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Takeaways from Marie Kondo’s Book

I have read the famous Marie Kondo’s book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” since 2017 and implemented some techniques of the Konmari method. Before that, I’d been practicing minimalist life since 2012, so the concept was not new to me. I was also a tidy-person by nature. However, Konmari offered more detail practical actions to declutter items that I never imagined before. Recently I realized that things in my house kept piling up again, and I wore the same 8-10 outfits over and over despite my full wardrobe. Maybe I need to reread, refresh and reapply the Konmari method again after these 2 years.

Konmari is a method to organize things to live life fully that sparks joy. It was created by Marie Kondo, a Japanese lady who loved tidying up since she was a teenager. She kept trying and finding the best ways to manage her things in place that last for a long time. When she says in her book that she tidied up every day but why everything still messed up… I feel that! So then she came up with this amazing Konmari method. I like how the method’s name was twisted from her own names. I imagine if I invented a method, it would be called Safrika.

The first and most essential lesson of the method is keeping only those things that speak to your heart. Which is kind of ridiculous, how do I know something speaks to my heart? I already closed my eyes and meditated while holding that item but I still couldn’t figure out if it sparked joy or not, and in the end I just kept it. Also, if we do this activity for each of the items in our house, when will it be finished? So sometimes I did it practically by asking myself, “how did I have this item? When was the last time I use it? Will I use it again in the near future?” And many other logical questions.

If you come across something that does not spark joy but that you just can’t bring yourself to throw away, stop a moment and ask yourself, “Am I having trouble getting rid of this because of an attachment to the past or because of a fear for the future?”

Marie Kondo

I had several clothes I bought when I was living in Singapore 10kg ago. They did not fit my body anymore but I did not want to dispose them because of the fond memories of those clothes I had back then (or who knows I would be slim again one day). In the end, I threw them away. Another case was my winter clothes I bought when I was living in South Korea. I hoped believed that I would visit cold countries again one day. I was glad that I kept them because I could wear them again 6 years later in the UK (although a little bit tight). This explains how I believe more in myself to live overseas again rather than in losing my weight.

You’ll begin to see a pattern in your ownership of things, a pattern that falls into one of three categories: attachment to the past, desire for stability in the future, or a combination of both. It’s important to understand your ownership pattern because it is an expression of the values that guide your life.

Marie Kondo

Furthermore, Konmari suggests that checking the joy of each item should be done once for all. For example, clothes. We have to take out all the clothes we own from any different rooms into one place and examine one by one. We need to make tidying up a special event, not a daily chore. “Tidy a little a day, and you will be tidying up forever”. This might be the reason I kept feeling exhausted with my things even though I tidied up everyday! But this approach requires a long duration of time, like the whole day or even the whole week. I did not have time for that. Maybe I should make time for this soon.

What I like about this book is how Marie Kondo mentions concrete steps, not only abstract theories. She recommends to tidy up by category, not by location, with this order:

  1. Clothes
    a. Tops (shirts, sweaters, etc.)
    b. Bottoms (pants, skirts, etc.)
    c. Clothes that should be hung (jackets, coats, suits, etc.)
    d. Socks Underwear Bags (handbags, messenger bags, etc.)
    e. Accessories (scarves, belts, hats, etc.)
    f. Clothes for specific events (swimsuits, kimonos, uniforms, etc.)
    g. Shoes
  2. Books
    a. General (books you read for pleasure)
    b. Practical (references, cookbooks, etc.)
    c. Visual (photography collections, etc.)
    d. Magazines
  3. Paper
  4. Komono (misc things)
    a. CDs, DVDs
    b. Skincare products
    c. Makeup
    d. Accessories
    e. Valuables (passports, credit cards, etc.)
    f. Electrical equipment and appliances (digital cameras, electric cords, anything that seems vaguely “electric”)
    g. Household equipment (stationery and writing materials, sewing kits, etc.)
    h. Household supplies (expendables like medicine, detergents, tissues, etc.)
    i. Kitchen goods/food supplies (spatulas, pots, blenders, etc.)
    j. Other (spare change, figurines, etc.)
  5. Mementos (sentimental objects)

She also describes how to fold the clothes in the right way so we can see them clearly when we open the wardrobe and choose what to wear. Therefore we don’t end up wearing the same clothes over and over again. It is a brilliant idea bit unfortunately my box-styled wardrobe is not suitable for this folding technique. It is more suitable for a drawer. I put my kid’s clothes in a drawer, so I implemented this folding technique for my kid’s clothes only, not mine. Maybe someday when we have a budget to renovate our house, I would transform the wardrobe to have more drawers in it.

No matter how often I tidy up this kid’s bedroom, it seems stifling

Cluttering books are more difficult for me. Even though there are books I do not like anymore but I don’t want to throw them away because I have a dream to build my own library. And a library needs many books, even the ones I do not read. I also have many new books that I haven’t read yet. Marie Kondo says “The moment you first encounter a particular book is the right time to read it.” That is so true. Many times I bought a new book excitedly, but after a few weeks, I did not feel so excited anymore to read it. Same as the book, new clothes should be unpacked and de-tagged immediately.

That was some of my takeaways from Konmari’s book. Sometimes you need to reread the book to remind you of the idea and to keep motivated in organizing your things which leads to organizing your life. Often we keep old belongings that no longer give useful value just because we cannot let go of the past. “The joy we feel here and now is more important”.

3 thoughts on “Takeaways from Marie Kondo’s Book”

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