The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up Summary (Marie Kondo)

The KonMari method is a guide that will help you acquire the right mindset for creating order and becoming a tidy person.

Think of it like a spiritual and psychological cleanse, through decluttering.

A shortcut to a joyous form of simple living.

Three takeaways:

  • The secret to regaining order is to start by discarding.
  • Declutter in one go, rather than piecemeal
  • Getting organised will positively affect all areas of your life

Why is it so hard?

We’ve never been taught how to tidy properly, which is a learned skill.

Many experts advocate tidying small areas at a time, which leads to an endless cycle of cleaning and little progress.

It’s more effective to do it one go; tidy properly once and once only.

“The ultimate secret of success is this: if you tidy up in one go, rather than little by little, you can dramatically change your mindset”

To change this habit, we must first modify our mindset.

If we declutter thoroughly, the results from inhabiting a clear space will motivate us to continue with the lifestyle design.

Two important decisions:

  • Deciding whether to dispose of something
  • Deciding where to put it

Why is tidying important?

Many people get the urge to purge when stressed or overwhelmed.

Being able to control our environment provides temporary psychological relief.

In this way, tidying is more of a process than end result.

When we have a clean environment, it represents a kind of reset, forcing us to focus on our inner state.

Cleaning is a meditative process which allows us to engage in internal dialogue and re-evaluate life.

Starting early in the morning can provide the kind of quiet needed to converse with yourself through the medium of the possessions.

This process allows us to cherish that which keep and allow us to re-imagine the kind of lifestyle we want.

Three things to bear in mind:

  • Tidy by category, not location – rather than starting with the living room, begin with books, providing a better idea of the quantity of each item
  • Don’t tidy daily – do it once and dramatically, making it a special event. It will then be easier to maintain a clean space.
  • Finish discarding first – discard with extreme prejudice or don’t make progress. The mindset shift will prevent you from returning to the previous cluttered state.


Before starting, consider your goal and imagine what it would be like to live in a clean space.

Now you’re ready for the Jedi cleaning to begin.

Collect everything in your chosen category so you can assess the damage (you might have more than you thought!) This overview accelerates the process.

Then decide what you want to keep, not discard.

Take each item in hand, and ask yourself, ‘Does this spark joy?’ If it doesn’t, get rid.

“Keep only those things that speak to your heart”

Items we find hard to discard fall into three groups:

  • Functional value – items you can imagine using again
  • Informational value – contain useful information
  • Emotional value – hold sentimental importance

When these items are difficult to obtain or replace, they become harder to discard.

Therefore, begin with items that are easier to part with.

Start with the following sequence:

  • Clothes
  • Books
  • Papers
  • Miscellaneous
  • Mementoes

Note that you won’t always receive support from your family.

Therefore, it’s best to quietly reduce your own excess and avoid decluttering in-front of parents, who might make the process harder.

If you don’t need an item, neither does your family. If donating an item, ensure you gift it to someone who needs it.

Item types


Tidy in the following order:

  1. Tops
  2. Bottoms
  3. Clothes to be hung
  4. Socks
  5. Underwear
  6. Bags
  7. Accessories
  8. Clothes for specific events
  9. Shoes

Begin by laying out clothing on the floor and deciding which items are a pleasure to wear. Discard the rest, rather than downgrading them to loungewear.

Other tips:

  • Fold clothes in a neat rectangles
  • Store standing up rather than laid flat
  • Hang coats, suits, jackets, skirts, dresses
  • Keep the same category of clothing side-by-side
  • Arrange clothes to rise to the right
  • Hang heavy items on the left side of the closet and light items on the right
  • Fold socks and stockings instead of balling them
  • Don’t store off-season clothes – keep them ready to go


Place all books on the floor.

Keep the ones that provide genuine pleasure.

If you think you’ll read one again someday, get rid of it.

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


Discard all papers unless they fall into the following three categories:

  • Currently in use
  • Needed for a limited period of time
  • Must be kept indefinitely

Keep your papers in one place and don’t let them spread to other parts of the house.


Only keep that which makes you actively happy.

Discard unnecessaries like:

  • Cosmetic samples
  • Electronic packages
  • Unidentified
  • Cords
  • Spare buttons

With this process, it’s important to follow our intuition and reach an instinctive point where we know the right number of possessions.


Clutter is caused by not returning items to where they belong.

Efficient storage should reduce the effort needed to put items away, not retrieve them.

Every item should have a designated storage space or you’ll likely accumulate clutter once more.

When selecting our possessions with care, we’ll finish with the right level of ownership for our current living space.

However, if we start storing before purging, we will rebound to our old ways.

When we’re choosing what to keep, ask our heart. When we’re choosing where to store, ask our house.

“Owning only what we love and what we need is the most natural condition”

Storage tips:

  • Simple storage to see immediately how much we own
  • Store all items of the same category in the same space
  • Clearly defined storage spaces for each family member
  • Don’t stack items; store vertically
  • Declutter first, buying storage containers you like
  • Empty bags daily and store them in other bags according to material, size and frequency of use
  • Utilise every area of your closet
  • Keep things out of the bath and the kitchen sink
  • Dry your shampoos and soaps and sponges after each use and store in the cupboard
  • Don’t store spices on the counter

Appreciate your possessions as allies and transform your home into a sacred space.

Life transformation

“The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past”

Tidying up is a wonderful tool to enhance self-awareness.

Observe the items, such as books, which survived the purge to rediscover your true interests and passions.

Letting go of possessions is a valuable psychological skill and more important than addition.

Parting with multiple possessions provides increased confidence as a decision-maker.

After all, those who lack confidence in their judgement, lack confidence in themselves.

The primary reasons we struggle to let go are:

  • Attachment to the past
  • Fear of the future

So the question of what we want to own is more deep-rooted, examining how we want to live our lives.

Tidying is liberating, showing us that we can survive without many previously valued possessions.

It’s a time of celebration and should be treated as such.

Releasing these items allows us to invest in that which brings joy.

Real life begins after putting your house in order.

Note: with the success of the book, Kondo has even been elevated to the Netflix ranks:

Like this? Then browse more book summaries.