Magical Organizing

I read the first of two books written by Japanese organizer Marie Kondo. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  A few of my clients have read it, and many of their friends have been talking about it. People everywhere are asking themselves if their clothes “spark joy” as she suggests.

I think it must be the word “magic” in the title that’s got everyone buying it.  Perhaps we think we can wave a magic wand and…ta da!…we’ll have an organized house. Even though she proclaims throughout the book that tidying is very easy, I beg to differ on behalf of many of the people I have worked with.  Tidying is fairly simple if you live in a small space and don’t have a lot of belongings.  You can tell Marie lives in Japan in a very small home. It does seem, however, that she enjoys shopping hence the need to be constantly weeding out clothes and shoes. Easy for she and I because we love to let go of stuff!

I have to say that the book was the quickest read I’ve had in years, and Marie’s story telling is really fun. She talks about how she grew up and tells us about some of the clients she has worked with. While I totally agree that tidying up or getting organized by minimizing your belongings and storing things in a neat and tidy way can be life altering, finding the time to go through every single item in your house is not as easy as she makes it sound. 

Marie’s philosophy is that you put your nose to the grindstone and blast through your house as fast as you can so that you don’t prolong the tedious exercise of purging your stuff.  Most busy professionals that I know would have to take two to four weeks off work and do nothing but organizing from morning until night in order to accomplish that.  You know, now that I say that, I would love to try that with someone. Anyone up for it?

There is one particular part of the book that I believe is actually life changing for those who want to fit a lot of stuff into their space.  Perhaps the book should be called “the life changing magic of a good folding job”. Marie describes in detail how to fold your clothes so that they form an envelope of sorts and then stack vertically in your dresser drawers.  She says each piece of clothing has a sweet spot for folding. Yes, I have re-folded all of the clothes in my dresser and purged a few pieces in the process.  Because I don’t have a lot of stuff, I now have drawers that are half empty.  It’s kinda freaky.  Now I know what my clients feel like when they suddenly have a clear surface in their home that was never there before. There is a strange compulsion to fill up the empty space again.  

Anyway, back to the folding.  If you follow her folding method, you can seriously fit three times as many t-shirts in a drawer, twice as many sweaters and your socks will be a thing of beauty all standing on edge. I think the socks are my favourite part. I know, sick huh.  Most of us ball up our socks so that we can find the pairs. Here’s what Marie says about that, “Look at them carefully. This should be a time for them to rest. Do you really think they can get any rest like that?”

This is a philosophy that she carries to all your belongings by suggesting you treat everything you own with respect.  Now that I also love.  I can never understand why so many of us have drawers, closets and garages piled high with stuff that is wrinkled, scratched and broken.  Yet you tell me those items are all important to you and you can’t let them go.  I question whether that makes any sense when you are not taking the time to “respect” and take care of your stuff. Much better to pass it all along to someone who will do that and perhaps change your life in the process.

What sparks joy for you?

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