When I first encountered “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo, I was experiencing a very bad Friday. I had the worst day at work and my car got toed to a parking lot with no personnel to help me release it.

I stood there in an empty parking lot (with my traumatized car in it) on a Friday night at 23:00 pm yelling and screaming at the sky: “Why god?? Why???”

It’s funny how we can experience the worst day due to some circumstantial events that won’t be relevant tomorrow, and still, it’ll make you question your entire life and identity.

So that’s what happened to me. I drove home in my car, both of us traumatized for different reasons.

The day after, my mom got a full update, where I told her the story of the careless behavior of the city hall employees and why they should all be sued.

Right then and there, she told me about a book that she had recently read, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing byMarie Kondo, and how it’s literally a life-changing book.

Although I’m a very skeptical person who has heard the phrase “life changing book” so many times about so many books, I decided to put my cynicism aside for two reasons.

First, the Japanese invented sushi, it’s a major credential for any other thing they will invent.

Second, tidying-up is something that really makes me feel happy afterward, so the basic notion made enough sense to not wave it away. And how glad I am that I didn’t.

It’s been two months since my big organization event and the changes since then were massive.

Now my inner karma-fairy asked me to pass on the word and tell you all about this book, so here are some principals that I learned from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing that helped me tremendously:

 

1. A tidy house is a tidy mind

You have no idea how amazingly true this is. After cleaning my house, I could get up in the morning with no hassle, feeling happy and energized. Open my closet without feeling the heavy burden of not knowing what to wear.

I did know, and immediately. And it all made sense to me. I stopped being late to meetings and forgetting things even when not in the house!

You’ll hear more about it further on, but if you want to get the bottom line of this article without getting to the ‘how to do it’ part, just know this – living in a house that is not just clean, but rather is tidy and contains only your essentials, will change every aspect of your life.

 

2. The “special event” that will change your daily life

Wait! Before you say anything on how this headline makes no sense, let’s distinguish between putting stuff back to where they belong (which is something we are supposed to do on a daily basis), to a special event organizing as Marie puts it in her book: “Once you’ll do this special organizing event, which is a once in a lifetime event, you could enjoy living in a clean environment to your liking”.

Can you honestly put your hand on your chest and swear that you’re happy when you’re surrounded by so many things that you can’t even remember where they are?

The special event is not reorganizing your stuff in different storage boxes. This event is a root canal, it’s genesis, it’s a complete and a total makeover of the way you perceived your house and your belongings.

And let me tell you something, it wasn’t easy.

 

3. Throw things away – all at once

OK, so there’s a one-time major event to execute. But what does it include? In a nutshell, you’re going to throw a lot of stuff away in one time. Exactly like a band-aid. fast and efficient.

Now for the million dollar question- how can I throw so many things away?

I love my things! and more than that, I paid money for those things, why on earth would I ever want to throw them away?

Well, you should, because statistically you probably living in a house or a room that is too small to contain all your stuff, and no one wants to pay for storage that he/she will never actually use.

Also, and that’s the major bottom line here- It’s not only that those things are not making you happy, but they actually make you feel worst.

Marie suggests some techniques to help us conduct this ‘Sophie’s-Choice-task’. My rule for throwing stuff, until after reading this book, was based on some numeric rules I found liable.

Among them, throwing old item right after buying a new one of the same kind (usually shoes and clothes) or asking myself if I used it in the last 12 months.

Marie’s technique was different and had a philosophic approach. She says, that for every item you considering on throwing, ask yourself: “Does this item makes my heart happy?” 

Now I know it sounds cheesy at first, but it actually works! you have to hold every item individually and provide an honest response, after looking at it and feeling it.

I found myself holding items that I haven’t used in years but didn’t even consider throwing away (like my all times backstreet boys posters collection).

It was like a heartbreaking break-up to look at it and say “you do not make me happy at all” (especially when I can find all this pics on the internet), and then realizing what it means (Good-bye Nick, you were a true muse for my ideal teenage boyfriend and a great friend).

Marie says, “Do you feel joy wearing clothes that don’t make you happy? Do you feel happy to be surrounded by books that don’t really interest you and that you’re never going to read?…. Now imagine yourself living in a space that contains only the things you love and bring you joy. After doing that, you’ll start your life at zero and be able to adopt a new way of life”.

