If you wish your home could be tidier, you’re not alone. A 2013 survey found almost half of people feel stressed over the lack of cleanliness or organization in their home. Part of this may be due to the sheer number of things we Americans possess. Six years after the survey, our consumer culture is still just as strong, but many people are looking for ways to live more simply and with more joy.
Whether you’ve seen her bestselling books in bookstores, read about her in magazine articles, seen her on talk shows or watched her new hit show on Netflix, you have probably heard of Marie Kondo and her world-renowned passion for tidying up. Marie Kondo doesn’t just love tidying — she’s developed a whole process around it, known as the KonMari Method.
So, what is the KonMari Method of tidying, exactly? It’s a total approach to organization. Both the underlying philosophy and the practical process that set this method apart from other organizational techniques. This approach should not only leave your home decluttered and well-organized, but should put you in a more positive mental state. No wonder people all over the world are trying to tidy their homes like Marie Kondo.
Especially if you live in an apartment with limited space, or want to downsize before a move, the KonMari Method can help you learn how to declutter, eliminate unnecessary possessions and give you a new appreciation for the things you keep.
Table of Contents
- Key Concepts of the KonMari Method
- How to Tidy Like Marie Kondo
- Some Final Tips for Organizing
Key Concepts of the KonMari Method
Let’s look at three fundamental principles that are essential to understand before you can tidy like Marie Kondo. These concepts are especially critical to the uniqueness of this method.
Anyone who has had even a little exposure to the KonMari Method has likely heard the term “spark joy.” Marie Kondo instructs people to decide whether to keep an item or give it away primarily based on whether they feel a spark of joy when they hold that item.
Knowing whether something sparks joy for you isn’t always as easy as it may sound. Rather than attempting to explain what joy feels like, Marie suggests starting with comparisons that will help you pick out your favorite items right away. By starting with items you’re sure about, you can begin to become attuned to the feeling of joy as you tidy.
When you feel a struggle between keeping something or letting it go, you can also ask yourself if the item is something you want to take into your future. Recalling a fond memory attached to an item isn’t necessarily the same as feeling joy. Keeping your ideal future in mind will help you know whether something truly brings you joy. It’s also important to remember the point isn’t to eliminate things. It’s to make sure everything you own brings you happiness.
Another foundational concept of the KonMari Method is feeling gratitude. Marie Kondo begins her process by “greeting” a home, which involves silently thanking the home for everything it has done for an individual, couple or family. This conscious step of appreciation sets the tone for the rest of the tidying process.
As you decide whether to keep an item or eliminate it from your household, either by donating it or throwing it away, you must take a moment to thank the item for what it has done for you. According to the KonMari Method, you should even express gratitude toward items you dislike for helping you learn more about your tastes. No matter how much you decide to keep, you should feel grateful for the things you have, which makes them mean more to you.
This focus on appreciating your things doesn’t end with the initial organizational process. For example, Marie Kondo points out folding your clothes gives you an ongoing opportunity to feel gratitude for your clothing. As you fold a sweater, reflect on how much you enjoy it and how you appreciate the way it makes you feel.
Tidying by Category
Another key aspect of the KonMari Method of tidying that makes it distinctive is its categorical approach. While most home organization tips recommend a room-by-room model, the KonMari Method takes a more holistic approach. The categories include the following:
- Sentimental items
By organizing by these categories, one at a time, instead of by rooms in your house, you can see everything you own in a particular category, which can help you identify any duplicate or unnecessary items. People are often surprised at the sheer volume of clothes they own, for instance, when they see it all together in one pile.
It isn’t just organizing by category that matters. The order of the categories is also critical. People tend to have an easier time determining what sparks joy for them when they’re going through their clothing, which makes it an ideal starting point. As they move through the categories, they gradually hone the skill of knowing what truly sparks joy and letting go of unnecessary items. Leaving sentimental items for last is strategic, since these items can be more challenging to sort through.
How to Tidy Like Marie Kondo
So, now that you understand the heartbeat behind the KonMari Method, let’s dive into the step-by-step process. With the KonMari Method of tidying, you’ll move through each of the five categories, starting with clothing and finishing with sentimental possessions.
1. Start With Clothing
To organize your clothes, gather all the clothes you own into one big pile, including both clothes hanging in your closet and those folded in your dresser. Once you’ve gathered up all your clothes, you can get a visual of exactly how many pieces of clothing you own. Pick up each piece individually and determine whether it sparks joy, or whether you’re ready to say thank you and part with it.
Once you’ve downsized, it’s time to put it all back into your dresser and closet, this time in a way that makes everything appear well-organized and allows you to find what you’re looking for quickly. Hanging up clothing is fairly self-explanatory, but when it comes to how to properly fold clothes, Marie Kondo has plenty of advice to share.
Generally, fold items in such a way that they will stand upright in drawers rather than being stacked flat, allowing you to see all your clothes at one glance, rather than having to sift through them. Here’s how to fold some common clothing items, according to the KonMari Method.
- T-shirts: With the shirt laid flat, fold in one side and fold the sleeve back. Repeat with the other side to achieve a perfect rectangle. Now, fold the top down to about an inch up from the hem. From here, fold to the halfway point, fold over again and then place upright.
