Today’s post is the first in a new series that I’m starting on my blog, all about the KonMari Method! This is something that I’ve been wanting to do for a really long time because it’s a topic I’m really passionate about. I’ve found success in tidying up my own life by using the KonMari Method, so I’d like to pass on my personal tips and insights to help others get started in their tidying journey.
If you’d like to learn more about this unique tidying method and how it can help you, keep reading!
I first came across Marie Kondo’s best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up back in 2015 – nearly seven years ago! At the time, I was living at home with my family, back in my childhood bedroom which was filled with belongings from my teen years, plus everything I had accumulated while I was away at college. I had never really been a tidy person (I was pretty lazy and hated doing household chores) but I was so overwhelmed by the mountain of possessions in my room that I needed to find a solution. I had tried tidying up in my own way, but the results were less than satisfactory.
Then I came across a blog post talking about the KonMari method and I was so intrigued that I decided to go out and purchase the book for myself. The title is not a joke – what I learned from this book was truly life-changing! I mean, it’s seven years later and I’m still following Marie Kondo’s advice on a day-to-day basis. After I read her book, I decided to tidy up my bedroom and it was such a great experience. The results were so much more impressive and impactful compared to when I tried to tidy up on my own.
(You can read all about my first adventure in tidying up, including before and after photos, here!)
Since then, I’ve been a full-fledged KonMari convert! (I even considered joining her course to become a certified consultant, but it’s a bit out of my price range at the moment.) Even so, her little book of tidying advice is now a forever favorite of mine, and I still like to revisit her advice every year to help keep my home in tip-top shape. The philosophies and tips that she provides are important guiding factors for not only how I organize my home, but how I live my life.
With a baby on the way and the beginning of spring just weeks away, tidying up and “nesting” have been on my mind a lot lately, so I thought this would be a great time to talk about the KonMari Method on my blog and to do a bit of tidying up myself!
In this blog post, I’ll be introducing a basic overview of the KonMari Method, explaining why I think it works so well, and giving some tips on how to get started. I’ll also give some advice related to my own personal experience in implementing the KonMari Method. Hopefully, as you learn more about Marie Kondo’s tidying process, it will inspire you to get started in your own home! I am personally very excited about refreshing my space in time for the new season (and new baby!) so I hope you’ll join me!
What is the KonMari Method?
So what exactly is the KonMari Method? You may have heard the term “spark joy” cropping up in conversations ever since Marie Kondo made her debut in western media. This idea of keeping only the things that spark joy is probably the key tenant of her philosophy, but the entire process involves so much more.
The KonMari Method is a methodical approach to decluttering and organizing. After years of working with clients, Marie Kondo developed several philosophies and methods that can help anyone to tidy up their home, regardless of the number of possessions they own or the size of their space. The process of tidying up involves 3 main steps:
- Understand your reason for tidying up by considering the question: what kind of life do you envision living in your tidied up space?
- Declutter your belongings in the correct order and in one fell swoop. Examine each item one by one, and if it sparks joy, you may keep it. If not, it’s time to let it go.
- Once you completely finish the act of decluttering, organize what you’ve chosen to keep in practical and meaningful ways.
If you are currently feeling overwhelmed by clutter, then the idea of examining everything in your home one by one may seem intimidating. Taking the time to acknowledge items one by one is actually really crucial to the success of the program, so don’t ignore this important rule in an attempt to save time! This is a mindful and intentional process, so take the time to hold up each individual item and ask yourself, “does this spark joy?”
And decluttering all at once is not as scary as it sounds. Marie Kondo explains that for your first time doing a big decluttering event, it’s normal for the entire process to take anywhere from a few weeks to up to half a year, which is quite a generous time frame if you ask me. After you complete the process, you’ll only have to worry about minor daily upkeep (aka picking up after yourself) which becomes much easier once your entire house is in order.
