“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” Book Review

Wednesday Apr 29 | BY |
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The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

It’s easy to say that something’s changed your life. In fact, this catch phrase is becoming a little overused.

Attending this seminar changed my life.

This book changed my life.

The raw food diet changed my life.

We hear claims of life-changing things all the time. But does it all measure up? To some degree you can transform your life, but powerful insights are not everyday occurrences.

I go through a lot of books and I rarely come across information that truly changes my life. Yes, a good insight here and there, some new information, but life-changing information? Often, I come across information that sounds like it could be life-changing but ends up disappointing. I could list maybe five or ten books that have truly made a huge impact on my life.

When I picked up The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I was a little skeptical, but the book got great reviews and I wanted to check it out.


I’m not the most organized person on the planet. My computer is organized and I have a good schedule for work, but it took me years to figure it out. I’m much less messy than I used to be, but I’m far from being what you could call a tidy or organized person. I tried many times to get a grip on it but the advice I got never proved useful.

I always wondered how some people can just naturally be tidy and organized.

This book gave me some of the missing pieces.

Will it change my life? I can say that so far, since I read this book, my environment looks totally different and I’m no longer struggling to keep up with tidying. I read a few books on the subject before but never found anything useful. This approach by authors Marie Kondo truly works.

What is it all about? The author is a Japanese organization guru and goes in to people’s homes and helps them get organized.

Essentially, there are two steps to this program: discarding, then organizing. She writes: “If your idea of tidying up is getting rid of one unnecessary item a day, or cleaning up your room a little at a time, then you’re right, it won’t have much effect on your life.”

The author discusses a way of organizing your space in one go. You do it all at once, and once it’s done you have to do very little to maintain it. The life-transforming magic aspect comes from the fact that when you create a dramatic reorganization of your home, it can correspondingly create dramatic changes in your lifestyle and perspective.

“When you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order too. In Japan, people believe that things—like cleaning your room and keeping your bathroom spic and span—bring good luck, but if your house is cluttered the effect of polishing the toilet bowl is going to be limited. The same is true for the practice of feng shui. It is only when you put your house in order that your furniture and decorations come to life.”

I read this book while traveling and I was dying to get back home to apply the principles. It took me two days to follow the entire process laid out in the book. I can tell you that I’ve never felt better about my living space and that it’s been surprisingly easy to maintain.

Usually, when you clean up it doesn’t take much time before chaos returns, but thanks to the process laid out in this book I truly understood some of the things I was really doing wrong when it came to this particular aspect of life. I won’t go into every detail of the method, but she has a specific order in which to process your stuff and the most important aspect of it is to decide what you’re going to keep. By discarding first and then organizing second, you only organize the important stuff.

How do you decide what you should keep and discard? You should keep things that bring you joy. Let me give you a quick example: because I read the book while I was traveling, I couldn’t apply the information right away in my house but decided to organize my photo library. I deleted about 40% of my pictures.

On any particular trip, you should only keep maybe five pictures a day that are truly representative of what happened. I was able to do a massive cleanup of my photo library, which although it is digital, still takes up mental space when you go through it.

When I got back home, I applied the same principles to the rest of my stuff. I asked myself, does this item bring me joy? Then I went through the process outlined in the book.

She talks about processing types of objects, rather than locations. One common mistake that people make is that they organize by location. “I’m going to do the kitchen today and the bathroom tomorrow.” Instead, you start with clothes and then you move onto papers and so on. Why? Because the same type of item will be found in different locations in your home, so it makes it much easier if you process all items of a similar kind in one go.

If you’re a naturally organized person, it may or may not make much of a difference to you. If you’re like me and taking control of your living space has always been a little bit of a challenge, I think you should definitely check it out.

Frederic Patenaude

Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.

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