If “trashing” your prized possessions has you running for the hills, don’t stress. The KonMari method, described in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, takes the pressure off what you must decide to throw out and focuses rather on what you are deciding to keep. This decision is made by holding an item in your hands, maybe hug it and hold it close to your heart, and ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?”
If you feel you’re too busy to organize (or read the book), but are craving the clarity that the KonMari method promises, you’re in luck. Behold our “cliff notes” version of “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” — 6 lessons of the KonMari method and the unexpected long-term benefits.
1. What, Not Where.
By habit, many of us declutter room-by-room. Kondo’s Rule #1 is to discard items by category. Gather all category items from each room, otherwise, items will continue to flow into other rooms. The method suggests you begin with clothing since these items carry the least amount of emotional weight. The order of objects to tidy goes in decreasing order of disposability: clothing, books, documents, komono (miscellany), and mementos.
2. With All Due Respect.
What if we told you that your belongings had feelings, too? Think of a day in their lives. Would you, a functional kitchen gadget, be happy shoved on the back of a shelf? Would you, a pair of socks with a very important job, feel respected balled up in a drawer?
If you begin to see your belongings as more than just items and more as tools that assist you in carrying out day-to-day tasks, you may appreciate these items more and be less conflicted in deciding which items aren’t serving you.
Kondo takes a moment to thank items for their work before discarding them and urges you do the same. What about the sweater with tags still on? What role did that serve? Thank the sweater for the thrill you felt when y0u took that great bargain up to the checkout line, even if you haven’t laid eyes on it since.
3. Not Now, Nostalgia.
Stay focused on the category at hand. Put on your blinders and look away from that stack of photos calling you from the closet shelf. If you don’t, you’ll have embarked on a 3-hour trip down memory lane and still end up stuck with an overflowing closet. Mementos certainly have their time in the KonMari method, but for this reason, it is last in the discard order.
4. Feel the Purge.
When gathering all the like items from your home, put them in one pile in the middle of the room to get started. Approach the task with focus and remove all distractions.
Allow yourself to remove items that do not serve you and that do not give you joy. This may be the ill-fitting, unflattering impulse buy that was marked down so low you had to take it, or the shoes that make you wince in pain every moment they’re on your feet. The home decor that no longer suits your taste. The pile of books you feel guilty for not reading. Why not donate these items and give them an opportunity to make someone else happy? You’ll be happy, too, with all the freed up space that was hogging all your joy.
5. Return to the Fold.
When all items are sorted, you can now assign a proper resting place for all remaining items.
Kondo believes that a lot of our clothing, like knits and sweaters, are happiest stored in dressers, not on hangers. She offers a vertical-fold technique that can be applied to nearly every article of clothing. Using this technique, everything is easy to see (no more forgotten tees!) and easy to remove (no more messy piles!). To help keep these rows in order, try using a shoe box as a drawer divider.
6. Your Dream Closet.
Imagine opening your closet doors to only your favorite items. Plan on spending less time searching for your favorite fall beanie from last season and even less time stuffing everything else back from where it fell.
The perks of KonMari extend beyond your living space. Below are some of the added benefits of making more room for joy in your home.
Time is on Your Side.
With less clutter comes less maintenance. Downtime can be spent quickly tidying up rather than avoiding stacks of junk mail and overflowing closets.
Quality, Not Quantity.
You may find you are happier to have fewer things that you love instead of a lot of things that you “kinda like”.
Now, with all joyless items removed, you can see what you really have and what you don’t. Did you realize all your dress shoes made you miserable, and yet you have a collection of sneakers you adore? Focus on buying joyful footwear that’ll complement your formal wear instead of gravitating towards the tennis shoes by habit.
Shopping is less frustrating when looking for only a few specific items that make your heart soar.
Those who’ve tackled the KonMari method say the effects spill over into other areas of their lives. Better eating habits, more presence in the lives of loved ones, and overall peace of mind are all acclaimed by-products.
Measure in Love.
After weighing in on all your belongs, “Does it give me joy?” becomes a barometer for nearly every decision moving forward. Home improvement projects, dinner recipes, and future purchases are all influenced by this new mindset, not to mention the money you’ll save avoiding at-the-register impulse buys.