Is The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up Really Life Changing?

This book needs no introduction. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up has taken the world by storm. It’s a #1 New York Times Best Seller and has sold over 2 million copies. I’m a little late to the party, but I finally decided to check it out from the library and see what all the fuss was about.

I am not a messy person by any means, but I am married to the neatest person on the planet. So by his standards I had some improving to do. To be honest, I have always liked having a lot of stuff, I just was always good at keeping all of my stuff organized. I am not the best at getting rid of things. I tend to feel guilty or wasteful. For me the biggest take away from this book was not so much the tidying aspect, but more the reasoning and justifying of having less.

I’m going to be completely honest and say that I didn’t buy everything Kondo was selling. I’ll go into detail on the parts of the book I didn’t care for, but first lets talk about some of the core principles of Marie Kondo’s life changing tidying method.

Principles of the Konmari Method

Discard first, organize later

Getting rid of things is always always always the first step. Trying to organize without first going through and discarding is a disaster waiting to happen. Take everything out – literally everything – decide what stays and what goes, and then focus on reorganizing what you have decided to keep.

Sort by category, not location

I always organize by location so this was a new concept for me to grasp, but after hearing Kondo’s reasoning and giving it some thought, this tip definitely makes sense. Instead of setting out to organize our bedroom, organize all of your clothes at once. That means your jackets that you keep by the door, your sweaters that you store in the guest room during summer, your boots that you keep in the closet, etc,.

Kondo recommends using these categories and tackling them in this order:

  • clothes
  • books
  • papers
  • miscellaneous (office supplies, kitchen supplies, cosmetics, household supplies, tools, decor, etc.,)
  • Sentimental

Organized clutter is still clutter

This is a super important point in my opinion because I have this problem all. the. time. Even if your stuff is seemingly organized it doesn’t mean you still don’t have too much or it’s still not clutter.

Tidy “a little bit at a time” and you’ll be tidying for the rest of your life

Kondo believes in tidying in one fell swoop. Starting it and finishing it all within a short time span. She believes this is how your tidying will be most effective and universal. She does not believe in tidying slowly or tidying over time.

Handle everything and decide if it “sparks joy”

There’s two points in this one. First, Kondo’s believes you should only keep things that “spark joy”. She believes you can only do this by handling each and every object and taking a moment to reflect on it.

When it comes to clothes, folding is key 

Kondo puts a ton of emphasis on how we fold our clothes. Her  method relies heavily on storing clothes vertically, rather then piling them on top of each other.

Everything has a place

How many of us have stuff that really just doesn’t have a place? Definitely raising my hand on this one! Even something as simple as your keys, your purse, your phone charger, it all needs to have a specific place otherwise you’ll find things landing willy-nilly where ever you happen to drop it. This also really helps if you have a tendency to misplace things.


Things I didn’t buy into

Emptying your purse everyday

Kondo believes you should empty your purse completely out each and every day. I almost laughed out loud when I read this. Ain’t no way I’m doing that! I think some of this comes from her “everything has a place” theory, but in my opinion the place for my wallet, chapstick, gum, etc., is in my purse, so why would I empty it out? This is one tip I knew right away I would not be using.

Thanking your belongings

I understanding where she’s coming from with this one (especially since I’ve spent a lot of time in Asia and understand how this relates to Asian culture), but I still just don’t know if I see myself thanking my socks each day. I do believe in appreciating your things and treating your things well, but talking to them is a whole other story.

If you tidy once you will never relapse into your old ways or need to tidy again

Kondo believes that once you follow her principles you’ll just kind of automatically be a tidy person and never again accumulate clutter or unneeded stuff. Fingers crossed this is true, but I have a hard time believing it. I don’t see myself turning back into a person who likes having lots of stuff, but I do think I’ll always be one of those people who does spring and fall cleaning of my house and closet and gets rid of some things that have maybe accumulated in the last few months.

That being said, I do think my benchmark for clutter and how much stuff I actually need will be forever changed.

Lets chat some about individual categories


I come from a family of literature lovers. My dad, my mom, my brother, my sister, all of us, we love books. And we all typically have a lot of them. I really appreciated and respected Kondo’s advice on books. I opted to only keep books that I knew I would want to re-read or reference. I had a lot of books that fell into the “meh, ok” category. If I knew there was no way I was going to re-read them, off they went. I still have a small book shelf of books (as a book lover I will always want to have books), but I definitely cut down my collection by quite a bit.


Ahh, paper clutter probably the most annoying clutter there is. MY problem isn’t really that I have a ton of paper clutter it’s that none of it is organized. I literally just have small piles of papers scattered in different spots. I definitely got rid of a large amount of paper, but more importantly I categorized the papers I did keep.

Beauty/Bathroom Supplies

I am the queen of cosmetic samples. The problem is, I rarely use them and cosmetic products have expiration dates. So all of those samples I had that were 3 years old – not to good any more. That eye shadow palette I still had from college – mehh, it probably needs to go (which ps- if I still have cosmetics from college what makes me think I’m going to use them now that I’ve been out of college for 5 years? Duh, Carrie!). My make-up bag is so much lighter and easier to navigate now.

So…is it really life changing?

As I said early, the biggest take away of this book for me was the concept of having less. As I recently told ya’ll, after spending my entire life having a lot of stuff and things, I am transitioning to a less, but better outlook – not only on my possessions but with my reltionships, commitments, other areas of my life.

Kondo is upfront right from the beginning and clearly states that being tidy is easier when you have less to tidy. I was sick of having a packed closet, yet still never really loving much of it. I was definitely sick of keeping things just because I already had them, yet never really using them or needing them.

I used to wrestle back and forth about getting rid of clothes and other things, but with Kondo’s method it was so easy for me to decide what I wanted to stay and what I wanted to go. I got really honest with myself about clothes that I actually liked and looked forward to wearing. I also got really honest about what things I actually used, or sentimental things that had true meaning to me.

As I said before, it’s hard for me to throw things away and I have a tendency to feel guilty about being wasteful. I decided I was going to donate everything that was in usable or wearable condition. By the time I was done with my tidying there was really only a few things that I actually “threw away”.

I also made a conscious effort to switch my thinking from being wasteful to giving someone else the opportunity to use or wear something that I just wasn’t using or wearing anymore. I might not be a fan of a certain sweater anymore, but there’s a good chance someone at the thrift store might see it and love it. I had a hand in making that joy happen because I was willing to part with something that was no longer serving me a purpose. When I thought of things in that way, I was getting rid of stuff left and right, and I felt great doing it.

My Final Thoughts

I have loved having less. I’ve gotten rid of 20+ garbage bags full of stuff, and I don’t miss any of it. It’s been such a breath of fresh air to actually really like and use everything I have. I couldn’t tell before, but all that stuff I kept because it was “meh, ok” or because I already had it – it weighed me down, and more so than that, it took up valuable space in my life and in my home.

I’m a firm believer that our homes should be our happy places. It should feel like a warm hug each time we walk in the door, and it should be a place were we’re comfortable and able to be ourselves. Think of how easy that would be if you were only surround by the things you truly loved, used, or had a purpose for?

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up – buy it: HERE

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The life changing magic of tidying up

Have you read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up? I’d love to hear your thoughts and your results from implementing the strategies. Share them below in the comments!

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