Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo for Retirees who want to declutter

Decluttering is part of any downsizing move. We picked up Marie Kondo’s popular “tidying” book to see if there were any new insights. The compact turquoise book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, is adorable!

Moving into a retirement, with an eye toward future travels dictates some selective sorting and downsizing. We thought this book might help with one of the big barriers to choosing a new lifestyle.

The central theme of the book is: keep only the things in your home that “spark joy.” Discard everything else.

“Life truly begins after you have put your house in order.” Kondo, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The book is a fun read, filled with Ms. Kondo’s personality. Kondo shares her passion for “tidying” in every step of the process. She is a Taoist and believes that inanimate objects have a life force. These objects are filled with chi — a universal life force. Others may find this belief quirky and have a hard time with the book. However, this belief feeds the book’s central theme. To truly enjoy the Magic of Tidying Up, we believe you will have to step beyond your own world view. It’s enough to accept Kondo believes that objects have a life force. Join in her joyful journey. It’s similar to enjoying Feng Shui (the Chinese art of placement). You don’t need to be a Taoist yourself. But, you do need to understand Taoism to appreciate and enjoy the discussion. Afterall…you can understand and benefit from the philosophical construct without being a true believer. However, if this belief system is too silly in your world view, the book will not be a fun read. You’ll keep stumbling on the same issue throughout.
Here are our key take-aways from Ms. Kondo’s book.

Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: Lessons Learned

  1. Make “tidying” a special event. Once completed, Ms. Kondo states, it will never need to be done again. One and done.
  2. Declutter by category rather than location. Bring all your books or linens, etc. to one room to sort at one time.
  3. Start with the easiest and finish with the difficult. The sequence suggested is to begin with clothes, followed by books, papers, and miscellaneous. The most difficult categories are the keepsakes. Leave these for last. Once you begin enjoying the process and honing your skills you’ll be energized enough to tackle your keepsakes.
  4. Folded clothes save space. Fold nearly all your clothes. Kondo argues too much space is lost with hanging clothes.

Some of these suggestions fight our instincts. That’s what makes them practical. Our instincts are wrong.

For Dan, the challenge is in decluttering the utilitarian and potentially useful stuff. “It’s not supposed to make you tingle with joy.” But the guilt of getting rid of perfectly good stuff is assuaged by recycling through the Habitat for Humanity Restore, Goodwill or other opportunities for reuse.
And for both of us, it’s easier to consider outfits you can see hanging on a hanger. But we realized a lot of clothes hadn’t been off the hanger in a long, long time.

And who cleans by category, not room? It works, though, by forcing a choice between otherwise similar belongings. Do we really need five bedspreads for the guest twin bed that gets used a few times a year? 

From A Mickey Mouse Club Footstool to A Moon Fairy: Downsizing is the time to share meaningful stories

Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Dan’s pre-kindergarten Mickey Mouse Club footstool

Okay, we’re not perfect. Dan still hasn’t gotten rid of his painted wooden Mickey Mouse Club footstool. And we have way too many old electronics. But we’re at least thinning the herd. By category.

Ms. Kondo provides effective, practical advice to begin your downsizing journey. The book,Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,provides a good guideline to begin decluttering and tidying. We think it is a better task to do for yourself, earlier rather than later. Simplify now. Don’t leave it to others who may not know what is special from what is just clutter.

We might add that downsizing is the time to attach stories to the truly meaningful things. Even a beautiful item and obviously valuable item will carry more meaning if your family knows your story that goes with the item. “We received that as a wedding gift from. . . or we got that for our first house. . . .”

Dan can’t look at one popcorn bowl without hearing his Grandad say, “We would have starved in ‘34 if not for the popcorn crop.” Literally. Everything that matured later in the year withered in the Dust Bowl drought.

Lori has a simple wooden pen and ink box from a favorite great uncle that he had as a youngster in school. He passed it along to Lori when she visited him after her summer “vacation” work days.

Our favorite piece of art, a “Moon Fairy” pastel drawing was a wedding gift from a college friend who knew Lori’s tastes and not just her needs. We’ve made sure to share the stories with our daughter. Downsizing, simplifying, and tidying-up have the benefit of highlighting the truly special possessions.

Marie Kondo

Future Reads

We’ve added this book to the reads for “Aging With Freedom Book Club“. Did you enjoy Marie Kondo’s book and/or find it useful? 

If you have suggestions for books or subjects for future reads, please let us know! We looking forward to future book discussions and hope you can join us. 


The Joys of the Minimalist Life in Retirement (9/12/2019)

Leanne with “Cresting the Hill” shares a fresh take on the Marie-Kondo magic in retirement: My Alternative to the Marie Kondo Method (8/12/2019)