Clear Clutter for Good with the KonMari Method

The KonMari method for decluttering is a refreshing approach to the tiresome task of organization, precisely explained in Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up. The method is definitely a new perspective on an old problem and has been getting a lot of positive attention in the last few months. So if you’re tired of your cluttered closet and overflowing bookcase, it might be time to give the KonMari method a try. Here are the basics.

1. Tidy in one shot, as quickly, and completely as possible

If tidying up is part of your daily (or weekly) routine, you’re not likely to ever make a noticeable dent in your stockpile. Little by little means the job is never done, and the greater goal is to achieve a state of tidiness that will define your lifestyle and bring you joy.  Marie describes tidying as a special event—like a festival. So give yourself a deadline (a realistic one of course) and get started. The shock of going through your belongings all at once will be the spark of momentum you need to make that change.

2. Sort by category, not by location

It feels natural to organize by room, but Marie advises against this. Why? Organizing by category (clothes, books, mementos) and placing like next to like makes comparisons of value much clearer. And placing it all in a big ol’ pile in the middle of the room also makes you (perhaps painfully) aware of just how much of that item type you have. The messiness will inspire you to minimize.

3. Does it “spark joy”?

Perhaps the most unusual advice, and in my opinion the hardest, is to pick up every item in your pile and gauge your physical response to it. Marie maintains that only those items that create a response of happiness, joy, or positivity are worth keeping around you, which makes sense. Why surround yourself with items that drain you or promote indifference?

It’s a key shift in focus from the usual “What can I get rid of?” to “What would I love to keep?” If you can identify the items you love, the rest become much easier to discard.

The power of touch

The “spark joy” feeling can be difficult to pin down from a quick glance at an item, which is why picking up each item is so important. The physical response you get from touching and holding an item is your cue for deciding its role in your life. Obviously, you won’t get the same response from sports socks and frying pans as you will for your prized possessions, but there is still room to appreciate your needs as much as your wants. When you hold that frying pan, ask yourself what your life would be like without it. I guarantee you’ll develop some appreciation and positive feelings towards it.

Where to start?

This method takes practice, which is why Marie has kindly suggested an order to go through your items: clothes, books, documents, miscellaneous, mementos. The idea is that sentimental items are often the hardest to deal with and the ones that stall progress. By leaving them to last, you’ll be an expert at understanding the “spark joy” feeling, making the process much less emotionally confusing.

I started with clothes (all seasons, all functions) and had great success in limiting my wardrobe to the most flattering, comfortable and useful. It was a bit weird at first contemplating each and every item, but it slowed me down and made me appreciate every item in my wardrobe from socks and undies to jeans and tees to party dresses. A tidy closet and a large bag of clothes for donation are fine rewards too. Next stop: books!



Christine Ko
.3 years ago

That's totally new to me. Cheers!

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill3 years ago

This doesn't really make much sense to me, but thanks.

Jayasri Amma
Jayasri Amma3 years ago

Thank you!

Nikki Davey
Nikki Davey4 years ago

Good advice. Just need to convince my hubby.

Julianna D.
Juliana D4 years ago

The idea of touching every object is a good one though.

Julianna D.
Juliana D4 years ago

I avoid looking at clutter by going outside, but then I'm on this big farm.

Magdalen B.
Magdalen B4 years ago

Very soon after I get rid of something, I need it.

Carla Thames
Carla T4 years ago

My late mother would have probably been classified as a hoarder, and I inherited some of those genes. However, I can finally purge part of it. I keep sentimentals (and yes there are plenty) but we have a yard sale or two each year and donate what is left over to local charities...hurts and feels good at the same time.

ERIKA S4 years ago