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Recently, I have read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up, by Marie Kondo. This book is about the Konmari method. I really liked the book and the method makes sense to me. It is really different from common tidying advice. In fact, several pieces of advice from the book go against many common tidying advice you can find on the internet.
After reading the book, I discovered Netflix made a series about this method: Tidying with Marie Kondo. I watched all eight episodes. In general, I liked the series. It is full of really nice advice and Marie is really full of energy on camera. She really makes the show much better. With another person, it could have been a very boring show. But with Marie Kondo, it becomes quite entertaining.
I have learned many things from the Konmari method. I wanted to share some of the lessons I learned from the book and from the show. To be honest, I am no expert at tidying nor at the Konmari method. In fact, I have not used this method on my entire apartment yet. I have just started using some of her tricks in my apartment. I hope to improve my tidying this year following her pieces of advice.
If you have any other tidying tips, please let me know in the comments below!
1. Tidy all at once
I believe this is the single most important piece of advice from her method. You should tidy your entire house or apartment all at once. You do not have to do it in a day. In fact, you probably cannot do it in a day. However, you should finish the entire house quickly. Most houses can be entirely tidied up in about a week.
It is very important not to do one room at a time over one year. You have probably read this advice all over the internet: do one room each month. It is definitely not a good idea. The problem is simple: by the time you do the last room, the first one will not be tidy anymore. You will never be over with tidying.
Once your entire house is tidy, you will see it as it should be. Everything will have its own place. This will help you with keeping it tidy forever. Once you see your entire place look great, you will never want to go back to the way it was before!
2. Joy is more important than minimalism
The whole idea of the KonMari method is to ask for each item in your home whether it sparks joy or not. If it sparks joy, you keep it and if it does not, you get rid of it. Marie does not tell you to get rid of everything that is not essential to your life. She tells you to keep things that make you happy.
This is important because it makes the home of everybody very different. Some people need more things than others in order to be happy. I think this is where some minimalist people take it too far by discarding everything that is not entirely essential. If something sparks joys, you should be able to keep it at home and enjoy it. There is nothing wrong with that.
You will often read things like you need three pairs of pants or twelve pairs of socks in your closet. But there is no single number of items that you should own. For some people, this will be more and for others, this will be even fewer. As long as you are aware of what you own and it brings you joy, you should be happy!
There is a slight twist to this method. Some items do not bring joy to most people. For instance, a mop is unlikely to make you happy! In that case, Marie Kondo advice you to change your mindset towards them. If they are really essential to your life, you should be grateful towards them. Of course, it is not an easy thing to do.
3. Decide what to keep not what to discard
When they want to tidy their home, most people are focusing on what they want to discard. However, people should focus on what they want to keep instead!
You may think that the difference is small. But in fact, it makes a big difference. By focusing on what to discard, you focus on the things you do not like. You should focus on the things you like and need. By focusing on what you want to keep, you will have a strong focus on the things that spark joy. You will see your items from a different perspective.
If you do not think it makes a difference, try it on your items. Try to focus on the items you want to keep and try to make a place for them in your home.
4. Tidy by category, not by room
Another thing where the Konmari method is very different from other methods is that you should tidy by category of items, not by room. Most people generally tidy one room after another. But Marie Kondo advice to tidy one all items of a given category at once, regardless of where items of this category are stored.
One category would be clothing items. That means that you have to take all the clothes from the entire house and put them in a single pile. Then, you start to decide what you are going to keep and you can discard the rest. Once you have made your choice, you can fold and store all the remaining items. Only when an entire category is done can you move to the second category.
One big advantage of this technique is that you will realize how many items of one category you own. You may have clothes in several rooms in your house. Only by going through all the clothes at once will you visualize the number of clothes you own.
5. Separate drawers with boxes
This tip is really simple and yet very useful. Drawers have a tendency of becoming a mess. You probably have lived that as well. You tidy a drawer completely and then you close it. The next time you open it, there is a good chance that things moved around, making a mess. If you do that a few times, you will often give up tidying up drawers.
One excellent solution to this problem is to put boxes in drawers. Try to find a few boxes that would separate your drawers into different compartments. Ideally, you want boxes of around the same shape and color. But if you do not have them, just pick a few boxes. Some people decide to build the compartment inside the drawers themselves. This works well but requires more work and then the compartments are not adaptable.
You can then put your things into each box by grouping them. Instead of having ten pens rolling around in your desk drawer, put them in a box! The difference is really huge! And this does not only apply to drawers. You can also use the same technique in cabinets or even on top of a piece of furniture.
As you can see, I tried to apply this for my desk drawer. It is nothing fancy. But it is much better than before. And I can open and close the drawer without everything moving around.
6. Fold and store clothes upright
Marie Kondo has her own way of folding and storing all the clothes. She does not put things on a pile. Instead, she stores everything upright. At first, I was really not a fan of this method. But I started using this for my pants and it works really great!
One advantage is that you will save some space with this technique. But the biggest advantage is that you will see everything! This is a big advantage that I did not see at first. Before, when I was looking for a specific pair of jeans, I had to go through the entire pile. Now I see them all at first sight!
