When The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up made the New York Times best seller list, I checked it out from the library, read a chapter or two, turned it in again. My closets were overcrowded, disorganized, dusty, and a little depressing; but Kondo’s recommendations weren’t for me. Too strange, dense and time-consuming.
This year Kondo published a new comic book version for young adults, which got rave reviews from some of my favorite publications. Parents reported teens cleaning out closets!
Who knows why I bit? Maybe I was pretending this might be helpful for our adult children. Anyway, I bought it. Read it in one sitting. Where the adult version seemed drawn out and dense, this was whittled to step-by-step basics. It was inspiring.
I headed to the closet.
Here’s Kondo’s method in a nutshell:
Work by category, and only sort one category at a time. Clothes. Books. Jewelry. Tools.
Pile up everything you own in one category. All of it. If it’s clothes, that means every scarf, winter coat, underwear, stockings, everything.
Pick up each piece. Hold it close. Does it make you feel good? “Spark joy”? If not, set it aside for the Goodwill, St. Vincent de Paul or your local used clothing store. Someone would like to have that piece of clothing, and you are keeping them from wearing it.
There were clothes in my closet I was hanging on to because they rocked in 1999. There was stuff I made myself wear because it was in my closet, even though it didn’t fit and wasn’t comfortable.
There was one moment when a scarf I’d never worn was hovering over the discard pile, and I teared up. It belonged to my Mom. It smelled like her. Save.
Most of what you keep can be folded. Properly folded clothes stand up on their own:
Hang only things that should obviously be hung, long to short, left to right. There won’t be much.
Thank the things you’re giving away for their service. Seriously. You’ll feel better, and it makes it easy to let go.
It is tempting here to pontificate about the success of our society being measured by the amount of stuff we buy, and how important it is to see our romance with consumerism with clear eyes — but I won’t. I’ll just say: this is simple, powerful and fun. If you don’t mind reading young adult comic books and if your closet, jewelry box, tool box or bookshelf is tottering/towering/haunting you — I highly recommend.
Marie Kondo’s books are available on her website and on Amazon.
Thank you Ray for the header photo.