Book Review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The life-changing magic of tidying up

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5 open books

Author: Marie Kondō and Cathy Hirano (Translator)
Genre: Self-Help
Published: October 14, 2014 by Ten Speed Press
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This guide to decluttering your home from Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes readers step-by-step through her revolutionary KonMari Method for simplifying, organizing, and storing.

Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles?

Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have lapsed (and she still has a three-month waiting list).

With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy” (and which don’t), this book featuring Tokyo’s newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home—and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.


Do you find it frustrating to spend hours on end cleaning and organizing your house or room only to go see it go back to its messy order after a few hours or days of cleaning?

Then you’ve got to read this book.

Let met tell you a bit of a background about myself, first before I go on with my review. I’m OCD. Not the kind who spends hours cleaning a grape or arranging books according to size, alphabetical order or color, though. But I do have my share of “Sheldon Cooper” tendencies.

Despite that, I have a tendency to leave things around whenever I’m in a hurry. So that two hours spent on organizing my desk or folding my clothes is usually wasted in just several minutes after I cleaned. That spacious table gets cluttered before I know it.

I know. It’s frustrating.

I’ve tried different techniques on how to discipline myself to keeping my home organize, but I always get a relapse after.

Thankfully, I’ve discovered Mari Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. For me, it’s the solution to my tidying problems. And if we share the same frustrations, then you’ll find this book the holy grail to a clutter-free life. More than that, the principles she share can also be applied in your life, which can lead to a healthier, happier, more balanced and more successful one.

Now on to the review.

The book is a short read and very straightforward. I like that even in her introduction, she already shared the secret to de-cluttering your home and your life, which she calls the KonMari Method. By the way, I can sum them all up in three principles. It’s that easy to learn her method.

After that, the next proceeding chapters were instructions and explanations mixed with stories and experiences from her clients. This makes reading entertaining. Nothing like you’re reading from a school textbook.

The instructions were easy to follow. I haven’t even reached halfway when I started cleaning. However, you’re going to need a lot of patience as you do the first step, which is discarding. But once you pass that, the rest are going to be easy-peasy.

Be warned, however. Her methods are going to change everything you know about the art of tidying. In fact, they’re going to challenge decades-old practices. At first, you’ll find it hard to let go of them. That’s what’s happened to me. The KonMari Method went completely contrary to what was being taught to me. But her explanations were an eye-opener.

For instance, she stated, “Storage experts are hoarders.” That’s a bull’s eye hit on my part since I had lots of storage boxes. And I thought I was doing a pretty good job. But according to Mari, “A booby trap lies within the term ‘storage.'”

So yeah, that completely changed my view of storage.

By the end of the book, I was able to reduce two suitcases of stored clothing to a medium-sized duffel bag where I keep clothing items that have sentimental value to me. Those that bring me happiness whenever I touch them. Also, I was able to keep bureau well-organized up to this day.

And that’s why I give this book five open books. It’s easy to read. The translator did a good job in explaining Japanese texts to English. More importantly, the approaches that Ms. Kondo taught are meant to keep any rebound effects at bay. Once you truly master her methods, you’ll never revert to clutter again.

And that’s why it’s called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying. 

Favorite Quotes: 

People cannot change their habits without first changing their way of thinking.

If you tidy up in one shot, rather than little by little, you can dramatically change your mindset.

Effective tidying involves only two essential actions: discarding and deciding where to store things. Of the two, discarding must come first.

Tidying is a special event. Don’t do it everyday.

Don’t even think of putting your things away until you have finished the process of discarding.

We should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of.

Take each item in one’s hand and ask: “Does this spark joy?” If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it.

Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest.

To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose.


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