Be grateful and let it go.

I received the following message some weeks ago. I am not sure now who the author was but please feel free to identify yourself if you recognise it.

“I just read an interesting book called the KonMari method of Tidying Up. Her take is that for lasting change you have to do  the whole declutter in one  go, although her “go” can be 6 months. I don’t necessarily agree with her but it was an interesting read. I’d love to hear your opinion if you have read the book.”

I personally have never read any of Marie Kondo’s books but several of my readers have mentioned them in the past. One concept that my readers mentioned, that appealed to me, was the idea of being grateful for the  service of each and every item that is being decluttered, and then happily let it go. That is regardless of how much or little of a service they have been. I like this idea. It is positive and I dare say uplifting. Which is a far better attitude to approach decluttering with than negativity.

Lets face it being negative gets you nowhere. Right? From the very beginning I approached my decluttering process as a positive move. A move towards a new way of living and consuming. I focused on the positive change rather than the scale of the task. After all, how hard can it be to set aside one thing a day. Sometimes in the first year I had to restrain myself from decluttering more than just that one thing. A thing a day was the challenge after all and I wanted to stick to the guidelines.

There have been so many things that have passed through my hands over the years as I slowly reduced my belongings. For many of them I was truly grateful for their service. Others, not so much, but that is OK because I am still grateful for whatever joy I received from them. From these items I learned the purchasing pitfalls to avoid in the future. I also learned a lot about what kinds of things I had a hard time resisting in the past. Once these things are identified it is easy not to make similar mistakes.

Through this blog there are so many ways that I have tried to nurture a positive attitude towards embarking on the task of decluttering your home. If you still need some more inspiration I would recommend reading one of Marie Kondo’s books. And if my local library ever stocks any I will also read them. Here are a few on-line articles about this Japanese decluttering expert for you to get an idea of her methods and philosophies.

So be grateful and happy decluttering.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter some items of jewellery you don’t like so much. My mother-in-law was doing this.

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. I love her method of folding clothes and the arrangement in the drawer so they are visible. You can find her on YouTube explaining how to fold clothes.

    • I haven’t actually looked at her folding method but perhaps it where the idea came from of filing t-shirts. Steve and I have been doing this for years. It looks so tidy, is simple to do and makes it so much easier to find what you are after.

  2. Yes, she is whipping up a storm out there in blog-land. I have not read the book yet, but there’s a bit of controversy over her “just chuck it out” attitude. Not much emphasis on Reduce, Reuse, Recycle I believe. Anyway, I think your way is best Colleen, because it gives people the TIME they need to really look at why they buy/bring all the clutter into their homes in the first place. Until people make their own connections over this, it’s all a bit pointless. In the beginning you think its the “stuff” that is the problem, as you go along you actually change yourself, so the “stuff” gradually becomes meaningless to you so you can part with it. Deb J – this is why it never ends, because we never stop growing and learning and that is a good thing.

    • Now that is interesting Laura and I am glad she is being reprimanded for it. As you know I hate waste so this wouldn’t sit well with me. With a little luck such a public outcry may have her changing her ways in that area. I wonder, with such an easy come easy go attitude, whether there is any emphasis on being consumer conscious. If there isn’t her readers may just end up back at square one. I really am going to have to acquire one of her books to find out.

      • I was watching a YouTube video review of her book the other night, and the reviewer said that she DOES encourage people to get rid of their stuff in an appropriate way, so she isn’t really encouraging people to just throw away things willy-nilly.

  3. I haven’t read her book yet but it is on my to-do list. I am interest in her folding method as I think it might work well for my younger daughter who is organisingly challenged and always making a mess of her drawers rummaging for what she is looking for.

    I did use her method of thanking items as they are dispatched while I was working at my friend’s house as she struggled a bit with her son’s outgrown stuff, it made her feel better about donating it.

    I have heard recently that each day she has a practice of emptying her handbag upon arriving home. I think that is something I could benefit from. My debit cards live in my phone holder so I don’t have a wallet for receipts and loose change etc.

    But all the good ideas in the world doesn’t equate with being part of a cyber community where decluttering is a part of your daily conversation and thoughts!

