Whether you’re downsizing or just ready to take control of the clutter, the Japanese organization expert Marie Kondo has ideas you might find useful
By Katrina Caruso
If your home needs to be reorganized, you might be happy to discover Marie Kondo, the organizational guru everyone’s been talking about since her new Netflix show, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, began streaming in January.
Essentially a wholesome mix of home-makeover shows with a dash of Hoarders, the show follows families and couples through their re-organizational journey using Kondo’s KonMari method.
Kondo first made waves in North America with her No. 1 New York Times bestseller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Initially meant to be a guide for clients of Kondo’s Tokyo-based organizational business (which she began as a 19-year-old student), the book was first published in 2010 and is now available in 40 countries around the world; on Amazon Canada, the book is listed as the No. 10 most-sold book.
However, you don’t have to buy the book or watch the show to grasp the general concepts of the KonMari method. Here’s our streamlined guide to get you started. (If you’re in the process of or contemplating downsizing, you might find it especially useful.)
Commit—make a commitment to yourself that you are going to be tidying up. Talk to your spouse or partner and other family members so that they can get on board with you.
Think of your future lifestyle: how do all your belongings fit into it? If you feel weighed down by what you own, you’re definitely ready.
Tidy by category rather than by room. Kondo suggests tidying up according to the following categories and in the following order: clothing, books, papers, komono (miscellaneous stuff—everything from kitchen wares to pet accessories), and sentimental items. Start with one category at a time, gathering all the items in the home that fall into that category, putting them in a pile, and sorting through them. That way, you’ll be able to better determine what to keep, because it’s all in one spot. Kondo recommends following this order because clothing and books are easier to sort through than sentimental items.
One by one, ask yourself if each item in the pile “sparks joy.” Kondo states that you should be filled with a happy feeling or a happy memory when you physically touch the item. If you feel nothing, you can let that item go. If you’re having a hard time with this, ask yourself if you see this item in your future lifestyle. For the clothing category, our article on “the capsule wardrobe” might be helpful.
Respect your items. Kondo likes to thank each item that she lets go for its service. She also believes in organizing and/or folding the items that are kept in ways that they will be easier to see and find, and that won’t cause wear and tear over time. For a quick overview of her folding clothes method, Kondo has this video available on Youtube.
Take your time. This process is lengthy and requires a certain level of patience. Over the course of the Netflix show, we see the couples taking up to a month and a half, “tidying” nearly full-time once they get home from their jobs.
The goal is to ultimately be left with a home full of items that actually add value to your life.
Once you’ve begun the process, you’ll find yourself with a lot of stuff that needs to be let go—the next step is to figure out what to do with it all. You’ll find a short series of relevant articles elsewhere on this site: where to sell your stuff, what items to sell in the first place, and how to best get rid of the things that won’t sell.