FIVE TAKEAWAYS FROM THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP

I’m embarrassed to say it took me a full year and a half after this post when I first heard about Marie Kondo to actually sit down and read her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. And then if we’re really being honest, I didn’t technically read it since I listened to the four-hour audio book over the course of a couple weeks. But nonetheless, I’ve finally finished it and have truly never been more inspired to tackle the clutter in our home (especially since I wrote the first post while living on my own in a New York City studio and have since combined all my belongings with my fiancé’s and moved them to Dallas!). With all the packages I receive for my blog, Will’s ever-expanding book collection, and unpacked boxes from our move still hanging out in the garage, it’s probably safe to say that Marie Kondo came into my life for a reason… and, you know, better late than never.pale-blue-painted-ceiling-gold-desk-herringbone-floors

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Before we delve into my five biggest takeaways from the book, I wanted to gauge your interest in turning this newfound mission to tidy up into some sort of series here on Design Darling. Would you guys be interested in more posts about organization, even if it’s some not-so-pretty behind-the-scenes stuff? Would any of you want to tackle the KonMari method at the same time as I do? I thought it could be a fun way to hold myself accountable and help us all feel a little more organized heading into the new year. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

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The KonMari method turns most of what I know about tidying on its head. I’ve always tackled organizing in fits and starts, like a half-hearted attempt to clean out my closet or throw away all the makeup samples crowding our bathroom drawers. Inevitably I’ll get distracted by something I’d forgotten I own or exhausted by the thought of seeing the project through to completion. But Marie Kondo is so confident in her method that I actually found myself pulling over to take notes in my phone at a couple key points. Here’s a little KonMari method checklist with five of my biggest takeaways from the book:

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ONE: Optimal organization does not happen in a day. The KonMari method suggests taking about six months to slowly and deliberately work your way through your home. While taking a half a year to properly tidy sounds a little daunting, it’s actually a realistic timeframe that takes into account that no one spends every moment of their free time decluttering until their house is magically spotless.

TWO: Declutter by category, not by room. Instead of saying you’ll organize your bedroom or even just your pantry, the KonMari method insists you sort through your entire collection of clothing, then books, then papers, then mementos. Then she breaks it down further: tops, then sweaters, then dresses, then skirts, so on and so forth. She even suggests dumping these items onto the floor so you can see everything you own at a single glance. Because most of us store these items in more than one place (I have coats in my closet, a coat closet downstairs, a few at my office, and one in the back seat of my car… just off the top of my head) it doesn’t do much good to purge one room at a time since you’d be revisiting different parts of the same collection with each room you tackle.

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THREE: Keep only the items that spark joy. Some of Marie Kondo’s advice is admittedly a little too hippie-dippie for me (thanking your socks for their hard work that day, for instance… I can only imagine Will’s reaction 😂) but I love this bit of advice because it’s precisely how I decorate. I always tell people to buy only furniture and decor that they love because if you love it, you’ll always find a way to make it work with the rest of your belongings. But I had yet to apply that philosophy to my wardrobe and I really think it will change the way I look at the things I have hanging in my closet. If I’m keeping a pair of black skinny jeans because the fashion world says they’re a must-have — but I always push them to the back of my dresser drawer because they just don’t feel like me — this is the perfect excuse to say, in her words, thank you and goodbye. And it makes me happy to think about that perfectly good pair of jeans going to someone who’s going to wear them all the time and love them more than I do! I started on my clothes this past Sunday and have already donated five huge bags of clothing that no longer made me happy. There’s so much advice out there on this topic — donate if you haven’t worn it in a year! put unworn items in a box and revisit them in six months! — but there’s something so refreshingly simple about asking yourself whether an item sparks joy and just genuinely makes you happy.

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FOUR: You have to declutter everything before you can organize anything. I think this is where most of my past attempts at organization have fallen short. It’s easier to get through half of my tangled jewelry and then get excited about a trip to the Container Store to pick up new jewelry organizers than it is to actually finish the entire task of deciding what I want to keep and what I want to donate or toss. If I told myself I have the afternoon just to get rid of the tops and sweaters I no longer love vs. I have the afternoon to declutter and reorganize my entire closet, I imagine it would yield pretty different results.

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FIVE: Stop hanging everything and learn to fold the right way. I’m especially guilty of this because my current closet has a ton of hanging space and not a lot of drawer space, so I’ve started hanging items like sweaters and even jeans that I know are better off in a drawer. But one of my favorite bits of Marie Kondo wisdom is to arrange your folded clothing vertically so you can see all your t-shirts, jeans, etc. at a glance without having to rifle through multiple stacks to find what you’re looking for. I might need to Youtube the proper method (a little hard for me to envision as I was listening to the audio version while driving) but the idea of opening my dresser to a perfectly organized assortment of denim or workout wear is pretty appealing. That’s a bonus sixth takeaway for you — she’s all about starting with a vision of how you want your home to look and feel so you can keep your eye on the prize when you start to lose momentum.

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Does any of this advice resonate with you? Would you be interested in hearing more about my attempts to KonMari our house? I’d love to hear from you!

