The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up
First time I heard about this book was on Instagram.
A few weeks ago, the cover photos started to pile up there and the whole world seemed to be totally excited about it.
I thought it sounded quite interesting and so it ended up on my Amazon wishlist.
Lately I have been dealing more and more with the topic of order, because the chaos in our apartment has started to annoy me.
We have a superficial order and I can let in unannounced visits with a clear conscience, but I don’t really feel comfortable.
We simply have too much stuff.
I’m always looking for something and the cupboards and drawers are bursting at the seams.
When I had just decided that this was the end of it and wanted to clean up, I remembered the book.
So I ordered it quickly (it’ll come with Prime the next day) and read it immediately.
In her book Marie Kondo describes her method (the so-called KonMari method) to get order once and for all and then – here it comes – to keep it forever without much effort.
She claims that if you follow her method you only have to clean out once and put your entire home in order – and then never again.
She says you only need to experience the state of perfect order once to be able to maintain it forever.
Sounds great of course, but does it really work? I don’t know, because I’m not there yet.
But I like Ms. Kondo’s approach to the subject of clearing out.
She names and explains 3 steps to create and maintain order:
- You have to identify your goal – why do you want to clean up at all? What do you expect from it? How would you like to live and to what extent does a tidy, tidy house help? This goal should be imagined as detailed as possible.
- Clearing out – According to Marie Kondo, it is particularly important to process all your belongings according to categories and not according to rooms or areas. You should pile up everything you own in a certain category (e.g. clothes) and then pick up every single piece and ask yourself: Does it bring me joy? Only if the answer is clearly yes, may it be kept.
- Finding a place for everything – Every part you own must have a place where it is at home. If you know where everything belongs, it is easier to put it away when you have used it!
I strongly believe that this method can work if you stick to keeping only the things that really make you happy.
I personally find the topic of minimalism very exciting, but I’m not that far along yet.
I noticed that during my first clearing out actions in the last days.
I have sorted out a lot of things, but there are still some things I couldn’t part with (even if I should have done it according to Marie Kondo).
Also I could not follow her course of action one hundred percent.
I would love to find everything together, throw it on a pile and then sort it out in peace – but unfortunately I don’t have the time.
With a toddler in the house most moms have only limited time to do such things anyway, so you have to plan exactly what I can do in a certain time frame so that everything does not sink into chaos.
But honestly, if I had the time, I would do it exactly as Marie Kondo suggests.
It’s about magical thinking
Marie Kondo’s tidying-up brooches have a lot in common with this laconic aspect of living: the throwing off of ballast, the severity with which she advises people to part with their mementos, and the cool systematics that resemble a high-performance computer.
And it cannot be ruled out that especially big-city dwellers condo to cultivate the emptiness they consider taste.
Only, and this is the decisive difference, Kondo is not concerned with aesthetics or with what is today considered consumer-critical asceticism in Western affluent societies.
They are, despite all the connectivity, therapeutic books.
You can call them “philosophy”, like women’s magazines, but in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying there is already the word that this is really about: magical thinking.
Marie Kondo advises, besides all kinds of practical wisdom, above all to take every object in your hand and ask yourself if it gives you pleasure.
If so, he may stay, if not, he must leave.
The profane becomes sacred simply because it is allowed to remain.
This is the religious core of everyday life and also the ceremonial aspect of the “KonMari method” and its binary logic is possibly one reason why technology companies book Marie Kondo to give lectures.
The notorious mindfulness movement may also be a reason why Kondo is so successful outside Japan, a country where homes are smaller anyway and advice is not understood as a lifestyle but simply as useful.
The re-enchantment of things
And where mindfulness is initially supposed to help people to feel something like joy in their everyday lives, buried under all transience and stupor, Kondo makes joy the main criterion for their distinctions.
For all its naivety, this is deeply humane.
In Kondo’s books there is a cult of immediacy: joy arises through touch, no matter what kind of object it is.
Possession takes on an artifact character, everything else is disposed of.
It is too easy to imagine people carrying vacuum cleaners, nail scissors, toothbrushes, clotheshorse and ladders to the recycling centre because they associate a lot with them but no fun.
However, that would be a similar misunderstanding to that of seeing Kondo as an agent of the optimization mania.
It’s all about the magic of things, or rather their re-enchantment.
Kondo tells how she thanks her shoes for the hard work they do for her every day.
She talks to her socks, to everything, and advises readers to do the same.
The soul of the world of things. That’s a lovely thought. It’s a child’s fantasy.
All these things should be considered before you go charging in there with the big guns.
Before you start interpreting lifestyle phenomena in a discount-political way again, as it has become fashionable.
To see jogging as merely the realization of the “neoliberal idea of performance”, which has become the norm.
To see in the green smoothie only the desire to function healthy and efficient in the capitalist system in the future.
And precisely in Marie Kondo’s childlike animism merely the denial of a world from which one has withdrawn into the private sphere because it is becoming, as it is then also constantly said, “increasingly complex”.
And yet it has always been better to wish people a good day at home with their trousers than to go outside and rummage around, wave flags or yell at electricity boxes because the world is so rotten.
