(Disclosure: Some of the links below may be affiliate links. For more information, read my disclosure.)
The Konmari method is a tidying method developed by Marie Kondo. She has been a consultant for tidying houses and offices for many years. She soon realized that she had a lot of clients and that she could consult in person for them all. So she decided to write her method in a book: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying. I just finished reading this book on my Kindle and I wanted to share my thoughts about it.
Overall, the method is really simple. You discard all the things that do not bring joy to your life. Then, you set a place for each of your belonging. And after that, you should no need to tidy ever again. Of course, there are some subtleties. But overall, it is really simple.
Keep in mind that I never tested this technique. I just read the book and gathered my thoughts about it. If you already read this book or learned about this method, I would be glad to hear your comments.
Personally, I do not have a lot of issues with tidying. Most of the time, my apartment is very tidy. However, I have a problem with discarding and I should really improve that. In the last year, I have discarded a lot of things. And I want to continue in that path and reduce even more my belongings. I will never be a true minimalist. But tidiness is important for me.
In this post, I am going to go over the Konmari method and what this book can teach you.
The book starts with the story of the early life of the author, Marie Kondo. Even since she was a little girl, she always had a thing for tidying. Where other little girls played with dolls, she read magazines about tidying and home caretaking. She used to clean and tidy all the rooms of her family home. Later on, she found out about discarding. She went on to discard as many things as possible. She even went on about discarding things that belonged to other family members.
But over the years, she realized that none of the things she was doing were really helping. In the end, it always went back to the state it was before tidying after some time. Even when she discarded a lot, after some time, she bought back many more things again. That is where she found out that there should be something wrong with the common advice that she was reading on books.
That is after that, that she developed the so-called Konmari method. She then started a consulting business to help people tidy. She soon had a lot of clients. And when her waiting list was about six months long, she started writing her method in a book in order to reach more people.
Interestingly, she claimed that none of her clients ever rebound. She has a repeater rate of zero. This probably only relates to people that her course in person. And I do not know if it is true. But if it is, it is really impressive. According to her, you can do the same with the book.
Another thing that is really impressive with this method is that once you do the initial work, you almost will not have to tidy again ever. Marie Kondo herself only tidies her home for about one hour every year and it stays tidy forever. This should be very motivating. I would really like to never have to tidy again.
Do it quickly
Something really important and very surprising in the book is that the author advises to it all at once. Indeed, the Konmari method advises against the idea that you should do it a little at a time. This goes against 90% of what you can read on the internet. Even I, this year, decided to get rid of one thing each month as part of my goals of 2019. And many people do challenges where they get rid of one thing a day for a long time.
In fact, doing it a little at a time is what causes the clutter to rebound. The whole point would be to do it as quickly as possible. She cites a maximum of six months. But faster seems to be better. The idea is actually quite simple. You need to reach the state of perfection in your house. Once you reached that state, it will actually change your mind in never going back. For her, tidiness is first a state of mind.
Not only should you do it quickly, but you should also do it completely. Once again, this goes against common knowledge. Most people would actually advise you to do a room at a time, or even a drawer at a time. But not Marie Kondo. She wants you to do the entire home at once and quickly. Now that I have read the book, I actually things it makes sense. If you do not do it completely, you never have a perfect home. It is likely that once you tidy up the last room, the first room is untidy once again. It is a vicious circle in which you will never reach your goals.
Category matters more than location
There was one thing I thought very interesting in this book and in the Konmari method. The author advises tidying thing category by category and not room by room. Normally, you would think it is more logical to do the work, room after room. But there is a big problem with this approach. You are likely to have things of the same category in several places. For instance, I have books in two rooms in my apartment. So, if you tidy up all the books in one room, you still have to tidy up all the books from the other room. And this is not efficient.
So you should always fully tidy one category before you move to the next one. And there is also an order in which you should tidy categories. For instance, some things are easier to discard than others. For instance, it is generally simpler to discard clothes than to discard love letters. You should start with the easy categories and move on to the more difficult ones. Of course, this may change for you. I know some people who have a very hard time getting rid of clothes. I have a harder time with books than most people for instance.
Step 1 – Discard
The first step of the Konmari method with each category is to discard as many things as possible. You should gather all the elements of the category at the same place, on the ground or on the table. And one after another, you should decide if you keep or discard. The test for discarding something is based on whether it sparks joy for you or not. If one thing makes you really happy, you should keep it. Otherwise, throw it away. It is not the only condition. For practical things, you should also consider whether you are going to use it, or wear it.
