I don’t read many books, nor do I do things because it’s trendy, but despite myself, this book got my attention. Marie Kondo’s “Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up”. Here are some of my favorite quotes and takeaways I’d like to remember.
Even though I consider myself firmly grounded in reality (I avoid “woo”), I really like Marie’s philosophy of attributing feelings to your personal items. I liked the idea of belongings “working hard for us”, “wanting to be useful” and feeling personal gratitude toward its service. She helped me re-frame my relationship with my possessions. Her approach to trimming things away is a joyful and positive experience and could be of help to those that cling tightly to their stuff.
- Your personality doesn’t matter. People are lazy and busy. Make your system easy and it will work for you.
- Two types of tidying: daily tidying and special event tidying.
- Tidying allows us to confront the foolish choices we made in the past. By honestly looking at our possessions, we will be able to see what is really important to us. This process in turn helps us identify our values and reduces doubt and confusion in making life decisions.
Step one, discard. She points out that it’s very important to do this first and completely so progress doesn’t stall. Then decide were what remains will be stored.
- Sort all items by category not by room. Gathering everything in once place helps you to see how much you actually have. Do this in a quiet place so you can “hear the dialogue between the items and the owner”.
- Ask yourself, does it spark joy? Do not surround yourself with items that give you no joy.
- People have trouble discarding things that they could still use (functional value), that contain helpful information (informational value), and that have sentimental ties (emotional value). When these things are hard to obtain or replace (rarity), they become even harder to part with.
- Do not throw away other people’s stuff.
- Do not burden others with your unwanted stuff.
- Ask yourself why you want a specific thing, or behavior – keep asking why 4 or 5 times until you get at the real answer.
- Books may have caught your fancy but you never finished them. Their time is past and let them go. “The moment you first encounter a particular book is the right time to read it.”
- Don’t keep notes from seminars or talks. If the information is not put into practice, it is meaningless.
- Don’t keep presents because you feel obligated to. The act of giving was a manifestation of the giver’s feelings for you, not the item itself.
- “By handling each sentimental item and deciding what to discard, you process your past. If you just stow these things away in a drawer or cardboard box, before you realize it, your past will become a weight that holds you back and keeps you from living in the here and now.”
- Discarding hones one’s decision-making skills. It’s a waste to squander the opportunity to develop this capacity by saving things.
Step two, storing and staying tidy.
- “…I would fall asleep with a feeling of unhurried spaciousness…”
- Stop hanging up all your clothes. Learn to fold properly.
- Don’t keep seasonal wardrobes. It’s enough of a hassle to switch them in and out that you simply won’t do it.
- Opt for vertical storage solutions (think like the spines of a book) so that it can be easily seen and pulled in and out.
- “Create your own tidying method with your own standards. This is precisely why it is so important to identify how you feel about each item you own.”
- Give every item you keep a designated space — it is easier to keep things tidy.
- Storage should reduce the effort needed to put things away, not the effort needed to get them out.
- Clutter = too much effort is required to put things away / unclear where things belong.
- Do not buy things in bulk or because they are on sale. It’s more economical to store them at the store until needed.
- Think about ways to reduce visual clutter (logos, labels, etc)
Direct quotes that I liked. First number is page number in book.
15 – “I had forgotten that most of these things even existed. I sat motionless on the floor for about an hour afterward staring at the pile of bags and wondering, “Why on earth did I bother keeping all this stuff?””
20 – “Many people get the urge to clean up when under pressure, such as just before an exam.” (That’s so me)
21 – “Let’s imagine a cluttered room. It does not get messy all by itself. You, the person who lives in it, makes the mess. … The true goal should be to establish the lifestyle you want most once your house has been put in order.”
25 – Marie advises sorting through all like-items in the house in one go. “For example, instead of deciding that today you’ll tidy a particular room, set goals like “clothes today, books tomorrow.””
26 – Marie minces no words about so-called “personality types” when it comes to keeping things clean. “There is no point whatsoever in changing your approach to suit your personality. When it comes to tidying, the majority of people are lazy. They are also busy. … it makes far more sense to categorize people by their actions rather than by some generalized personality trait.” Again, this notion of action speaking louder than words. I feel like Kondo and Peterson are two peas in a pod.
