The Life-changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo

Living More with Less

Winter has arrived in Bangkok with cool mornings  and breezy evenings. It’s that time of year when you reunite with good friends and things at the office hopefully start to run at a slightly slower pace. It is also a time for reflection and for setting goals. One of my goals is to live more with less. The other day, my husband picked up something of mine, and asked me, “When are you going to use this?” Although I’ve been decluttering regularly for the past few years, I realize I’ve fallen off the decluttering bandwagon and need to get back on.

I first started decluttering a few years ago after I read an article in The New York Times about the Kon Mari craze grappling the US. I was curious and went out to buy Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. I immediately saw why it was a hit. The book was both humorous and eye-opening. After reading it, I looked around the house and started seeing things I hadn’t used in years. Ever since, I have been working on minimizing the amount of “things” in my life.

Marie outlines her Kon Mari Method which is a guide to acquiring the right mindset for creating order and becoming a tidy person. Purging and throwing away things takes a lot of mental power as it is all about making decisions. I find myself asking a myriad of questions: Should I keep this or that? What if I would later need to refer to these old lecture notes? This was a gift or this was once my favorite bag/shoe/dress. Should I save this for when I lose weight?…And it goes on and on. The reasons as to why I should keep something are endless and mentally exhausting. Looking back, some of them are quite funny. My husband solves this by suggesting I take photos of things I’d miss.

Marie Kondo’s method is simple. You keep the things that “spark joy” when you touch it. That is her sole criteria for whether you keep or throw something out. If you decide to throw something out, she says you should also thank it for the joy it gave you when you bought it, and for letting it teach you that it doesn’t suit you and to let go. This part reminds me a bit of Buddhism.

Following the Kon Mari method does not mean you tidy by room or area as we often do, but by following a systematic Kon Mari approach. We start with clothes, then books, papers and miscellaneous items. This is to prepare our minds for decluttering more difficult categories. Each category is subdivided. For example, under clothes you start with tops (shirts, sweaters, jackets, etc.). You take all the tops you have, wherever they may be in the house, and pile them altogether. The size of the pile gives you a sense of how much you have. The first time I did this I was shocked. I was never much of a shopper, but I certainly had more than I needed and there were certainly a few I hadn’t touched or thought of in years. It was a bit overwhelming. I had to take a deep breath and go for it and I’m glad I did. The outcome is cathartic. A house clear of unwanted and unloved goods feels amazingly good.

A wonderful side effect of decluttering is that you save money on buying storage and you save time because it becomes much easier to find anything you need. Money and time for you to live your life and accumulate more experiences. Isn’t that wonderful? Marie Kondo sums this up well in her book: “when you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order, too… You become surrounded by only the things you love… pour your time and passion into what brings you most joy, your mission in life.” Life begins when your house is in order. Now let’s get on the decluttering bandwagon!

Here’s a list of a few places you can donate your goods to:

1. Pankan Society
They accept almost everything that is still in working condition and resell them at reasonable prices at their stores. The funds go toward educational scholarships. If you have large pieces such as furniture or large quantities of things for donation, they will pick it up from your place for free. I’ve used their service before to donate old tables and shelves I no longer needed and although it’s around a two-week wait, their staff were extremely friendly and even came on a Sunday. Visit or call 02 301 1096.

2. Mirror Foundation, Bangkok
Founded over 20 years ago, the foundation has a number of local initiatives such as helping villagers affected by flooding, the homeless, orphans, and many more. They accept anything still in working condition such as computers, washing machines as well as books. They offer pick up service from your place, but you may be asked to email them photos to show that it is still in acceptable condition. Pickup transportation costs THB 200. Visit or call 02 973 2236–7.

3. SuanKaew Foundation
Founded by noted Buddhist monk Phra Payom Kanlayano almost 30 years ago, the foundation accepts everything from broken- down furniture, electronics, to old clothes. The foundation will fix the furniture or electronics and resell them. This provides work for the jobless, and also gives them a way in which to make money. The money helps those in need and support a number of other projects such as housing for those with HIV and providing food for the hungry. If you would like retro furniture at reasonable prices, you can also go shop at their outlets. Visit or call 02 595 1946, ext. 113-119.

4. Foundation for Slum Child Care
This foundation helps children who live in slums have a better life. They accept both monetary donations as well as donations for all things children related from old toys, mattresses, pillows to food. They also have corporate programs or can help you organise lunches for children. Visit or call 02 249 0953-4; 02 541 7991; or 02 541 6092-5.

5. Foundation for Children
This foundation focuses on helping children. They provide housing, education and food. Donations accepted run from foods to other necessities. If you’ve overstocked shampoo or toilet tissue and want to declutter your house, the foundation would be more than happy to accept your oversupply. They also accept educational toys, school materials and sports equipment. Visit or call 02 814 1481-7. Donations can also be mailed by post.

6. The Thai Red Cross Society
The Thai Red Cross Society will resell donated goods at their shop. Visit or call 02 256 4622 or 02 256 4440-2.

Swisa Ariyapruchya was born in Switzerland and spent her childhood growing up in Belgium, Poland, Thailand and the USA. She is multilingual and speaks four languages. Apart from her work as a central banker, she began her lifestyle blog Having “Me” Time in 2010 and has since continued to write in her spare time. She is also Co-founder of Booster Education Co., Ltd. and Booster Analytics Co., Ltd.