Book Summary and Analysis |

Popular Psychology, Personal Growth and Self-Help



Summary and Analysis of

Marie Kondo’s

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

The Japanese Art of

Decluttering and Organizing

by I.K. Mullins

Copyright©2015 I.K. Mullins. All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means without the written permission of the author.

Should you have any questions, please contact us at


Marie Kondo is a Japanese home-organizing guru and a consultant who specializes in tidying. In her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Kondo explains her method of tidying up, offering valuable insights into clutter, its causes and its various types.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is more than just another book about de-cluttering. It is an inspiring philosophy of letting go of the things that we do not need and keeping only the things that bring joy to our lives. Kondo’s book has captured the attention of readers in many countries, helping them get rid of the burden of clutter and changing their lives with the clarity that comes from simplicity. The “tidying up” method developed by Kondo has already become part of popular culture. Many people already use her last name as a verb that describes purging things or folding them in a particular way.

A Summary and Analysis of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up includes an unofficial summary of the key ideas and facts of Kondo’s book, supplemented with analysis and comments on each key idea, as well as critical analysis of Kondo’s principal messages.


Marie Kondo, a Japanese home-organizing guru and a consultant specializing in tidying, has developed her own method of tidying up that has gained great popularity in many countries. In her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Kondo tells how her life experiences and quest for tidiness allowed her to develop and perfect her tidying method, the KonMari Method.

Kondo grew up in Tokyo. From a young age, she became fascinated with cleaning and organizing living spaces. When Kondo was a child, she read home and lifestyle magazines. She even cleaned her siblings’ bedrooms. When she was five years old, the Feng Shui space harmonization method became very popular in Japan. Kondo recalls how her mother applied the Feng Shui method to their home, but Kondo felt that it did not help to keep the home tidy enough.

At the age of 18, Kondo got a part-time job at a Shinto shrine. Her job responsibilities required her to keep order for the shrine elder and to sell lucky charms at a kiosk. While in college, she studied sociology and wrote a thesis that was titled “‘How to De-Clutter Your Apartment’—from a sociological perspective.” When Kondo turned 19, she started a home-organizing consulting business when she realized that many of her clients had difficulty deciding what they should keep and what they needed to discard.

Kondo wrote her first book about tidying in just three months. The book was published it in 2010. It was initially intended for Kondo’s clients who had signed up for her consulting services and were put on a months-long waiting list. However, in 2011, Japan was hit by an earthquake and tsunami. The catastrophe made people in Japan face important and profound questions. What things were essential in their lives? How valuable were their sentimental items? What was really most important about their lives? Consequently, Kondo’s book gained great popularity in Japan, offering its readers a philosophy of letting things go.

In her book, Kondo points out that the majority of people have never had formal training on how to consistently clean and organize their living places. As a result, they live in apartments and houses that are full of clutter. The KonMari Method described in Kondo’s book fills the gap in people’s understanding of efficient tidying, enabling people to reform their own spaces both physically and mentally. It also gives people skills that can be readily transferred to other areas of their lives, including their work and relationships.

The KonMari Method does not allow any “escape routes” for keeping things that we do not need or do not like. According to this method, purging is to be done at once, without procrastination and without any “maybe” piles. Kondo advises her readers to keep only those things that make them happy and throw away or donate the rest. Once you get rid of clutter, she says, you will have a better idea of what you need in your home and your life.

Kondo emphasizes that her method goes beyond tidying up one’s physical surroundings. It also helps people gain more clarity in their vision of life, personal priorities, likes and dislikes, hopes and dreams. Kondo believes that there is a connection between the state of a person’s mind and the condition of their home, and that the process of tidying helps people gain new knowledge about their own mind and their life in general.

Considering how consumerism spreads around the world, it is no surprise that Kondo’s book has become popular in many countries. Indeed, Americans and Western Europeans have experienced the growth of over-consumption for many years, and today developing countries are joining this trend. For example, in 1950, the average size of a new American home was 983 square feet, and an average of 3.37 people lived in each home. In 2011, the average new home in the US was 2,480 square feet, and the average number of people living in each home in the US decreased to 2.6 people.

Over the last 60 years, the amount of living space per capita in the US has increased by about three times. However, Americans do not seem to have enough space to store all their personal possessions. Their need for more storage space has spawned a more than 22 billion dollar personal storage industry in the US.  Moreover, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council reports, about 40 percent of the food Americans buy goes into the trash.

Despite of what businesses promise their consumers, this endless consumption does not increase happiness. Subconsciously, we know the reason for that: happiness does not come from buying and having more stuff; real happiness comes from establishing good relationships, having meaningful jobs and fulfilling experiences, pursuing one’s intellectual and spiritual interests. And this is what Kondo’s book is about. Kondo reminds us that we do not need to fill our homes with material possessions in order to be happy. On the contrary, we can be happy with less stuff.

In my analysis of Kondo’s book, I will review the main principles and the benefits of the KonMari Method. I will explore the findings of selected current psychological and sociological studies that address the relation between tidiness, mental health and happiness, and I will analyze how they compare to Kondo’s ideas of tidiness, happiness and mindfulness.

In Part II of this book, I will also discuss how the KonMari Method misses one important step, which is crucial for those people who live in the countries where consumerism has established itself as the mainstream social and economic order and ideology. In my opinion, it is very likely that the followers of the KonMari Method who miss this step can relapse, returning to their old habit of over-consumption and over-stuffing their homes. I will further explain how you should be aware of the danger of such a relapse when you apply the KonMari Method to your life.


Go to Part I A Summary

Go Back to Table of Contents   


Related content

Dead Wake by Eric Larson

Clinton Cash

Promoted links from around the web

Dead Wake by Eric Larson

Clinton Cash