33 thoughts on “FIVE TAKEAWAYS FROM THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP

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  1. My favorite takeaway from the book was about gifting! How many times have you been given a gift that you don’t really like/need, but feel guilty giving away? So you throw it in a drawer or closet and forget about it? I love her philosophy that gifting is about the person who is doing the act of GIVING! We should emphasize and appreciate that aspect… since she gives the OK to donate the gift if it doesn’t spark joy 😀

  2. Would love to see a regular series on this! I am highly sentimental – lots of little mementos (ticket stub from my first date with my boyfriend, birthday cards from family through the years, etc) and would love to journey with you through the KonMari method! (I’ll even go buy the book this week…)

  3. This book changed my husband and my life! We both were bad about keeping stuff just to keep it because you never know when you might need it again. We have gotten rid of So. Much. Stuff. It is unbelievably liberating! And yes, it takes a very long time. Granted we have a house, a garage, 2 barns, and a shop which results in quite a lot of space to accrue stuff. We are over a year in to pursuing the KonMari method, but it has been very rewarding.

  4. I’d love a series like this Mackenzie! I’d love the moral support in tackling my cluttered house with a friend! My fiancée and I have moved 4 times in the 7 years we’ve been together and we have the dreaded garage boxes that never seem to make their way into their proper place in the house. We will be buying a house next year and there’s no way I want to take the clutter with us! Lets do this!!

  5. My parents just moved from a 5,000 square foot home in the Midwestern suburbs to a 2 bedroom apartment in Tribeca, but they knew it would be happening 2 years in advance so my mom had a lot of time for thoughtful decluttering. It definitely felt weird that she was getting rid of items that had been with our family for over 50 years, but I know she also found it so empowering to choose what items to carry with her into the future. Look forward to following your endeavor if you pursue it!

  6. I wrote a blog post about this about a year ago, and there’s a photo on there with the folded method that might help give you a visual! I’m still struggling to fight through the clutter – it’s so hard to break the cycle!

    Alyssa

  7. this is so helpful! i had heard of marie kondo at a dinner party this summer (sure) and although i haven’t read her book yet, it sounds excellent. i am going to apply this to my move and re-organization of the new apartment.

    something i like to do with my closets & chest drawers is exactly what you said: i love merchandising them as if it was a store shelf. not too much “product”, not too little. and enjoyable, visually and physically, to select from.

    thank you for this post! and yes, i’d love to see your own behind the scenes progress!

  8. I found some of her folding tips to be complete shit. I watched countless videos on how to do it and ALL of my shirts (t shirts, sweaters, etc) were so wrinkled every time I went to wear one. Folding into tiny squares saves space but having to iron or steam a shirt before wearing wastes time.

    That being said, I do like reading about different organizing tips so that series sounds like it’d be a good one.

  9. I really wanted to embrace the KonMarie method but I’m thinking it’s not for me. I did the whole dump all your books/dresses/whatever in the middle of the floor only to get interrupted and coming back to a giant mess. The clothes folding method only added time to my most hated chore. That being said, I do encourage people who are interested in organizing to give it a read. Just because it wasn’t right for me doesn’t mean it won’t help you.

    Mackenzie–I think a series on organizing would be very beneficial. Even though KonMarie was a bust for me I’d be interested in other methods or ideas!

  10. I’d love to read a series on KonMari-ing your house! Admittedly, I don’ t know if I personally could do it (although I really should, as I too live in a small New York apartment.) I do use the folding trick, and it’s great — just fold the shirts like you normally would, and then in half again so the height is short enough to stand up in your drawer.

  11. I’d love it if you posted more about organization (even the not so pretty stuff!). I also loved The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up – I need to go through my things again too!

  12. I love this idea, organization makes me happy. I’d love to see some of what you get rid of and maybe why it doesn’t “spark joy” for you.

  13. Yes! I read this book right when I came out and loved it….but have had trouble actually doing it. Would love to hear your progress. As far as clothing goes, I recommend watching The True Cost documentary (should still be on Netflix). It has been the biggest inspiration for me to buy less clothing up front. (Of which I think Marie would approve.) (Warning: the documentary is basically heartbreaking.)

  14. I’d love a decluttering/organization series! I think it’s so interesting to see how other people organize.

    I’d also love a post on how you are cleaning out your closet. I try to only keep what sparks joy or that I love wearing, but then I have a hard time letting go of “nice” clothes that I may wear someday. Like the pink silk top that doesn’t work that well with my complexion and rarely wear, but was expensive, I had it tailored, and I may want someday. Need to let that go but having a hard time!

    If you have any professional attire that you are getting rid of, I love Dress for Success. Worthy org helping women get a step up by providing professional clothing for interviews. https://www.dressforsuccess.org/

  15. I really enjoyed her books, but if I don’t hang it, I don’t wear it, with the exceptions of my sweaters that are too delicate, but then they are folded and placed above my hangers where I can still see them. I can’t handle not seeing my clothes because I forget about what I have, so my advice would be to make sure you can function with how she suggests or you’re setting yourself up to fail. And completely disregard what she says about books……