- Pants and jeans: First, fold in half longways and fold the crotch in. Now fold the top down to about an inch from the bottom of the pants. Now fold, or roll, and stand upright.
- Socks: Folding down the band to hold a pair of socks together can cause the elastic to stretch out. Instead, lay both socks flat, one on top of the other. Fold down, leaving a little gap at the bottom. If socks are larger, fold again. Store upright.
2. Organize Books
Just as with clothes, make sure you pull all the books you own together into one area before sorting them. Don’t forget about any how-to manuals in your garage, cookbooks in your kitchen or other books that may not be on your bookshelf. Take every book into your hands and ask yourself these two questions:
- Does it spark joy?
- Will it be beneficial for my life going forward?
If you’re not sure, start with a book you know you love and would never part with. Doing so can help you become sensitive to what joy feels like. As you touch each book, if the answer to the above questions is yes, place these books into a stack you plan to keep. If no, put these books into a stack for donating. Be sure to thank each book for fulfilling its purpose.
With fewer books, you can typically store your remaining books more neatly and may even be able to free up some space on your bookshelf for a knickknack that brings you joy.
3. Go Through All Papers
Papers can be an overwhelming category for some, but as with the other categories, you want to gather up all papers into one spot. One piece at a time, determine whether you need to keep or can discard papers.
Divide the papers you decide to keep in three storage categories.
- Pending documents: This first category includes papers you need to keep for the time being because they require you to take action. These include documents like bills or personal letters.
- Important documents: Essential papers are ones you need to hold onto permanently, such as insurance forms, medical information, contracts and so forth.
- Miscellaneous documents: The third category is for papers you refer to frequently, such as recipes you’ve clipped from a magazine, notes you took or other miscellaneous documents.
4. Tackle the Komono Category
In Japanese, the word “komono” means “small things.” In the KonMari Method, komono includes your kitchen, bathroom, garage and all miscellaneous items that don’t fall under the other four categories. This category is, by definition, large, but by this point, you should be a pro at figuring out how to minimize if necessary and store items in a way that is both strategic and aesthetically pleasing. Let’s look at a few of Marie Kondo’s guidelines for items that fall into this category.
- Kitchen: Store items you use less frequently, such as china and obscure appliances, in places that are harder to reach, and keep more frequently used items in easily accessible places. In drawers, use boxes to create compartments for like-sized utensils.
- Bathroom: As with any location, in the bathroom, focus on storing things in compartments in drawers so you can easily see and access even the smallest of items. For towels, fold them in half longways, fold in half the other way, then fold in thirds and store upright.
- Garage: Use clear bins to store items in your garage so you can easily see what is in each of the containers. Try to eliminate anything that ultimately won’t be useful for you going forward.
- Miscellaneous items: For all remaining miscellaneous items, follow the same basic principles for determining what to keep. Store similar items together. Use storage containers whenever possible instead of bags so you can easily see and access your items.
5. Finish With Sentimental Items
The last category carries the most emotional weight. By this point, you will have honed your ability to sense whether an item sparks joy for you, which is especially important when it comes to sentimental items. One thing to watch out for is mistaking mementos for memories. An item may remind you of a fond memory, but do you need that item to hold onto the memory?
Store sentimental items you choose to keep in a way that sparks joy. For example, you can use a beloved decorative box. As always, store items vertically if you can.
Photos tend to be a significant part of this category. When going through photos, if you have a few photos that are very similar, select the one that sparks the most joy for you. Ideally, keep photos in an album so you can flip through and enjoy looking at them from time to time. If not in a photo album, store photos upright in a box or bin.
Some Final Tips for Organizing
Here are five extra tips to help you as you organize your house or apartment:
- When going through the selection process with a partner or family members, do your best not to judge the items they decide to keep. We are all entitled to place a different value on things and find joy in unique places.
- Make sure you’ve finished discarding any items you don’t plan to keep before organizing everything. This way, you won’t create unnecessary work for yourself by sorting and storing items only to get rid of them.
- If you don’t have enough drawers for storing folded clothes or other items, use shoeboxes as a temporary solution until you can find more permanent storage that works better.
- To store handbags, first remove any tissue paper inside. Then put similar-sized bags inside each other, making sure to keep handles visible so you can easily see all your bags.
- When purchasing new items, ask yourself whether there’s anything you can let go of at home that no longer sparks joy for you. For example, if you’re buying a new dress, can you donate an old one you rarely or no longer wear?
Remember, the KonMari Method isn’t a quick fix. The process will typically take days, weeks or possibly even months, depending on the size of your home and the number of your possessions. Try not to rush the process. If it’s dragging on, remind yourself of your vision for what sort of environment you want your home to be. And remind yourself there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. You can and will finish this extensive tidying process!
Enjoy a Joyful Home at Marcotte Properties
The KonMari Method can help you achieve a joyful, organized space, no matter the size of your home. If you currently live in an apartment or are looking to move into one, check out our blog for more tips on getting the most out of your apartment. You’ll also find information about living in East Bay. If you’re interested in renting in East Bay, contact us with any questions you have, or look at our properties to learn more about the wonderful options we have to offer at Marcotte Properties!