Justin Tadlock

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Blue book cover with white clouds.

I knew one of my New Year goals was going to be to get rid of some of the clutter I’ve accumulated over the years. As fate would have it, a Kindle deal popped up a few days ago and shined light upon the path that I should take. I managed to snag The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up for cheap.

It was like the gods themselves were speaking to me.

Marie Kondō developed her KonMari method of tidying after years of attempting to achieve perfection. She teaches you how to clean your home once and never let it fall back into disarray. Yeah, I wasn’t completely convinced either. And, to be honest, I’m still working with her method to see how it turns out. Like most self-help books, I think a part of you must be willing and ready to take on a change in your life for it to truly work.

Because it’s going to take me a bit to make it through Stage 1 (there are only two stages), I can’t comment on how life-changing this book really is. I can simply review the book at this point. In the future, I’d like to do a part 2 of this review on the method and how things worked out.

The entire book could’ve been one well-written and succinct blog post. But, you can’t sell a few million copies of a blog post. Plus, a book helps reiterate the same principles over and over, drilling them into your mind.

I read through The Life-Changing Magic in one night. It’s a short read, coming in at little more than 200 pages. If you’re serious about wanting to declutter your home, the reading commitment is minimal.

I spent much of the time while reading thinking that the author sounded like someone who needed professional help. Many excerpts were a retelling of her desires, even from childhood, to be neat and tidy. I’m talking to the point of being obsessive about it. I wondered if her methods would translate over to those of us who didn’t spend our childhoods compulsively organizing and cleaning everything. Then again, maybe that’s the perfect type of person to teach the rest of us lazy slobs how to get our house in order.

Much of the advice is geared specifically toward women. I have no doubt that is Kondō’s primary audience, so it makes sense to lean that direction. However, it would’ve been nice to acknowledge that some men might be reading the book and offer practical advice specific to the them. This wasn’t enough to detract from the book’s message, but it was noticeable enough to be a minor annoyance.

With 200 pages, I thought that the book would dive into more practical advice. Things like the clothing-storage methods make sense, and I’m ready to start trying those. The book needed far more of these practical tips to be worth the page count. I’ve heard that Spark Joy, the illustrated sister book, offers more of what I was looking for.

The message that hit home with me is the one of ridding your life of things that you find no joy in. This is a feeling I’ve been having for some time now. I have possessions that do not bring me joy. Why do I have them? Kondō was able to articulate those feelings for me and provide a plan of action for confronting and dealing with them.

As a book, it needed a few more revisions and to be fleshed out with more practical advice. As for the content, the message, we’ll see. Maybe I’ll be living a peaceful and clutter-free life six months from now.

Some readers will find Kondō to be batshit crazy (she does talk to inanimate objects) and, in true KonMari fashion, discard this book because it does not spark joy. Others, well, we’re probably crazy enough to give her advice a try.

I’m withholding my star rating for this book until I can decide how life-changing this book truly is by putting Kondō’s methods into practice.

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