes may not bring me a whole lot of joy, but it would be much more joyful with a peeler that worked.

If my jumper is made out of scratchy wool, so big that it drowns me, or so worn that it doesn’t actually keep me warm, it probably doesn’t bring me much joy either.

And the bath towel that is hard and scratchy, no matter how much fabric softener is used and how delicately it is washed. Definately no joy.

According to KonMari, these things should be discarded. Truth is, I was probably holding on to them ‘just in case’, but when does ‘just in case’ ever come. And if it did, would I use these things or just go without?

The KonMari method has a strong focus on decluttering clothes. Since there wasn’t much clutter in the rest of my house, I started with my wardrobe.

I donated about 3/4 of the clothes in my wardrobe (and then made my husband do the same). Most of them were too small (pre-pregnancy), too big (during pregnancy) or things I just didn’t wear. They didn’t spark joy.  Sure, I could hold on to these for ‘someday’, but when ‘someday’ comes I will probably have forgotten I own them and buy new ones anyway. Or perhaps ‘someday’ will be so far away that my taste will have changed and I won’t like them anymore.

Our wardrobe now looks very bare but very tidy. Just how I like it.

I received the same response from my sisters and friends: “But what will you wear!?” My answer: the same things I’ve always worn. The clothes I donated were not things I wore. They just took up precious space.

What I learned

There are many aspects of the KonMari method that I haven’t discussed here, (if you’re interested in learning how to fold, a quick search in Google or Pinterest will have you sorted in no time), but with my already clutter-free, empty-cupboard, limited-teddy-bear-storing home, I already classed myself as somewhat of an expert at tidying.

I’m surprised how much I discarded and how much better I feel for it.  I have far fewer clothes, but I never have to worry about what to wear. I like everything in my wardrobe. Everything fits me. I don’t feel the need to rush out and fill it again. In fact, I’m more careful with what I buy. I now look for the joy before I get to the checkout.

I recommend this book to both hoarders and organisation freaks like me (why is it that the tidy ones are referred to as ‘freaks’!?). But be warned! There really is some life changing magic in this method!

30 Responses

  1. Wow…Its very interesting, and I’ve heard of this method before (Gilmore Girls trailer for next season!) – but I don’t think I could do it. I am a definite hoarder but it comes from a place of anxiety, and I don’t think I’m ready to tackle it yet. I do suffer with OCD but mine isnt the cleaning kind…its the control kind and holding on to things feels like control for me! #BBP

  2. I’ve been meaning to read this book for so long … my mission for 2017 is to declutter the house! Looking forward to giving it a go. Glad it’s worked so well for you x #brillblogposts

  3. You know every time I have a clear out I feel so much better – but then I am a bit of a hoarder so that’s probably why! I do really enjoy a cleaning day tho lol – a whole day in the house on my own to clean and clear everything is lovely #stayclassymama

  4. funnily enough someone just lent me this book, I haven’t read it yet but I will for sure

  5. my husband is very much a minimalist so I’m never going to introduce you to him in case he runs off with you LOL. I don’t like to hoard stuff and I like to have a tidy house, but my cupboards are bursting at the seams. I drive myself mad with it. I don’t have time to tidy properly but then get frustrated with myself when everything falls out. And it ultimately creates more work! I love everything you’ve said here. Every day, just after the kids have gone down for a nap, I always tidy everything up. Even if it’s just for an hour of calm, it really grounds me and I can then sit and have a cup of tea. I wouldn’t be able to relax properly if I just left it. I’m so going to check this audiobook out as I really could do with a proper declutter. #GlobalBlogging

    1. Haha my husband is very tidy too so you’re safe! He always tidies the toys away in the evenings too. You’re right, it is nice to have some calm for an hour or so. Definitely give it a go! You’ll love the calm that comes from having clean (maybe empty??) cupboards. Thanks for reading ????

  6. I really need to read this book. I am a sentimental keeper of stuff. It’s amazing really how certain aspects of my life are so minimal and others so cluttered! #GlobbalBlogging

  7. I really dislike clutter! However, with 4 kids, there always seems to be stuff lying around. I just sorted all our family photo albums and financial papers this week end. That alone felt good. Now onto the toys… This should be fun! Thanks for sharing with #globalblogging!!

  8. Lucy, we sound like twins! So much to comment on here, but I’m going to limit myself to the matter of toys. I was so glad to see that you are limiting the stuffed animals. I was just remarking the other day that children today have too many toys. When I was a little girl I had five dolls and three stuffed animals and did not feel deprived. Many little girls today have huge numbers of dolls and stuffed animals. And on the matter of it being, some say, impossible to have a tidy home because of all the toys, I say, you just need fewer toys! Seriously, I’ve seen a child drag out every toy he owns and not play with any of them. Train a child to bring out one toy at a time, play with it, put it back, get out another. Then mum doesn’t have to spend all day picking up toys and living in a disaster zone! Simple!

    1. I’m so glad you agree with me on this! I think most people think I’m a bore by limiting her toys. But seriously, what kid needs THAT many toys! Like you say, they don’t play with them all anyway!
      Lilly isn’t old enough to learn how to put toys away her (she’s 7 months) but I do plan to teach her. Am I living in a dream world? Does it work for you? Let’s hope so!

  9. I loved the book, and I still have nice clean fairly empty bookshelves, nicely folded clothes, but I still need to do everything else. It just needs too much blitz time at the moment. My clothes are also back to a bit of a nightmare with things not fitting in drawers – because I put on weight again that I lost so I’ve still got a variety of sizes – I’ve had to rebuy a few larger clothes I’d got rid of which was really annoying. But generally it does work well.

    Except of course it doesn’t cater for kids who won’t tidy up behind them!

    1. Having to re-buy is annoying. I must admit I did keep some of my nicer pregnancy clothes so I hopefully don’t have to buy all that again.
      Kids is another story!

  10. This sounds really interesting, I like the idea of getting rid of clothes that don’t give me Joy. I want to do this as soon as possible, I know there are A LOT of clothes in my closet that I do not wear and keep at the back of the drawer and keep looking at it and thinking, “oh maybe I’ll wear this next time!” I bet it has been over two years since I’ve actually worn it. Thanks for sharing I’m definitely going to have a clean out of my closet this weekend I think this would really help! Thanks again for coming to #GlobalBlogging!

  11. Oh I REALLY like the sound of this book. We have a small house so I’m all about organisation and getting rid of things we don’t use. I think I’m gonna apply this KonMari business and see how I get along… thanks for sharing! #AbloggingGoodTime

  12. Since having a little one I call myself a recovering neat freak! I love a neat and tidy home but I’ve relaxed a bit to allow for child mess! I’ve been meaning to read the book for a few extra tips. My clothes definitely need a sort out… x #ablogginggoodtime

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