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The Pros and Cons of Decluttering Your Home Using Marie Kondo's 'The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up'

Time magazine calls bestselling author Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up the declutter bible for 2015. Using her last and first name, Kondo developed her "KonMari Method" for transforming her clients' lives by helping them clear their homes, find what "sparks joy" and live the lives they want.
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Time magazine calls bestselling author Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up the declutter bible for 2015. Using her last and first name, Kondo developed her "KonMari Method" for transforming her clients' lives by helping them clear their homes, find what "sparks joy" and live the lives they want.

This book shares some gems of wisdom for keeping people's spaces tidy and could potentially be transformational for some. However, depending on your life situation, the suggestions may or may not be realistic. Like anything else in life, you have to pick and choose the elements that work for you and your situation.

Here are the pros and cons of Kondo's KonMari Method:

1. Decluttering in one shot allows for immediate transformation.
With the KonMari Method, you would discard your clutter and organize your space thoroughly all at once. Her belief is if you tidy a little at a time, you would tidy forever because you wouldn't see the drastic results. You'd rebound to your old ways. This approach could be done in a weekend and would ideally suit someone who lives in a small apartment or condo.

2. Sorting by category instead of by room can save you time.
Most home decluttering guides suggest using the room-by-room approach to decluttering, whereas this guide suggests sorting by category. Instead of cleaning out the kitchen first, then bathroom and so on, you'd choose one single category, like "books" or "clothes," gather them up from all the rooms in your home, put them in one holding area and then decide what to keep or get rid of in one space.

With the book category, you would gather recipe books from the kitchen, novels by your night stand, coffee table books, children's books and put them all on the floor in one room in the house. Then you would sort them out all at once. This allows for more focus, less context switching and less decision paralysis.

3. The emphasis is keeping only what "sparks joy."
Most organization books focus on decluttering, and with good reason. Go to any typical American family home and you'll notice we just have too much stuff. Asking yourself "What sparks joy?" will help you better decide what to keep, and also give you a greater appreciation for what you have.

4. You let go of your stuff with gratitude for the usefulness they served.
Most decluttering books want you to just ruthlessly get rid of stuff without much closure. Kondo presents a way that acknowledges your things' usefulness with a sense of appreciation for what they did for you - like those fuzzy slippers that kept your feet warm and cozy in the winter time. And this will help you to have a more mindful decluttering experience.

1. This process may not be realistic for larger spaces or families.
This guide is written from the point of view of a single woman in her early 30's who lives in a small flat in Japan. Her method would probably work better for people with small spaces. It may not be realistic for a family with three children and two big dogs in a big four-bedroom house in the suburbs. Thus, it would be unrealistic to thoroughly declutter and organize in one shot if you have a larger home with children and pets. It could certainly be done in a weekend if you're willing to hire help or you're moving away and you have the pressure to declutter because of moving day deadlines. Otherwise expect to do the KonMari Method in stages.

2. Category sorting may not be as effective if you have a family.
It may work better with one individual family member's stuff at a time as opposed to everyone's clothes collectively for instance. Unless there are a small amount of things in that category so the sum of everyone's books for example is more manageable to organize it may work out. But, if you have a household of five, it would be nearly impossible to sort out a lifetime of all individual family member's clothes in one shot - unless you hire help or get volunteers on board. There's just not enough hours in the day if you have a large house with a large family.

3. Untagging clothes and immediately hanging them in your closet doesn't always make sense.
Again I disagree with this if you have kids. They may outgrow them sooner or actually grow into them in the future. You may chose to regift the unused clothes in the future. With clothes, you almost have to organize these by age.

Or you don't know if you really need what you bought. You may already have something similar and would like the opportunity to return the item. It's probably better to keep tags on for a finite period of time.

4. The book doesn't address how to deal with children's toys.

There's no way you can declutter thoroughly because children grow and they will always have new toys or activities come in and out of their lives depending on what stage of growth they're at. Sure, you can make that choice - you either make the decision to declutter their stuff to a T, but be aware stuff will always be coming in and do you really have the time to ruthlessly declutter? Or you'd have to have organization storages and systems in place to manage the flow that comes in and out. And with kids, you'd have to involve them in the process to in deciding what sparks THEIR joy, what to keep and toss.

This book does contain some good advice that may work for your lifestyle, but I wouldn't consider it full-proof. If you're single, or a couple with a small pet in a tiny apartment it may work. But if you're a large family in a larger space you'll have to pick and choose what works otherwise outsource some of the work. What I found most helpful is going through your things to find what sparks joy and sorting by category. Other than that, it's each each to his or her own.

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