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The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles?

Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have lapsed (and she still has a three-month waiting list).

With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy” (and which don’t), this international bestseller featuring Tokyo’s newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home—and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.

Tidying Order: Follow the Correct Order of Categories

The door opens with a click, and a woman looks out at me somewhat anxiously. “H-hello.”

My clients almost always seem a bit tense the first time I visit their home. As they have already met me several times, this tenseness stems not from shyness but more from the need to brace themselves for a major challenge.

“Do you think it’s really possible to clean up my house? There’s no place to even put your feet in here.”

“I don’t see how I can really tidy completely in such a short time.”

“You said that none of your clients have ever suffered rebound. But what if I’m the first?”

Their nervous excitement is almost palpable, but I know without a doubt that every one of them will do fine. Even those who are lazy or messy by nature, even people who have descended from generations of slobs or who are excessively busy, can learn to clean properly if they use the KonMari Method.

Let me share a secret. Putting your house in order is fun! The process of assessing how you feel about the things you own, identifying those that have fulfilled their purpose, expressing your gratitude, and bidding them farewell, is really about examining your inner self, a rite of passage to a new life.

The yardstick by which you judge is your intuitive sense of attraction, and therefore there’s no need for complex theories or numerical data. All you need to do is follow the right order. So arm yourself with plenty of garbage bags and prepare to have fun.

Start with clothes, then move on to books, papers, komono (miscellany), and finally things with sentimental value. If you reduce what you own in this order, your work will proceed with surprising ease. By starting with the easy things first and leaving the hardest for last, you can gradually hone your decision-making skills, so that by the end, it seems simple.

For the first category, clothing, I recommend divid¬ing further into the following subcategories to increase efficiency:

– Tops (shirts, sweaters, etc.)
– Bottoms (pants, skirts, etc.)
– Clothes that should be hung (jackets, coats, suits, etc.)
– Socks
– Underwear
– Bags (handbags, messenger bags, etc.)
– Accessories (scarves, belts, hats, etc.)
– Clothes for specific events (swimsuits, kimonos, uniforms, etc.)
– Shoes

And, yes, I include handbags and shoes as clothing.

Why is this the optimal order? I am actually not sure why, but based on the experience I’ve gained devoting half my life to tidying, I can tell you for certain that it works! Believe me. If you follow this order, you’ll speed through the work and achieve visible results surprisingly quickly.

Moreover, because you will keep only the things you truly love, your energy and joy will increase. You may be physically tired, but it feels so good to get rid of unnecessary items that you will find it hard to stop.

The important point, however, is deciding what to keep.

What things will bring you joy if you keep them as part of your life?

Pick them as if you were identifying items you loved from a showcase in your favorite store.

Once you’ve grasped the basics, put all your clothes in one heap, take them in your hand one by one, and ask yourself quietly, “Does this spark joy?”

Your tidying festival has begun.

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