    • Hi Moni, I thought you were one of the readers who had read her book. You must have mentioned her at some point though. And thank you, we do have a wonderful community here where we can share ideas, bounce thought off one another and be each others cheer squad and you are a big part of that.

      • Colleen – no not I. At least not yet. I remember someone brought up the topic and I got in on the thread, as it was about thanking items, which is not really a Western way of thinking, so something new and interesting for me.

        But I could read about a topic until the cows came home, but reading and commenting on a daily basis has made more of an impact.

        I find when a read a book by an expert, the core of the message is the same as all the other experts ie we have too much stuff, but it is interesting to read about what motivates them and the lifestyle they have built around the journey is what makes it interesting.

        I’m not a greenie per se, I do my bit, probably more than others but there are other people who do more. However I do agree that responsible elimination of clutter is important as part of the re-education of the Clutter-Bug and to explore all avenues (ie donation, freecycle etc) before resorting to dumping. I know it slows me up when I am browsing in a store and I feel that ‘happy’ something triggers, I know it will take one minute to buy but potentially an hour or so to eliminate when I no longer want it. It makes me purchase with purpose and location in mind.

        • Hi Moni, there are so many good point in your comment. Yes, knowing that disposing of items responsibly can be a chore sure does make you think twice about purchasing in the first place. And there is plenty of evidence on this blog that you do your best in this area.

    • I don’t usually carry a purse (just my wallet), but I clean out whichever one when I get home every day. My husband empties his pockets when he gets home and turns in any receipts to me. It’s a great daily routine!

  4. I read her book and found it quite cute and inspiring. She advocates being very respectful of all belongings whether you keep them or discard them. Her test as to whether or not you keep something is if it “sparks joy” when you pick it up. Utilitarian things spark joy, whether it feels like it or not, because you would be in need if you didn’t have the item so just having it is positive.
    She made a reference to socks that I thought was cute – she was horrified to find that one of her clients kept all of her socks bundled up like “potatoes”! She said you have to let your clothes rest while not in use. I guess socks bundled up like potatoes are not resting because the elastic is being stretched. I still have my socks bundled up like potatoes though but feel guilty now when I look at them! Meanwhile, it works for me and I usually get holes in socks before the elastic wears out.
    Anyhow, I liked her book because it was quirky and gave me a few other ideas and motivations for decluttering.

    • My husband’s theory is if you buy all the same socks then you don’t have to fold them or tie them or potato them, just toss them in a drawer (or stack them neatly if you feel the need)–no need to pair them up, just grab two and go. I am somewhat envious of this, but not enough to get rid of all my socks to try similar (but with 2 or 3 colors).

      • Kayote – I went the same socks path years ago with my kids. I got sick of socks going missing (where do they actually go?) and having a useless sock. So everyone got ‘their’ socks and enough of them to easily last a week. It made folding laundry easier and everyone getting ready in the morning easier. Yes it was a bit of an investment at the time, lets face it who wants to spend a dollop of cash on socks, but it made my life easier.

        That was also the time I stopped potato-folding my socks. I wasn’t interested in the sock’s feelings at the time, nor the effect on the elasticity, it just seemed really easy as they were all identical.

      • Kayote, your use of the word potato as a verb made me laugh. I buy all identical socks for my husband (one type for work, another type for working out), and it makes laundry so much easier! I do still potato them, though….it looks nicer to me. I have to admit that I’ve never cared about their feelings, but they seem to be pretty happy.

      • Hi Kayote, good for your husband, that certainly simplifies things. However this is one area in which I like a little variety so I will continue to potato. Although I have to admit I really don’t understand how sock go “missing in the wash”. I am pretty sure they go missing before ever getting to the washing machine. I used to have an orphan sock location in my house where the odd socks, mainly of the kids, would be put until the partner turned up. And they usually did.
        Now my son though is convinced that socks have a left and right. That is, once they have been worn on either foot they remain that shape and need to be worn that way for ever more or they feel awkward. May a say that, like his mother, he is very tactile. However I think he is being a little to precious if he really thinks this is so. Needless to say sock shopping for him was a very interesting venture. He must have very delicate feet. Never were we to buy any pairs that were stitched at the toe.

