Think back to January, and you’ll likely remember that amidst the usual flurry of ritual and cleaning posts was a pint-sized Japanese woman whose show you may or may not have binged on Netflix, but whose iconic folding technique definitely took over your Instagram feed (and if you don’t remember this, then check out #mykonmari for some extremely impressive closets).
Here at HAVEN, we know that there’s nothing magical about January 1st, and the fall season is just as good a time as any to draw inward, take a good look at your home, tidy up and identify what really sparks joy. So we chatted with Christine Diaz, the former Editorial Director for Marie Kondo and her lifestyle brand, KonMari, to learn more about the tidying guru’s infamous organizational method. Here she shares a starter guide to getting your home in order.
1. Commit yourself to tidying up.
Here’s one of the unique aspects of the KonMari Method™ – and a key reason why Marie says her clients have a 100% success rate – the first step isn’t emptying out your drawers or pulling out trash bags. It’s committing to the process. And in order to commit, you need to make this a priority in your life. It’s best to tackle it like a marathon, all in one go, rather than little by little. For someone in a dorm room, studio, or one-bedroom bungalow, that might simply require blocking off a weekend. For a family that’s lived in a five-bedroom home for the past fifteen years, that might require scheduling a couple of days a week for two months. What’s important here is that you carve out the time on your calendar, block it off, and stick to your schedule! If you follow the method from start to finish, you’ll never have to tidy again. For real.
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2. Imagine your ideal lifestyle.
I know you’re ready to see your sock drawer transform with Marie’s signature fold, but don’t skip this step. Because the KonMari Method™ can feel overwhelming at times – just wait until you confront your trophy boxes and yearbooks from high school – it’s vital that you know your why. Journal, mood board, or talk out with a loved one exactly what your ideal life would look like and why tidying your physical belongings is important to you. Whether that be to give you more time to spend with your kids, more space both physically and mentally to pursue your creative endeavors, or a shift in your values so you can be a more conscious consumer, there’s no right or wrong answer. Having this top of mind will give you the motivation and purpose you need to tackle the tidying festival!
3. Finish discarding first.
Don’t be alarmed by the chaos – it’s going to look worse before it looks better. When you tidy your home using the KonMari Method™, you need to confront each and every belonging before you put them back. Why? Because you won’t be able to identify an appropriate home for an item until you’ve fully taken stock of what you have. Although it might take you several days or weeks to finish, you will likely need to put your stuff in a temporary home so you can continue living. But you won’t tackle choosing storage and organizational solutions until you finish going through all of your stuff. Yes, everything.
4. Tidy by category, not by location.
Most organizational philosophies teach you to conquer one room at a time, but there’s a serious flaw with this approach. More often than not, you own similar items that have spread around your entire home (and car or garage…). When you only confront the lotions in your master bathroom, you might not realize that you’ve been hoarding lotions because there are nine more in your bedroom (and four are expired), 15 more in the hallway closet, two in your car, and another 12 under the powder room sink. So instead of taking the room by room approach, tidy by category.
5. Follow the right order.
Now that we’ve established the importance of tidying by category, there’s also a correct order of the categories. The logic behind the order is that you begin with items that can be easier to decide if they’re useful or in usable condition, if they fit, and if they bring you joy. As you complete each category and move on, they gradually become more difficult – but don’t fret. Every category helps you hone your sensitivity to joy, so you’re equipped to tackle the next! Marie suggests the following order: clothing, books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items), sentimental.
Note that the komono category is quite massive – it includes your toiletries, furniture, art, kitchenware, linens, holiday decor, etc. You’ll definitely want to break this one into sub-categories.
6. Ask yourself if it sparks joy.
Pick up each item in both hands before making your decision to keep it or to let it go with gratitude. Marie famously shares that you should only keep items that spark joy. You might wonder how a vacuum cleaner can spark joy. Think about how much calmer you feel when the carpet is free of dog hair. That’s joy. But if your vacuum cleaner is always on the verge of electrocuting you, you have multiple, or you’ve moved into a home with all hardwood floors that you prefer to mop, it may have served its purpose in your life and it’s time to let it go. Thank it for its service (Really! Practicing gratitude will change your life!) and then either donate, recycle, or trash it depending on its condition.
Other items will be much more obvious, like the t-shirt you were wearing when you met your spouse at a concert 10 years ago. When you hold it in your hands, you might feel a physical thrill course through your veins. Definitely joy. Keep it.
Finally, I want to address a misconception about the KonMari Method™ – it’s not just for the aspiring minimalist or for the individual with plenty of disposable income who can replace his fully functional kitchen knives with the sexier, designer version because they’ll look better on his open shelving. It’s for everyone. There’s no magic number to how many items you should own – if they bring you joy, then keep them with confidence! What exactly those items are and how many of them feel good will be different for everyone, and that’s the beauty of this whole process. You learn so much about yourself as a person, about the life your current living, about what’s been holding you back or distracting you from the life you want to live. You learn to take charge, be responsible, make decisions, and how to let go. You’ll learn to be grateful for and cherish your belongings, and you’ll be acutely more aware of what you need and what you choose to bring into your home moving forward.
Ready to get started? Grab a copy of Marie Kondo’s #1 New York Times best-selling book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” for all the nitty-gritty on tackling the clutter in your life once and for all.