Apr 11, 2018
You may have heard of Marie Kondo, as she’s quite famous in Japan for her "KonMari Method " for 'sparking joy' in your home and life. I even saw her as an awkward guest on the Ellen Show while watching clips on Youtube. Maybe you know her slogan, Spark Joy, and belief that everything in our homes should give us that warm fuzzy feeling.
When I visited my local library’s English section, I found the English translation of KonMari’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Somehow, I was curious, so I borrowed it.
I didn’t really have any intention of finishing the book or using her method. I didn’t think I had much in terms of belongings compared with her clients, after all, I’ve only lived here for two years. I haven’t had a lot of time to collect things and am naturally someone people refer to as a minimalist. But, no matter how much I get rid of, I feel like I have too much stuff. I guess I move and travel too often to hold onto things. I could live out of a backpack and be fairly comfortable.
Even so, the book was interesting and extremely Japanese culturally. It was a good way to understand the Japanese culture of appreciating inanimate objects as if they also have feelings. Something a little tricky for westerners to understand, even if we’re familiar with this way of thinking from movies like Spirited Away. I was surprised to find that KonMari had worked at a shrine in the past, which helps to explain her way of thinking even more.
I sometimes had the feeling that KonMari was being OCD or crazy, or that her method was So Japanese while reading. Before even finishing the book I was definitely interested in trying her method, using the book as a resource. The point is to select the things you love instead of focusing on the things you want to throw away first. Like I mentioned, I don’t have much, so it only took me a weekend to go through everything the way she explains in the book. I still got rid of 3-5 bags, mostly recycling and donating things to the nearby recycle shop.
I have some things at my parents’ house that will get sorted through on my next visit, as KonMari mentions storing things at home isn’t an acceptable solution. This is really tricky for those of us just temporarily living abroad for work, so I’m not sure what KonMari would say about temporary storage for that reason.
What I got out of the book the most was her method for organizing paperwork. I always felt like I had too many folders of papers. Work stuff, important stuff, stuff I just didn’t know what to do with… (I also recently started using the Bullet Journal method to stop my habit of scribbling notes on scrap paper all over the place. This is helping so much.) She explains how to store only important documents that you need and to keep other things that will be used soon just temporarily. Not that my life is perfectly organized now, but it’s so much easier to find anything I need with KonMari’s method.
I think the book is also really for people living in small apartments in Japan, with no yard and no car. There is no mention of tidying up your car or your yard, but I think even in Japan, those places can be worse than inside the house. There is also no mention of tidying digital files in the book. I started to do this on my own even before reading this book. Keeping a neat desktop, organizing types of files, archiving / backing up … all these are also helpful to feel less cluttered and to ‘spark joy.’
I already recommended the book to several people, even though I understand everyone has to make the choice on their own to ‘tidy up.’ KonMari says her clients take an average of six months to sort through everything, and that’s doing it quickly! My best friend is in process and loving it. I have a feeling I didn't do it right (the stuff back home maybe), but I still did get some benefit out of it. I've found myself to be even more careful about what I buy.
I'm sure some of you have read this book.
What did you think about it? Did it really change your life?