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The KonMari Tidying Method Explained in Simple Terms

Tidy Sydney



If you’ve ever watched the hit Netflix series Tidying Up, then you know about Marie Kondo, the bubbly yet powerful woman who’s encouraging her followers to keep items that only spark joy when they are kept.

Marie has been dazzled by organising since she was a child. She had the entrepreneurial spirit at a young age, starting her tidying consultant business at only 19 years old during university in Tokyo.

Marie has since become one of the world’s most sought-after experts specialising in tidying up and getting people to go from cluttered to organised, serene and coordinated.

In this article, we going to examine the KonMari method, what it entails, and how you can utilise this wonderful strategy in your own tidying.



What Exactly Is the KonMari Method?

This method of organising is Marie Kondo’s minimalist-inspired way of tacking your possessions by category, instead of doing it by room. There are six basic rules to follow that will maximise your organising and decluttering efforts.

  1. Commit yourself to tidying up.

  2. Imagine your preferred lifestyle.

  3. Finish discarding unwanted items first. Before you get rid of something, thank each item sincerely for serving its purpose to you and your family.

  4. Tidy up strictly by category, not by location.

  5. Follow the correct order.

  6. If in doubt about an item, ask if it sparks joy.



What Are The Categories?

The categories to be followed are:

  • Clothes

  • Books

  • Papers

  • “Komono” or miscellaneous items

  • Sentimental items


Many people think that Marie Kondo’s method is about tidying, but her organising methods really focus upon discarding things that do not have value to their owners.

To figure out what needs to be discarded, Kondo recommends that you start by taking everything out of your closets and drawers, books off your shelves, and all the papers and paperwork out of your desk drawers, file folders and storage bins.

Once you have a huge pile of stuff to sort, then it’s time to get started.



What Do I Do?

Now that you have a huge pile of items to sort, it’s time to begin the organisation process. You now go item by item and ask yourself if the item sparks joy.

Kondo herself states that this can feel a little awkward (we did feel a little silly doing it the first time), but it becomes natural and easier to figure out which items bring you joy as you move along in the process.

Once you have tossed out items in every category, you should now have a smaller pile of remaining items that you can put back into their correct places: closets, drawers, boxes, bins and the like. Be sure that you finish up one category before you start the next one.

This makes your organising venture structured and timed, such that every action is valuable and worthy to your organising and tidying efforts.



Ideas For Great Tidying

That’s gist of it. Now if you’re actually going to give it a proper go, follow these tips to make sure you’re getting the most out of your KonMari tidying effort!


Tidy Up All at Once

Instead of doing one room a day, devote the ENTIRE day, or even a weekend, to tidying up your home. Using her method, if you only tidy up one room at a time over an extended period of time, it will just get messy and cluttered again in a matter of a few weeks or months.

Sure, it sounds rather daunting, because between kids, work and other obligations it may be impossible to tidy the home in one go-around. Kondo’s solution for what to do if you can’t complete your task in one day is one that gives you a bit more drive and momentum.

Her solution: Imagine the End Result.

Before you throw away the things that do not spark joy, imagine in your mind what your ideal lifestyle would look like. Establish concrete or tangible goals.

You might say, “I want to live in minimalist fashion, surrounded only by things I need,” which sounds a lot more specific than “I want a clutter free home”. Kondo argues that by thinking in such specific terms, you can more easily visualise the home and lifestyle you’d like to have.


Establish Whether or Not the Item “Sparks Joy”

Kondo’s lessons show you that when you place an emphasis on stuff that does NOT make you happy, you only bring unhappiness into your space and your life. If you look around your home and emphasise those items that you simply cannot stand, you are only generating even more negativity.

The idea is to focus on what makes you happy and what you love. By focusing on the good, the bad is relegated to the sidelines, and you create more joy in your life when you focus on the items that make you happy. This mentality is just as valuable as a great organisational system.


Pick Up the Item

Does it spark joy? Ask yourself as you hold it in your hands. If not, set it to the side. The KonMari method dictates that you must touch every single item before you dispose of it to really be able to make a proper decision.

Don’t worry about looking silly. You must feel the item plus you’re in your own privacy at home. Use your emotions and feelings as a way of determining if you will keep it or not.


Tidy by Category First

Not Location. Many people store items that fall into the same category in a variety of locations. For instance, you likely have clothes in your closet, in the laundry room and maybe under the bed.

Instead of tackling just ONE closet or dresser, get ALL the clothes together and sort them out. Find every piece you own and lay it out on the floor or your bed if they’re clean.

For clothing: Now that you have all your clothes laid out on the floor, hold onto the item and ask if it brings you joy. If it does not, there is no need to hang onto it and let it clutter up your home. Kindly discard the item by thanking it for its time, says Kondo.

Be sure to check out Kondo's demonstration of her basic folding method to efficiently fold your clothes to maximise space in all your drawers and closets.

For Someday Items: These are those items that we hold onto that we think we will need-someday! “Someday, I might need this, might as well hang onto it,” we argue. When was the last time you REALLY needed something like that?

Kondo notes, we strip our possessions of dignity when we let them go unused at home. The efficient thing to do is let them go by donating them or storing them in an appropriate place. You can even give an item to a friend or family member who needs it.


Organising Your Home, the KonMari Way

Designing your home using KonMari principles will come naturally from the space you have created by way of decluttering. Once you have used the method in your home, you will notice much more space to do what you love. And, you will be surrounded by things you really love and use.

It’s important to note that if you simply cannot let go of some items as per the KonMari method, don’t fret. After all, there is no one size fits all approach to tidying up. You can always revisit it again later. Just be sure you’re applying the method as strictly as possible and this is the exception.

Some items simply have to be stored even if they do not bring you joy right away. For instance, a toddler sized bed may not bring you joy if you have a newborn in the house. But, someday it will, so storing it is a great idea. It will eventually bring joy to you and your family.



Other Helpful Ideas

If you would like to be even more in the know about KonMari methods of keeping your home tidy, you can check out the books she’s written, "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing: An Action-Steps Summary and Analysis".

Some might seek to hire Kondo, but she is far too busy working to get the whole world tidied up! There are consultants available trained in the Kondo method of organisation. We’d recommend you give it a personal try the first time.

Utilising the Kondo method lets you acknowledge the importance of each item while simultaneously letting it go to make room for your own family, friends and items that really matter. And, you and your family will feel free and happy knowing that their items you no longer need or want to find their way to somebody who does need them, or simply put in the bin for recycling or trash. Having a decluttered house also makes it tremendously easier to clean. Happy tidying!



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