Why I’m reading a Japanese book about tidying up

I just read an AMAZING book written by a 31- year old Japanese woman.  The book happens to be a New York Bestseller.

The author’s name is Marie Kondo, and she’s been obsessed with organizing ever since she was 5 years old.


I think I have a crush on her.

          Rich, what do you care about organizing?

I’m always looking for better ways to organize my life.

          What’s so special about this particular way?

The book is called The Life-changing magic of tidying up.

Essentially, it’s about throwing away stuff you don’t use anymore, and then reorganizing your house.

          I do that every few years, big deal!!!

I bet you don’t do it like she does!

Supposedly, this is a life-changing experience.  Her approach to belongings is unique.

First of all, she believes belongings are living things. They have feelings. They want to be of use to you. If they are not, they want to be given away and be of use to someone else.

Her approach to organizing is done in a regimented way.  She claims that once you de-clutter and re-organize her way, it’s never necessary to do again FOR LIFE.

First, you get rid of every item you own that does not bring you joy. Then you reorganize your house.

            Bring you joy? What!?!?!?!!

 Let me explain. If you hold it in your hands and you don’t feel a spark of joy, you toss it.

Another interesting twist on her approach.  You get rid of items not by room, but by category.  Apparently this is far more effective.

You start first with clothes, then books, papers, miscellaneous knick-knacks, and then mementos. The reason for this order, clothes are the easiest to decide what to toss, mementos the hardest.

When you discard by category instead of room, you see everything you own all at once.   It all goes on the floor ! You don’t leave it on the hanger or in the drawer. You also don’t leave books on the bookshelf. Trust her, she’s good at this shit.

Pile it up on the ground in front of you!  This way you see the pure volume of useless crap you’ve hoarded over the years!!!


So this part is kind of bizarre. You take all the clothes you have in the house (including storage, garage, etc.) and you dump it in a pile on the floor. Pick up an item and hold it in your hands. If it sparks joy, keep it. If not, it’s gone.  Then repeat for every item you own.

If you have thoughts like:

  • “Gee, I paid a lot for this and I haven’t worn it yet…”
  • “Gosh, it looked great in the store, I’m sure I’ll wear it sometime soon…”
  • “This was expensive, maybe I should keep it…”
  • “I’ll keep this as loungewear…”

That is shit you should get rid of.

Next is books. Same logic. Here’s what she knows you’ll say:

I plan on reading this soon…

          If you haven’t read it by now, you never will!

I might want to read this again…

          Who really reads books a second time!  (Nerd!!!!)

Next, you move on to papers, knick-knacks, and mementos. Kitchen items such as pots and utensils would be included in knick knacks.

Mementos are tricky. You’ve gotten tons of gifts from people over the years, and you may feel conflicted about throwing them out, or maybe feel an obligation to keep them on display somewhere.

Marie points out that the purpose of gift giving is to convey that you care through the act of giving itself. Once it’s been given to you, it has served it’s purpose.

Whether you decide to keep it after that is up to you, but it takes up a lot of space, and probably doesn’t bring you much joy.


Now we move to the art of organizing. Once you see what’s left, you can reorganize in a way that makes the house much less cluttered.  You NEVER start organizing until you’ve gotten rid of all the shit your gonna get rid of.

Marie has considered every possible organization method in the world, and her conclusions are interesting:

  • Pick a home for every item that you own. This is the spot it always goes back to. This is very useful for things like wallets, keys, purses.
  • No fancy, expensive products made for organizing are better than keeping it simple
  • shoeboxes, clear containers with lids, and square items in general are the best items for storing.
  • folding clothes takes up MUCH less space than hanging them. Fold everything possible.
  • Don’t stack clothes, the stuff on the bottom never gets used! Fold them so they can stand on their side, and put them in drawers/containers that way.
  • Imagine a home that free of clutter. Everything is the house is things that bring you joy. It’s much easier to decorate once you are de-cluttered and organized.

My two cents

  • As far as papers and photos go, leverage technology. Scan everything and then get rid of it. You may decide to frame and put on display the absolute most important pictures you own, but other than that, everything should be gone. You’ll have so much less clutter.
  • If something’s been in storage for years, it’s useless to you.  Stop storing unnecessary shit.
  • Don’t keep something because you think you might need it someday, probably, maybe.
  • There is so much useless shit in your kitchen. You don’t need seven spatulas or five sets of measuring cups. You don’t need 17 different types of bowls and you’ll never use 21 forks.

I’m in the process of going through this method right now.  My wife’s on board to, which makes it 10X easier.  I threw away like 80% of my clothing.  We’re still in the disposal stage.  I’ll keep you updated.

Enjoy a life free of clutter surrounded by only stuff that brings you joy.

Rich on Life

p.s. If you pick up your children or your spouse, and they don't spark joy, I think you're still supposed to keep them.

3 thoughts on “Why I’m reading a Japanese book about tidying up”

  1. Great article. Will read the book. I need simplicity and minimalism in my life.
    The ps about wife and children, I laughed out loud 🙂

  2. Yes! I love this lady! I first saw her on the Ellen Degeneres show.

    Being organized can really transform to every facet of your life.

    Just shared this articles with some friends whom I believe could use some organization in their life lol.

  3. I read this about a month or two before you wrote this article !
    This is really good and works quite effectively if you follow the guidelines.

    Nice review/writeup ! Thanks


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