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How to declutter and organise your home with Marie Kondo's KonMari Method®

The KonMari Method® is Japanese Organising guru Marie Kondo’s approach to decluttering and organising homes. Originally introduced in Marie’s book, 'The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying' which was published in the United States in 2014, the method was popularised in the UK through the Netflix series ‘Sparking Joy’ and 'Tidying Up With Marie Kondo'. These shows have inspired people across the world to simplify their lives by 'KonMari’ing' their homes.

In this post:

Why do people love Marie Kondo's decluttering method?

Japanese organising Expert Marie Kondo

People love the KonMari Method because it can truly make a life-changing difference in how you view your belongings, your home and your life.

The mindful, reflective nature of the KonMari Method® encourages you to focus on what brings happiness into your life and to clear away things that are no longer relevant to you. In doing this, you can learn from the items you let go of and understand why they weren’t needed.

Working through this impacts how you live and acquire things moving forward, helping you develop a new mindset.

The step-by-step nature of the KonMari Method also simplifies the potentially overwhelming task of sorting out your home into manageable tasks. If you are struggling to know how or where to start the decluttering process, this can help to get you started and stay on track.

How does the KonMari Method® differ from other types of decluttering?

If you’ve ever decluttered a room in your home and found that the clutter creeps back a week later, you’ll know how frustrating the cycle of decluttering can be. The KonMari Method® aims to break this cycle by helping people tidy up “once and for all”.

Organised open shelving - a result of decluttering your home with Marie Kondo Method

The Method differs in three key ways from traditional decluttering approaches:

  1. You start by focusing on your goals (ideal lifestyle) and what you’re aiming to achieve as a result of any decluttering that you do.

  2. You make positive choices about keeping possessions that ‘Spark Joy’ rather than specifically looking for items to discard - the aim is to curate a home filled with things you love.

  3. You tidy by category (e.g. clothes, books, papers), rather than room by room.

How to start decluttering with the KonMari Method®

There are 6 steps in the KonMari Method® that guide you to a tidy and clutter-free home:

  1. Commit to tidying up.

  2. Imagine your Ideal Lifestyle.

  3. Declutter by KonMari category.

  4. Declutter in the right category order.

  5. Ask yourself if it Sparks Joy.

  6. Finish discarding first.

Girl holding calendar

Commit to tidying up

You don’t need to be decluttering 24/7, but it’s important to set aside some time to work through your home for a few hours a week.

Make sure you allow yourself time to properly sort through your belongings, make decisions and then tidy up afterwards.

Imagine your Ideal Lifestyle

Before jumping in with the recycling bags take some time to understand your reasons for wanting to organise your home. This is an opportunity to hit pause and consider how you'd like to be living your life going forward. Your home should support you in living your life the way you want to live, rather than getting in the way of your aspirations.

Women looking out of a window

Key questions to ask yourself are:

  • What’s the real reason that you want to declutter and organise your home?

  • What do you enjoy doing in your spare time and what gets in the way of that at the moment?

  • What do you currently love about your home?

  • How would you like your home to look and feel?

Having a clear view of your ideal lifestyle will motivate you to get started and help you to keep going when things get a bit messy, which they inevitably will. It will also guide your decisions about what to keep or discard, as there’s no need to keep items that don’t align with your vision of your future home and life.

Declutter by KonMari Category

The KonMari Method® encourages you to tidy by category (e.g., clothes, books, paperwork, komono*, sentimental) rather than the typical room-by-room approach to decluttering.

* komono refers to miscellaneous items including toiletries, toys, kitchenware and stationery.

Gathering all the items from a category together in one place enables you to see exactly what you own. This is especially useful if you store similar items (e.g. coats or stationery) in different places around your home. Tidying by category also allows you to easily identify duplicate items, things you’d forgotten about and anything that may be past its best.

Once everything is together, you are confronted (often for the first time) by the volume of everything you own in that category. For many people, this is quite shocking and acts as a further incentive to start decluttering – Marie Kondo calls this the 'Power of the Pile'.

