Master of tidying and organizing, Marie Kondo has SO many expert tips to help us get our homes in order. Read on to discover your starting steps to organize using the KonMari Method from Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
Like almost everyone, I started 2020 off wanting to improve myself, but unlike most people, I wanted to have a very specific and doable plan in place to help get me there (no giant goals or overwhelming strategies, please and thank you).
And so, I created SIP (my Self Improvement Plan).
Each month in 2020, I read one popular self improvement book, and spend the month implementing the ideas/major lessons into my everyday life, sharing my experiences with you, both on my blog and on Instagram. The hope here is that my experiences can help YOU improve YOUR life.
If you’d like to learn more about SIP and how the plan works, you can read about it here.
All that being said, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo is my January book pick, and it’s been a great place to start off! (Please Note: This is an affiliate link, meaning I make a small commission if you choose to purchase the book using my link. Having said that, this is a book I personally own and would recommend to any of my friends/family).
Although I won’t be implementing each and every single idea from the book, I do think there are a ton of great organizing tips presented that everyone should test out.
Whether you have a cluttered space or not, we can all probably do some work to create a home we’re more in love with, and so to kick January off, I’m sharing how you can get started organizing with the KonMari Method, so that if you’re not interested in reading the full book, you can still understand the general principles of how this organizing strategy works.
Anyway, that’s enough talk. Let’s get organizing!
How To Get Started Organizing Using The KonMari Method from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Probably not too surprisingly, there’s a very specific method for organizing laid out in this book.
Don’t panic, though, because the strategy is actually quite simple (which is probably why it works and why it grew so popular).
Really, the only rule with KonMari is this: don’t deviate from the strategy, and don’t change the strategy to suit your individual needs. The KonMari Method is all about following through completely. If you don’t, or you try to make strategies fit your needs, there’s a good chance you won’t succeed with it.
Having said that, to be totally honest with you, I, personally, don’t plan on using every single strategy laid out on In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
Well, because, for example, I don’t have an issue with books cluttering my space, and because I’m very passionate about books, it’s unlikely I’ll be getting rid of any. While this might go very against KonMari, if I don’t feel bothered by my books, why would I feel obligated to get rid of any?
Regardless, though, when it comes to the points I’m about to make in the following sections, these are the foundational principles you should absolutely stick to when attempting to implement the KonMari Method into your everyday life.
And so, to start…
1. Don’t tidy in small bursts (do it all at once and aim for PERFECTION)
When you read about organization, you often hear people talking about taking the process in steps, so that it feels less overwhelming.
Not Marie Kondo. She advocates for tidying in a marathon style (i.e. you keep going until you’re done).
Note: This does not mean tidying your whole house in the span of a couple hours. It simply means that when you take on the act of tidying, it’s not something you do one week, then skip a couple weeks, and then pick up a couple weeks later. Instead, your tidying marathon should be something you do consistently, and then once you’re done, you never have to do it again. On average, depending on how much stuff you’re starting with, this whole process can take up to six months to complete.
Her reasoning for this tidying marathon has to do with the mindset change you go through when you really start to discard and thoughtfully decide which items you want to keep and what you can do without. She says that when you thoroughly tidy and only keep what “sparks joy” (more on this later), you start to feel the effects of what a truly tidy room feels like, and you won’t go back. That’s how good a tidy room feels.
In addition, throughout this marathon tidying process, she tells her clients that they SHOULD aim for perfection.
Because tidying is simply about two things: (1) deciding what to keep and (2) deciding where to put the things you keep.
If you can get both these things right for all the items in your house, well, then you’ve perfected tidying.
Skip out on digging deep into every room and/or not giving something a dedicated spot? Well, then things are going to get cluttered and disorganized again, because you never thoroughly completed the process. It’s as simple as that.
2. Don’t tidy by room; tidy by category
This one I know is going to be hard for me, because I hate having to go around and find things in my house, but if you want to follow the KonMari Method, it’s all about tidying by category and not by room.
For example, rather than going into your bedroom and trying to tidy everything in there, you should start tidying by category.
The exact order for tidying that Marie Kondo advocates for is as follows: clothing, books, papers, komono (miscellany), and sentimental items.
Think about it: do you have items in your house that are scattered all throughout? Perhaps you have clothing in storage in the basement, or books on different bookshelves throughout the house.
