The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

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Okay, I know what you’re thinking: how could you read this crap? The book has so many red flags about it, I’d immediately categorize it together with the likes of “The Secret”, if not for recommendations from trusted friends. This stuff is good! You have to read it with the right mindset and filter out some bullshit you will find in the book. But most of what seems like bullshit is actually pretty genius.


Experts in organizing things are hoarders. To tidy up, you need to get rid of things, not organize them more neatly in more boxes.

The problem is emotional. It feels bad to throw away something we got as a gift, a T-shirt that’s almost unworn, an object that reminds us of the bad decision of buying it in the first place. We keep thinking “But I might need it in the future”. But that very, very rarely actually happens and doesn’t justify living in a mess.

Tidying up is a one-time revolution. You won’t get a clean house by getting rid of one thing every day or doing it room by room. Tidying up is not a continuous chore, it’s a transformation in your relationship with objects that you do ONCE, and then never have to do it again.

Tidy up by category, not room. One kind of thing should only (always!) be stored in one place. Not many things. Not based on “traffic patterns”. Do it in this order:

Does it bring you joy?. That’s the heurestics to base the decision whether you keep a thing or not. Not if “I might need it in the future” or “did I wear it in the last year”. No. The problem is purely emotional, and so the decision must be framed as emotional as well. Joy or no joy? (This is the genious part)

Gather everything on the floor. When tidying up, say, clothes, gather ALL the clothes and put them on the floor. Then take every individual item into your hands (this is important!), and make the decision. If you tidy things up in place, the path of least resistance is to keep it (and you forgo the opportunity to rearrange things in a better way).

Books. Only keep your personal “hall of fame” — the books that mean a lot to you. Let’s face it — you’ll never re-read the rest again. As for books you’ve never read, “someday” means “never”.

Papers. Get rid of everything. (I recommend using Scanbot)

Folding and storing. Not really mentioned in the book, but Marie Kondo also has this genius way of folding clothes such that they rest vertically, side by side, in a drawer, instead of bying stacked together. Look it up.

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