The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up Book Review

The life-changing magic of tidying up

Marie Kondo turns tidying to be as much science as art in “The life-changing magic of tidying up”.

The science of tidying up

In this book, Marie Kondo first dispels myths associated with tidying up Mythbuster style.

One of my favorite methods of tidying by location sees it’s demise here. Instead of tidying up by location, Kondo suggests tidying up by category. To me this makes sense and I was surprised that I needed a book to help me see this. Take for example in a normal spring cleaning, you would go about cleaning up your room then perhaps the living room and finally the kitchen.

The problem with this approach is that you may not see your items in their entirety. Take for example your clothes, one of the first categories that Kondo suggests starting with. Some may be in the cupboard in your room while others may be at the languishing under a bed in another room (e.g. winter wear). She suggests taking stock of all your clothes by literally dumping everything on the ground. By doing that, you can see all your articles of clothing.

The art of discarding

After you have made a mountain of your clothes, then comes the discarding process. Here’s where you’ll use the art of discarding using the selection criterion: does it spark joy? You do this by picking up each piece of clothing and applying the criterion. If it doesn’t, out it goes.

In this way, I was able to weed out nearly 2 recyclable bags full of clothing that “did not spark joy”. These were donated to the Salvation Army.

In the midst of this exercise, I was also able to find about 20 dry-fit shirts that had come free from runs I have joined. Since I was preparing to go to Kilimanjaro at that time, I decided to donate these to the guides that would be guiding us up the mountain. These dri-fit t-shirts may be a dime a dozen in Singapore but in Tanzania, they were very much valued.

Sort what remains

After the discarding process is the sorting process. In the book, Marie Kondo puts up some guidelines including, “designating a place for each thing” and “the best way to store bags is in another bag”.

The result

I read the book some time back, applied it’s method and this was my result.

The Kondo-ed wardrobe

a) T-shirts
b) Hiking wear and accessories
c) Formal Jackets

a) Formal long sleeve shirts
b) Informal long sleeve shirts
c) Short sleeve shirts
d) Polo T-shirts
e) Bottoms

Within each category, it is organised by colors: Richard Of York Gave Birth In Vain.


Till today, my wardrobe still retains this level of neatness.

Tidying is indeed a skill that can be learnt and while I had my doubts about learning it from a book, it, together with some videos I’ve watched on Youtube started me on a journey to tidying up.

What is more, I’ve also started to reevaluate the things I buy. This change in mindset is a by-product of tidying up using the principles in this book and is why I highly recommend it.


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