The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Marie Kondo
Contributed by Sharen Felty
Chapter 3

The process of assessing how you feel about the things you own, identifying those that have fulfilled their purpose, expressing your gratitude, and bidding them farewell, is really about examining your inner self — a rite of passage to a new life. Start with clothes, then move on to books, papers, komono (miscellany), and finally items with sentimental value. If you reduce what you own in this order, your work will proceed with surprising ease. By starting with the easy things first and leaving the hardest for last, you can gradually hone your decision-making skills — so that by the end, it seems simple.

For clothing, place every item of clothing in the house on the floor to enable you to take a comprehensive stock of what you own. Also, it will allow you to visualize and decide on what you love, would like to keep, and what you would not mind discarding. However, in choosing the clothes to retain, a person should not downgrade certain clothes to loungewear — a category of clothes that a person cannot wear out of the house but decides to stick to them and not discard them. Having loungewear defeats the whole purpose of decluttering and organizing one’s space, and should be avoided at all costs. With regards to clothing storage, the act of neatly folding clothes can significantly solve the problem of storage, as they can be easily kept in that manner. The other benefit of folding clothes is that you end up handling each piece, thereby being in a better position to determine what to keep or discard. A person should also know the best way to fold clothes in a manner that accentuates their appearance. In this regard, Kondo recommends that people should store clothes standing up rather than laid flat. Thereafter, a person should be able to arrange clothes correctly as they rise to the right. By category, coats would be on the far left, followed by dresses, jackets, pants, skirts, and blouses. This is the basic order; but depending on the trends in your wardrobe, what classifies as “heavy” in each category will differ.

With regards to storing socks, a person should treat them with the utmost respect. A person should neither tie up nor ball up their socks. Instead, a person should fold them properly and store them in a manner that they look presentable.

For seasonal clothes, one should strive to eliminate the need to store off-season clothes. If you need to store them away, sort your clothes according to various seasons, such as winter and summer, and properly keeping them in various storage units.

When dealing with books, just like clothes, put all of them on the floor to have a holistic feeling of the number that you have — and which ones among them still thrill you enough to keep. The rest that no longer fascinates you should be discarded appropriately. Also, it is important to note that it is less likely for a person to read a book that they have read before; hence it does not make sense to retain them. The books that one should keep belong in the hall of fame and are extraordinary in a particular aspect.

Where paper is concerned, the rule of thumb is to discard all the documents in your possession. Kondo recommends that individuals should dispose of anything that does not fall into one of the following three categories: currently in use; needed for a limited period; or must be kept indefinitely.In sorting papers, one should categorize them as lecture materials, credit card statements, warranties for electrical appliances, greeting cards, used checkbooks, pay slips, among others. These types of papers are to be dealt with appropriately based on their importance at the present moment and in the future. Papers that do not fall in the above three categories should be discarded to reduce clutter. Any remaining papers that should be left are those that have sentimental value, such as letters to loved ones, among others.

Finally, for komono (miscellaneous items), one should keep them only because they love the said items, and not just because. A person should have a proper reason for holding on to various miscellaneous items.


This chapter comprehensively addresses the issue of tidying by category, and is a guide to help individuals successfully discard what they do not need while retaining what they love. In this regard, this chapter discusses ways of reducing clutter in one's space through practical methods such as folding clothes, socks, and discarded papers. In so doing, a person should use the correct procedure of decluttering and reduce their belongings through the process of tidying, to a point where they suddenly feel that they have remained with just the right number of things — a number that one needs to live comfortably and happy. This point of happiness and satisfaction differs from one person to another — being the whole basis of decluttering as it enables one to enjoy the pleasure of tidying.

Also, a person should be able to trust and follow their intuition in tidying — and in doing so, individuals should ask themselves if what they are doing sparks joy, and are following their hearts. However, it should be noted that possessing a surplus of things that you cannot bring yourself to discard does not mean a person is taking good care of them; in fact, it is quite the opposite. By paring down to the volume that you can properly handle, you revitalize your relationship with your belongings. Just because you dispose of something does not mean you give up past experiences or your identity. People should not fear discarding certain things that do not add value to their lives.

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