Clothes piled on a bed - KonMari Power of the Pile

Decluttering by category rather than room by room was a game-changer for me as I found it easier to make informed decisions about what to keep and discard as I was able to see exactly what I owned, there was no longer an excuse to hold on to things just in case.

Declutter in the right Category Order with a KonMari Declutter Your Home Checklist

Start your decluttering project with the easiest category, clothes, then move on to books, papers, komono (miscellaneous), and leave the hardest category, sentimental items, to the end. If you start with sentimental items, such as photos, you'll probably spend an entire afternoon looking at photos and won’t make much progress!

Starting with easier categories helps develop your confidence and decision-making skills. By the time you get to the harder possessions, you’ll be a pro at deciding what to keep or discard. You’ll also have the added benefit and motivation of looking at your beautifully organised wardrobe every single morning as a reminder of why you’ve decided to tidy up your home. Use a KonMari Decluttering Checklist to lead you through decluttering and organising your home, one category at a time. You can download your copy here.

Declutter your home checklist

Ask yourself if it Sparks Joy - make positive choices about what stays or goes:

Marie Kondo encourages you to touch and connect with all the items in your home to identify which items you have a positive connection with.

Sue Spencer and a pile of clothes

The Japanese translation of 'Spark Joy' is 'Tokimeki', which literally means "heart flutter". When joy-checking, you're looking for items that do just that! You’ll have clothes in your wardrobe that you love wearing, that make you look fabulous or that you find really comfortable.

Other items around your home will also evoke that spark of positivity – whether it's a handbag you love, your favourite makeup or photos. This can also apply to more functional items that we may appreciate for the role that they play in our lives – a potato masher sparks joy for me as it makes my life easier. Have you ever tried mashing potatoes using a fork?

With the KonMari Method®, you make positive decisions to keep the items that Spark Joy and fit with your Ideal Lifestyle. Anything that doesn’t pass the test is acknowledged with gratitude for the role it played in your home and then let go.

Finish discarding before organising your home

On a practical note, there’s no point in buying any additional storage until you’ve decluttered and know what you have left that needs to be stored. I find that through the process of decluttering and utilising better storage techniques, there’s often no need to buy additional storage, as you can often reuse or repurpose furniture, baskets and storage boxes that you already own. A few quick tips to help with storage:

  • Store similar items together, using containers if needed, and give everything a proper home – that way it’s easy to put things away at the end of the day.

  • Avoid scattered storage, and stacks of anything should be minimised.

  • Vertical storage is a much better use of space, so wherever possible keep things upright and folded.

Top Home Organisation Tip:

When you're considering where to store something, ask yourself where you’d look for it. It’s often the simplest way to sort out your storage.

Pretty shelves with baskets and boxes for storage

KonMari vs Minimalism

One final note, I always explain to clients that The KonMari Method® is not the same as Minimalism. KonMari focuses on being more aware of what you own and making sure that you love or need whatever you choose to keep. The finishing touch is organising your home to find a home for everything.

As you go through each step of the method, you decide how much stays or goes depending on whether items Spark Joy or fit your Ideal Lifestyle. Remember, you are looking to fill your home with items you love so, if something Sparks Joy, keep it with confidence.

Clothes on a rail next to a plant

Fancy giving Marie Kondo's method a go?

Start your KonMari decluttering journey by decluttering your wardrobe - follow the simple tips in my blog: Wardrobe Declutter Tips - How to Marie Kondo your wardrobe so it Sparks Joy.

Updated 6th September 2023

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I’m Sue, a professional home organiser and KonMari Consultant based in Hampshire. I trained with Marie Kondo and the KonMari team in 2018, and I help busy people declutter, organise and simplify their homes so they can get on with the important job of enjoying life.

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Sue Spencer KonMari Consultant
KonMari Master Consultant Badge

Hi, I'm Sue!

I love all things decluttering and home organisation and trained with Marie Kondo to be a KonMari Consultant after experiencing the benefits of tidying my own home using the KonMari Method.

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