The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

When The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo came out in 2014, I HAD to have this book. Everyone was talking about it. The radio. TV news shows. My colleagues. EVERYONE.

Since I am both a read-aholic AND an organizational FREAK, this book was RIGHT UP MY ALLEY! I got RIGHT ON AMAZON and hit BUY WITH ONE-CLICK!!!!!!!!

Two days later, the book was on my nightstand...and there it sat...collecting dust...until last year. And I JUST FINISHED it. WHEW. 

To start, this book is written by someone who is also an organizational freakazoid, but is also ADEPT at the KonMari Method of organization - a Kondo's unique method for organizing your home. Why am I mentioning this, you ask? Why does it matter? Because if you've ever watched House Hunters International (um, DUH, 3:00 a.m. feedings what ELSE are you watching?????), then you know that houses in other countries do NOT have the extravagant organizational architecture that America has. I'll bet that no one in Japan has ever heard of California Closets or The Container Store. #justsayin

But once you put aside the fact that Japanese homes (which are most of what Kondo spends her time organizing) have nothing more than a stack of cardboard drawers INSIDE OF their closets to hold all of their belongings in, there are some organizational GEMS in this book. You just have to read the whole "Use nothing other than beautifully styled shoeboxes as organizers" with a grain of salt.

Here are the TOP 5 ORGANIZATIONAL GEMS from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up:

1. How to Fold Your Clothes.  This one worked out great for my husband especially, who owns approximately 42,000 t-shirts, but always wears the same 3 because that's all that he can see in his drawer.

Now, I'm not saying that I subscribe to Kondo's suggestion that you take out every single piece of clothing and touch it to see if brings you joy before you decide whether to keep it, toss it, or donate it, BUT, what I did was a reality check. I gathered ALL OF MY CLOTHES from every corner of the house, including all of my coats from the coat closet, and laid them all on the bed, and then went through piece by piece. If I hadn't worn it in a year, or if I didn't like the way I looked in it any longer but was holding on to it for "when I get skinny" or "when I look like Mila Kunis" then I threw it in the toss or donate piles. I did this for ALL of my clothes, then moved on to my husband's clothes.

What was left I folded on it's side and stacked in drawers.  "First, fold each lengthwise side of the  garment toward the center and tuck the sleeves in to make a long rectangular shape...Next, pick up one short end of the rectangle and fold it toward the other short end. Then fold again, in the same manner, in halves or in thirds. The number of folds should be adjusted so that the folded clothing when standing on edge fits the height of the drawer."

The goal is to fold each piece of clothing into a simple, smooth rectangle.
— Marie Kondo

2. Sort by category, not by location. So that you don't get overwhelmed (or miss something) Kondo recommends sorting by category. Clothes first, then books, etc.  Gather all of whatever you have of that item to ONE CENTRAL LOCATION and go through it there. I did my clothes in my bedroom, since that was where all of my clothing (for the most part) is stored. Books I did in the basement, because that's where I keep the bulk of my books. And instead of sprinkling items throughout the house, I created central locations for things, that way I can easily find them. 

3. Don't let your family see/What you don't need, your family doesn't either. I love this one because I DO IT ALREADY! If my kids throw their toys around, I collect whatever they have carelessly deposited on the floor and put it in a "hiding spot". If they don't miss it or ask for it, it gets tossed or donated, depending on the condition of the toy. Same goes for the hubby's ripped up socks/underwear/t-shirts (shhh...don't tell mine and I won't tell yours!). Kondo argues that keeping what you're tossing a secret "protects your family from acquiring more than they need or can enjoy." I wholeheartedly agree with this!

4.  Vertical storage is key.  Kondo argues that when you STACK, "you end up with what seems like inexhaustible storage space." The problem with this is that the THING at the bottom of the pile ends up moving further and further down the pile, until you forget about it completely. She also says that "stacking is very hard on the things at the bottom." She talks about the weight of carrying something on your back all day long and how we are putting that pressure on our THINGS. Here is where I have to roll my eyes. <Insert GIANT eye roll here.> They are THINGS. And a SHELF is built to be STACKED UPON. It's built to CARRY WEIGHT. It's really ok. She also talks about vertical storage as just standing things up on their edge. But I disagree here, too.

Vertical storage means using ALL of the space.
— Jess Groff

Vertical storage means using ALL of the space. I use command hooks on the walls to hang purses and backpacks in closets. I have command hooks on the inside of our coat closet door to hang my purse, my backpack, my hat, and the girls' sweatshirts or jackets at a low height where they can reach them. I use them in my cupboards to hang dry measuring cups and measuring spoons. I also use them to hang up big drawing pads on the walls and to hang scrubbing puffs on the walls of the shower. Additionally, I buy cheap shoe racks and use them to store bags, books, photo boxes, and other things that I want to be able to SEE easily when I reach for them. This also EXPANDS your storage space tremendously!

5. Your living space affects your body. YES girl YESSSSSSSSSSSSS. When we toss junk, we think more clearly, we have more ROOM for ACTIVITIES, and we are "free to focus on the next issue that is important in our lives." Think about it. How many times did you want to sit down and read a book with your kids, but the "junk drawer" was calling your name? Wanted to sit down and read a book of your own, or move your business forward, but the laundry piling up made you feel guilty, so you did that instead?  If you have a tidy home with minimal JUNK, you can focus on what is truly important.  I'm not saying it's easy. And living with other people in the house inevitably means that THEIR junk is going to pile up, too (refer to number 3) but if you cleanse it, you will feel better. I PROMISE.

Just a couple of notes about things that Kondo DOESN'T cover:

First, GET RID OF THAT DAMN JUNK DRAWER IN YOUR KITCHEN. Create a kitchen command center. Put the majority of pens/pencils/markers, etc. on your desk. Rubberbands do NOT belong taking up space in a drawer in your kitchen. Clean that shit out and put some of your fave cooking utensils in there. You got this.

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Next, grab that lazy susan that you got for your bridal shower, blow the dust off of it, and stick that shit in a cabinet. I use it for my husband's medications and some other random stuff that doesn't need a designated spot, but that we want to be able to quickly grab. It CHANGED MY LIFE.

Finally, Kondo was right - You do NOT need fancy organizational solutions. You just need to gut everything and use what you HAVE! Have a pretty dish that doesn't get used enough? Use it as a catchall tray on your counter. Cut the bottoms off of cereal boxes and wrap them in washi tape and stick them into drawers for underwear, kitchen utensils, office supplies, etc. Get a little bit imaginative. It will save you so much time and money!

Have other questions about organization? Post them in the comments below!

xo, Jess