Marie “the most organized woman in the world” Kondo has built an empire teaching people worldwide to how to change their lives through by decluttering their homes. Feeling panicked about all your possessions? No worries—we’ve assembled a few of her most important tips here.
Start out by sparking joy
As with any big job, beginning can be the most difficult part of the process. This is why the decluttering guru recommends a complete purge. For example, when you’re sitting in your bedroom amidst a closet exploding with clothes, Kondo suggests that you pick up each item, hold it against your body, and ask yourself one simple question: “Does this spark joy?” If the clothing doesn’t immediately bring you to your happy place, it’s time to either give it away or trash it.
Say no to nostalgia
Marie Kondo believes that we hang onto way too many things from the past, limiting our present and future. Case in point: vacation photos. Kondo claims that it only takes 5 photos of an event to create a meaningful memory, so she recommends getting rid of the rest to keep family albums and hard drives tidy.
Categorize, don’t agonize
Most of us would tackle our cleaning crusade by going from room to room. But Kondo’s method requires you to categorize—rather than starting with the books in the living room, she instructs that you go through all the books in your home at once. She even suggests an order to the categories based on how likely you are to be emotionally attached to them: first clothing, then books, then documents—and way down the line, pictures and mementos.
In her books The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy, Marie Kondo includes many other hints for a cleaner and therefore happier home. But this has inspired a sometimes hostile, sometimes hilarious backlash. People respect her advice, but start to resent it when putting it into practice.
“Marie Kondo believes clothing and belongings are alive. Straight-up,” GQ writer Nicole Silverberg wrote. “Oh, but it gets worse! She speaks to her clothing and her belongings, thanks them for their hard work, and gives them compliments and encouragement. This, she says, extends the life of her garments. I mean…I love you, girl, but no.” (To Hell and Back, a Day with the Marie Kondo Method). Later on in the article, however, she does admit that she uttered a few words to her wardrobe while deciding what items would make the cut.
Internationally best-selling author Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, blogged that while the KonMari method contains many helpful hints, but they’re not for everybody. Rubin points out that those of us who aren’t exactly our best before noon should ignore Kondo’s advice to start first thing in the morning. She also balks at the idea of tackling a project all at once in a big purge, because this can quickly become overwhelming and lead to giving up before you’ve really started.
Do what works for you
Although we can all agree that being tidy on the outside leads to more peace on the inside, even the most fanatical followers of Marie Kondo would be best served to only apply the tips that truly work for them. Don’t beat yourself up if you want to keep more than five wedding photos. Take manageable steps rather than committing to a marathon session if you’re somebody who has trouble seeing things through. You might not believe that having a conversation with your favourite red sweater will add to its value, but allow yourself to be emotional before making the decision to bin it
Remember, the KonMari method was designed to simplify your life, not complicate it. Use what’s good for you and discard the tips you see as unhelpful—just like all the items in your home.