    • Hi Claire, I bundle my socks like potatoes as well. And I am not convinced that resting elastic does it any good. I find that elastic that is sitting idle loses its stretch faster that that which is under pressure. It may just seem that way because idle things tend to sit around ignored for so long you wouldn’t know how old they are. Perhaps someone should do a test on that theory sometime.

      • Yes, a laboratory test would settle it! That would convince me too. In the meantime I continue to potato my socks! (I only wear short socks, maybe that is why the elastic doesn’t really matter??)
        I tried buying all the same socks for a while but eventually they wear out at different rates so then when you buy some new pairs you have to start matching them up again. It just didn’t work for the long term for me.

        • Now, this is a funny conversation. I potato hubby’s socks because his sock drawer is deep and he just reaches in and grabs a potato. My socks, I pair them up and fold them in half and then stick them in my drawer like files – my sock drawer is shallow and I can see all socks at once. I can grab blue, white, or brown easily.

          • Michelle,

            The sock filing drawer is a very nice way to do it when you have different socks! My hubby’s are all the same, but he still wants to grab one potato instead of two socks. So I potato them. Since they are identical, it doesn’t take long.

    • Claire, you can fold one edge of one sock over the other. They stay together just fine. I do the potato bundling to save space. We each have one night stand with two little drawers so if it doesn’t hang it’s got to fit in there.

      • Jean, do you mean at the cuff of the sock? Thinking about it that is probably a closer description of what I actually do. I guess I don’t usually make a full potato with my socks, more like a 1/2 potato unless they are the very short footie types, then I make a whole potato. Either way for the kinds of socks I wear it is probably stretching the elastic. I don’t have a sock drawer, just a bin that sits on a shelf. So I’m pretty sure just folding them would have them all un-pairing easily. 1/2 potatoes for me!

        • Yeah, just at the cuff. I wear mesh sports flats all day so I only wear socks when the athletic shoes go on. The elastic seems to be fine.

        • Claire, you could try rolling them into a potato, and then the elastic wouldn’t be stressed out. But then you’d have to come up with a cute name other than potato.

          • Melanie, I hadn’t thought of rolling them before. That is a good alternative to folding and potatoing! Jelly rolls? Cinnabon socks?? We’ll have to think about that one!

          • All this talk about rolling and potatoes make me think of sushi rolls and gnocchi. Now I’m hungry. 🙂

  5. I liked her view on getting rid of unfortunate purchases…something like the price of the garment was the cost of the lesson that I look terrible in olive. Lesson learned and paid for so I won’t do that again.
    Her only 1 way to organize or fold clothes was too rigid for me.

    • Hi Gail, that is funny because I am sitting here in a olive dress as I read this. It is cool and comfortable and that is all I care about. And yes, rigidity is never good, I prefer to remain flexible. Sometimes I fold things one way for a while and then I change to another system. I do like to fold my t-shirts the KonMari style but I am not sure that she has rights to that system.

  6. Her book was released in the United States in October. Here, it is called The Magic of Tidying. I thoroughly enjoyed her book. It was worth the small cost and now lives in my “personal hall of fame” books (as she coined it) next to Karen Kingston’s, Clear your Clutter with Feng Shui and Clear Englebert’s, Feng Shui for Hawaii. I reference them frequently, especially when helping others just embarking on their decluttering adventure. It is a short read and worth the price of admission if you choose to purchase it.

    I believe it was also a comment Moni made that started my search for her book. It continues to delight me how all of the 365’ers continue to share information much like the muses did in Alexandria. I am so grateful for everyone.

    • Kimberley – LOL I heard about KonMarie here but at the time my research went as far as google. I think I’m getting the credit because someone was having problems letting go of outgrown children’s clothes and I chimed in with the idea of thanking the items for their service and letting them go on to do their job for someone else. Oh the wisdom I get credited for. That does it, I’m downloading the book tonight. I was going to get it out of the library but like you I refer back to Karen Kingston from time to time and plus several others when I am helping other people with their houses, different lines of thinking work on different people. And it does sound so learned to spout “from a Feng Shui point of view….” or “the Japanese perspective is…..” it sounds so much better than the opinion of Moni of the Carpool.