28 – “Effective tidying involves only two essential actions: discarding and deciding where to store things. Of the two, discarding must come first.”
29 – “There are two types of tidying—“daily tidying” and “special event tidying.” Daily tidying, which consists of using something and putting it back in its place, will always be part of our lives as long as we need to use clothes, books, writing materials, and so on. … many fail to embrace this as a “special event” and instead make do with rooms that are more like storage sheds. Decades drag by as they struggle unsuccessfully to maintain order by tidying every day.
35 – “Do not even think of putting your things away until you have finished the process of discarding. Failure to follow this order is one reason many people never make permanent progress. In the middle of discarding, they start thinking about where to put things. As soon as they think, “I wonder if it will fit in this drawer,” the work of discarding comes to a halt.”
37 – A client’s vision: “Well, when I come home from work, the floor would be clear of clutter … and my room, as tidy as a hotel suite with nothing obstructing the line of sight. I’d have a pink bedspread and a white antique-style lamp. Before going to bed, I would have a bath, burn aromatherapy oils, and listen to classical piano or violin while doing yoga and drinking herbal tea. I would fall asleep with a feeling of unhurried spaciousness.” I especially like the last sentence for myself.
38 – When faced with habits that you want to instill in yourself, “ask yourself “Why?” again, for each answer. Repeat this process three to five times for every item.”
40 – “I was constantly on the lookout for superfluous things that could be discarded. When I found something not in use, I would pounce on it vengefully and throw it in the garbage. Not surprisingly, I became increasingly irritable and tense and found it impossible to relax even in my own home.”
42 – “Are you happy wearing clothes that don’t give you pleasure? Do you feel joy when surrounded by piles of unread books that don’t touch your heart? Do you think that owning accessories you know you’ll never use will ever bring you happiness?”
44 – “Gathering every item in one place is essential to this process because it gives you an accurate grasp of how much you have.”
45 – People have trouble discarding things that they could still use (functional value), that contain helpful information (informational value), and that have sentimental ties (emotional value). When these things are hard to obtain or replace (rarity), they become even harder to part with.
49 – ““Is there something you need that you were planning to buy?” before you start tidying, and then if you happen to come across exactly what they need, give it to them as a gift.”
51 – “Getting rid of other people’s things without permission demonstrates a sad lack of common sense.”
52 – “quietly work away at disposing of your own excess is actually the best way of dealing with a family that doesn’t tidy.”
55 – “I saw that the clothes she chose to keep were mostly casual things like T-shirts, while the ones she discarded were a completely different style—tight skirts and revealing tops.”
56 – “forcing things onto your family members because you can’t bring yourself to discard or donate them. Whether the victim is a sibling, a parent, or a child, this particular custom should be banned.”
58 – “noise makes it harder to hear the internal dialogue between the owner and his or her belongings.”
59 – “When it comes to selecting what to discard, it is actually our rational judgment that causes trouble.”
60 – “consider carefully why you have that specific item in the first place. When did you get it and what meaning did it have for you then? … Not every person you meet in life will become a close friend or lover. Some you will find hard to get along with or impossible to like. But these people, too, teach you the precious lesson of who you do like, so that you will appreciate those special people even more.”
68 – “Let’s start with off-season clothes.”
70 – “The real waste is not discarding clothes you don’t like but wearing them even though you are striving to create the ideal space for your ideal lifestyle.”
72 – “you can fit from twenty to forty pieces of folded clothing in the same amount of space required to hang ten … The real benefit is that you must handle each piece of clothing. As you run your hands over the cloth, you pour your energy into it. The Japanese word for healing is te-ate, which literally means “to apply hands.” The act of folding is far more than making clothes compact for storage. It is an act of caring, an expression of love and appreciation for the way these clothes support your lifestyle. Therefore, when we fold, we should put our heart into it, thanking our clothes for protecting our bodies.”
75 – “organize the contents so that you can see where every item is at a glance, just as you can see the spines of the books on your bookshelves. The key is to store things standing up rather than laid flat.”