If you start tidying by room, you’re inevitably going to find things in other rooms that should have been present when you were tidying the first room.
Gather everything from one category into one place, and then decide what to discard and what to keep. This will help ensure you’re getting the full picture of what you own, which will help you determine appropriate storage for those items.
This might seem tedious, but really understanding the full picture of what you own is the key to ensuring that two weeks later your house doesn’t simply get cluttered again.
In addition, it’s important to end the tidying process with sentimental items. These will likely be the hardest items to go through, and rather than starting with the hard stuff and discouraging yourself, you should start with some easier things so you can get the hang of figuring out what sparks joy for you. In other words, it takes practice, and starting off with easier tasks will encourage you to keep going with your tidying.
3. Do all your discarding first (don’t think about storage)
In a similar vein, it’s important that you do all your discarding prior to figuring out where things are going to go.
Well, as mentioned, in order for her method to work, you should tidy in one big marathon (not in short bursts).
During this burst of tidying energy, there’s a natural inclination to start thinking about where to put things. I know I do this. I get SO excited about the prospect of a tidy space, and because of this, I probably really only tidy halfway.
In other words, I’m not fully getting rid of all the things that I don’t need in my life, and because of this, I’m not fully experiencing this magical feeling of what it’s like to truly have a tidy space.
To truly tidy and feel this “magic” of tidying, you NEED to feel a profound change in your environment, and that means discarding until something clicks (i.e. you know you have everything that you need and love), and you can’t do this if you’re stopping throughout the discarding process and moving onto storage.
Start with discarding, discard until you’re one hundred percent certain you love all your possessions, and only then think about storage solutions.
4. Actually handle your items to figure out if they “spark joy”
The question then becomes, how do you decide what to keep and what to discard?
Chances are, if you have a Netflix account or you watch Gilmore Girls, you’ve already heard the reference to “spark joy.”
Spark joy is Marie Kondo’s little tagline/test for figuring out what you should keep and what you should discard.
She advocates that in order to keep something in your life, it should “spark joy.”
This might sound a little vague when you read it, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense.
You should only keep things that truly give you joy. You should feel yourself light up when you handle that item, because you know, without any question, that it is an item that you truly love.
For example, if you have a pair of jeans that you’ve been holding onto that don’t fit, does seeing those jeans everyday give you joy?
Probably not. They probably make you feel like crap.
Or what about 20 different mugs that are all mismatched, not very pretty, and very rarely ever used? Wouldn’t you rather have 5 mugs that you really love and use, rather than 20 that are cluttering up your space? I’d definitely go with the five!
I mean, when we’re talking about super practical things, like a blender or some other kitchen appliance, I personally think it might be a little harder to think in terms of what “sparks joy”, but basically if you’re not using something in your house and it doesn’t give you any joy, get rid of it. It’s just adding to your clutter.
In addition, when you’re doing the “spark joy” test, she says you should actually hold the item in your hand. It will make it easier to determine what sparks joy if you’re holding onto an item. I’m excited to test this out and see how sparking joy works on my own possessions (starting with the closet this week!). Stay tuned for that.
Review: How To Get Started With The KonMari Method
I don’t want to make this post too long, since the whole point of this organizing method is to keep things simple.
So first, remember, if you’re really serious about getting your space in order, you need to commit to a marathon tidying process. It can’t be something that you start and stop. This will never work, and your space will almost always end up cluttered again.
If you’re committed, you can start to tidy!
But don’t forget that you need to tidy by category, and not by room, if you really want this organizing process to work.
You also shouldn’t be thinking about storage as you’re making your way through each category. Focus on the discarding by thinking about what “sparks joy”, and then once you feel completely satisfied with what you have left, you can move onto storage.
Remember, as Marie Kondo says, tidying your space is only about two things: (1) discarding what doesn’t spark joy, and (2) figuring out where to store your possessions.
If you can keep those two things in mind, and get real with yourself about what truly sparks joy for you, you can tidy! Plain and simple.
Stay tuned to the next blog post in this series, so we can dive a little deeper into storage.
And, if you want to see how I implement some of these organizing ideas into my own life, feel free to follow along with my SIP journey on Instagram, where I provide more daily updates and insight into all things SIP! (SIP = Self Improvement Plan)
In addition, if you’re interested in organizing and making your home feel its best, check out these home decor and organization posts:
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