    • Hi Kimberley, it sounds like I should get in a finish the book I started writing some time back. At least I might be able to count on you to purchase it. That won’t make me a best seller but it is a start. 😉 I do need to read something of Karen Kingston too.

      • Count me in on purchasing your “soon to be published” book 🙂

      • I love Karen Kingston’s book “Clear your Clutter with Feng Shui”, that’s what got me started decluttering in 2002. Absolutely changed the way I looked at stuff.

        Oh and good news, the other day I decluttered 5 suitcases!!! Two large, two medium and a duffel bag, all fine but excess to our needs. My husband had been reluctant for a long time, but finally this time when I brought it up, he said OK fine! They went to the Hospice garage sale immediately! The difference it makes in our walk-in wardrobe is huge!

        Since I have been decluttering with you I have decluttered 1,560 items or bags of items, feels good!

        I must tell you a couple of weeks ago I started reading your blog and all comments from the beginning, and am thoroughly enjoying it. Just a few pages an evening, it’s great, thank you.

  7. What I find interesting is that I would never expect the Japanese to have clutter problems. In my stereotyping mind, thousands of years of simplistic Zen lifestyle would be ingrained and such a cornerstone of their culture that clutter wouldn’t exist. But on the other stereotyping hand…..Hello Kitty does have a lot to answer for.
    Of course, I am baffled when people ask if New Zealanders live in mud huts and wear grass skirts – for the record, no we don’t – so I should consider that I can get it wrong about other countries.

    I assume Kimberley doesn’t go about in a grass skirt and flower lei either.

    • Moni, I lived in Japan for two years, and shopping is as much a national past-time as in the US. They shop A LOT. Add to that the fact that the apartments are tiny in Japan, and I bet they have a lot of clutter. I didn’t discuss this topic with a Japanese person, so I could be wrong.

      • Hi Melanie, I was in Japan recently and a typhoon was not stopping them from shopping either. They actually have vending machines for umbrellas and all the shops put our racks with plastic bags to put them in to avoid dripping all over the floors. One restaurant we went to even had a numbers “parking rack” for umbrellas with a key for each slot so your umbrella was safe and sound while dining. Needless to say, during the Typhoon we were happy to use it. I also used the plastic bag but instead of dropping it on the sidewalk, like so many people, I kept it to reuse over and over again while I was sightseeing.

        • I hope you had a nice time in Japan despite the typhoon! Yes, the “hundred Yen” (aka one dollar) umbrellas appear like magic when it starts to rain. Very convenient when you travel by foot and bus and train, which is so common there, and you don’t have an umbrella on your person every day.

    • LOL, Moni! I haven’t read any of MK’s books but I have read about her online. She apparently has a classical CD (Bach, Chopin, etc.) for tidying up, which reminded me of your playlist. I also recall reading that the Japanese tradition of spring-cleaning, or “oosouji”, to welcome the New Year involves cleaning, decluttering and organising at home, in schools and offices, to pave the way for prosperity.

      • Nicole,
        I love and follow the tradition of spring cleaning or oosouji before the new year. The timing makes total sense to me.

        • Kimberley – in my household we do Spring cleaning in December so the house is all sparkling for the holiday season. Spring in New Zealand is rainy so it’s no point water blasting the house or doing the windows and inside, there’s no point getting the carpets cleaned if wet shoes are still coming in or cleaning the oven while roasts are still being cooked. I do however try to do things like cleaning kitchen cupboards – oops cabinets – and skirting boards etc throughout the year so it’s an easy chore at Spring Cleaning time.
          I guess that’s an advantage of living in the Southern Hemisphere, Spring and the holiday season are close together.
          Aside from that a lot of blogs do Spring Cleaning editions which is in our Autumn, and as I’m easily influenced, I tend to do a mini-spring clean then too. It’s a good time of year to make a list of maintenance issues rather than trying to address those during December ‘Silly Season’.

        • It is a nice way to welcome the New Year, Kimberley, and I suspect that different cultures have similar versions of it.

          • Ooooh, Ladies, I love it when I get the house to myself for a day and I can Spring Clean! That definitely is a time when I look at things and say, “Do I really want to clean this and keep it around?” I have not been able to get hubby out of the house for a whole day (it’s wintertime here), but I keep eyeballing things and thinking, “Your days are numbered, Buckaroo!”. Hee hee.