76 – “Every piece of clothing has its own “sweet spot” where it feels just right”
78 – “some types of clothing that are better stored on hangers. These include coats, suits, jackets, skirts, and dresses. My standard is this: hang any clothes that look like they would be happier hung up, such as those made with soft materials that flutter in the breeze”
79 – “clothes within each category from heavy to light. When you stand in front of a closet that has been reorganized so that the clothes rise to the right”
84 – “The custom of storing seasonal clothes is behind the times. With the introduction of air-conditioning and heating, our homes are less subject to the weather outside.”
88 – “General (books you read for pleasure) Practical (references, cookbooks, etc.) Visual (photograph collections, etc.) Magazines”
91 – “You may have wanted to read it when you bought it, but if you haven’t read it by now, the book’s purpose was to teach you that you didn’t need it. There’s no need to finish reading books that you only got halfway through. Their purpose was to be read halfway. So get rid of all those unread books. It will be far better for you to read the book that really grabs you right now than one that you left to gather dust for years.”
92 – “If you haven’t done what you intended to do yet, donate or recycle that book. Only by discarding it will you be able to test how passionate you are about that subject. If your feelings don’t change after discarding it, then you’re fine as is. If you want the book so badly after getting rid of it that you’re willing to buy another copy, then buy one—and this time read and study it.”
94 – “My idea was to copy the sentences that inspired me into a notebook. Over time, I thought, this would become a personal collection of my favorite words of wisdom … I never once looked at the file I created. All that effort had just been to ease my own conscience.” It’s a little bit funny that this is what I am doing right now with this blog…
95 – “having fewer books actually increases the impact of the information I read. I recognize necessary information much more easily … The moment you first encounter a particular book is the right time to read it.”
96 – “There are several spots within the house where papers tend to pile up like snowdrifts … divide them into two categories: papers to be saved and papers that need to be dealt with … Don’t forget that the “needs attention” box ought to be empty. If there are papers in it, be aware that this means you have left things undone in your life that require your attention.
100 – “materials for multiple seminars on the same or similar subjects. Why? Because what they learned at the seminars did not stick … If the content is not put into practice, such courses are meaningless.”
106 – “1. CDs, DVDs 2. Skin care products 3. Makeup 4. Accessories 5. Valuables (passports, credit cards, etc.) 6. Electrical equipment and appliances (digital cameras, electric cords, anything that seems vaguely “electric”) 7. Household equipment (stationery and writing materials, sewing kits, etc.) 8. Household supplies (expendables like medicine, detergents, tissues, etc.) 9. Kitchen goods/food supplies (spatulas, pots, blenders, etc.) 10. Other (spare change, figurines, etc.)”
107 – “Too many people live surrounded by things they don’t need “just because.” I urge you to take stock of your komono and save only, and I mean only, those that bring you joy.”
108 – “The true purpose of a present is to be received. Presents are not “things” but a means for conveying someone’s feelings … thank it for the joy it gave you when you first received it. Of course, it would be ideal if you could use it with joy. But surely the person who gave it to you doesn’t want you to use it out of a sense of obligation, or to put it away without using it, only to feel guilty every time you see it. When you discard or donate it, you do so for the sake of the giver, too.”
110 – “If you see a cord and wonder what on earth it’s for, chances are you’ll never use it again. Mysterious cords will always remain just that—a mystery. Are you worried you might need it if something breaks? Don’t be. I have seen countless homes with duplicates of the same type of cord, but a tangle of cords just makes it harder to find the right one.”
112 – “The exhilaration you felt when you bought them is what counts.”
116 – “That’s right. By handling each sentimental item and deciding what to discard, you process your past. If you just stow these things away in a drawer or cardboard box, before you realize it, your past will become a weight that holds you back and keeps you from living in the here and now. It is not our memories but the person we have become because of those past experiences that we should treasure. This is the lesson these keepsakes teach us when we sort them. The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.”
119 – “Photographs exist only to show a specific event or time. For this reason, they must be looked at one by one. When you do this, you will be surprised at how clearly you can tell the difference between those that touch your heart and those that don’t.”
124 – “As you reduce your belongings through the process of tidying, you will come to a point where you suddenly know how much is just right for you. You will feel it as clearly as if something has clicked inside your head. Once you have passed this point, you’ll find that the amount you own never increases.”
