Marie Kondo, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Ostensibly a book about cleaning up your house, Marie Kondo’s book is really about aligning the things around you with your ultimate purpose. That this strikes a chord in a world of overabundance is attested to by her being named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2015. Her book has been published in more than 30 countries.

Her approach is deceptively simple: The mess we have in our lives is due to our inability to know what resonates with ourselves most. Instead, we accumulate stuff in search of a new identity, or based on what we think we should be doing, or status symbols. Soon, we are overwhelmed by the deadwood we carry along with us and, in response, do nothing. Here, the author presents the Konmari method of cleaning up – from clothes to miscellany to personal mementos – that helps us focus on what is essential. To be clear: Konmari has been obsessed with tidying, organizing, and discarding from a very early age. She is upfront and frank about this obsession, which might seem trivial to some. But her basic principle – does it spark joy? – is astonishingly simple and effective.

So, you might ask, what does this have to do with anything other than organizing your wardrobe? Well, everything, actually – and this is where the magic comes in. Most of our lives – personal as well as professional – are spent with an increasing clutter of irrelevant things. Businesses, for example, will expand haphazardly until a crisis or economic downturn forces them to reorganize – roughly about every seven years or so. The secret lies, she says, not in adding things to our lives, but in eliminating them.

Read this if you need to clean up your house and/or office. Read it again if you want clarity on your life – as Konmari herself points out, tidying up is twice as effective as a self-help retreat or world trip and costs half as much. Read it again (it’s short, so no problem) if you want to re-visit its underlying wisdom.