Monday, 5 October 2015
THE LIFE CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING
This isn't a book review per se, it's more my thoughts on The Life Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo and some discussions on things in the book.
This book is an odd one because it's definitely really helpful and motivating, but I also hate it at the same time. Well, hate is a strong word, but parts of this book definitely grind my gears. However, I think that it is a very useful book and I really do recommend that you read it, no matter who you are. That might sound strange with some of the gripes I have about it, but by the end of this post you'll see why.
I bought this book after hearing quite a few people on the internet talking about it and how it had helped them, and not just book people, I think I was really sold when my favourite beauty/lifestyle vlogger Lily Pebbles mentioned it a few times on Twitter. When book hype reaches non-bookish people that really says something to me.
It's basically a book on the author's self-designed 'KonMari' method of tidying, which involves discarding items that don't 'spark joy' and organising the rest in the most efficient way. Marie Kondo is a Japanese professional 'tidier', she runs a successful business helping clients to declutter and organise their lives, and this book is translated from the original Japanese. I've never been particularly bad at minimising things to an extent; in the past I have hoarded quite a lot but I've always enjoyed doing clearouts and organising my things. But before reading this book I still had far too much stuff for one person and it wasn't organised very well at all. One thing this book will do for you is motivate you to get started with clearing out and organising your things, no matter if you're a total messy hoarder or pretty minimalist and organised, Marie Kondo will make you want to tidy. That's one huge plus for this book: providing motivation.
A lot of the practical advice that Kondo gives in this book is very helpful, for example she recommends folding your clothes in a particular way and standing them on their edge instead of in a pile, because they take up less room, you can see them better and will therefore wear more of them, and they last longer that way too because they're not being stretched or crushed. I actually already did this but I was surprised and interested when she mentioned doing the same for socks, folding them instead of balling them up, to take up less room. This is actually a great idea, but this is not her main reason for not balling them up, and this is where the practicality seems to go out of the window and the craziness edges in. Kondo recalls visiting a client and opening her sock drawer, and I quote:
"I pointed to the balled-up socks. 'Look at them carefully. This should be a time for them to rest. Do you really think they can get any rest like that?'"
She claims that our socks take a 'brutal beating in their daily work' and that when they are in the drawer they are 'essentially on holiday', and that many of us are oblivious to the way that we are 'hurting' our socks. At this point I put the book down and produced an eye-rolling, exasperated 'WHAT?!'.
This isn't the first time that The Life Changing Magic of Tidying induced intense eye-rolling, I'm actually surprised that I didn't strain my eyeballs. For one thing, she doesn't believe in wearing baggy old clothes as loungewear. She recommends that for pyjamas, you only wear things that are 'feminine' or 'elegant' *cue furious breathing* and at one point she states that "if sweat pants are your everyday attire, you'll end up looking like you belong in them, which is not very attractive" *throws book across the room*. I'm not sure if something was lost in translation here but I mean, come on. If you work from home, or you're a student, or just y'know a human, then you'll know that there's nothing better than lounging around the house in comfy pyjamas or sweats. Kondo is definitely wrong on that one. She also completely unpacks her handbag and puts everything away every single night when she comes home, which is just totally unrealistic if you ask me.
Her idea of only keeping things that 'spark joy' isn't completely realistic because my potato peeler doesn't spark joy but I kind of need it. I also obviously don't agree with her opinions on discarding books, because books are something that I collect. I aspire to have a beautiful, organised home-library and Kondo isn't going to change my mind about that one. She also only mentioned 'discarding' items and referred to these items as 'rubbish' a few times, not once did she mention donating items. I really hope that this is also was lost in translation as I hate to imagine all her clients in Japan just throwing everything in the bin, that just screams of privilege and makes me cringe. With all my clearing out I probably gave at least ten bin bags (I completely lost count) of stuff to my local charity shop and gave a bunch of stuff to my sister who lives and works in Malawi and doesn't have a lot of clothes. If you're going to do a clearout, please PLEASE give your discarded items to charity.
But okay, I'll stop going on about the crazy things because I'm probably just putting you off. This book honestly is really helpful and contains some great ideas about tidying and organising that you probably won't have thought of. It will most likely change your attitude on a lot of things and if nothing else will motivate you to get started.
In the preface to this book, Kondo states that if you adopt the 'KonMari' strategy then you will never revert to clutter again. This is a pretty bold statement, but I have to say that since I read the book and implemented her strategy my space has been tidy, calm and peaceful every single day. I never find myself having to actively 'tidy', only putting things away once I've used them and I managed to clear out enough stuff to get rid of one of my wardrobes (so that I could buy another bookcase to fill with books, but that's okay because they definitely 'spark joy'). Okay it's only been about a month so I can't really say whether I'm never going to tidy again but for someone who was quite a messy person, it's working pretty well so far.
I never want to hear how I'm hurting my socks' feelings or the words 'spark joy' ever again, but the basic logical foundation of most of the things she says makes sense and can be applied to your life. You just need to take it all with a pinch of salt.
Have you read this book? What did you think?