          • LOL, Michelle! The chorus of One Direction’s ‘One Way or Another’ started playing in my head as I read what you wrote. Watch out, clutter … Michelle’s her name and clutter-busting’s her game!

      • Hi Nicole, I met up with one of my readers when I visited Japan recently. She wasn’t Japanese by the way, but has lived there a while and has no plans to leave. She said that she hasn’t been able to find any sort of thrift shop to send her stuff to and assumes they don’t exist. I did notice a couple of secondhand clothing store while walking around the neighbourhood where we were staying. I can only assume that they either trash the stuff they declutter or find other takers for it some other way rather than donating it to a thrift shop. If anyone knows any differently please let us know here and I will let my new friend in Japan know.

        • Hi, Colleen. I did a quick Google Search and found out that they are apparently called “recycle shops” in Japan. I hope she can find at least one in her neighbourhood.

    • Moni,
      Of course I wear a grass skirt and flower lei daily, hahahaha!
      I do wear a flower in my hair each day, but a lei, only on special holidays.
      On the mainland USA we celebrate may day on may 1st. In Hawaii we celebrate, lei day on may 1st.

    • I thought the same thing Moni. About the grass skirts- really?!
      My high school French teacher went to France as an exchange student for a few months to immerse herself in the language and culture. When people heard that she was from Arizona their faces would light up and they’d ask if she knew any Cowboys. Not ranchers, but, you know, Wild West types. She always felt so sad informing them that she didn’t, the kids especially would be visibly disappointed. She always assured them there were ranchers though and cowboy culture was still alive here, although much more sanitized and watered down. I think when we start to glorify aspects of other cultures we will be disappointed. It’s best to appreciate and respect them because all human cultures have the beautiful and the not-so-desirable in them.

  8. I have seen this book mentioned several places lately! It’s obviously very popular right now. I looked it up on Amazon, and clicked on the reviews. Some of the one-star reviews were hilarious. They mostly all agreed that the book is suited for a young single person and not a Western family. They also mostly agreed that the philosophy is pretty basic: get rid of your stuff and keep only what you love. Just a heads up!

    I’m going to pass on this one (I’m doing a no-spending challenge), but I look forward to hearing what you guys think. I’m sure there are good ideas in the book, despite the one-star reviews. There were a ton of good reviews, fyi.

  9. Hi, Colleen. As I read the title of your post, I mentally continued ” … and be even more grateful that it’s gone”. The positivity continues. 🙂

    • Nicole,

      I read the title and have been singing “Let It Go” from “Frozen” all day. My own version:

      “The clutter always bothered anyway.” 🙂

  10. I haven’t read any of her books but did purchase The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up to add to my collection (looks like I should have read more reviews). Maybe I’ll finally be finished and won’t need them anymore.

  11. I have to admit that reading this post made me realize how cloistered I am in this respect. I always knew who was who in the minimizing/organizing/decluttering blog culture, I went to many blogs often. Who released what book etc etc. But most of the blogs I read were single people with no children, some even practically vagabonds by lifestyle. The ones with kids lived in tiny city apartments, it just wasn’t relate able for me. On the other extreme were the mommy blogs with the mom with five kids and the 2400 square foot house. Other people really understand those angles but I needed something to encourage me where I am at in my situation, and lend support to others where I can.
    I have minimized it to just a few I frequent now, 365 being the main one as my go-to for inspiration and support.
    I agree with Laura that Colleen’s way is just the best. When I had done major purges in the past it never solved the problem. Thoughtfully assessing and revoking possessions takes less time and commitment from my life. It’s just very down to earth and there’s an emphasis on recycling/rehoming when possible. It’s also a more intimate community here, so down to earth.
    So I have never heard of Marie Kondo but I have always said goodbye to my things as I declutter them, especially clothing, to wish them on their way. This lady is right to acknowledge that all things have energy because in reality we all are just bundles of organized molecular energy anyway. Those molecules react at the atomic level in ways that we are barely scratching the surface to understand.

    • I meant rehoming, not revoking. Sounds harsh!

