If you haven’t heard of the newest craze in the home organization world (or have been living under a rock), you may have no clue who Marie Kondo is. Even if the name sounds familiar, you may be unsure of what exactly she does and how to implement her methods into your home. Keep reading to find out!
Who Is Marie Kondo?
Marie Kondo is a Japanese organizing consultant who is also known as KonMari. She is an author of two books, including the # 1 New York Times Best Seller The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Additionally, she has released an app and owns her own media company. Oh yeah, she was also the star of a Netflix series in early 2019 on tidying that detailed the KonMari method for beginners.
So, needless to say, she is a pretty big deal.
Marie Kondo is also a wife and mother. And yes, her children learned the KonMari method for beginners starting at very young ages. Kondo may have many influences for her method, but her background of working part-time at a Shinto shrine when she was a teenager has been part of her influence. She started her decluttering business after the shrine at age 19.
While we in North America have only recently heard of her, Kondo has been a well-known figure in Japan for quite some time. Her rise to fame in Japan has happened over the last ten years, but due to her limited English and differences in culture, her work took a bit longer to emerge onto the U.S. scene. However, she has certainly taken North America by storm these days!
What is the KonMari Method?
So what actually is the KonMari method for beginners? It’s a simple technique that helps people declutter their homes by asking one simple, gut-punch question—does this spark joy?
The KonMari method is actually quite simple in nature and theory. The idea is you organize your entire home once and never have to do a frantic decluttering session ever again—wouldn’t that be great?
You sort items into categories. The KonMari method for beginners has you start with clothes, then books, papers, and miscellaneous items. Lastly, you tackle sentimental items you have an emotional connection to. Whichever the category, you take every item that fits that category in your home, pile them all together so you can see everything at once, then pick up each item one by one, asking yourself does this spark joy? If the answer is yes, you keep the item. If it’s a no, donate it or toss it out.
The question may seem simple enough, but the process can become emotionally convoluted especially when it comes to sentimental items. It can seem overwhelming to be in the midst of every single piece of artwork your child has ever done, picking up sheet by sheet and asking if they spark joy. It’s a bit of a gut-punch at some times, which is why this is the last category you tackle. The idea is that if you start with simple, non-emotional items like clothes, books, and pieces of paper, you will feel the freedom and joy that can accompany a tidy space, which can make the emotional items a bit easier to handle.
It’s also important to follow the process as she lays it out. For example, grabbing every single item of clothing you own in your entire home and dumping it on the bed to look over them all piece by piece can seem like a terribly overwhelming plan, but you may not realize how many gray tee-shirts you really have until you see them all piled up together.
Another major part of the KonMari method for beginners is to thank your things for their service and your home for housing them all. You may feel a little silly thanking your tee-shirt for all the memories before placing it in a Goodwill box, but there is something to say for being respectful of and grateful for your things.
5 Life-Changing KonMari Method Tips To Try
Now that you know how the KonMari method for beginners works, let’s talk about some practicals. There are several tips and tricks I have learned that can help make this process a lot easier, particularly if you are feeling overwhelmed with your items like many others do.
- Divide your categories into subcategories. Truth be told, if I pulled out every single book I own at one time, I’m not sure where the stacks of piles would even fit! Instead, I chose to work my way through categories of books. This worked for me because I already had my books in 4 different locations—all the cookbooks were in my kitchen, all my home-related books in a small bookshelf in our hallway, children’s books in my daughter’s room and all the others in a bookshelf in the living room. Likewise, rather than pulling out every article of clothing, it may make sense to instead start with every sweater or every sock and work your way through the groups one by one.
- Use changes in your life to your advantage. Before Kondo had her first child, she and her husband had what she called a “decluttering festival”. The idea was that with a new baby in their home, it would be much harder to set aside time to declutter. So, if you are nesting and looking for a big project to take on, this could be the time!
- Remember the point of a present. It can be genuinely difficult for many people to part with a gift that was given to them, even if they don’t like it or use it! However, keep in mind that the entire point of a present is for the recipient to receive it and feel joy. This means you don’t need to feel guilty about letting the gift go when it no longer serves its purpose.
- Remove everything from your bag at the end of the day. This tip from Marie Kondo kind of blew my mind the first time I heard it. While it seems a little silly to unpack your purse each evening only to repack it in the morning, this is exactly how you can keep your bag tidy and organized—wrinkled receipts and gum wrappers be damned.
- Realize that your joy may be sparked by some weird things. If you do this process, I guarantee you there will be some internal jaw-dropping moments about what actually makes you happy and what doesn’t. Trust yourself and trust the process!
5 KonMari Method Mistakes to Avoid
Those who attempt the KonMari method for beginners may find some areas of frustration they were not anticipating. You are not alone! However, reading through these helpful things to avoid before beginning can help solidify the process and make things a bit easier for you. Here are some mistakes to avoid:
- Focusing on what you do not like, rather than what brings joy. The entire mantra of the KonMari method for beginners is does this spark joy, not do I hate this? That is purposefully done to keep the decluttering process positive and your home filled with items you truly love.
- Being inflexible, particularly when you have a new child or major life change. As most of us know, new babies = lots of stuff. Even Marie Kondo herself said she had to alter her process slightly when her second daughter was born. If the queen of decluttering gives her method a bit of flex, so should you!
- Ignoring practicality. Look, laundry baskets spark joy for very little people. However, the idea of piles of clothes unbasketed spark joy even less, so laundry baskets are a necessary evil. This does not mean, however, that you can’t use this process as an excuse to ditch your old ugly plastic baskets and upgrade to a pretty wicker basket that may spark joy instead!
- Don’t overwhelm family and friends with your cast-offs. There are some items that do not spark joy for us but we dump them on loved ones instead of completely getting rid of them. This can be overwhelming and frankly unfair to people in your life. If it is an item that actually benefits the recipient, or if you are sure they would love it, offer it to them with the caveat that it’s perfectly fine to say no.
- Not following through with the discarded items. Ever load up your car with boxes of donations only for them to sit in your backseat for 4 months? Yeah, me too. Honor your commitment to yourself and your home, and follow through! Finish strong by donating the items.
After reading through all this, I’m feeling the urge to get started on the process—there truly is something so freeing about a home and life full of things that bring you joy!
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