Now imagine yourself living in a space that contains only the things you love and bring you joy. After doing that, you’ll start your life at zero and be able to adopt a new way of life

 

4. Be effective- work by categories

This advice by Marie was the most efficient technical tool she provided to apply her concept from paragraph 3.

When throwing things away you need to work by categories and not by locations. For example, when you decide to go for your clothes, you should take out ALL the clothes from every location in the house and massacre them all together.

The reason is, that it is more effective and comprehensive to perform the sorting and the storing process only once. “You would have to repeat the entire sorting and storing process in each location in the house. You’re not only going to spend time and effort, you also wouldn’t be able to truly assess what you want to keep or throw away”.

 

5. Sorting documents

As I realized after I finished the entire process, which was amazingly liberating, I got the best catharsis from sorting and throwing away documents.

Cause here’s the thing, documents tend to lose their relevance very quickly, but they are also very small and silent.

When I was tidying up my documents drawers I found so many irrelevant documents it was crazy! Receipts from the cinema, summaries of classes from a degree I finished 3 years ago, so much irrelevant mail from banks, insurance companies etc.

Marie says that the majority of her clients throw away 2 giant bags of papers. “My basic principle for sorting documents is to throw them all away. My clients are shocked when I say that but there’s nothing more annoying than documents. They will never make us happy, no matter how effectively we’ll store them. For this reason, I recommend throwing away anything that is not under one of the following categories: This document is in use right now, this document is necessary for a defined amount of time, or this document is necessary forever”.

Working by these guidelines really helped me throw away papers with zero guilt.

 

 

6. I solved my loose change problem!

I always had this horrible habit of having loose change all around the house. At one point, I started putting it in a glass located on my desk, but then I had another one in the kitchen and even another in the bathroom.

But the real problem with this habit is the fact that this loose change will never go anywhere unless it is in your purse.

That’s why I immediately took Marie’s advice to take all the loose change you have and put it in your purse.

It was really funny on day one, I’ll tell you that. I made one cashier very happy when I bought my $43 groceries in pennies and nickels, plus it felt like it was on the house because I wasn’t using my “real money” but rather some trash from my apartment. Major win.

 

 

7. When can you tell that you’re done?

You just know. Marie says, “sort your items by categories, in the right order, and keep only the ones that make you happy”.

Do it thoroughly and fast, all at once. If you follow this advice, you’d be able to dramatically reduce the number of items you possess, you’ll feel this amazing exaltation that you haven’t experienced before and will gain confidence and belief in your new life.

Before executing the big event, I remembered the time I came to NYC to study Interior Design at Parsons.

I was living in a tiny apartment where my closet was a combination of a suitcase and a bookcase, with basically 0.45% of the clothes from my original closet and 2 pairs of shoes (out of 97 pairs).

At first, it was so oppressing to wear the same pair of pants twice a week. But I quickly started feeling a sense of liberation and freedom.

I’m sorry that I sound like a cliché. I was really trying to avoid it, but you have to hear this from a primary source.

So I said to myself that once I get that feeling back, I’ll know that I’m done. Try to think if you have ever experienced a similar feeling for which to refer, but even if not, you’ll just know when you’re done because you’ll suddenly feel like someone has cleaned your body and soul.

 

8. What did it really do to me?

You just know. Marie says, “sort your items by categories, in the right order, and keep only the ones that make you happy”.

Do it thoroughly and fast, all at once. If you follow this advice, you’d be able to dramatically reduce the number of items you possess, you’ll feel this amazing exaltation that you haven’t experienced before and will gain confidence and belief in your new life.

Before executing the big event, I remembered the time I came to NYC to study Interior Design at Parsons.

I was living in a tiny apartment where my closet was a combination of a suitcase and a bookcase, with basically 0.45% of the clothes from my original closet and 2 pairs of shoes (out of 97 pairs).

At first, it was so oppressing to wear the same pair of pants twice a week. But I quickly started feeling a sense of liberation and freedom.

I’m sorry that I sound like a cliché. I was really trying to avoid it, but you have to hear this from a primary source.

So I said to myself that once I get that feeling back, I’ll know that I’m done. Try to think if you have ever experienced a similar feeling for which to refer, but even if not, you’ll just know when you’re done because you’ll suddenly feel like someone has cleaned your body and soul.

 

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