I am obsessed with organization. Scroll through my Pinterest account and you’ll find hundreds of organization hacks and clever storage ideas. I’ve been organizing (and reorganizing) my belongings since I was a child. Over the years, I always went about it in the same way: go area by area (e.g. closet, cabinet, room), take everything out, chuck what you don’t want, then put it back in a more organized way. It tended to work in the short term, but wasn’t ever really effective. This was frustrating.
The Konmari method is different from my previous ways of organizing (and any other method I’ve ever seen). It’s NOT just another decluttering method or quick fix to be completed in a weekend, 30 days, or any set amount of time. Rather it’s a shift in thinking you develop. Yes, it takes a lot of time and effort, but I assure you it’s worthwhile once you commit. It has been life-changing for our family. Seriously, when I come home from work, it looks like a maid tidied up except we don’t have a maid. We leave our house regularly by 7:20 am with our things (mostly) in order. It is a breath of fresh air! If you’re serious about shifting your mindset and want to tackle your home, Konmari style, you’ll get your hands on her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing.
If you want a preview, or just need a quick tutorial to get you started, keep reading:
- Determine what you DO want
Instead of focusing on what you don’t want, Konmari suggests focusing on what “sparks joy”. In other words, keep what you love! She places a lot of emphasis on touching items to decide whether they “spark joy” and honing your instinct to choose. When you really touch and examine your possessions you start viewing then differently. Only when you know what you do want can you discard (e.g. literally throw away, donate, or gift) unwanted items.
2. Go in order!
Rather than tackling items by location, Konmari is strict about going in order: clothes, books, papers, komono (pretty much anything else, which I sorted into smaller categories such as personal care items, cleaning supplies, kitchen, toys, sporting goods, and outdoor toys/ tools), and sentimental items. The order seems arbitrary, but it is quite important. You start with items that are easiest to discern whether they spark joy and finish with the most difficult because you develop the skill.
When you begin a category, it is imperative that you take ALL items of the category and pile them up together, especially if they are stored in several areas. This allows you to see EVERYTHING in the category. Yes, it’s daunting, ya’ll. When you make a massive pile of stuff it is totally overwhelming and you’ll want to bail. Don’t. This is part of the process, and only when you go through it this way can you take stock in what you own to decide what you really want.
This was just ONE box of clothes stored under my bed…the actual pile of clothes from my closets, dresser, and under bed was enormous. I don’t have a picture of it, I think partially because I was getting engrossed in the process, but also partially out of shame. There were clothes in my house that went to college with me!
I mean, when you start pulling all of your clothes out…the excess becomes embarrassingly apparent. We found gems among our things, which were begging to find new homes.
I thought “books” as a category seemed trite, until I actually started piling our books together. We love literacy and reading, especially with the children, but I had no idea we were book hoarders!
“Remember you are not choosing what to discard but rather what to keep. Keep only those things that bring you joy.” -Marie Kondo
These books were from the shelf in the playroom. Children’s books also lined shelves in our upstairs den and each of the kids’ rooms. In addition to children’s books, we had a personal library of our own adult fiction and non fiction books. Once I identified our most treasured books, we amassed TWELVE large reusable grocery sized bags stuffed with books, which I donated to our local library. When I heaved these bags in, the librarian was confused and asked if I was returning materials. When I explained that I was making a donation, she was awestruck. What’s even crazier, is that if you toured my house you’d have no idea a single book was gone. We still have plenty of books to line our shelves and entertain our family. The difference is that we can easily locate certain books and treasure our stash.
3. Put Everything Away
Once you’ve chosen all the items that bring joy, it’s time to put them away- in their category. If you start storing things all over your home again, you’ll rebound without a doubt because you’ll never know what you have. It’s important to store things so you can see them, and they look attractive to you and it’s easy for you to maintain. Before Konmari, we were infamous for packing closets and cabinets so full that we’d have to empty them to get to items in the back. We likened it to a game of Tetris. What a waste of time and energy! I found the illustrations in Spark Joy extremely helpful for this phase in the process.
Before you put away any clothes, please watch Konmari folding clothes and learn from the master.
I thought I knew how to fold clothes, and when I first watched her folding I thought it seemed 1. impossible 2. ridiculous. Then I tried it. After some sloppy work, I mastered her technique and stored my clothes using it. Afterwards, I marveled at how much space it created, and how easy it was to find things. When I folded my pajamas according to this method, I emptied an entire drawer, which now houses things that used to litter my nightstand (e.g. books, sleep mask, and journals). The beautiful wood of my nightstand now shines in it’s glory, and it gets dusted regularly because it’s not covered in stuff. If you fail to fully implement the Konmari method, please do yourself a favor and learn how to properly fold and store clothes (even if you *think you know how already). I promise, you are worth it.
Check out this beauty and it’s contents:
Sorry to disappoint, but I don’t have a real “before” picture. In fact, I’ve gotten pretty new lamps and a new alarm clock since I tackled my night stand. Please settle for this staged version so you can see how I used to clutter my nightstand.
“If you don’t change your way of thinking, you’ll rebound.” – Marie Kondo
Those of you who are beginning the process of Konmari, good luck- you can do it!