If you’re wondering what exactly is the “correct order” for decluttering, Marie Kondo has carefully laid out an order that she finds to be most effective, which I will be explaining later in this blog post and in future blog posts for this series.
Why It Works
You may have tried other decluttering programs and failed in the past, but there are two big reasons why I believe the KonMari Method stands out from other programs.
First, it changes your perspective on the act of decluttering. It’s not about what you throw away, but rather what you choose to keep!
Second, the mindful way in which you will declutter items during this process will help you to heal from your past and move on. Not only will your space be transformed by the end, but so will your heart and mind.
Let me elaborate a bit more on these two aspects so you can understand what I mean.
Changing Your Perspective
Trying to weed out unwanted items and focusing on reducing how much you own can be a really stressful and negative experience that fills you with dread, guilt, and regret. So rather than asking you to decide what to get rid of, the KonMari Method asks you to decide what you’d like to keep based on whether or not it sparks joy. This way, you get to focus on what makes you happy, and making decisions that affirm your sense of self can be really empowering. Choosing what items to say “yes” to helps you to build your self-confidence.
Of course, there are items we may not love but still need to keep. For example, laundry detergent doesn’t spark any particular emotions in me, but without it, I wouldn’t be able to wash my clothes and get dressed every day. Wearing clean, freshly laundered clothes definitely sparks joy for me, so the detergent holds great value in its utility and fosters joy in my life in its own way. This change in perspective can help you make decisions during the decluttering process.
Healing and Gaining Closure
Another aspect of the KonMari Method that I find so valuable is that it forces you to examine your past and make the conscious decision to move forward. As you declutter, you’ll have to confront old relationships, old dreams, and bad decisions, all in the form of your possessions.
The way to experience this healing is by thanking your items before you let them go. It seems like a silly thing to do, especially if you are totally atheist like myself, or you follow a religion that teaches against idolatry or animism. But you don’t have to actually believe that your items have feelings in order to reap the emotional and psychological benefits of this practice. You can still experience a sort of placebo effect by sending off your items with gratitude.
For example, maybe you are thinking about letting go of an old sweater, but you feel frozen with guilt, fear, or indecision.
- If you never wore it much and feel guilty about making a wasteful purchase, you can thank that sweater for the joy you experienced in the moment you purchased it (or for teaching you a lesson about personal finance).
- If you wore it so much that it’s now threadbare and you feel sad its “life” is over, you can thank it for the countless times it’s kept you warm over the years.
- If it was a gift from a beloved relative but it doesn’t match your personal style, you can thank it for the joy it brought your relative to give you such a gift.
- If it reminds you of an old boyfriend and holds some painful memories, you can thank your sweater for bringing you clarity and reminding you of your self-worth in the moment that you discard it.
You won’t have to feel any guilt about getting rid of things because you took the time to consider whether the item is really in line with your vision for your life, and you thanked each item properly before discarding it. Acknowledging your items’ history in your life, the lessons you learned through them, and the emotions you experienced because of them, will help you to heal from the past and get ready for a better future.
How To Get Started
Hopefully, by now, I’ve convinced you that taking on this decluttering challenge is worthwhile, and so you may be wondering how to get started. Before you start throwing things out, I’ve outlined a few first steps that will help you kick off your decluttering extravaganza on the right foot.
Step 1: Read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
I’ll be sharing a crash course in the KonMari Method and also doing it alongside you during this blog series, but there is nothing better than getting advice directly from the source.
I recommend finishing the entire book before trying to dive into your decluttering project because there are so many smaller nuances to consider before starting, and she also saves some of her most impactful advice until the end of the book. It’s a short read, so it will really only delay the start of your decluttering project by a day or two if you do choose to read it first.
