Consultant Marie Kondo cleans up with book on decluttering 

Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo has written a powerful book about getting rid of clutter. If you do it right, she says, you’ll never have to do it again.

“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, published by Ten Speed Press, has made the 30-year-old Kondo a celebrity in her own country and beyond. When her consulting business had a six-month waiting list, she wrote the book "with the wish that many people could be released from clutter and see more clearly the joy in life."

The key is focusing on what to keep, says Kondo, who appears at Book Passage in San Francisco this week. By holding an object and asking, “Does this spark joy?” it’s easy to make a swift decision about what stays.

“When you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order, too,” Kondo writes. “As a result, you can see quite clearly what you need in life and what you don’t, what you should and shouldn’t do.”

Instead of tidying a little bit every day, she advocates tackling the mess at once – going through items by category instead of by room. If you’re part of a family, let others deal with their own stuff.

"Some people have the unfortunate habit of throwing away other family member’s things instead of finishing their own decluttering," Kondo said in an email interview. "This is not productive."

Kondo suggests starting with clothes. Sentimental belongings like photographs should be saved for last. Treat every item with respect, which means don’t ball up your socks.

“The socks and stockings stored in your drawer are essentially on a holiday,” Kondo writes. “They take a brutal beating in their daily work, trapped between your foot and your shoe, enduring pressure and friction to protect your precious feet. The time they spend in your drawer is their own chance to rest.” As for putting your excess stuff on eBay, Kondo says that's OK – as long as you don't delay.

"It is wonderful that the goods which a person doesn’t need will be used by a person who can utilize them," she says. "But if this is to happen, the most important thing is to set a deadline, and sell them as soon as possible, or they may be left forever."

BOOK NOTES

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

By Marie Kondo

Published by: Ten Speed Press

Pages: 224

Price: $16.99

Note: Kondo appears at 12:30 p.m. Jan. 22 at Book Passage, 1 Ferry Building, S.F.

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Cathy Bowman

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