126 – “To avoid rebound, you need to create your own tidying method with your own standards. This is precisely why it is so important to identify how you feel about each item you own. The fact that you possess a surplus of things that you can’t bring yourself to discard doesn’t mean you are taking good care of them. In fact, it is quite the opposite.”
131 – “What it’s like to have a designated spot for everything. Keeping your space tidy becomes second nature. You can do it effortlessly, even when you come home tired from work, and this gives you more time to really enjoy life.”
133 – “Once you learn to choose your belongings properly, you will be left only with the amount that fits perfectly in the space you currently own.”
135 – “I fell under the illusion that storage was some form of intellectual contest, the object of which was to see how much I could fit into a storage space by rational organization. If there were a gap between two pieces of furniture, I would squeeze in a storage unit and stack it with things”
135 – “clever ideas are almost always impractical to use and serve only to gratify the designer’s ego.”
142 – “storage should reduce the effort needed to put things away, not the effort needed to get them out.”
142 – “Clutter has only two possible causes: too much effort is required to put things away or it is unclear where things belong.
144 – “When it comes to storage, vertical is best. I am particularly obsessed with this point. I store every item vertically if possible, including clothes, which I fold and stand on edge in my drawers … stacking is very hard on the things at the bottom. Stacking weakens and exhausts the things that bear the weight of the pile.”
164 – “People commonly assume that it is cheaper to buy things in bulk when on sale. But I believe the opposite is true. If you consider the cost of storage, it is just as economical to keep these things in the store, not in your home. Buy and use them as you need them, they will be newer and in better condition.”
168 – “By eliminating excess visual information that doesn’t inspire joy, you can make your space much more peaceful and comfortable.”
169 – “began to treat my belongings as if they were alive when I was a high school student. … hear about athletes who take loving care of their sports gear, treating it almost as if it were sacred. I think the athletes instinctively sense the power of these objects. Our belongings really work hard for us, carrying out their respective roles each day to support our lives.
176 – Client testimonial: “When I put my house in order, I discovered what I really wanted to do.”
180 – “To tell the truth, I still don’t have a lot of self-confidence. There are times when I am quite discouraged by my inadequacies.”
181 – “We come up with all kinds of reasons for not doing it, such as “I didn’t use this particular pot all year, but who knows, I might need it sometime.…” or “That necklace my boyfriend gave me, I really liked it at the time.…” But when we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.
183 – “sorting through our stuff forces us to confront our imperfections and inadequacies and the foolish choices we made in the past.”
184 – “past and our fears for the future by honestly looking at our possessions, we will be able to see what is really important to us. This process in turn helps us identify our values and reduces doubt and confusion in making life decisions.”
187 – “Selecting and discarding one’s possessions is a continuous process of making decisions based on one’s own values. Discarding hones one’s decision-making skills. Isn’t it a waste to squander the opportunity to develop this capacity by saving things?”
191 – “Your possessions want to help you … all the things you own share the desire to be of use to you. I have never encountered any possession that reproached its owner. These thoughts stem from the owner’s sense of guilt, not from the person’s belongings. Then what do the things in our homes that don’t spark joy actually feel? I think they simply want to leave. Lying forgotten in your closet, they know better than anyone else that they are not bringing joy to you now.”
194 – “Reducing the amount of stuff in our space also reduces the amount of dust, and we actually clean more often. When we can see the floor, the dirt stands out and we want to clean. Because clutter has been eliminated, it’s much easier to clean and therefore we do it more thoroughly.”
195 – “through this process people come to know contentment. After tidying, many clients tell me that their worldly desires have decreased. Whereas in the past, no matter how many clothes they had, they were never satisfied and always wanted something new to wear, once they selected and kept only those things that they really loved, they felt that they had everything they needed.”
197 – “concepts underpinning feng shui are the dual forces of yin and yang and the five elements (metal, wood, water, fire, and earth). The basic belief is that everything has its own energy and that each thing should be treated in a way that suits its characteristics. The philosophy of feng shui is really about living in accordance with the rules of nature. The purpose of my approach to tidying is exactly the same.”