The Magic of Tidying Up

It's a brand new year, and you promised yourself you would be more organized. Past attempts may have been failures, and, despite the constant efforts to declutter your home, papers pile up like mountains, and your closet looks like a hurricane just hit. But 2019 is the year - the year to conquer those paper mountains and clothing monstrosities - using Marie Kondō's The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.

Kondō's method is called the KonMari method. It consists of gathering together all of one's belongings, one category at a time, and then keeping things that "spark joy" (tokimeku). Cleaning and organizing can be a spiritual practice, which concerns kami, or the divine spirit of things, and kannagara, the right way to live. Tidying must start with discarding, throwing away, or donating anything you don't use anymore. Putting things away does solve the clutter problem, but sooner or later, you will run out of storage space. "We need to exercise self-control and resist storing our belongings until we have finished identifying what we really want and need to keep,” Kondō says. She has developed six rules for tidying up.

  1. Commit yourself to tidying up.
  2. Imagine your ideal lifestyle.
  3. Finish discarding first.
  4. Tidy by category - not location.
  5. Follow the right order.
  6. Ask yourself if it sparks joy.

How does something exactly "spark joy"? What sparks joy will be different for each person. Discarding what doesn't spark joy means you will only keep what you truly love. The KonMari method encourages you to rediscover what sparks joy and surrounding yourself with things you truly love.

Once you've discarded, you will designate a spot for everything that sparks joy.  According to Kondō, "The goal should be to organize the contents so that you can see where every item is at a glance, just as you can see the spines of the books on your bookshelves." For example, she recommends folding your clothes in a particular way, so you can store things vertically, which will give you more storage space.

Marie Kondō's book was published in America in 2014. Although it became a New York Times bestseller with over 9 million copies sold, Netflix's new television show Tidying Up with Marie Kondō, which premiered last month, has really sparked joy in viewers. In the wake of the show's release, charity shops have seen an increase in the number of donations received. In the first week of January, Goodwill stores in the Washington D.C. area were up by 66%

What will you do to "spark joy" in your life? Check out her book, as well as the illustrated version. Spanish translation is also available. 

If you want more books like The Magic of Tidying Up, check out this booklist on spring cleaning.

In the video below, Marie shows you how to fold your clothes and store them vertically.