The average American has $16,000 of credit card debt and has over 300,000 items cluttering their home. In “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” Marie Kondo discusses her unique method of tidying to help you organize and clean your home. In the process, you will change your perspective on your lifestyle and work.
Previously, we discussed the 5Ss of Organization to help you order your workspace. In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Kondo provides her signature three-step method for tidying, which is known as the “KonMarie Method:”
- Discard: Remove anything that you do not need.
- Store: Organize the remaining items by category.
- Maintain: Put your stuff back in its place after using it.
This method will help you change your approach to tidying up such you will never revert to clutter again. When you put your house or workspace in order, you accept the past and put your affairs in order too. It will help you understand the essential things in life and surround yourself with the things you love. Your success will depend on your mindset by acquiring the right technique and taking ownership of doing the tidying.
Why You Struggle to Keep Your Space in Order
- You never properly learned how to tidy. Most people have to figure out how to organize on their own and develop poor habits. Tidying is a skill that you can develop and learn.
- You take small steps and do not fully commit. You will either rebound to perpetual messiness or will be tidying forever. If you do not undergo extensive cleaning, your place will not remain tidy.
- You are used to the mess. Many people clean their space to reduce stress and anxiety from their studies or work. Thus, major decluttering will help you address issues and reset your life.
- You have gotten great at storage. Your clutter is being hidden an organized hoarder. Thus, you should store your things after you have removed what you do not need.
- You organize your stuff by location. People tend to store duplicates of the same thing in different places. Instead, you should store by category to gain awareness of how much you have.
Tidying Marathon – special event of putting your house or workplace in order right away
Once you have completed the “Tidying Marathon,” you will have put everything in its place. When you use things will naturally put things back to where things belong.
Finish Decluttering First
In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Kondo tells us to get rid of unnecessary things “all at once, intensely and complete:”
- Identify why you started tidying in the first place. Visualize the life you want and what a clutter-free space would look like. In the process, you will realize that tiding will make you happier.
- Work on one category at a time. You should gather all objects in a similar group, like clothing or books. In one area, you can better decide which objects are worth keeping or discarding.
- Discard the items that do not spark joy. You may discard things that are not functional or outdated. However, the best selection criterion is to ask yourself if that specific object that adds value. Objects can add one of four types of value:
- Functional: tools that help you get something done
- Informational: materials that provide knowledge
- Emotional: objects that arouse feelings within you
- Rare: items that will be impossible to replace
Avoid the Following:
- Starting with sentimental items as the rarity of these objects can make it tough to part with them.
- Showing your family or roommates your efforts, as it can make them anxious to see discarding many things.
- Getting rid of your family’s or roommates’ stuff to “help them declutter” without their permission.
- Giving your discarded items to your family and friends that they do not need or are not suitable for them.
- Cleaning with distracting music and sounds
When you are having trouble getting rid of something, ask yourself:
- Why do you have the specific object in the first place?
- When did you get it?
- What meaning did it have for you, then?
- What role does it have for you now?
Tidying By Categories
If you follow the right order, tidying will be efficient and fun. Use your intuition to reduce your things down to a level that makes sense for you. In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Kondo says to start with things that are more comfortable and then move onto more difficult things:
- Komono (Miscellaneous Items)
- Mementos (Sentimental Items)
Gather all your clothes in your place in one overwhelming pile. Go through each item, and ask yourself if it sparks joy. Remove the articles that do no spark joy.
Organize your clothes in the following order of categories to be efficient:
- Tops: sweaters, t-shirts, tank tops
- Bottoms: pants, shorts, skirts
- Hung Clothing: coats, suits, jackets
- Socks and Underwear
- Bags: handbags, purses, backpacks
- Accessories: hats, scarves, jewelry
- Event-specific Clothing: gowns, swimsuits, work uniforms
- Shoes: sneakers, dress shoes, boots
Clothing Decluttering Rules of Thumb
- Start decluttering with off-season clothing, and ask yourself if you will wear it when the season comes. Eliminate the need to store off-season clothes, as you are less likely to use them.
- Don’t downgrade clothes to loungewear, as you will probably never wear them. You are more likely to relax in actual loungewear.
- Fold your clothes instead of hanging as the primary method of storage. Folding your clothes can help solve your storage problem.
- Hang clothes in the closet that would be “happier” hung up. Also, arrange such that the clothes rise to the right to energize your wardrobe.
- Roll up your socks like a sushi roll instead of balling or tying them up. Place them roll-side up so that you can see all of them at a glance.
Remove all books from your shelves into one big pile on the floor. Again, pick up each book and ask yourself if it sparks joy. Get rid of the books that do not spark joy.
