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Different cultures decorate their homes in different ways. Here in the States, we love stuff. In fact, our consumer culture encourages us to buy more and more for our homes. But where do we find the space for it all? Many of us don’t, and we end up with cluttered, disorganized spaces. Does this sound like you? If you feel like your stuff is out of control – or if you have that one closet that you never want to open – the KonMari method could help.
Developed by Marie Kondo, this method is laid out in her compact, easy-to-read book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. Borrowing from her own Japanese culture’s love of minimalism, Kondo helps people clear more junk out of their houses than they ever dreamed possible. How? With one simple test.
The KonMari Test
The KonMari method is a hands-on approach to home organization – literally. It starts with clearing out items that no longer belong in the home. When deciding whether to keep or part with an item, people are encouraged to hold that item in their hands. How does it make you feel? Think about why you have it in your home. Is it because someone gave it to you and you feel guilty parting with it? Is it because you loved it at one point and just haven’t gotten around to ditching it?
The KonMari method says that if you don’t love something, it doesn’t belong in your home. When holding an item, you ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?” Unless the answer is a definitive yes, don’t keep it.
The method encourages you to do your whole house in one go. Yes, that includes those stacks of papers that contain who-knows-what and the holiday decor you never get out and the bins of miscellany in your garage and the… well, you get the idea. The theory is that we always put those things off for someday, but someday never comes. With the simple joy-sparking test, you have a tool to make decisions on those long-forgotten items and can make someday today.
Organize once and for all
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up has sold over two million copies. Why did a book about minimalism do so well in a stuff-driven culture? Perhaps because of its promise to help you organize once and for all. Kondo claims that when you use her method, you’ll get your house completely tidied – and will keep it that way permanently. How does it work? Here are her top difference-making rules.
Envision your ideal life
The stuff in your space should help you create your ideal lifestyle. So before you decide what to keep and what should go, think through your dream life at home. Clarifying this vision will guide your organization.
Do it all, and do it fully
The once-and-for-all claim can really only be effective if you do your whole house or apartment. Every keepsake, every paper, every linen – everything needs to be considered. Don’t start the KonMari method until you’re ready to tackle it all. Then, tidy up (i.e. get rid of items that don’t spark joy) before you start organizing.
Normally when you clean and organize, you probably go room by room. That makes sense, theoretically. But when you’re doing a major overhaul like this, organize by category, not location. If you have some coats in a coat closet, some in your everyday closet, and some in storage, pull them all out and go through them together. This helps you get clarity on what you own and prevents duplicates. You might be surprised by what you find!
Designate a place for every item
Kondo believes that you should treat your objects well, almost like they’re living things. That’s why she has a specific folding method (we tried it; it’s awesome!). With her method, clothes get carefully folded and stacked for ultimate organization while keeping your clothing in top shape. Goop has a great illustrated guide on her folding technique if you want more info.
It’s not just about clothes storage, though. The KonMari method stresses having a place for each item. And, no, the back of some drawer doesn’t count. Once you’ve significantly streamlined your possessions, put them back in an orderly way. The theory is that when everything has a place, it will get put back in the place, keeping your home tidy – permanently.
Have you used the KonMari method in your home? What did you think? Let us know in the comments.