Melanie Hearse - 6 Mar, 2019

What is the KonMari Method?

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Heard all the buzz about Marie Kondo’s revolutionary new way to declutter and keep your home tidy and want to know more? Here’s a quick guide to the basics of the KonMari Method.

When it comes to decluttering and tidying, most of us take the standard approach; using ‘keep’, ‘toss’ and ‘donate’ piles, moving from room to room.

But tidying and decluttering whizz Marie Kondo has devised a different method that’s proving popular, which involves sorting through our possessions category by category instead. Her method also requires you to assess each item and only keep those that spark joy.

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“When you use joy as your standard, you confront each of your things earnestly and reflect on whether they make you happy in the present. Consequently, you will begin to realise what kinds of things you want to surround yourself with and what your idea of happiness really is,” Kondo says.

To clarify a popular misconception, “sparking joy” doesn’t have to mean they make you happy per se, Kondo is simply promoting you consciously choose what stays in your home so it is filled with things you feel happy to keep, you cherish or that strike your fancy.

So how does the KonMari Method work?

There are a few steps to making the magic happen:

  1. Commit yourself to tidying up: Tackling your whole home with her method isn’t a quick fix, but if you stop halfway through the process, you’ll fail to achieve real benefits.
  2. Imagine your ideal lifestyle: On her website, Kondo says the tidying process is about creating a tidying mindset focused on sparking joy in your life. Part of this is thinking about what kind of house you want to live in, and how you want to live in it. “Anything that won’t help on that journey isn’t deserving of your space or you,” Kondo says. Commit your ideal to paper by describing it in a notebook, drawing a sketch or even clipping photos from magazines.
  3. Tidy by category, not by location: Gather all your items from around the house from each category and make a huge pile. This allows you to see exactly how much you have, which will help you determine what you really want to keep.
  4. Follow the right order: It’s important you start with clothing, then move onto books, then papers, komono (the Japanese word for miscellaneous items) and finish up with those sentimental items – the rationale being, your confidence in connecting to and assessing if an item truly brings you joy will be better honed by the time you get to these trickier items.
  5. Ask yourself if each item sparks joy: If it creates no joy, it gets no space in your home. These items should be thanked for their service, then discarded – be this to the tip or charity store.

The KonMari method of storing your items

Now that you’ve decided what’s staying, it’s time to put away your items in a way that sparks joy. Much as any tidying guru will assert, Kondo insists every item must have a place, but she also suggests we store items in a way that helps us more easily see and access them.

For example, rather than stacking clothing in vertical piles that make it hard to see each item, she uses a unique method that involves folding each item so they can be stacked vertically in storage baskets or drawers that allow you to see them at a glance – not unlike searching for a book on the shelve by its spine.

A similar approach is taken to storing everything from canned goods and sauces to perfumes and toiletries. She recommends using baskets and containers to group similar items together, making them easier to access.

Neither last nor least, Kondo says tidying should be a family affair. As one episode in her Netflix series illustrates, if each person takes care of their items – choosing what sparks joy, and where it lives, not only is the house tidier, they have more ownership of their items, and a personal sense of their value.

For more details, check out her book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” or her Netflix program, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo”.

Words by Melanie Hearse.

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