      • LOL @ Jean! Those darn misspoken words can really mess up a good sentence! But I agree with you 100% about this particular community. It’s a reasonably sized group and easy to visit with each other. I have always told Colleen that the one thing I REALLY admire about this community is that everyone is very nice and considerate of each other. I’ve been on some sites that became intolerable because of the nastiness. So happy here!

        Knowing that you are interested in books, I finished the Lisa Quinn book and started “Organize for a Fresh Start” by Susan Fay West. I’m only on pg. 52, but here are my observations. She goes on and on a bit much, but there are good tidbits in there. I think it is going to get better as I get in there. I like how she talks about the changes in our lives, divorce, death, empty-nest, job change, health change, etc. affects our stress levels, our mental/physical health, our coping abilities. She mentions decluttering frequently, the process of decluttering, our changing wants/needs/likes/ dislikes. I’m looking forward to getting into it more. 🙂

        • I know what you are referencing Michelle, and while I wasn’t personally involved in any forums/blog posts where things got out of hand, reading the comments in these types of situations was shocking. I know we are all just a bunch of floating faceless words until technology advances to Skype-esque proportions. But why can’t we all just respect that another has a divergent opinion and maintain civility? Even with things we are passionate about it is expected that we all will have different perspectives and beliefs that do not align?
          I am so thankful for this blog because even if people chime in with differing experiences nobody attacks them for it. I looked up the book and plan on reading it. I think any occassion can be reason to start fresh.

          • Hi, Michelle and Jean. There was a Pinterest quote I once came across. I can’t remember the exact words but I do recall the distilled version:
            “Appreciate similarities. Respect differences.”

            Pithy. 🙂

    • Jean,

      I agree…..I really like this blog because everyone is so nice and polite. I like the mommy blogs, but I don’t have kids, so that’s not really me. I like the 100-things backpacker blogs, but that’s not me, either. I’m somewhere in between and yet nowhere near those things. Everyone is different here at 365, but it doesn’t seem to matter much.

  12. Gina – that is so awesome! I love the camraderie here – which is in part why I joined. I am on Day 3 of the challenge and I feel wonderful! I have already prayed a blessing over the three bags of toys that I freecycled to local families yesterday, and the bag of my husbands clothes I donated to a friend’s growing teen son yesterday also. For today I plan to go through my jewelry as well as my winter items – I just took two bags of items to the goodwill and got a coupon — and then purchased some winter sweaters at a great rate — which means I need to go through my winter clothing and sweaters and donate, toss, or felt some wool sweaters into some nice items for my yarn-loving friend.
    Looking forward to reading and doing more to keep important things in my space and life.

  13. A comment received by email from Elaine

    Well written. And a great description of your journey.

    I read Marie Kondo’s book several months ago and tackled some of her categories, beginning with my clothing the morning after the first read. I thought I had done a great job of decluttering over the past few years and still think I did. However her book brought a different view to what sparks joy. And I have proceeded to more decluttering. Just the other day I gathered all my jewellery, and removed another 2 sets which I don’t wear because they just didn’t seem to suit my style of dress.

    Remember I had been trying various routes to decide how to do photos? When I read her book, she wrote to leave photos until the end. Photos are sentimental and therefore it is harder to make decisions, but by going through the other categories, you gain experience. And you know what sparks joy. So it is easy to toss fuzzy photos, photos of those you don’t know, photos which would add nothing to your life or to those of others. I’m there now, finally and I’m doing my sorting and tossing on the main level, and not in the basement…my basement does not spark joy and it was a block to my getting things done.

    Reading other methods gives us new insights about ourselves, and while I cannot adopt all of her principles and methods (like folding all my clothes and towels in a certain way), I have discovered yet another way to decide what to keep and what to let go…another journey.

  14. Hi Colleen. Hey, I did a search on the community and didn’t find a post directly addressing guest rooms or extra bedroom, what every title it might be. And, not to create more work for you, but can you address a post on guest rooms? Pretty please?? 😉

  15. I don’t “potato” but I think my husband does LOL

    Requested Marie Kondos book from the library in early December, it’s still on hold (it’s been 3 months)! It must be very popular, so makes me wonder if all those who read it will carry out its instructions 🙂

  16. Review of Marie Kondo’s book.

    I downloaded Marie Kondos book and read it over Tuesday and Wednesday. Yes I’d read the mix of praise and scepticism in the Amazon reviews but since it was a hot topic I thought why not?

