I’m sure by now most of us have heard about Marie Kondo and her revolutionary method of “tidying up.” The Kon-Mari Method, named after Marie Kondo herself, puts a different spin on decluttering and tidying. It’s all about sparking joy and bringing change in your life that makes it easy to maintain a tidy space.
I was first introduced to this adorable tiny woman by my best friend April. I already had a strong urge to declutter after the holidays, so when she told me about her book, and her soon-to-premier series on Netflix, I was all in. I bought the book almost immediately, read it in a weekend, and watched every episode of “Tidying Up.” After that, I was sold on this method and ready to jump in.
It took me almost 6 weeks to get our house completely decluttered, organized, and cleaned up, but it was absolutely worth it. It’s like a breath of fresh air just living in my home. Everything has a place and it’s easy to find things when I need them, or put things away appropriately (and even better, David and the kids know where things are supposed to go as well!).
Once all was said and done, we threw away over 40 bags of trash, and donated over 30 bags/boxes of stuff. That’s more than 70 bags/boxes of STUFF! Why did we have so much stuff to begin with? It feels incredible to have that load lifted off and be able to exist in a more tidy, less cluttered space. I urge you to give it a try. Some of her ideals are a little out there for most Americans, but it works and it feels so good once it’s done.
Another plus is that it was MUCH easier to get our house clean, tidy and ready to show to sell. If I had not done this, I would have been scrambling to get everything decluttered and presentable before listing our house. This picture of our closet is a bit embarrassing, but it’s all part of the process, so I’ll share. We literally had stuff shoved in our closet from floor to ceiling. We often had baskets of clean laundry sitting in the floor because I was too overwhelmed to fold it all in one go. The difference in the sheer amount of stuff is huge, and I feel like I can breath when I walk into my closet and around the house. (sorry these pics aren’t the best)
I will be highlighting different steps in my progress over the next couple weeks, but for today I want to give you an overview of the Kon-Mari method, in case you’re not familiar. There are some things I adopted with open arms, and there are other things (mostly cultural differences) that I didn’t necessarily agree with, so I left these out of my process.
The Kon-Mari Method: An Overview
1. Make tidying an event
If you tidy a little at a time, you’ll be tidying forever. Eliminate clutter thoroughly and completely within a short span of time. By doing this you will notice drastic results and will be more motivated to finish the job AND put forth the effort to maintain a tidy space once you are finished.
2. Sort by category, not by location
Why? Because we often store the same type item in multiple areas in our home. Marie suggests taking everything of a certain category and putting it all in one place. Only then will you know how much you actually own and be able to sort through and discard appropriately.
Marie also suggests going in a specific order when tidying:
4) Komono (miscellany – kitchen items, bathroom, closets, CDs and DVDs, etc.)
5) Sentimental items
3. Discard completely, then organize
Why start organizing before you are done discarding? You may end up organizing things you don’t end up keeping and this is a waste of time and energy. Discard completely, then assess what you have left, and decide how to store and organize it.
4. When discarding items, only keep items that spark joy, or are used on a regular basis.
This is probably what Marie Kondo is best known for – Sparking Joy. She suggests asking yourself before you discard something “does this item spark joy?” If the answer is no, or if it is not something that is used frequently, let it go. Even if it was something that at one point was very meaningful, but now it just sits forgotten and collects dust. If the item once sparked joy, but now doesn’t mean as much, the item has served it’s purpose in your life and it’s time to let it go.
Of course, not everything you keep will spark joy. My toaster doesn’t spark joy, but I do use it multiple times a week to make my kids waffles, so there would not be any sense in discarding it. Be sensible, but also be willing to let things go.
5. Decide what to keep, not what to keep rid of
This shift in decision making is key. I want to surround myself with things that make me happy, not things that I haven’t used in 5 years that I may or may not use in the future (chances are I won’t). I found tons of things that made me wonder “why in the world did I keep this all this time?” And I can tell you with certainty I haven’t missed a single thing I got rid of.
6. Pursue simplicity in storing
You don’t need fancy storage systems when storing and organizing items. Use simple things like shoe boxes to store and sort things, and use their lids as trays. They fit great in most drawers and on shelves! I’ve never been one to keep my shoe boxes, so I didn’t have any on hand. I ended up going to Michael’s and getting several photo storage boxes for $2 each that are the size of shoe boxes, and they work perfectly. Plus they’re prettier than regular shoe boxes!
I also love the Y-weave baskets from Target. They are a great size and great quality.
7. Store your clothes vertically in drawers
This has made such a difference! It’s so much easier to find what I want and it just looks much neater. All of our drawers are now organized in this way, and I love it!
8. Leave sentimental items for last
Don’t let yourself get distracted by sentimentals. When you come across pictures, old cards or letters, put them to the side in a box to sort through last. These things will distract you and slow your progress. The reason Marie suggests leaving sentimental items for last is because by the time you have tidied and sorted through your entire house, you have very well honed your decision making skills regarding keeping and discarding. You will have a clearer head and be able to better decide what you want to keep and what you want to discard.
There were a few things that I did not necessarily agree with or adopt into practice, and most of them had to do with cultural differences.
I did not agree with the idea that all items have “life.”
She suggests greeting your house to introduce yourself so it will be more cooperative with your tidying efforts.
She says to say thank you to every item you throw away (I’ll admit, I did this for some things). She says to talk to your items each day after you use them – tell your shoes and your clothes thank you as you take them off, tell your blanket thank you for keeping you warm, etc. She believes that by doing this your items will last longer. While this seems a bit out there to most Americans, I can see how being more appreciative of your things will help you take better care of them, and in turn help them last longer. I’ve actually considered teaching this concept to my kids, not to teach them that their things have a life and feelings, but to teach them to be more appreciative and take better care of their stuff. 🤷♀️ Who knows, maybe it could work.
She says to take everything out of your purse at the end of the day and set your purse on a shelf instead of hanging it up. She says that hanging it with all the stuff in it puts stress on it and it needs to rest after a long day. If I did this I’d surely forget something important like my wallet or my work badge. Maybe this could work if you change bags each day, but I don’t so I don’t do this.
One of the cutest things that she said, although I don’t necessarily agree with the idea behind it, is that you should never ball up your socks because they need to rest after taking a beating between your foot and your shoe all day. She says to fold them over neatly and store them vertically in your drawer so they can rest. If they are balled up like “potato balls,” their elastic stretches and they roll around every time the drawer is opened and closed, and they don’t get a chance to rest. I did start folding my socks though because it’s neater and I’ve found that I’m able to find their match easier.
She also suggested making the top shelf of your bookcase a personal shrine, and this has to do with different Shinto and Buddhist talismans and charms. Obviously, Christians can’t really relate to this idea.
She suggests letting your kitchen sponge dry outside, as well as other dishes such as colanders, cutting boards, and plates. This one was a bit out there for us. However we did adopt the “keep things out of your bathtub” practice. She says that keeping shampoo and soap bottles inside the bathtub, whether on the side/shelf, or on a wire rack, leads to soap scum build up, slime and rust. I decided to take our wire rack out (that was indeed slimy and rusty), and create a space in our bathroom closet to store our soaps when not in use. I have definitely noticed that soap scum does not build up as fast since removing these from the tub. It took a few times to get used to this, but now it’s a new habit that is working out just fine!
Have you heard of Marie Kondo and the Kon-Mari Method? Have you tried it or considered trying this method? If you’re interested in trying this method, I suggest buying her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (less than $10 on Amazon!). It goes into more detail than the show does, and gives reason behind why this method does things the way that it does.
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