With her books The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy, and certainly with her popular show on Netflix, Marie Kondo has started an amazing decluttering hype. Not only her clients but thousands of people worldwide have put her method to the test. However, if you aren’t familiar with the KonMari Method yet, this post is for you.
And when you’re ready to start your decluttering journey, get my free printable checklist to guide you through and track your progress.
Printable KonMari Decluttering Checklist
Declutter once and for all and create a home, wardrobe, and life that sparks the most joy.
But first, some basics …
Marie Kondo is the author of the bestselling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, first published in 2011 in Japan and later in more than 30 countries. Since 2019 you can also see her on Netflix, in her crazy-popular show Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Her unique approach to tidy category-by-category not room-by-room, her folding technique for the vertical storage of clothes, and her omnipresent question “does it spark joy?” are the widely-known cornerstones of the KonMari Method.
KonMari is Marie Kondo’s nickname and the brand name of her particular method for tidying up. Marie Kondo claims that her approach provides a simple, smart, and effective way to banish clutter forever. All you need to do is follow specific rules, sort your belongings into categories, and tackle these in the right order.
The key is to focus on what you want to keep rather than what to get rid of. Get your hands on every single item you own to ask yourself if it “sparks joy”. This may feel a bit awkward in the beginning. However, applying the KonMari Method is a priceless learning opportunity. One that allows you to reassess and fine-tune your relationship with your possessions and to create a home that brings you the most joy.
How to Apply the KonMari Method
6 Basic Rules
- Commit yourself to tidy up.
- Imagine your ideal lifestyle.
- Finish discarding first.
- Tidy by category, not by location.
- Follow the right order.
- Ask yourself if it sparks joy.
- Komono (a.k.a. miscellaneous items)
- Sentimental items
Commit Yourself to Tidy up
Commit yourself to tidy up thoroughly and in one go. Don’t try to do it gradually, like 15 minutes a day. Or you’ll be tidying up forever. Do it in the shortest possible time. This ‘short period’ may take up to six months when decluttering a larger home. Moreover, aim for perfection. Even though everyone else is telling you that this is nothing you should ever do.
Imagine Your Ideal Lifestyle
Before you begin, ask yourself why you want to declutter. Which lifestyle do you want to promote? For instance, in what kind of home do you want to live, and how do you want to live in it? What do you have to change to get there? What prevents you from achieving your goal? Imagine your ideal lifestyle as detailed as possible. Visualize it in your head, make notes, or create a vision board. Once you know your ‘why’, you’re ready to start.
Finish Discarding First
Don’t get captivated by the ‘storage myth’. No storage method, however sophisticated, helps you to get rid of clutter. Fancy storage methods make clutter only superficially disappear (for a while). Decluttering the way Marie Kondo recommends is always a two-step process. First, discard what you neither need nor love and second, find a suitable place for the joy-bringing items you want to keep. As a result, daily tidying only means putting away things properly after you’ve used them.
Tidy by Category, Not by Location
Always go category-by-category, not room-by-room. Items from one category are most likely scattered around your house. To apply the method correctly, gather everything (from one category) in one place. Get your hands on every single item. So get everything out of your closets and drawers, and off your shelves. Consider every item, one-by-one, and then decide what you want to keep and what can go.
Follow the Right Order
Take one category at a time and finish it before you start with the next. You can always split a category into subcategories to make decluttering more manageable. For example, handle your Ts, your undies, your socks each as a separate subcategory when tidying up your clothes (category 1). The key to success is to follow the right order. Start with a category less difficult. The best order is clothes first, then books, papers, miscellaneous items, and lastly, sentimental items.
Ask Yourself If It Sparks Joy
Concentrate on the things you want to keep, not on those you want to get rid of. For example, you could start throwing out items that are broken or haven’t been used for a while. However, this is not the right focus. Go item-by-item and ask yourself the question Marie Kondo has become famous for: “Does it spark joy”? If the answer is yes, keep it. If the answer is no, discard it."Does it spark joy?". What a powerful question! Especially when adding "… for how long?". Click To Tweet
You may find it difficult to discard things that you still could use, that contain helpful information, or that you’ve kept due to sentimental reasons. Discarding gets even harder if these items are difficult to replace. That’s why it’s so important to start with a less demanding category and work your way up. The more you practice identifying what sparks joy, the more experienced you get in keeping and discarding the right things.
In her second book, Spark Joy, Marie Kondo gives extra support on how to deal with items that aren’t very appealing but useful. She explains that joy is not only expressed through attraction or excitement. For instance, you can also find joy in an item because its design works well for its purpose.
And last but not least, never forget to let things go with gratitude. Always remember they’ve been in your space for a reason. Once they’ve served their purpose, thank them and let them go.
The KonMarie Method: Additional Tips
- Don’t let your family members see what you discard (from your own things!). You don’t help them if they feel urged to dig out stuff from the bin only because of sentimental reasons.
- Don’t pass on items you want to get rid of to family and friends. Ask first what they really need or are planning to buy. Don’t hand-down the clutter!
- Don’t discard things from your partner or family members without asking. Even if you’re totally convinced that they’ll never think of that item again. When your partner or family members have a less strict approach to tidying up, the only option you have is to make it better and inspire them. And to give support if they ask for help.
- Finally, don’t change the method to suit your personality. It won’t work. However, the level of tidiness you aspire is totally up to you.
And there you have it – the essence of the KonMari Method in one post.
More Support and Inspiration
If you want to get decluttering off your mental to-do list once and for all, don’t miss my post on how to live a decluttered life. This comprehensive guide explains 5 reasons why it’s worth it to declutter and shows 5 different ways to do so (KonMari plus 4 other decluttering methods). The article also dives deeper into decluttering specific areas like your personal belongings, home, and workplace. And I added tips on how to deal with mental clutter and which new habits can help maintain a decluttered life over the long run.
These posts take a closer look at specific categories (and go beyond the KonMari Method):
- Wardrobe Decluttering a la Marie Kondo: Pros and Cons
- How to Declutter and Reduce Paperwork to a Minimum
I’ve also summarized my most important decluttering lessons learned:
- Home Decluttering a la Marie Kondo: Lessons Learned
- Wardrobe Decluttering a la Marie Kondo: Lessons Learned
In case your digital life needs some attention too, these posts can help:
- How to Declutter and Enrich Your Social Media Life
- How to Declutter Your Inbox and Reduce Email Stress
- Declutter and Better Organize Digital Files in 5 Steps
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Do you find the KonMari Method useful? Have you recently decluttered your home? How long did it take, and what were the biggest obstacles? Share your experience in the comments below!
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