The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo Review by Savanna Westwood

Some of you may have heard in the news or online of a New York Time’s best selling book on organization and tidying up by Marie Kondo. As a Professional Organizer, I am always on the lookout for new trends and techniques for staying organized. I picked up Marie Kondo’s book, A Professional Organizer in Japan, and read it with enthusiasm. Though for some readers, some of Marie’s suggestions may seem a bit unusual, such as “thanking” items that you use for their hard work for the day and “greeting” your home when you return, it's important to keep in mind she is Japanese and thus her values and approach will differ from ours. However, different can be a good thing, especially when it comes to personal organization, as so many of us have different organizational needs. Overall, the book has a great perspective and provides a number of excellent new tips for staying organized. After finishing the book, I selected the five tips I thought would be most helpful in guiding you on your journey toward getting and staying organized.

  1. Keep Items/Things that Spark Only Joy
  1. This may seem like a no-brainer, and many may say “I enjoy everything I own”. This may not be necessarily true, as Marie states that most people keep certain items because they hold a connection to the past or “anxiety about the future”, and do not spark joy. The idea behind the joy factor is that you will cherish and use items more frequently this way, as well as have fewer items that you do not use. Marie used the example of clothes and pointed out that keeping only the clothes your cherish will shrink down your closet size and make it easier for you to select outfits to wear if you only have items that you love to wear.
  1. Organize by Category, Not Room.
  1. If you collect all the items by category, (such as books, clothes, etc.), and not by room, you have all the items in one spot to sort through. The rule that I most appreciated here is that you are given a time limit to gather all these items into one area. Any of the categorized items that remain outside the pile when the time is up will be trashed or donated. This makes sense because if you could not find, then obviously it was not very important to you.
  1. Empty the Contents of Your Bag Everyday
  1. Though Marie mostly focuses on women’s purses, this can also include briefcases or computer bags (men's or women's), and kid back packs or bags that are used on a daily basis. Marie makes a very good point that if you do not clean out your bag daily, important items may get lost or damaged. She specifically mentions valuable documents and notes. Your bag can quickly become your mobile junk draw! Marie suggests having a box to place items that you bring daily in your bag, but I suggest a nice decorative tray as it is easy to grab and aesthetically pleasing. You can also place and arrange your electronics on the tray.
  1. Do NOT Pass Along Past Personal Items to Family
  1. Marie tells a great story of a woman in her thirties trying to organize her life. One of the things she did to reduce her clutter was that she returned some of her childhood and school items to her parents’ home thinking they would want them; in actuality, her parents did not have the space, but took the items anyway because they didn't feel like they could deny their child. The problem is, in passing along trash you no longer to want to someone else who most likely does not want it either, you are only moving your problem from one house/person to another. Most people are most likely facing this similar problem with their elderly parents or adult children wanting to hand off unused or unwanted items. If you are on the receiving of this, you may need to sit down with the giver and decide together what do with these items.
  1. Use Storage Items That You Already Have
  1. I’m all for the latest and greatest when it comes to gadgets and organizational tools. However, when it comes to storage you may already have what you need, and Marie agrees. She advises using shoe boxes for storage when you can, as they are small, stack-able, and usually about the same size. See what you have first before buying anything new, to save time, money, and space.

About the author:

Savanna “Savvy” Westwood was raised and has lived in the Central Florida area for 25 years. She is a graduate from Stetson University with her Bachelors in Communication Studies and the Florida State University with her Masters Degree in Asian Studies. During her time in college she had juggled her jobs as a Resident Assistant/Advisor (RA), tutor, note taker, Martial Arts instructor and full time student. Her organization and time management skills helped keep her life and her student’s life in balance.

After graduating with her Masters degree she worked for a domestic moving company and a start up international moving company. Throughout her career in the moving industry being organized is essential for an easy move and even easier life. She has several years of moving experience, contacts and knowledge in the industry, and wants to share that knowledge with you!

Savanna was a student of renowned Professional Organizer Jaclyn Gross of Tip Top Organizing, LLC in Boca Raton, FL. She has also assisted several family members and friends get more savvy in their organization skills and now wants to help those who are in need of the savvy organizing skills of this organizer. Bring her love, passion and skills for organizing into your home, office and life today!

You can contact Savanna at for more information.

Lynda Payne Photography