Top 10 Tips from the Magic of Tidying Up

Humans are known to be creatures of habit. By helping people adopt tidier lifestyles, Marie Kondo turned her passion for organization into a full-blown career. In her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, she shares insight and knowledge that can forever change the way we live. Inspired by her perspective, we’re sharing ten tips from her book.

1. Storage is not your friend. “A booby trap lies in within the term storage…Putting things away creates the illusion that the clutter problem has been solved.” When you stow away your belongings, all you’re doing is re-allocating them out of sight. By knowing what to keep and what to discard rather than simply storing them, we say goodbye to even the slightest possibility of clutter.

2. Tidy by category, not by place. “Gathering every item in one place to give you an accurate grasp of how much you have” Whether it be t-shirts or pens, looking at all the items together helps to identify which items you need or make you happy.

3. Start with clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous items, and lastly mementos. People have an easier time throwing away items that serve a functional purpose than sentimental items. By practicing on regular items, once you get to those sentimental ones, discarding becomes easier. Even better, by handling mementos, it helps you to process your past rather than stow it away only to weigh you down later.

4. Discard and then assign a place. “Effective tidying involves only two essential actions: discarding and decided where to put things. Of the two, discarding must come first. Do not even think about putting things away without discarding first.” Everything needs a place, and by doing so, it helps us form habits to keep things tidy.

5. Keep only the things that speak to your heart. “When we honestly confront the things we own, they evoke many emotions within us. Those feelings are real. It is these emotions that give us the energy for living. Believe what your heart tells you when you ask, ‘Does this spark joy?'” Surely, this may sound like fluff, but I can personally attest to this – I adopted this approach years ago without even realizing it, Kondo just found the words. How many times had I gone through my closet only to find pieces that no longer spoke me but left them there thinking to myself “well, maybe one day.” Fast forward years later, that day never came. Today, my wardrobe, albeit significantly smaller, is full of items that make me happy.

6. Make tidying a special event and appreciate your possessions. Tidying can seem to be a chore, but really, it can be a party. Your belongings are your guests — treat them well and only keep good company.

7. Choose what you want to keep, not what you want to get rid of. Focusing solely on throwing things can only bring unhappiness. William Morris said it best, “”Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” When handling each item, consider the amount of joy it brings to you. By doing so, we train ourselves to look at our belongings with our hearts, allowing us to make better, more effective decisions about what to keep.

8. Unread books – “sometime” means “never”. One day, I was rummaging through my parents’ storage and came across some of my old books, books that I had read when I was a child. Of course, they brought back a certain nostalgia and I picked a few to take with me. How nice would it be to read this again, I thought. I wouldn’t know, I never ended up reading them.(Editor’s note: This does not apply to decorative libraries. Those are fabulous and should be well stocked.)

9. Mysterious cords will always remain just that – a mystery. Cords, cords, cords. I think we end up just having too many cords for everything. Looking forward to the day when everything goes wireless. Technology, please hurry.In the meantime, if you haven’t used a cord in over a year, chances are you won’t ever. Discard.

10. Put all your spare change directly in your wallet (unless you’re saving for a special project). Rather than collecting change in a spot in your home, consider putting it directly in your wallet for short-term use. Financially speaking, this makes sense – a dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow!