Hello, I’m Michael Sliwinski, founder of Nozbe - to-do app for business owners and their teams. I write essays, books, work on projects and I podcast for you using #iPadOnly in #NoOffice as I believe that work is not a place you go to, it’s a thing you do. More…

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up - (audio) book of the week


As a reader of my blog you might have noticed that I’m a big fan of minimalism, I’ve been counting clothes for a while and I’ve been trying to keep my home office as neat and tidy as possible. Yes, I love that stuff. That’s why when my wife started raving about this new book by a Japanese author, Marie Kondo: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up - A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever I was curious on one hand but a little suspicious on the other. I mean, what else there is to know about clutter? Right? Well, it’s amazing how I got converted:

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up - (audio) book of the week

Get this book on: Audible, Amazon

Book review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up - A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever

When I started reading this book, my suspicions got even more serious. The author promises to teach a way to clean your clutter once and for all. That once done, your place will be clutter free forever. I mean, really forever? Who can promise something like that? It’s a big promise to give so let’s see if she’s right:

Two keys to Marie Kondo’s system of tidying up

For starters there are two main keys to this:

1) Declutter everything by category in your whole house - meaning when you want to focus on your clothes, deal with all of your clothes at once. All. Of. Them. I’ll explain this in a bit.

2) You put things where they belong - everything in your house needs to have a dedicated place. Once you’ve used it, put it back. Back where it belongs. Easy.

And that’s it, that’s all you need to know about this system. Easy, right?

Well, not so fast. If it was that easy everyone would be living in decluttered homes, yet they are not. There’s more nuance to this, so let’s explore the system in more detail.

Step 1 - Declutter everything by category

If you want to declutter your home entirely and have it tidy, neat and clutter-free forever, you have to deal with things in a certain order. You need to start with one category of items and once you’ve completely dealt with it, you’ll move on to the next one. Here are the categories in order:

How to declutter each category? Gather it around and…

Put all of your items from one category in one physical space - for example when you’re decluttering clothes in your bedroom, bring everything there. Search for the entire house to find all pieces of clothing and put them on your bed.

Really. All. Of. Them. I can’t highlight this enough, the important thing is to gather all of the items from the entire house because only then you’ll realize how many items you really have… and that some (if not most) of them you haven’t worn in quite a while…

Group your items in sub-categories like…

Let’s continue with the example of clothes. Once you’ve got all of your clothes in one place, now group them by sub-categories like boxers, t-shirts, polo shirts, etc.

Ready? Great, now the fun part begins.

Does it spark joy? Yes, really…

Now go through each item and determine if it sparks joy in you - if you still want to keep it and wear it, because seeing this items gives you joy. If not, thank it for its use and discard it. Yes, really, she says you should thank the item for serving you and for giving you joy in the past but it’s time to say good-bye.

Seriously? Joy?

Yes, it felt weird the first time around but it’s kinda funny how we’re attached to our belongings. How it’s hard for us to let things go. This process of “joy/no joy” helps us detach from clothes and really say good-byes to the one that we no longer feel like wearing.

Bonus point - how to fold the joyful clothes?

Now that you know which clothes to keep, learn to fold them the Marie Kondo way - upward, vertical folding. I know, again it sounds and looks ridiculous but please do try this. It’s amazing how I love opening my drawers now. The clothes look better when they are folded like this and opening a drawer to choose your shirt, boxer or even sock is more fun than ever before!

After clothes, keep on keeping on with next categories…

After you’re done with the clothes, you’re ready to tackle the next category like books. Later go through documents, and then if you’re a geek go thorough all of your geeky stuff like electronics, cables, etc.

Why we should go through each category - the idea is to build up the “joy muscle” and learn how to determine what brings you joy and what doesn’t. So when you get to sentimental items you’d already know how to deal with them. You’ll be more skillful determining what really sparks joy in you and what needs to go.

Step 2 - Put things where they belong

This is so powerful. I’ve been putting things in different places before but now after I’ve decluttered things I decided to be more mindful about where things really belong.

Now, as I stick to this I just feel more relieved - when I come back home I put my wallet back, keys back, everything has its place. It’s so powerful - it takes time to figure out what should go where, but when it does, life gets so much easier!

The best part is, that the magic lies in the perception of time - you think it’ll take you much more time to put a thing back where it belongs, yet it takes you a couple of seconds more. Really, only a few seconds. And the reward is that next time you’re searching for an item, you know exactly where it is.

Marie Kondo’s book changed my life

I’m now a convert. I use her method all of the time and I’m annoyed when something doesn’t have a dedicated place. I’ve decluttered my clothes, I’ve revamped my home office and I can’t highlight enough how much more joyful my house feels to me right now.

Enough said - go get the book and learn from Marie Kondo. Chances are, you’ll be a convert, too!

Question: How do you declutter your home / office? Have you tried Marie Kondo’s way?

Looking for more books to read? Check out complete and updated list of books I recommend

Wednesday, May 10, 2017 /kondo/