The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” is a very good book about … well… tidying houses. However, below the surface is more than that. It is, in a strange way, one of best self-help books I have ever read. I believe it is interesting to tell how I found and read this book. Several months ago, I decided to tidy the apartment where I have lived for a quarter of century. Five seconds after that decision I look at my house and thought that the simple idea of organizing it, was an impossible task (too much stuff everywhere).
However, I really wanted to tidy my apartment. So, I decided to find a book with some strategy that could help me. I found many books about the subject and I chose to buy this one because it was the most popular so far. After reading it I could confirm that it deserves its popularity.
At the moment I am writing this review, I can see a light by the end of the tunnel. Basically I concluded the process of emptying my house of stuff that I really don’t need. One example, I gave to friends and donated to nonprofit organizations more than two hundred books and several dozens of DVD ( I had for years and didn’t even remove their plastic cover). Another example, is how I recycled paper photocopies that I took in my first year as an undergraduate…. It is amazing the stuff I have accumulated in my house.
Marie Kondo, the author of book that helped me organizing my house, has a consulting business in Tokyo that helps clients to “transform their cluttered homes into spaces of serenity and inspiration”. “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” was a number 1 New York Times best seller and has sold more than three million copies worldwide. The book even led to a TV program in Japan. Marie Kondo has been highlighted in important international newspapers like the Sunday Times and the New York Times.
After reading the book and applying its advices, I believe Marie Kondo knows about tidying houses like (I hope you recognize the reference) William Burroughs knew about the effects of drugs. She is a “fanatic” of tidying since her childhood.
Maria Kondo’s best piece of advice
I found two of her advices very useful. One is that you don’t tidy a house room by room – you tidy by categories (let´s say clothes first, books seconds and so on). Other is the way you choose witch objects to keep – you ask yourself if the object will bring joy to you in the future. This way of choosing witch objects to keep is very practical from my experience. When I started to use her advice how to sort objects it was very strange to me. However, after a while, it became very natural.
What is interesting, is that I started to apply that criteria to other areas of my life. The most obvious area is the process of buying stuff. I found myself asking if the objects I was considering buying would bring me joy in the future. Many times, I found that the answer was a clear no and I started to buy a lot less stuff.
I’m buying less stuff nowadays, because when I was cleaning my house I discovered lots of objects that I had no idea I had. For example, I found enough pens and pencils working for my needs, I believe, for at least a decade. And many more pens and pencils that I am now thinking of offering to friends.
I am also applying the question of joy to my hobbies and work. I confess that it isn’t very intelligent to keep doing hobbies that don’t bring me joy. After applying the question to my hobbies I stopped doing some of them and started others, to know if they will bring me joy. One of the new hobbies is couple dance called Lindy Hop.
I am a senior lecturer and since I have some flexibility about the subject of my scientific articles, I am choosing now subjects that give me more joy. I don’t know yet if the end product will be satisfying but for now I am enjoying the process of writing and researching more pleasurable. It is ridiculous how iI haven’t taken into account the question of joy in past scientific articles.
Marie Kondo is Japanese, and her cultural background brings a special “flavor” to her book which is a mystical “taste” that works well for me. For example, Marie Kondo considers that objects have souls. I really don’t know if objects have souls but I believe that the idea is very pleasant!
If you are serious about tidying your house or office this is a book for you. It is well written with very smart advice. If you follow the advice of the book don’t be surprised that you end tidying more things then your house or your office. You might end up also tidying your life.
Ivo Dias de Sousa is a Portuguese writer born in Mozambique. Ivo is also a Professor at Universidade Aberta, Portugal, giving courses on information management. Currently, Ivo is interested in using his experience on information management to construct applications (see http://windit-app.com/ ) for smartphones, in collaboration with others. Ivo holds a Master in Statistics and Information Management (Universidade Nova de Lisboa) and a Ph.D. in Information Management (Universidade Aberta). Amongst his main interests are information management, psychology of luck and literature.