    OK. I have read a number of books by assorted decluttering and organising gurus. If you are a regular 365 reader, most of what you read in such books won’t be revolutionary but the reason I do read such books is that each has a different angle and usually a couple of ideas which are new-to-me. So the idea of cluttering making people stressed and uncomfortable in their homes wasn’t new to me.

    I will say this, the translation from Japanese to English is very good BUT there needed to be a translation into declutter-speak and organise-speak too. The word ‘tidy’ gets used continually where in many cases it needed to be changed to organised or declutter or sort out etc etc.

    I think there was comments on her ‘throw out’ methods and we all agreed that we belong to a more eco-friendly, re-educate type decluttering community. I only saw one mention in her book about Recycling Shop (which is a store for pre-brought but unused clothing ie has the ticket still on it) and from 365 comments I’ve gotten the impression that perhaps Japan hasn’t evolved the side industries to Western excess such as Goodwill, Freecycle and recycling as we know it. I do not know, I’ve never been to Japan. I reminded myself that it was written in Japan for the Japanese and if that’s how they do things, I was going to overlook it from an academic point of view, when in Rome and all that.

    There were obvious cultural differences such as treating inanimate objects with courtesy and thanking items for their service. I think this could be an idea to make the letting go of children’s clothing and toys easier, especially if one added on something to the effect of “may you look after your next child with the warmth and comfort as you have done for us”. I used this idea for a friend who was struggling to let go of the last 10 years worth of children’s clothing. She thought it was a bit silly to start with but she admitted that she was the one forming an emotional attachment to a pair of shorts so once she got past the idea of actually talking to them, she was surprised to find that it gave her a sort of comforting closure.

    As I was reading Kondo’s book while my daughter was having her back manipulated, the therapist asked what I was reading (I think I was smirking at the sock potatos), long story kept short, she told me about the experiments of a Japanese named Masaru Emoto who studied the effect emotions had on water turned into ice crystals. Gratitude formed the most healthy ice crystal. While I don’t want to get into a debate about science, it seemed there was a cultural theme of gratitude and I decided to keep an open mind and not be too strongly opinionated either way.

    Kondo uses a hard-kill approach to decluttering, a very black and white technique of an entire room or house is done in one swoop. Sort of like a Death Star approach to clutter. This isn’t the 365 Less Things Method. Even my Hurricane Method (pulling everything out of a wardrobe or particular area and staying on the job until it is done) looks more like a Gentle Breeze compared to doing a house in its entirety. To Kondo’s credit, none of her clients have had a clutter relapse, so while it might be the polar opposite to Colleen’s method and have a blunt-force-trauma rehabilitation versus the ‘re-education and deal with the consequences of your excess’ that Colleen prefers, it seems to have the desired effect.

    Items don’t get to stay unless they ‘spark’, items that you love and make you happy. That might seem to be a lot of pressure to put an object but in BD (Before Decluttering) I would buy an ‘it will do’ item, which was quickly added to with an ‘oh this might be better’ and ‘this is alright’ variation. The reality is that if I eventually saw THE ONE it would also be bought and three others would be put into storage. Recently I was on the search for a keyring holder – with five drivers in the family it became somewhat of a necessity. But I was determined to find THE ONE. I looked everywhere, in stores, online, on Pintrest, on Amazon, on Trademe, on eBay. My husband claims I didn’t put as much thought into whether to date him or not back in the day as I put into finding a key rack. After much searching I found one I loved on Etsy and although it had to be made and posted from overseas, (how many people can claim they have a bespoke key rack?) it arrived and was attached to the wall. The cute thing was the first friend who visited saw it and said “it is so YOU’ and another commented how it tied in with decor. My husband couldn’t believe women noticed a key rack, let alone talk about it. So while I might sound slightly obsessive, the point is, that I won’t be looking for a better option because in my mind, I already have it. This same principle crept into my psyche as a 365er. I don’t want to buy things that I feel ho-hum about because I know its a lot of effort to declutter it when I see something better or realise that what I bought doesn’t really do the job. So what we would call a ‘considered buying decision’ here at 365, Kondo requires ‘spark’.

