Marie Kondo is more than just an organizing guru. She’s officially a verb. As in, “This weekend, I’m going to Marie Kondo my condo.”
If you don’t immediately recognize her name, Kondo is a Japanese organizational guru whose book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing has become a worldwide sensation, launched a Netflix special, and has overwhelmed thrift stores around the country.
The philosophy behind her method, which she calls KonMari, is simple: If something doesn’t bring joy to your life, thank it for its service and send it on its way. It’s a mindful approach to parting with your belongings that’s based on shinto principles of respect, gratitude, and the belief that everything has an essence.
For many Americans, Marie Kondo has not only imported a another way to view tidying up, she’s also written an entirely new library or home organization tips, tricks and pieces of advice.
Here are some of our favorites:
- Sort by category, not location. This one is at the top of the list because it negates a commonly held belief that organization should be done by room. It makes sense, though, to see all your stuff in one big pile so you really know what you’re working with. Kondo’s advice is to tidy up in this order: clothes, books, komono (all your stuff, like toys, toiletries, etc.), and sentimental items last.
- Fight nostalgia by asking why. Kondo’s oft-repeated mantra — keep only what brings you joy — might be easy with clothes and shoes, but many of us fall into the clutter trap because our stuff holds memories. According to Kondo, however, there are three reasons people keep things: attachment to the past, fear of the future, or a combination of both. If you tap into your inner psyche and really figure out why you’re holding onto something, it might become easier to let go. A prime example is your “someday” stuff — you might need it someday. (Spoiler alert: You probably won’t.)Because we know first-hand how hard it can be to part with your kiddo’s first macaroni necklace, old photographs, or your great great grandma’s figurine collection, we encourage our clients to save this for last. We also guide them through a series of questions that allow us to help them decide, on both an emotional and rational level, whether to keep something, donate it, or pass it on.
- Discard first, organize second. Don’t even think about organizing the things you want to keep until your home is empty of the things you’re discarding. Kondo’s method of respect and gratitude is to thank your items for their service before either sending them out to be donated or thrown out. (Which might seem weird at first, but it really does help you stay in the right headspace.)
- Everything that’s left gets a home. Even the misc items that made the cut — Kondo allows one junk drawer for essentials like spare batteries, electronics cords, rubber bands, staples. To keep your junk drawer as organized as possible, fill it with containers of different sizes (a silverware tray works well!) and categorize.
- Go through your mail and papers right away. It’s third on Kondo’s category list, and near the top of ours. Tackle your mountain of paperwork by sorting it as soon as it enters the house — create an inbox for items that need attention, a storage system for items that need to be kept for records, and junk the rest.
- Keep loose change in your wallet. This is simply genius, yet how often do we toss coins into a jar or piggy bank? Unless you’re saving pennies for a special treat or upcoming event, keep your change with you — it’s meant to be spent!
- Store your clothes upright. You read that correctly. Kondo has an entire folding method that involves staking your clothes next to each other vertically instead of piling them up. (When done correctly, they’ll resemble spines of books.) Especially if you have a lot of graphic t-shirts, this is a great way to spot the one you’re looking for without having to dig through a pile or unfold them.
- Create an entryway drop-off zone. Things tend to pile up at the door, especially keys, shoes, mail, bags and whatever else we bring in from the car. Part of giving everything a home, this can mean a bowl for the keys, a cubby for the grandkids’ boots and coats, or a bag hook. We have an entire blog post dedicated to creating a welcoming and well-organized entryway.
- Keep it private. Our family members and dearest friends can greatly influence whether or not we keep, donate or toss something. If there’s any chance that a friend or family member will utter the words, “Don’t throw that away!” don’t let them know what you’re up to.
- Spark joy. At the end of the day, the KonMari method comes down to one simple idea — if something doesn’t spark joy, let it go. How you define joy is up to you, whether it’s happiness, pride, usefulness, your version of the t-shirt. Don’t settle for “meh.”
If you ask us, that’s a good philosophy for everything else in life, too.
Are you ready to Marie Kondo your house? Our experts can help. Explore our downsizing and home organization packages today.