What I Love About “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”

What I love about Marie Kondo's "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up"

A few months ago I read this fascinating international bestseller.

Along with the rest of the internet, I fell completely in love with this little book.

Here are some of my favourite things about Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

Vertical Folding

You guys. Once you start folding your things so that they stand on end you won’t want to stop. (I have an entire post devoted to vertical folding in the works.)

I started using this type of folding on my clothes (as Kondo suggests), after dramatically paring them down. The effect was magical. I could fit twice as many clothes into my drawers, giving me much more space. In turn, I was able to take things off of shelves and off the closet floor and organize them into the newly-emptied drawers.

Take a look at my underwear drawer. (I can’t believe I just said that to the whole Internet.)

The Konmari method: underwear drawer beforeSee all that wasted space? I had never noticed it before.

Konmari method: underwear drawer afterNow look at all that room! I could now fit the contents of the lower drawer into this one:

Konmari method - after

With that lower drawer empty, I now had a nice place for swimwear, which was previously always just kind of stuffed wherever it could fit.

Yay for more space!

The other great thing about folding your clothes this way is that you can see everything at a glance. None of your clothes end up hiding under your other items for months on end until you forget about them. You get a much better sense of what you really have. Beautiful.

After this new folding method transformed my bedroom, I started seeing opportunities to use this method all over the house. Like my dish cloths and towels in my kitchen. I managed to consolidate two drawers into one this way. (There’s also room for cheesecloth/ jelly bags/nut milk bags in there.)

folding dish towels the konmari way

Look at that empty drawer! I didn’t even have to get rid of anything to get it! It’ll come in handy when I reorganize my kitchen.

This was addictive. Next, my drawer of microfiber and other cleaning cloths got the same treatment.

konmari folding - cleaning cloths

konmari folding - cleaning clothsThis didn’t really make more space, but it made it easier to see what I had so I could grab the appropriate cloth more easily.

Like I said in an earlier post: learning how to fold this way was worth the price of the book alone.

Use Shoe Boxes as Dividers

Marie Kondo advises against buying new storage solutions. If you feel like you need to head to the Container Store to organize your things, it means you have too much stuff. You need to get rid of more.

However, sometimes it’s nice to add dividers inside your drawer to separate things. She recommends using what you have, and makes a strong case for shoe boxes.

You might notice that I’ve done just that in the photos above. They work perfectly! They’re a great size, they’re sturdy, and they’re attractive. I spent zero dollars on dividers when organizing my stuff. Awesome!

The Criterion, “Does It Spark Joy?”

Marie Kondo’s criterion for whether to keep something is simple. She advises you to hold each item in your hand and ask, “Does this spark joy?” If not, discard it.

As longtime readers know, I’ve been striving towards minimalism for years. I’m constantly purging. So as I’ve been tidying with the KonMari method in the last few months, I haven’t had a ton of stuff to get rid of. However, this new criterion has helped me let go of a few things I’d still been holding onto. It’s been a relief to be able to do so.

Thanking Your Discarded Items for Doing Their Job

new bike

This was a paradigm-shifting idea for me, and I loved it.

Sometimes we struggle to let things go because we feel guilty doing so. We think of the money we spent on the item or the person who gave it to us. So we hang onto these things, even though we don’t like/need them and never use them, keeping them shoved in the back of our closet or dresser.

That’s why I love what Kondo suggests: consider whether it has already fulfilled its purpose. Then thank the item for doing its job as you let it go. This is how she explains it:

If, for example, you have some clothes that you bought but never wear, examine them one at a time. . . . If you bought it because you thought it looked cool in the shop, it has fulfilled the function of giving your a thrill when you bought it. Then why did you never wear it? Was it because you realized that it didn’t suit you when you tried it on at home? If so, and if you no longer buy clothes of the same style or color, it has fulfilled another important function — it has taught you what doesn’t suit you. In fact, that particular article of clothing has already completed its role in your life, and you are free to say, “Thank you for giving me joy when I bought you,” or “Thank you for teaching me what doesn’t suit me,” and let it go (p. 60, emphasis mine).

Later, Kondo adds that after someone has given you a gift, it has fulfilled its purpose. It has been instrumental in allowing that person show her love for you. If you don’t want or need it, you are free to let it go without guilt. It has done its job.

I could go on, but for now, these are my favourite ideas in this fascinating little book.

How about you? Have you read it? Did you love it? What did you like best?

(P.S. Update on Felix: For those of you who are interested . . . everything remains the same. Felix is still well. We’re just waiting through isolation at home. Thanks for your continued prayers, and I’ll provide a more thorough update soon!)

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  1. after hearing a lot about this book I took the plunge and read it. Cover to cover. I love the way she suggests to hang clothes in your closet (heavy to light, dark to light) and the suggestion to peel labels off products. I’ve realized I’m sensitive to white noise/ typographic stimulus and the small act of peeling the labels of bottles of mouthwash and moisturizer has elevated my bathroom.

  2. Wow, thanks for the photos and explanations! I’ve checked this out a few times from the library but then never got around to reading it b/c it was due sooner due to the waiting list! I will need to take the plunge and read it! Thanks!

  3. I guess I’ll have to wait for your special post on vertical folding, because I’m not entirely sure I’m feeling it. I like the theory; I like being able to see everything. But folding this way actually seems to make the clothes take up MORE space, not less, and I still can’t really see what’s at the back of my drawers (which maybe is the fault of the old dresser that makes it hard to pull the drawers out all the way).

    Also, on a purge I did before reading this book, I got rid of all the shoeboxes that I had kept sitting around but never ended up using for anything. So. There’s that.

    But yes. Her book has been so helpful in getting rid of things that no longer (or never did) “spark joy.” I’ve purged my clothes down hugely and am working my way through the rest of the categories.

    Glad Felix is still doing well!

    • Hahaha . . . I’ve thought of that, too. I ALMOST got rid of all my empty shoe boxes in an earlier purge, too, and I’m glad I didn’t. (Plus Ben and I had serendipitously just bought a pair of shoes each.)

  4. Well, I officially have goosebumps after reading the excerpt you included, especially about the gift-giving. You’ve persuaded me to finally buy this dang book. I feel like we are fairly clutter-free (it gives me a ridiculous amount of anxiety), but I know we can always improve. Clothes are my downfall, for sure.

    I’ve used shoe boxes in drawers for years, but since I have giant feet, it can sometimes be a challenge to have a small enough box to fit. Ha ha!

  5. Interesting. I’ve always folded my baby clothes that way but eventually transition to the “normal” way because the drawers get messier faster with the vertical way once I’m not the only one going in the drawer. Plus, it seemed to take more room once the baby clothes got to 18month size. This might have something to do with the depth of my drawers though. I don’t know.

  6. The KonMari method is fun. I use some of her methods in my minimalist lifestyle. I have not read her book though! I loved learning more here.
    Victoria / Justice Pirate recently posted..15 Years with the Man of My DreamsMy Profile

  7. I read the book and started to apply this method. I think that responds well to my life and work as well.

  8. Vertical Folding is my favorite method. Before start using it I hardly found something in my wardrobe. The KonMari method is great and I earnestly recommend it to all who didn’t try it yet.

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