The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (Your Memory Palace)

I just finished reading the bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Mari Kondo. Consequently, Alex and I have been pulling all our belongings from the nooks and crannies and marveling at the obscene amount of material collecting in our house.


One of the guiding principles of Kondo’s book is that “stuff” that’s lost in the crowd is stuff that’s not truly treasured or properly appreciated. If you have something that sparks joy, it should be accessible, in its rightful place and regularly greeted with gratitude.

Naturally, all this theory about keeping a tidy physical space got me thinking about my mental space. Here’s a question we often hear from new readers:

How do I know if I’ve put too much stuff in my memory palace?

I, too, struggled with this question. In the beginning, I was very conservative with my precious palaces, due to an irrational fear that I would run out of them (I didn’t. You won’t.). Soon, I found myself with palaces packed full of valuable content. Each time I reviewed my palace, I found myself searching through an obscene amount of material in all the nooks and crannies. I knew without a doubt that I had lost information in the crowd.

I think the KonMari method is a great framework for thinking about choosing what to keep and how to keep a tidy palace.

Step 1: Consider with care.

Before you encode anything ask yourself these questions:

Do I truly want this information?
Does it spark joy in me to know this?
Will I be better with this in my palace?

Be honest. Be critical. Be brave with how little you truly need.

Kondo believes that everything in the same category should be evaluated together, and I tend to agree. Don’t start encoding a category (eg, heart failure) before you’ve had a chance to evaluate all the content.

Step 2: Everything in its place.

If you’ve been selective with what you want to keep in your palace, then treat yourself to encoding that treasured piece of information in an accessible location, put in its rightful place, and of course, regularly reviewed (with gratitude).

As Kondo writes in her book, keep things vertical, don’t stack (because you will certainly forget what’s on the bottom) and utilize the natural storage and flow of the house.

*A caveat: I don’t go back and actively clear out my palaces. Here’s why.

Have you read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up? I’d love to hear how you keep a tidy palace!