There’s a decluttering craze sweeping the nation, thanks to Japanese tidying expert Marie Kondo’s New York Times bestselling book and popular Netflix show. For Kondo, tidying is about more than discarding and organizing: Her revolutionary “KonMari” method is changing lives.
“One of the magical effects of tidying is confidence in your decision making,” muses Kondo, who notes that getting rid of clutter can also eliminate stress and even promote slimming. Read on for her strategies for making your home — and your life — happier and more comfortable than ever.
Ask the key question.
“The best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in your hand and ask: Does this spark joy?” says Kondo. “Focusing on throwing things away can only bring unhappiness. We should be choosing what we want to keep, not what we want to get rid of.”
Bonus: Tuning into positive emotions makes the task of decluttering easier
Remove ‘loud’ labels.
Eliminating visual clutter is just as key as getting rid of physical. This means removing price tags on new clothes as soon as you get home and stickers and labels on store-bought storage containers before you use them. Kondo explains, “By eliminating excess visual information that doesn’t inspire joy, you can make your space much more peaceful and comfortable.”
“By neatly folding your clothes, you can solve almost every problem related to storage,” promises Kondo, who says you can fit up to 40 pieces of folded clothing in the space required to hang 10. To maximize even more, fold clothes into small rectangles and stand them up in drawers rather than laying them flat in a stack — this will eliminate wrinkles, plus allow you to see all your clothes at a glance and lower instances of forgotten pieces.
Start in the morning.
The best time to tackle clutter? Early in the day, before you become overloaded with decisions and to-do’s. “The fresh morning air keeps your mind clear and your power of discernment sharp,” says Kondo. Also smart: forgoing TV and music while you tidy. “It is essential to create a quiet space,” she adds. “Noise makes it harder to hear the internal dialogue between the owner and her belongings.”
Give things a home.
“Clutter is caused by a failure to return things to where they belong,” shares Kondo. To avoid this, assign all of your possessions a place where they will be kept when you aren’t using them — even things you use daily, like your handbag or glasses.
“You only need to designate a spot for every item once,” says Kondo. “No longer will you buy more than you need, and no longer will your things continue to accumulate.”
Part with the past.
“Mementos are reminders of a time when these items gave us joy,” says Kondo. “The thought of disposing of them sparks the fear that we’ll lose those precious memories along with them. But truly precious memories will never vanish, even if you discard the objects associated with them.” For photos and items you do want to keep, create a special spot where they can all live together, like the top shelf of a bookcase.
This story originally appeared in our print magazine.