Yes, I probably own too many pairs of pants. I have only gone through the folding, I did go through the full method yet. I just want to try the folding.
7. Keep small boxes for tidying
I already mentioned before that you can separate your drawers with small boxes. And it makes a real difference. I think people should always try to keep a few small boxes because they can be so useful. Of course, do not hoard small boxes. If you have a hundred small boxes just waiting to be used, you probably have way too many already.
You do not need to pay money for boxes, you probably have a few of them laying around in your apartment. When I started tidying my desk, I realized I did not have many of these small boxes available. I did not want to buy small boxes either. I used all that I could find around. Here are some ideas:
- Shoe boxes are perfect, even Marie Kondo says they are probably the best size.
- Phone boxes can be great. They are small and very strong.
- You could even use food containers such as Tupperware if you have too many at home.
Instead of throwing them away, you can keep a few of them in case you need them for tidying up drawers. And do not forget that for several boxes, you can actually use both sides! That will save from having to buy expensive boxes.
8. Do not burden your family with your things
When some people do not know where they can store something, they rely on storing them in their parents home. By doing that, you are burdening their own home and are preventing them to have a tidy home. This is not fair!
We always consider our parent’s home as our own when we grow up. This is true in the sense that most children are always welcome in their parent’s home. However, this is not true in the sense that they have a right to their home that we do not have.
We should not use our parent’s home space as an excuse to store more things than we need. I still have some things at my father’s home. I plan to go through them this year and take everything back to my apartment.
9. Tidy things in order
I have already mentioned that the Konmari method makes you tidy things based on their categories not on their location in the house. There is another important thing to the method. It is to tidy everything in a specific order:
- Miscellaneous items (Marie Kondo calls this category Komono)
- Sentimental items
The reason is to start with things that are easy to replace. Marie developed her method by helping many people tidy their homes. By experience, she found out that this order was the one that was working the best with everybody. Once you see the impact of tidying the first four categories, you should have an easier time tidying your sentimental items.
Now, sometimes, the order can be adapted to some people. I could entirely imagine that for a writer, books may be the most sentimental items. Or for a cloth designer, clothes are most important. In these cases, it is fine to change the order. But for most people, it should be best to keep the proposed order.
10. Storing things away is not tidying
Marie Kondo says “Putting things away creates the illusion that the clutter problem has been solved”. Hiding everything that you have in very large storage does not make you tidy! In fact, Marie also says “Storage experts are hoarders”. Indeed, if your house was tidy in the first place, you would not need fancy storage systems.
Everything that you store should be visible directly or when you open drawers. Do not start to store things under the bed. If you store them out of sight, there is a high chance that you do not need them.
11. Have a place for every item
One key to tidying is to have a specific place for every item in your home. This is key to the Konmari method. Every time you pick an item, you should put it back in its own place. Your best items should be visible. Your favorite painting or art piece, you should see every day. But every single item should also have a place. For instance, the scissors should always be in the second drawer of the cabinet in the hall.
There are two advantages to this. First, you will always know where is everything. You will save time by not having to look everywhere for things. And secondly, you will avoid things get messy. This will make a huge difference in your life.
12. Unpack new things as soon as you get home
One thing that too many people are doing is that they keep the tags on their new clothes. Or they do not unpack new items directly. This is definitely a mistake.
Things with tags or packed are like products that are not really yours. Only when you unpack them will they be really part of your home. You will feel much differently about items that are still packed and normal items. One advantage of unpacking them is to directly give them a place in your home. Moreover, you are less likely to forget them if you already unpacked them. And finally, you are also much more likely to use them if they unpacked. If you want to wear a new item one morning and it is packed, it is likely that you will just pick another.
If you buy something in the first place, it is because you are going to use. Then unpack it directly as you come home!
13. It is OK to get rid of gifts
Most people have a hard time letting go of the gifts they received. I found something really important in the book. Marie Kondo says “The true purpose of a gift is to be received!”
When someone gives you a gift, you are happy to receive it. And the person giving you the gift is also happy to give it to you. But surely you are free to do what you want with the gift after you received it. The person giving you the gift does not want you to feel obligated to keep it!
If a gift does not spark joy anymore, you can get rid of it. You can donate it, throw it away or even regift it.
The more I think about the Konmari method, the more it makes sense to me! It is a really simple method with some very powerful teachings. I have not yet applied it to my entire house. But I am really considering it more and more. I am having a hard time convincing Mrs. The Poor Swiss to tidy her clothes!
Since I have started thinking about this method, I have realized that some things in my apartment were really bringing more joy than I thought. And I did not care as much as I thought about others. For instance, I realized I really want to have a very tidy desk with only a few things on it. And do not really care about the amount of tech stuff I have got in my closet. I will have to work on that.
If you want to learn more about Marie Kondo method of tidying up, the book is an excellent source of information. I wrote a full review of Marie Kondo’s book.
If you prefer something more visual than a book, Netflix is running a TV series: Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. In the show, Marie goes to one house per episode and helps the family tidy their home. It is quite interesting to see. You can take a look at the official Netflix trailer:
Have you ever tried the Konmari method? Do you have any more tips?