As little as there is a “creative mind” in every untidy room, as little is everyone who talks with their socks before folding them a world-alien pedant who urgently needs to see a psychiatrist.
And the chaos can be celebrated by anyone who wants to.
The nice thing is that you don’t need a counsellor for that.
In Elias Canetti’s glare, by the way, the real misery only begins when a housekeeper enters the apartment.
But that’s another story.
Something annoying about the book was the very strong ‘self-help/esotheric’ tone (“You can do it too!”) and the chapter in which she explains that you should greet your apartment when you come home and thank your belongings after you’ve used them.
But all in all I can recommend the book to everyone who wants to bring order into his life and does not know how and where to start!
My previous clean-up action
In the last few days I have already sorted out my wardrobe and my bookshelf.
I have indeed taken every single piece of clothing and every book into my hands and, in case of doubt, thrown it onto the sorting pile.
With my wardrobe, I was actually a bit shocked about how much I actually have and how little of it I really like to wear.
I think I now own about a quarter of what I had before.
Sorting out the bookshelf was particularly difficult for me, because my books are sacred to me.
I’ve been busy for almost an hour just getting all the books off the shelves:
…but I still managed to clear out three boxes of books.
And I like the result.
Who is Marie Kondo?
Marie Kondo (jap. 近藤 麻理恵) was born on 9 October 1984 in Tokyo.
She works as a consultant for personal organizing and cleaning.
She is an author and became well known in Germany in spring 2019 through the Netflix series “Cleaning up with Marie Kondo”.
Marie Kondo has written several books about organizing and cleaning that have sold millions of copies.
Her books have been translated into more than 40 languages.
In the English-speaking world the verb “to kondo” was coined.
It means “to clean up one’s life”.
(For the KonMari method is not only about creating order, but also about ordering life).
Example: “I kondo my room”. (Means in English: “I clean up my room.”)
Books by Marie Kondo: KonMari Method and Magic Cleaning
- Magic Cleaning: How proper cleaning changes your life (2013)
- Magic Cleaning 2: How to keep your home and soul tidy (2014)
- Magic Cleaning: How to free yourself from ballast and become happy (2017)
- The great Magic Cleaning book: On the happiness of cleaning up (2018)
- The KonMari Method: How to fix love, job and everyday life (2019)
Other Marie Kondo books are:
- Spark Joy: An Illustrated Guide to the Japanese Art of Tidying
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying
- The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up: A Magical Story
What is the KonMari method? Explained, meaning
The KonMari method helps to distinguish whether things should be kept or thrown away.
The KonMari method asks the question whether an object triggers a feeling of happiness or joy.
If this happens, the object should be kept and given a fixed place.
If the feeling of happiness is not there, the object can be thrown away.
There are 6 rules of the KonMari method:
- Commit yourself to clean up. (Have a commitment. Be consistent.)
- Imagine your ideal lifestyle, i.e. what your ideal life would look like. And then create that life.
- First, you decide what can be gone.
- Organize by category, not location.
- Follow the correct order.
- Ask yourself if you feel a sense of joy.
The KonMari method involves cleaning up objects by category, not by where they are located.
This means that someone first arranges all the clothes, no matter where they are, then comes other things like books, papers, etc.
It is important that objects are touched and felt.
This is about valuing the things that someone has.
Therefore, the objects that are kept should be given a permanent place.
For objects with high emotional value, a kind of “altar” should be set up where they are collected.
Those who clean up do not only clean up their home, but also themselves.
Cleaning up helps to get rid of ballast.
Marie Kondo also teaches folding and stowing techniques for T-shirts, socks, tights, bras, panties, trousers, etc.
KonMari – Training as a consultant
The training as “KonMari Consultant” is also offered by Marie Kondo.
Here someone is trained to become a certified clean-up and organization consultant.
In Germany there are four certified Marie Kondo Clean-up Consultants so far, which are presented on the Marie Kondo website.
Curriculum Vitae of Marie Kondo
Marie Kondo currently lives with her husband, Takumi Kawahara, in Los Angeles, California, USA.
They have two children. Her husband has been her manager since her breakthrough.
According to her own statements, Marie Kondo has been obsessed with tidying up and organizing since her youth, so she arranged bookshelves in her school.
She worked for five years as a miko in a Shintō shrine.
The practical work there strongly influenced her and she integrated elements of the Shintō religion into her passion for tidying up.
Among other things, appreciating things is an important part of it, and organizing is considered spiritual work.
At the age of 19 she founded her consulting company for cleaning and organizing.
At that time she was still studying sociology at Tokyo Women’s University ( Tōkyō Joshi Daigaku; in English called Tokyo Woman’s Christian University).
In 2015 she was among the 100 most influential women worldwide (Time Magazine list).
2019 she is the protagonist of the Netflix series “Cleaning up with Marie Kondo”.
In the series she makes house calls and helps to clean up. She also presents her methods.
The Netflix series has led to an international interest in Marie Kondo.
Before that she was already known locally in Japan.