Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Postscript to Tidying Up

After reading Marie Kondo’s first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I decided to experiment with some of her suggestions to test their effectiveness. Since I do not have a house or apartment of my own, and because I thoroughly cleaned out my closet and keepsakes quite recently, I did not apply her broad two-step process of discarding and then putting each item in its place in order to tidy my space. Instead, I chose to apply a rather insignificant portion of the book—how to fold clothes.

Kondo comments in her book that she teaches most of her clients how to fold their clothes during their consultation sessions. Based on the examples she gives, many people fail to take time to fold their clothes and may not know how to fold at all. I found this a bit shocking, since I folded my clothes even in college, where it probably would have been easier to leave them in the laundry basket. I wondered what could possibly be different about Kondo’s method of folding.

The basic suggestion Kondo gives is that you should aim to fold your clothes into a perfect rectangle. She says that items should be stored vertically—which makes sense for books and pencils, but not necessarily for shirts or socks. If items are stacked, the items on the bottom are subjected to more pressure, wrinkling them. In addition, you cannot see what exactly you have in the drawer if your clothes are stacked.

As skeptical as I was at first, that idea is what finally persuaded me. I enjoyed the thought of being able to see every single piece of clothing in my drawer when I opened it up, and so I decided to try Kondo’s advice. Last weekend, I re-folded each item of clothing in five of my six drawers so that it was in a rectangle of drawer height, able to stand vertically next to the other clothes.

Here are the results:

 Now I can see all of my t-shirts at once!

My socks fit in the drawer much better this way!

I have not paid attention to whether this method of storage actually reduces wrinkling. It does take a little more time to fold clothes like this, but it is satisfying to reach in and grab exactly what I want instead of shuffling through stacks of clothes.

As of now, I have not experimented with any of Kondo’s other concepts. Some I find too strange—such as the idea of thanking each possession before discarding it—and others are not presently relevant to my life. I do wish I had read her book before sorting through my pile of keepsakes, since I may have approached the project differently.

On the topic of keepsakes Kondo says, “It is not our memories but the person we have become because of those past experiences that we should treasure. This is the lesson these keepsakes teach us when we sort them. The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.” It is this attitude of embracing who we are that frees us from holding on to unnecessary clutter.


  1. That clothes-folding technique is brilliant! I have long been terrible at folding my clothes, but I do now try to fold my t-shirts. However, they're all in semi-sloppy stacks so that I have to pull them apart to see what's on the bottom. I think I shall rearrange that after seeing your visual-thanks for the tip!

    1. Hi AnneMarie!
      I'm so glad that these pictures inspired you! It takes a bit of experimentation to figure out how to fold your clothes to drawer height, but once you figure it out it is a snap!