The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

By Marie Kondo


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Originally published

Dec 27, 2010




Oct 14, 2021


Oct 24, 2021

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Discard then fully organize in one go. Do not tidy incrementally.
When discarding items, make sure to take them out from where they are stored → you can focus on the item in isolation → sense whether it truly sparks joy or not
Your family and friends do not need to know what you discard or donate
We should be ashamed of carrying the burden of more things than we need
Do not gift someone something which they do not need
People need to shop on their own to develop their own sense for what gives them joy
The best time to tidy is in the early morning, when your brain is clearer
Tidying should be a regular habit
If everything has a specific place then keeping things tidy becomes the default.
Optimize for the ease of putting things away, not getting them out. When we get things out we normally have a set purpose, so we will extract these things regardless of whether it is easy or not.
“New” storage methods cannot be the primary solution. Just putting things away does not fix the core clutter problem.
Do not store off-season clothes boxes and buried out of reach. Maintain a relationship with these clothes. Let them get light and air (which they deserve).
Keep storage simple. The goal is not to abstract away how many things you own.
Organize possessions by thier intended use: if we organize by location, and not by use, then we may fail to colocate similar things which are currently stored in different locations.
The rate of items removed must be ≥ the rate of items added, until you reach a steady state.
Try to keep all storage collocated rather than distributed throughout your place of living. Anything that is piled is being wasted. Place things on their sides so that as many items are all accessible and visible as possible.
Buying things is bulk is not always cheaper if you account for the cost of storage.
Tidy clothes
Organize clothes that you hang by category. Within each category sort by “heaviness”: a combination of darkness, size, and weight.
Do not “potato-ball” your socks. This perpetually stretched out the elastic. They already are heavily stained from normal wear and tear. Instead, fold your socks just like you do your clothes.
Fold shirts to be the exact height of the drawer that they are stored in → you can see all shirts when you open the drawer
Tidy bathroom
Do not store things in the shower. Dry items you used in the shower between uses and only bring in what is needed to the shower. This way you limit growth of mold.
Gratitude and recognizing when you no longer need things
Framing: the things you purchased but no longer used (or never used) have served a purpose. Perhaps they brought you joy when they bought them. They’ve taught you something about yourself and your preferences. Identify the things that have fulfilled their purpose.
Express gratitude for your possessions and the work that they do for you both as you use them and as you say goodbye to them
The most important thing is joy here and now—not things that remind you of joy in the past. The memories that matter will remain as memories regardless of if you have a memento. Be selective with what tokens you do keep.
Humans have a tendency to try to justify anything that we own.
Generally in the US you have grown up surrounded with far more than you’ve ever needed. As you reduce the surface area of things you own you’ll eventually reach a point where it will click. You’ll never again want to go above this point. Reducing your possessions reveals where your true priorities and preferences are.
Tidying is about feelings, not arbitrary limits or criteria that you impose when tidying
For example, “this is exactly what I need” versus “I should only have 2 pairs of gray sweatpants”
Clarity and love
Minimizing our possessions minimizes the background noise in our lives
An untidy space can flare and distract an anxious mind. If you’re feeling anxious, put yourself in a tidy space. If that anxiousness persists then you have more clarity to dig into the anxiety and try to root cause it.
“Picture the kind of life that you want to have”; seek “unhurried spaciousness”
Make order from your past. Surround yourself with things you love.
Choosing what you own is choosing the direction of your life. Confront your possessions as early and often as possible.
Reorganization of the home → reorganization of your perspective
Wearing clothes you love, especially when no one is looking reinforces a positive self image and a positive lifestyle. Do not delegate clothes you don’t want to wear to loungewear for the home.
Remove as many words and tags as possible from your personal items. These are yours they don’t need to sell to you. Make your home peaceful, not a barrage of branding and marketing.

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