    The other stand out area of Kondo’s book to me had a Feng Shui vibe to it (Kondo has studied it as a Professional Organiser but doesn’t practice it, she relies on ‘spark’) was how clutter blocks good energy. When she meets a client she delves quite deeply into the ‘why’ someone wants to change their living area, I’d have to copy from her book to explain it better but she wants to discover the reason behind the reason behind the reason behind the reason until she reaches the elemental want. And sadly our clutter is custom purposed to directly block our elemental want. An example is a woman who wanted to have a home she could invite friends to but had difficulties making friends so it was a chicken and egg scenario. Keeping it short Kondo had to convince her to get rid of all the hundreds of business cards she’d collected at networking situations but had never contacted nor been contacted by any of the people on those cards. Once the cards were gone, in a short period of time something freed up and Kondo’s client began making friends and contacts without any difficulties and yes, she also had a nice home to have friends and acquaintances visit. It puts me in mind of a friend of a friend who had an illness and had every book on the topic in her house…..everywhere. One day she decided she’d had enough of being sick and got rid of the entire collection. No, she didn’t have a miraculous recovery but she started reading survivor stories, and interest books and funny books and conversation piece books instead. And while she still battles her illness, her world opened up. I’m not saying someone should not research their illnesses, but I’m saying is that she chose not to focus on her illness and let good things into her life. It might sound pseudo-science to you but after all I am reviewing a book that features sock potatos, thanking items and have talked about gratitude being the secret to healthy ice crystals.

    I absolutely could not get my head around how she folds clothing so it stands up, but am told there is an excellent tutorial on youtube. I assume that the folding-gene in the Japanese is superior to my Kiwi heritage, my ancestors did not do origami or fold Kimonos and my generation certainly don’t take gift wrapping to the art form the Japanese do, rather we embraced the gift bag. So I’m not entirely confident I could turn clothes into such neat looking standy-uppy things but I figure even if I roll clothing its still giving a birds eye view of the drawer and I might try this on my younger daughter’s drawers (she does the disorganised rummage and hiff thing) although I’m not sure if t-shirt sausage rolls would be in the same category as the unhappy sock-potatos.

    Kondo’s book wasn’t terribly long and I found it an easy read. Some I will adapt, some I probably won’t. I do recommend it for the seasoned declutter seeking to expand their knowledge base. I probably wouldn’t recommend it for the entry level declutterer as the Japanese-English is good but the Japanese-Decluttering English could be better and the Death Star approach to decluttering could be overwhelming without the right support. I didn’t mind spending the $10 or so dollars it cost me, but for most the library might be a better option if you’re a hardened supporter of sock-potatos. However, I do note that the waiting time on the copy in our library currently sits on three months at the moment, so if you want to borrow it, I’d suggest booking it as soon as possible.

    • Moni, I immediately thought of the ice crystals when I originally read Colleen’s post! That’s why my brain went on the tangent about molecular structures. Your review is so very helpful, especially what you noted about our side industries as a response to our western culture of excess. Very informative.

    • Moni,
      Wow! You should review books for the newspaper or an online book blog in your spare time. I know, what is that :)?
      I am glad you read the book. I felt it was worth the price, and, like you, glean different approaches in looking at our stuff in every book/article/blog post that I read.

    • Moni, that was an excellent book review! I’ve seen that water / ice crystals book before! Amazing pictures. Water has feelings! Maybe socks do, too. Love your term “Death Star approach.”

      I’m not sure I get how clothes are supposed to stand up once you remove a few pieces from the file. Oh well, it may work great for some people. I’ve seen it on YouTube, and it does look nice. I’m an excellent folder (used to work at the GAP back in the day, LOL), and I’ve (mostly) trained Husband to JUST TAKE THE ONE ON TOP AND QUIT DIGGING THROUGH THE STACK. Hahahaha.

  17. I thoroughly enjoyed your review, Moni – arigato! The “Death Star approach” – LOL!

  18. Love it, Moni! Thanks!