Separate your books into the following groups:
- Books read for pleasure
- Reference books
- Visual books
Book Decluttering Rules of Thumb
- Do not start reading the book, as the book cover should elicit joy and the memory of rereading it.
- Unread books are difficult to part with as we will read them someday, but someday never comes.
- Fewer books increase the impact of reading, as you are more likely to read a book at the moment you get that book. Kondo keeps 30 books at any given time.
- Take notes or create photocopies of book sections that you like but don’t love.
Gather all your papers, which include letters, newspapers, records, etc. When sorting your papers, you should get rid of most of your documents.
For the papers you decide to keep, sort them into these three categories:
- In-Use: Papers that are currently in use as an application form.
- Temporary: Items needed for a particular period like a receipt for a return.
- Permanent: Documents kept indefinitely like a car title.
Deal with the in-use papers as soon as possible as this is unfinished business.
Paper Decluttering Rules of Thumb
- Lecture Materials: Apply the knowledge and discard all the papers. These include handouts, notes, and resources.
- Financial Statements: Check if they are correct and then declutter. These include statements from credit cards, utilities, banks, and payslips.
- Warranty Information: You are very unlikely to use them, so keep them in one place or digitize.
- User Manuals: You are rarely going to use them or check online for a solution, so get rid of them or put in one place.
- Greeting Cards: Keep only those that spark joy, or scan them into your computer.
Komono Decluttering Rules of Thumb
Many komono items just take up space and can be disposed of by asking yourself if they spark joy:
- Gifts: Thoughtful gifts that don’t suit you should be given away. Don’t feel guilty if it does not bring you joy.
- Cosmetic Samples: These seem great for trips, but many of us never use them for travel.
- Electronic Packaging: The bulky appliance boxes take up space and have no purpose.
- Unidentified Cords: Mysterious cords accumulate and typically don’t get used.
- Broken Appliances: Broken items usually never get fixed, so these items should be discarded.
- Spare Bedding: Most of us keep extra bedding without having frequent guests over.
- Free Novelty Items: Free is better; however, these items are cheap, rarely used, and should be thrown out.
- Spare Change: When you find loose change, put it into your wallet and cash it at the bank.
- Stockpiles: Don’t hoard items, as many people will have way more things than they need. If you run out, just buy more.
The memory of the items are within us and should spark joy. These are typically the toughest things to get rid of. Dispose of all sentimental items that do not spark joy:
- Photos: Remove all of them from boxes/albums and examine them one by one.
- Keepsakes: Go through each token from your childhood and your children.
Storing Your Things
Before finding a place to store your things, discard everything that does not spark joy.
Storage Rules of Thumb
Then, you can organize your items in storage with these rules from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up:
- Designate a specific location for each category and object to make retrieving your stuff accessible and efficient.
- Keep your storage method simple and organized by category to help you put things back.
- If you live with others like roommates or family, assign storage locations for each person.
- Use vertical storage methods to make retrieval easy and prevent stuff from accumulating.
- Store your smaller bags within larger travel bags or luggage to save space. Empty all your bags after being used.
- Transform the top of your bookshelf or your closet as sacred spaces by decorating with special items that spark joy.
- Treat your items with respect and be grateful for everything you have.
Avoid the Following:
- Designing your storage to follow your place’s flow plan, as the flow is based on your old storage habits.
- Piling your items in areas as this will cause you to revert to clutter.
- Buying fancy storage containers as you can repurpose old boxes and drawers.
- Storing items on the floor, bathtub, bathroom sink, or kitchen sink to make it easier to clean.
- Storing items at your parent’s home as this takes up their space and shows that you are holding onto the past.
- Keeping tags or labels on new clothes or objects. These things are excess information that does not spark joy.
Transformative Magic of Tidying
In The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Kondo tells us that tidying can reset and change our lives, as it has several benefits:
- Helps you figure out your core values and what is important to you.
- Connects you with your past to help you discover what you are passionate about, enjoy reading, and enjoy doing.
- Builds confidence in yourself and your ability to make decisions, especially when it comes to letting go of things.
- Improves your happiness and health as you surround yourself with the stuff you love and remove the toxins.
- Shows you what you can live without as if you need something you can be resourceful and leverage your friends and family.
- Gives you a newfound appreciation for your home, things, and their usefulness to you.
Be thankful for what you have and when tidying, do this simple ritual before discarding an item. Touch it and ask yourself: Does it spark joy?
I hope this post has helped you review the book or inspires you to get your own copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. If you have any further questions or need additional help, feel free to comment below or send me an email me at email@example.com. Also, if you are wanting more Process Hacker content, you can subscribe to our short weekly newsletter on Productivity, Habits, and Resources.