For each category, the author will help you with tips on what to keep and what to not keep. However, the decision is always personal. This part of the book is really well done.
Now, I believe there is an issue with this approach. If you follow the advice from the book, you should discard everything that does not bring joy. But honestly, I am pretty that for everybody there are some categories that cannot bring joy. If I followed this advice, I could throw out all my clothes. I do not like clothes and never sparked joy. It is just that we need them. And this is not the only category that works like this. What about cooking tools. Could they really spark joy?
Step 2 – Tidy
After you have discarded all the things from the category that are not useful or are not sparking joy, the second step of the Konmari method is to tidy them up and move them back where they belong.
The most important things you will learn from this book is that each object should have its own place. You should for each object in your home exactly where it should be. That means that when you use, you should always put it back exactly in the correct place.
There is no need to plan exactly for the flow inside the house to put your objects in the perfect place. Generally, the problem is not to pick the object but to put it back in place. If all the objects of the same category are always in the same place, you will know exactly where to put it back and you will always do it.
One thing that is really interesting is that the book advises keeping the storage very simple. If you try to optimize the storage too much, this will only make storage more complicated. And there is another thing about storage. If you need too much storage containers and tricks, that probably means that you are trying to store too many things. Too much storage is often simply a sign that you are storing too much. You do not need any complicated storage system to have a tidy home. In fact, she claims that the most helpful storage item you can use is a shoebox. Once you have reached the perfect number of things in your home, you will not have that much need for anything else.
Tidiness is personal
Something I really liked in this book is that the author emphasizes that tidiness is highly personal. There is not a single number of things that make a room tidy. Some people need more stuff than others. But for every people, there is a number of things that work best. You will know when you will reach this number.
I think this is very true! It really makes the Konmari method works. Advice like seven shirts is the perfect number do not make sense. For some people, three shirts are fine and other people need twenty. Even worse, saying things such as you need only one hundred items in one apartment is totally dumb too.
Things I do not like
There was one thing I really did not like in this book. The author is talking about things almost as if they had feelings. She says that things are better if they are in the correct position for them. Things cannot think or feel. The worst is that she is actually talking to some of her belongings and telling them that they did a good job. She is even talking to the house of her clients. I think that is quite insane. That does not diminish the quality of her work. But that is definitely too much for me.
Since she has so much experience in the subject, I would have liked to have more concrete examples. There are a few examples in the book about special situations she found in clients. Many of them are interesting. But several of these examples are not complete at all. I would have liked examples of the problem and the solution for many more of the clients.
There was something I found really surprising about this book. It talked a lot about discarding and tidying books and papers. But not once, did it mention that you can also have electronic books and you can save some room by saving them to your computer. For instance, I have read this book on my Kindle and I can keep it forever without cluttering my house. I think this is a nice way to tidy your books and papers.
This does not change the value of the Konmari itself. These are just some perks of the book itself.
Overall, I think that The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying is a very good book. It offers a very interesting view of tidying. It claims that once you follow this method, you will almost not have to tidy your house in the future. Moreover, it is also said that living in a fully tidy house will change your life for the better. The author has a lot of experience on the matter. And I actually believe that this method can work. Although I am not quite sure it can work for everybody. And I am not sure either that nobody will rebound after having followed this method.
Although it is pretty great, it is not perfect. Some parts are a bit abstract. It is not straightforward to know if something sparks joy. I can imagine it working it well for emotional gifts, but not for clothes and tools for instance. And some parts of the book are really related to Japan and may not hold true in other countries. And talking to inanimate objects is really not my thing.
Even if you do not use the sparks joy test to discard things, I believe that many things in her Konmari technique make a lot of sense. For instance, tidying by category and not by location is very smart. So does the logic of getting everything from a category and checking them one by one. I think this can really work. Personally, I plan to test that technique on a few of my belongings. I will see how it works. This book really made me want to have an even more tidy home.
If you want more information or want training in the Konmari method, you can order the book on Amazon. If you want to read more about books, you can take a look at the best personal finance books I have read.
There is now a Netflix series about the Konmari technique: Tidying up With Marie Kondo. Watch the trailer to know more:
What do you think of the Konmari method or about the book itself? did you ever use it?