What is the Konmari Method of Tidying Up & Does It Work?

Aimee Rebecca
by Aimee Rebecca

We are taking an in-depth look into the Konmari method of decluttering and tidying up. I started using the Konmari method to help me sort through my excess in a more systematic way.

I've always considered myself to be pretty good at decluttering and organizing but implementing this method has brought me to another level.

Who is Marie Kondo?

Who is Marie Kondo?

Marie Kondo wrote a book called, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Her method is strict. It can seem strange to have such stringent rules when it comes to throwing out your old jeans, but once you start doing it, you realize how effective and rewarding it is.

What is the Konmari method?

What is the Konmari method?

The Konmari method is about more than simply getting rid of excess. It’s about filling your environment solely with items that bring you joy and make you happy.

Find your reason

Before you even begin decluttering, you must envision what you want your life to be like post decluttering, and why you want that life.

Interrogate your reasons, filtering them down from broad reasons to very specific ones. Be mindful of why you are going through this whole process.

For example, my goal was to have less stuff that I don't use. Why? Because it'll be easier to find stuff that I do need. What difference does it make? Rummaging through drawers takes time. Why does that matter? Because I'm always late and maybe if I had less stuff to rummage through, I would be on time. You’re looking for very specific answers to why you want to declutter.

Konmari categories

Once you have gotten to the core of the reasons you’re doing this, you can begin the decluttering process. Declutter by category, not rooms. The categories go in a specific order.

First, you do clothing, then books, then papers, then miscellaneous items. The last category is your sentimental items because those are the hardest to part with. 

Dressing up

Marie Kondo recommends you dress up because it is a big event and you want to honor it by looking your best. I skip past that. It's just not for me. So dress up or don't, no judgment from me. Then you gather every item you own that falls into that category.

How to tidy up with the Konmari method

For each category, take everything to a separate location from where it’s normally kept and gather it in a pile. Starting with your clothing, go through your closets, drawers, and anywhere you might have clothes stored away.

Anything that you forget about during this step is going in the garbage. You obviously didn't care enough about that item to remember it, so you must get rid of it. You don't even get a choice.

By this point, you will have a crazy mountain of stuff. It is overwhelming, to say the least. This is surprisingly more effective than going through your clothes while they're in the closet or peeking in drawers and picking stuff out that you don't want anymore.

There is power in being forced to face just how much stuff you own.

Immediately it makes you want to get rid of stuff because you see the excessiveness clearly. I felt completely overwhelmed. It was a strangely emotional experience to be confronted with each and every item.

Does it spark joy?

This method requires you to handle each item. Feel it, touch it, and ask yourself if this item sparks joy. We're not thinking with our heads this time, we're thinking with our hearts.

I had always decluttered based on practical thinking. If I liked something but hadn't used it recently, I would get rid of it. This time it's all about sparking joy. If something does not spark joy, you thank it for fulfilling its purpose and let it move on.

You’re thanking the item because in Marie Kondo's world, items have feelings, and you must be respectful. I'm not going to comment on that, but just know that's part of the philosophy behind the method.

The purpose of items

Marie Kondo says every item that comes into your life has a specific purpose and you might not know what that purpose is.

When someone gives you a gift you feel obligated to keep and use it. You feel like that is the purpose that it needs to fulfill. According to Marie Kondo even if you never used it, that gift has already fulfilled its purpose of an expression of love. 

I used to hold on to things thinking I hadn't worn them or used them enough. How can I get rid of something that still has the tags on it? Sometimes the purpose of an item isn't to use it to death. Its purpose may have been to teach you not to buy things just because they’re on sale. 

Drawers before folding

Drawers after folding


Once you’ve narrowed your clothes down to what you’re keeping, there are specific strategies for storing clothing. Marie Kondo suggests folding as much as you can because your clothes will feel uncomfortable if they're hanging up.

When you put clothes in drawers, instead of stacking them one on top of the other, fold them to stand up so that when you open the drawer, you can see everything with one glance.

Originally, I disliked this because I thought it would take up too much room, but I have to hand it to Marie Kondo; this is actually a great system.

Get rid of bags immediately

She also recommends you do not show your family members what you are getting rid of. They will inevitably rummage through, pick things out and say things like, ‘how can you get rid of that?’ It will really eat away at your resolve.

I'm a fan of getting the bags out of the house immediately. Even if you can’t bring them to their next destination yet just put them in the trunk of the car ready to go. 

Everything you need to know about the Konmari method

I hope I helped shed some light on the Konmari method. I highly recommend reading her book. I hope your decluttering journey is going well. Let me know. Feel free to leave any questions in the comments section.

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