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Book Summary – The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up - Book summary

Do you struggle to keep your home and workspace tidy? Or perhaps you’re always short of storage space at home? By using the KonMari Method by Marie Kondo, you can declutter your living or work spaces once and for all. More importantly, in the process of getting your house in order, you’ll experience a profound mindset shift that fundamentally changes your life. In this free version of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up summary, you’ll learn why you should tidy up, outline the key principles and philosophies behind the KonMari Method, how to tidy up by category and avoid reverting to clutter.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: An Overview

Why tidy up?

Your environment reflects and affects your mental state. When you feel anxious, you may feel the urge to dive into menial tasks (e.g. packing and organizing) to distract yourself from the issue. If the room is already clean and uncluttered, you’ll be forced to look inward to find the source of your anxiety. So, once you get your house in order, it paves the way for you to also tidy up the clutter in your life.

In any case, it is hard to feel calm and focused when your house is messy and cluttered. The goal of the KonMari Method is to transform your home into a space where you feel comfortable, relaxed and energized, i.e. it becomes your power spot.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up summary_Why Tidy up

Getting it Done—Once and For All

Kondo’s KonMari Method is strongly influenced by the Japanese religion of Shinto, which believes that all inanimate objects also have souls and feelings. You’ll feel happier when you’re surrounded by things that you love, and your possessions will also shine when they’re cherished and cared for.

Unfortunately, most of us never learned a proper way of tidying. We may try to tidy up, only to revert to clutter. In our full version of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up summary, we’ll explain why this happens, and how to tidy such that you’ll never revert to clutter again.  [Hint: adding storage solutions or tidying a bit at  a time does not work].

An Overview of the KonMari Method

Kondo’s approach works for everyone, regardless of your personality type or existing habits. However, there are several crucial rules or principles you must follow for it to work.  Here’s a brief outline, with more details in our full book summary.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up summary- Overview of the KonMari Method

The Key Principles

  • Don’t treat tidying as a daily chore. Make a real commitment to get your house in order. Treat it as a special event to reset your living space and life. Pause and visualize your ideal lifestyle. Imagine (in vivid terms) how exactly it’ll be like to live in a clutter-free space, to do the things you love, while feeling peaceful and energized. Once you’re clear on why you want to tidy up, set a date asap and tidy the entire house at one go. Keep going and only stop when you’ve (i) gone through every item to decide whether to discard it, and (ii) and put everything in its designated place. Thereafter, you’ll only have to put things back in their place daily.
  • Go by category, not room/location. Since we tend to store the same type of items in multiple places, you’ll end up doing the same work repeatedly if you go by location. Tackle the categories in this sequence: clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items), then sentimental items.
  • Discard items before you try to organize them.  Start with functional things that’re easier to discard (following the sequence above). For each category, gather all the items together in a giant pile and them lay out on the floor, so you can see how much you really have.  Pick up each item and keep it only if it sparks joy in you. If not, move it to the discard/donate pile. If something has already fulfilled its role, thank it for all it’s done for you, then let it go with gratitude.

Your end goal = be only left with the things that you truly treasure and make you happy.

The Process

In our complete 12-page version of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, summary we’ll be breaking down details of:

  • How to tidy up for each of the categories mentioned above. For example, there are specific tricks and techniques for keeping your clothing and accessories optimally, including instructions to fold your clothes in a way that saves space without crumpling them.  It can also be hard to let go of sentimental items (e.g. photographs, love letters, childhood items).
  • Overall tips for tidying more effectively, such as: how to find your ideal minimum point (yet still be happy), how to master the art of storage (use vertical storage, see everything at a glance, how to minimize unnecessary “noise” etc.), what to do if you live with other family members, and other dos and don’ts.

How Tidying Transforms your Life

The process of tidying up helps you to let go of old and unwanted things, so new and better things can enter your life. Often, we can’t let something go due to (i) an attachment to the past or (ii) a fear for the future. Each time you feel reluctant to discard something even though it doesn’t bring you joy, pause to ask yourself why. You’ll gradually realize that the things you own reflect the fears and values that guide your life.

As you repeatedly pick up an item, ask if it adds joy or if you should discard it, you’ll get in touch with what truly matters to you and become more confident about what you want. Kondo also shares how the process of tidying up has benefited her clients’ body and health, like a full detox on your living space, body and life.

Getting More from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

It’s always better to get your house in order earlier rather than later. Make a decision to tidy up once and for all, put things where they belong, and free up your time and energy to focus on your true mission in life. If you’re ready to start learning more, do check out our full book summary bundle. This includes an infographic, 12-page text summary, and a 23-minute audio summary.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up summary - bundle

This is an easy-to-read book filled with personal anecdotes, stories of Kondo’s experience with her clients, and detailed tips on how to tidy and organize your house. You can purchase the book here or visit for more resources/details.

About the Author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing is written by Marie Kondo–also known as Konmari, is a Japanese organizing consultant, author, and TV show host. Her books have been translated from Japanese into several languages. Kondo’s methods were largely popularized after the success of Netflix series Tidying Up with Marie Kondo released in 2019. She was listed as one of Time’s “100 most influential people” in 2015, and opened an online store in 2019.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up Quotes

“The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life.”

“People cannot change their habits without first changing their way of thinking.”

“To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose.”

“No matter how wonderful things used to be, we cannot live in the past. The joy and excitement we feel here and now are more important.”

“The best way to find out what we really need is to get rid of what we don’t.”

Click here to download The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up summary & infographic

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