DRMacIver's Notebook

Book Review: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Book Review: The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

I’d been idly considering reading this for some time, and a little while back asked on Twitter what people thought of it. The review that tipped me over the edge was “It’s probably much weirder than you’re expecting”. It was much weirder than I was expecting.

I enjoyed the book and will be changing my habits as a result of it, but I do not at present plan to follow the system. However, precommitment: If I have not got my room in a state where by May 18th 2019 (my 36th birthday) I can honestly say that I feel like my rom is reliably sufficiently tidy, I will follow the KonMarie system and do a big clear out.


Well, three reasons:

The first is that I have a deep seated distrust of anyone who says “This Is The System And Thou Shalt Not Deviate From It”. I acknowledge that given an optimal system this is the correct thing to do and the temptation to deviate from the system is stronger than the benefits of adapting it, but my priors are strongly against any given system being proposed being anywhere close to optimal.

The second is probably my biggest objection to the book: I am really deeply personally offended that someone could spend so much time developing a system centered around throwing away stuff without spending some time thinking about how to responsibly throw things away. At some point she talks about how she’s been responsible for clients discarding 28,000 bags of stuff, which is probably 28,000 bags of stuff taking up space in a landfill somewhere (I don’t know how garbage disposal works in Japan. Maybe it’s incinerated instead, which would be better but is instead 28,000 bags of rubbish worth of carbon footprint). So I’m on board with the idea of getting rid of things but want to figure out how to do so responsibly.

The third is that I understand her argument about storage but still think she’s wrong. A lot of the problem with my current setup is storage space - not that I don’t have enough of it, but that what I have is poorly designed, and I do think I need to resolve that problem before I can get things to a decent state.

So what am I going to do?

I said I’m going to change things as a result of this book, so here is a list of things that I am changing as a result of this book:

  1. I am donating a lot of clothing. I have a large bag that I’ll be taking to the Samaritans this morning (chosen honestly for no other reason than there’s a Samaritans shop that takes donations easily walkable from here).
  2. I’m getting a weekly pill planner. I have a lot of pill related clutter right now due to a variety of daily supplements and medications I’m on, and this will help me pack all of that away in a better location.
  3. I’m going to dump a bunch of books on the popup library in my local underground station.
  4. I’m going to ask my university library if they take book donations - I have a bunch of weird textbooks that I’m realistically never going to use but that will just get pulped or ignored if I take them to a charity bookstore or the popup library.
  5. I’m getting a Kallax shelving unit with inserts. My current book storage is a pair of stacked vertical book shelves and honestly they look awful and area aterrible use of space. The Kallax unit will be a much more effective and attractive way of storing books and has enough additional storage as to remove all plausible deniability: if I’m running out of space after I have the Kallax unit then there is no way to pretend that it is because I have too much stuff rather than not enough storage.
  6. I am going to be getting rid of the desk in my room (which I literally never use) and a half-finished computer assembly project that I honestly am never going to whole-finish, and take the relevant peripherals to work where I would find them actually useful.
  7. After that we’ll see. As per above, I precommit to following the KonMarie method properly if a combination of the above and whatever naturally comes next does not successfully sort my shit out.