It’s spring again, complete with beautiful blue skies, warmer weather, and the need to clean. Yes, spring cleaning is upon us, and with it are stacks of books advising you on how to tidy up your life. Two of the B&N Top 100 Bestsellers list are books about decluttering, and both Amazon and The New York Times’ bestseller lists have multiple books about tidying. They promise cleaner homes, but some go further, claiming weight loss and mental health benefits as well.

With so many books promising such giant results, which should you turn to? Try the one that started a decluttering sensation, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. It has sold millions of books since its release, spawning a follow-up book, Spark Joy: An Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up, and was even made into a Japanese TV movie. Why have the books that teach Kondo’s KonMari Method been so successful?

In part, it’s because of its simplicity. At its heart, the KonMari Method is about going through all your possessions and keeping only what “sparks joy.” Instead of wondering what in your house (and your life) you should get rid of, you decide what to keep based on what gives you joy. If an item does not spark joy, then it is out of your life. After you go through all of your stuff, you will end up surrounded by things that make you happy, decluttering your space and improving your life.

Kondo claims that once you have truly learned the method, you will never have a cluttered home again. She also says that many people she’s helped with her method make other positive life choices after their homes are decluttered, like getting out of unhappy relationships and getting to a healthy weight. While there is no guarantee that this will happen, it does not sound entirely farfetched. If you go through a process to keep only things that spark joy in your home, you could realize that you want relationships, jobs, and the like that make you happy as well.

There is, of course, more to the books than just that—they’d be very slim tomes if not—like specific advice on how to tell if an item sparks joy as well as advice on storing items. Both books, but Spark Joy in particular, have advice on how to store things, especially clothes. The KonMari Method wants you to fold all your clothes so that they stand up and can be put in a drawer so that you can see all your clothes at the same time. No shuffling through an overstuffed drawer to find a favorite t-shirt—a glance will show you where it is.

Are there any downsides to the KonMari method? Of course! For one, it can take a long time. Kondo recommends gathering all items from a category, like clothes or books, in one place, and going through them, holding each item to see if it sparks joy. Depending on how much you have to go through, it can take a long time. Other parts, like thanking your items for being there for you before you discard them, may sound silly to a Western audience (Kondo is Japanese).

However, if you’re serious about getting rid of stuff and having a neater space, you should give the KonMari Method a try. When I first heard about it, I was skeptical, but after I picked up her books, I was able to discard a couple bags of clothing and boxes of books. I’m not done yet, but my closet is visibly cleaner, I have a better idea of what I have to wear, and I’ve even started folding things that I’d previously just shove in a drawer, making it way easier to pick out things when I need them.

I can’t say my life has been drastically changed, but it’s certainly more organized, and if that’s what you want, pick up a copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. If you want more details on the method, like more in-depth help on how to figure out what sparks joy and how to fold and store things, also read the follow-up book, Spark Joy

ILLUSTRATION BY FELICIA CHANG

 

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