If reading an entire book about decluttering and organizing sounds a bit dull, you can also opt for the manga version cleverly called The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up. It’s an illustrated graphic novel that demonstrates the KonMari Method by focusing on a female protagonist struggling to tackle her clutter. She goes through the entire decluttering and organizing process and undergoes a great transformation by the end. It’s a charming and endearing story in its own right, but it’s also great for visual learners who need to see the KonMari Method in action. You won’t get as much detail as you do from reading the original book, but it’s still a great resource.
Step 2: Consider the question: What kind of life do you envision living in your tidied-up space?
This is a step that many people are tempted to skip over because they would rather dive into decluttering right away. But I think it’s really important to think deeply about this question before getting started.
I personally don’t believe that just sitting and thinking about it in your mind is enough. I recommend journaling about your ideal lifestyle in a very detailed manner so you have a clear and concrete vision that will keep you motivated throughout this process.
Make sure you ask yourself the deeper question of “why” as you journal. If you want to declutter your kitchen, ask yourself “why.” If it’s because you envision yourself baking beautiful cakes at home, think about why you want to pursue such an activity. Is it because you want to open your own bakery one day? Is it because you’d like to delight your friends and family with delicious treats more often? And then ask yourself “why” again.
By asking yourself “why” over and over again, you will uncover your innermost self and have a better understanding of your deepest desires and needs. In fact, the ultimate goal of tidying up is to confront our pasts and innermost selves so that we can create an environment that supports us in the pursuit of our true values and goals. I bet you didn’t think decluttering could be that deep, but it really is!
So don’t skip this all-important step and take some time to think and journal before you jump into the decluttering process. You could also create a vision board or Pinterest board if you need a visual reference or inspiration.
Step 3: Make a Plan of Action
As I mentioned, the KonMari Method only consists of 3 major steps: envisioning your ideal lifestyle, decluttering, and organizing. Sounds simple enough, but it will really help you out in the long run to plan out how you are going to tackle each step, especially the decluttering portion.
Decluttering must happen in a very particular order:
- Komono (Miscellany)
- Sentimental Items
These categories each cover a really broad collection of items in your home, so it could be overwhelming to just dive into a massive category like “miscellany” without breaking it down into smaller subcategories. Every person is different and has collected different items throughout their lives, so consider what type of items you keep in your home to make your categories.
For example, an avid tennis player may need to specify a “tennis outfits” category under “clothing.” A book collector may want to distinguish between “fiction,” “non-fiction,” and “textbooks” when decluttering their books. “Kitchen tools” may be a sufficiently specific category for someone like me who doesn’t spend a lot of time in the kitchen, but others may need to separate their “baking tools” from their “baking dishes” to help them sort through their miscellany. So take some time to think about your subcategories before starting. You don’t have to get too micro about this, but a little planning in advance can help you get through this process a little easier and with less overwhelm.
Also, consider how you will discard the items you declutter. You may need to do some research about how to properly recycle or donate certain items in your neighborhood. One thing that Marie Kondo is especially adamant about is to avoid passing off your discarded items to friends and family unless they are looking for that item specifically. If you are just giving your items to others to avoid the guilt associated with being “wasteful,” you may be burdening them with new clutter in their lives, which is not a very nice thing to do!
Before I wrap this up, I want to encourage whoever is considering trying the KonMari Method to really take all of the steps and tips to heart and to give them a proper try before writing it off. I’ve seen way too many people either skip certain vital steps or tweak things to suit their own sensibilities who then come to the conclusion that “it’s not for them” or “it doesn’t work” based on a half-hearted attempt. It might seem tedious to hold up each item one by one, but you’ll be short-changing yourself if you don’t. You might feel stupid for talking to your items as if they had feelings, but remember it’s your own emotional healing that you are tending to by doing so.
In the next installment of this blog series, I will be talking about the very first decluttering category: clothes! In the meantime, I’ll be doing a bit of journaling and planning to aid me in sprucing up my space, and I hope you’ll do the same!
Have you ever tried the KonMari method before? If not, are you interested in giving it a go? Let me know in the comments!
Thanks for reading!