Professional organizer Marie Kondo took the world by storm with her tidying-up philosophy. More than a simple decluttering method, Marie Kondo’s technique (known as KonMari) teaches a different approach toward curating your belongings and, by extension, toward improving your life.

Her method is inspired by the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi, which centers around simplicity, serenity and seeing beauty in everyday objects. According to Marie Kondo, we should only hold on to the things that “spark joy.” However, that joy mainly refers to the utility of the object in your life – so, no, you shouldn’t get rid of your vacuum cleaner even if you don’t feel a whole lot of happiness when you see it!

By combining elements of ancient Japanese wisdom with very practical advice on home organizing, folding and tidying up, Marie Kondo provides a comprehensive, easy-to-follow guide to having a better home and a simpler life. Check out the main takeaways from the KonMari method:

Tidy Your Entire Home at Once

Reorganize your entire home all at once, not room by room. It sounds like a daunting endeavor and a huge one at that. However, it’s essential for the success of the decluttering. You’ll be working on categories of items (clothes, books and so on) and you can do that only by tackling the entire home.

Reserve a whole weekend to complete the task – yes, it’s a lot of work! However, by the end of it, every item in your house should have a clear purpose and its own designated spot. Maintaining order from that point forward will be so much easier.

Start the process only if you’re ready for it and have the time and the energy to complete it. The KonMari method gets you through decluttering, but you must be able and willing to let things go. Visualize your goal – how you want to live and how you want your house to feel, look and function.

Find Out What Sparks Joy

Sparking joy can signify many different things, according to Marie Kondo. An object that’s particularly useful to you, one that brings good memories and a fuzzy feeling inside, or one that is aesthetically pleasing – all of them fit the “sparking joy” definition.

To decide what stays and what goes, you have to pick up each object, hold it for a little while and decide whether it sparks joy for you or not. If it doesn’t, it means that it’s time to let it go, but not before thanking it for the service it provided.

It might sound peculiar and even a little bit pretentious, but it does makes it easier to let things go. It’s an interesting approach, one that emphasizes the intrinsic worth of an item and its significance in your life, not only its material value or the condition it’s in. For example, if you have an old T-shirt that’s all run down, but you associate it with good memories and you love wearing it to sleep or while working out, it means that it sparks joy and you should keep it.

pictures on wall

Tidy Up by Category

When reorganizing their homes, most people tend to go from small to big: drawers, shelves and closets, then focus on the entire room. Marie Kondo says that it’s inefficient and it doesn’t bring real change. Going drawer by drawer and closet by closet means you never truly grasp how many items you actually own.

Instead, go by category (clothes, books and so on). Take out all your clothes from all the closets and drawers in your home. Put them on the floor, in one large pile. Pick up every item and hold it for a few seconds to see what it inspires: does it make your heart flutter, in which case you should put it in the keep pile? Or does it spark no joy for you, and so it must go? Repeat the process with all the categories of items in your house.

Tidy Up in a Specific Order

The categories must be tackled in a specific order, adds Marie Kondo. You should start with your clothing, continue with books, papers, miscellaneous items and finish with sentimental items. Your main goal is to keep only things you are actually using, and not “maybe” objects: “Maybe I’ll wear that sweater again someday,” or “maybe I’ll still need that charger in the future.”

Once you have discarded all the ballast, you must decide on a place for everything that stays. Each item needs to have its own, designated spot in your house, whether it’s a jacket, the remote control, or your blender. A main rule is to store all items of the same type in one place – all your towels go in the same closet, not in several closets throughout the house.

Marie Kondo also has some interesting advice on how to manage sentimental items. For example, instead of keeping your family photos in a box somewhere, put them in a nice album and place the album in an easily accessible spot, like your coffee table or a shelf in the living room.

Another way to make the most of your sentimental items (pictures, postcards, even pieces of clothing) is by framing and displaying them on the walls.

Adjust the Method to Your Lifestyle

We all dream about a house so well-organized that everything goes smoothly all the time, everyone finds their socks and favorite books, and cleaning is a breeze. As with all ideals, this one is rather unattainable too, but the KonMari method certainly gets us closer. The technique is very inspiring due to the new perspective it gives on belongings and their role in our lives, and also because of its practical tips and tricks for home organizing.

However, if you can’t follow through with all of Marie Kondo’s advice, pick only what works for you. Yes, it’s lovely to live in a home without any clutter, where every little thing has its own place. But sometimes you really need to hold onto at least some of your possessions. If you want a very neat and tidy home, but there are too many things you can’t discard for good just yet, find them a new temporary home by putting them into storage. And we have just the place for you to start your self-storage search: StorageCafe.


Maria Gatea is a real estate and lifestyle editor for Yardi with a background in Journalism and Communication. After covering business and finance-related topics as a freelance writer for 15 years, she is now focusing on researching and writing about the real estate industry. You may contact Maria via email.

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