Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up - Marie Kondo

subtitle: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing

What a delightful little book!  One of my book club ladies recommended this to the group in January as a good way to start the year.  The author is a professional organizer but she doesn't advocate using bunches of boxes and clever storage solutions.  Her emphasis is on only owning what brings you joy.

Her advice begins with noting that if you declutter a little bit at a time you'll never finish.  She advocates you "tidy up perfectly and completely in one fell swoop", that is, less than six months or so.  There are only two kinds of work involved; deciding whether or not to dispose of something and deciding where to put it.

At this point in the first couple of chapters I could relate.  I've always been a neat person and like things clean and in their place.  But as I read on, I realized just having a place for something doesn't mean I should continue to keep it.  More specifically, we need to chose what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of.  The way to decide what to keep is to "take each item in one's hand and ask: 'Does this spark joy?'  If it does, keep it.  If not, dispose of it."  Easier said than done.  So, the further chapters describe how to proceed.

She points out that things have physical, functional, informational and emotional value - a thing is worth something, we insist, or it could still be used, or has information we might need or has sentimental value.  A thing might even be rare.  She recommends piling things up of each group in one spot from all over the house and going through them in this order: clothing, books, papers, miscellany and lastly, mementos.  She points out "that to truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose."  I smiled at her suggestion of thanking each possession for how it served you before getting rid of it.  So often I find myself mourning what I was going to do with something, the dreams or plans it represented.  Saying thank you for serving as a part of that dream to an object is more positive.

When getting to the "where to put it" part, she recommends asking your house.  That is, look around your house and see where it makes the most sense for a thing to be stored.  She points out to store things vertically, rather than stacking them, for ease of access and visibility.  She dismisses the use of elaborate storage systems and recommends simple shoe boxes for gathering up small items.

Toward the last chapters she addresses the hardest items - those that represent an attachment to the past or a fear for the future and points out that "the question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life."

I found the book inspiring and a different way of viewing the stuff that I've accumulated.  I think I'll pursue her ideas in choosing what I really want to live with.

Published in U.S. : 2014  Read:  February 2016  Genre: Self-help, non-fiction

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