Tidying Up the Japanese Way

If you haven’t already read this book,

it might be one you want to consider reading for the new year.


the life changing magic of tidying up

20 Organizing Tips from:  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing  By Marie Kondo


1. Start by discarding.  But rather than choosing what to get rid of, choose what to keep.

2. Keep only things you love and use.

3. Do aim for perfection.  Decide whether to dispose of an item and if keeping, where to put it.  If you can do this with everything in your house, you’ll have achieved perfection.

4. Tidying is just a tool, not the ultimate goal.  The real goal is to create an environment that allows you to have the lifestyle you want.

5. Clever storage is akin to hoarding.  Using container, bins, and hangers to maximize space makes for temporary organization and the illusion that clutter has been banished.  What happens when the storage bins and hangers are once again full to overflowing?  What happens when you have to be an origami master to put the items back into the container so the lid closes? The first step must be discarding- keeping only what we really want, need and love.

6. Start with an easy category.  Clothes are easy.  Books next. Papers are harder.  Photos and memorabilia are the hardest.

7. Do not consider putting things away until the process of discarding has been completed.  Do not buy a single organizing supply until discarding is completed.

8. Visualize your space clutter- free.

9. When sorting into “keep” or “discard” piles, handle each item asking yourself if it brings you joy.  The ultimate point of tidying is to bring us happiness.  Does wearing that sweater bring pleasure?  Do the piles of unread books and magazines spark joy or guilt?  Do the toys and craft supplies bring calm or chaos?

10. Quietly dealing with your own excesses is the best way to encourage your family to embrace tidying.  Lead by example and usually the most reluctant tidier will come along.

11. Purge all paper that is not absolutely essential.  Warranties and manuals are available online.  Most financial statements are too.  Greeting cards- birthday, Christmas, Valentines- do you really want to keep these or do you just feel guilty about letting them go.  It’s the sentiment that mattered- not the printed paper.

12. “Just because” is not a good reason to keep something.  “I might need it one day.” isn’t either.  We are awash in odds and ends, knickknacks, mismatched socks, cords without a device and the like.  If you don’t love it and use it, let it go.

13. Don’t stockpile.  The big box store and super sized packages might work in institutional settings, but your home is not in institution.

14. Paring down your things lets you have a better relationship with the things you keep.  You know where they are.  They are properly stored.  And most importantly, they spark joy when you use them.

15. Identify a place for everything.  If you’ve done a good job of discarding, finding the right place for the keepers is easy.  Store all like items in the same place.  For individuals living alone, this is pretty simple.  For families, create a separate storage space for each family member.  For shared items, make sure everyone has equal access to these things.

16. Clutter results when things are not put back where they belong.  Make it easy to put things away and clutter will no longer be a problem.

17. Think vertical for storage- like books on a bookshelf.  This eliminates the problems caused by stacking (horizontal storage)- namely the inaccessibility of the items on the bottom.  If it’s hard to put something away, you probably won’t.

18. Empty your pockets, wallet, purse, backpack- whatever, frequently.  You’ll be surprised as how much clutter accumulates in these places.  And that clutter obscures the necessary.

19. Appreciate your belongings.  Treat them kindly and they will return the favor.   Send unwanted and unneeded things on a journey where they will bring joy to the new owner.

20. Letting go of things is more satisfying that adding new ones.  When you tidy your possessions, you restore balance to your home and that translates into balance in your life.  A home “de-tox” also detoxes the body and the mind.  There is a limit to how much we can truly cherish and appreciate. When you’ve surpassed that limit, more things restrict happiness.


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