Marie Kondo’s famous “KonMari” method in her best-selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, is a catch-all way of decluttering not only one’s closet but also one’s life. It can be used for any category of “stuff,” whether it’s clothes, books, kitchenware, or your extensive collection of garden gnomes.
And it really works. By goodness, does it work. And that’s why I want to share my story, to prove to you that the “KonMari” method has truly saved my closet.
The “KonMari” method is quite simple. First, declutter by categories, not by location. Kondo stresses that in order to truly change one’s lifestyle, one must declutter in the following order: clothes, books, papers, komono (hobby goods and miscellany), and lastly, mementos. Her reasoning behind this order is that this sequence will “sharpen one’s intuitive sense of what items truly spark joy.” And it’s also organized this way because clothes, Kondo has found, are the easiest for her clients to part with. Then books, then papers, and so on. The categories get more difficult, leading up to mementos, i.e., the most beloved things in your possession.
The next step is to bring everything within that category into one room—and Kondo means everything. Once every item within that category is within one room or space, you must sit down and physically touch each item, hold it, and ask yourself, “Does this bring me joy?”
Kondo’s method revolves around this idea of “sparking joy.” According to her, an item must spark a sense of giddiness and happiness whenever you physically touch the item. The “KonMari” method separates the items that don’t bring joy to your life from the ones that do, leaving you with a house full of things that bring you joy. Once surrounded in a house full of happiness, Kondo believes people will lead a different lifestyle. She guarantees that, if followed to the tee, her method will prevent anybody from reverting back to their original disorganized state; in other words, it’s clutter-proof.
And with such a bold claim, of course I quirked a brow! Do I want to lead a minimalist lifestyle? Yes. Do I want to feel happy whenever I’m in my rooms? YES. Do I want to be joyous? HECK YES. But would Kondo’s method really, truly work? Didn’t think so.
The reason I wanted to follow her book was because I was feeling a slump at work. I had started my job like a starry-eyed protagonist, optimistic and gung-ho for the adventure ahead. But I had started to slip in enthusiasm for my work; sure, I completed my tasks in a timely manner, but I didn’t feel like what I was creating was worth it. This feeling ultimately affected other activities in my life that, back then, I wasn’t aware of: losing touch with friends and family and even a drastic change in diet. I knew there was something wrong with me, but I just didn’t know what.
Better yet, I hated getting dressed for work in the morning. Though I thought it was organized enough, it was always so hard to pull something out from a drawer, especially if it was stacked under a huge wooly sweatshirt; at that point, I wouldn’t even bother and instead settled for whatever was laying on top.
To put it bluntly, I was slacking.
Then came Kondo.
On a Saturday morning in March, I took exactly seven trips from my basement all the way up to the second floor. I lugged all my summer and spring clothes into my room and emptied my closet and all my drawers of their contents. I even had to walk over to the office and take out some stray jackets and nearly forgot about the couple sweaters I had stored in our foyer. (Don’t forget about the other room I stored all my work clothes in!)
By then, everything was accounted for. And I could not see my carpet.
Yeaahhhh, it was a total mess. But it was because I had put everything in one room that I saw how much I had. And, yes, it made me feel bad. Over-privileged, spoiled. A first-world problem diva. Here I was, buying more clothes thinking I didn’t have anything, when I clearly did. But that meant it was all the more reason to do this, to declutter.
The categories themselves are quite daunting, and Kondo breaks them down into deep detail, suggesting that you categorize within the categories. For example, the clothes category can be separated into tops, pants, skirts, dresses, accessories, hats, bags, shoes, and so forth.
I started off pretty shaky when it came to the “throw away/donate” pile. I found myself trying to make excuses or come up with an argument that justified me keeping it. Which, of course, are the two most common forms of resistance that Kondo has encountered. But it was Kondo’s “joy” question, coupled with me being honest with myself and asking how OFTEN I would wear such a thing, that eventually sped up my process.
And I found that Kondo was right when she says:
“When we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.”
“I would feel guilty if I got rid of this.” “It was so expensive.” “My friend gave this to me for my birthday.” “I might grow in/back into it if I just wait a little.” These are the kinds of excuses we might tell ourselves whenever we try to cleanse our closets.
Most of the things that I parted with were indeed things of my past: lots of graphic T-shirts from American Eagle and Hot Topic; free t-shirts that were never touched after they were taken out of their complimentary tote bags (which were also eventually donated); dresses and work clothes that were bought for me, but I never ever wore. The list goes on. I found myself parting with the things that shaped me into the person that I am or things that were given to me that didn’t really represent me. It was an interesting experience to undergo.
Kondo also notes that you must thank your items, whether you are keeping them or parting with them. Thanking them aloud is what she suggests, but you could also mentally give your thanks before folding them and putting your clothes into their appropriate pile.
By the time I was done KonMari-ing my way through my closet, I had cut my clothes nearly in half. My goal was to have all my clothes and accessories—winter, spring, summer, and fall—fit in my room. That meant just my closet and my drawers. My cosplays, however, would be the only exception, and they would be allowed to be in another room because, as Konmari notes, you should showcase the things you love and bring them out so that you can enjoy them. Cosplaying is one of my hobbies, and it’s certainly a part of me. To have them displayed on a fashion rack was (and still is!) my ultimate goal.
After doing some damage with discarding, it’s time to organize the clothes, which many people would moan and groan about. But by this point, I was excited to organize! (Note: I read the book through once, but then re-read it again by reading along step by step as I worked through Kondo’s process.)
Kondo has these fascinating folding techniques which you can watch below. From tops to jeans, socks to undies: this woman does it all! Prepare to be mindblown. (The way she folds underwear and socks will LITERALLY knock your socks off!)
I was super excited to organize. My technique and my results are below.
I actually went to my local Ikea store and bought this white organizer for my shoes, shown here. It was originally intended for a TV set and to store your DVDs, but since the shelves could be placed at customizable heights, I did a little “out of the box” thinking and made it work!
Now whenever I wake up, I’m excited. When I open my closet, I’m met with a clean, crisp kind of feeling. I can see the patterns and colors of all the dresses and jackets that I love so much. Whenever I open a drawer now, I’m excited to see all the designs. I’m excited to wear them, to put them on. But most of all, I’m excited that I get to declutter more of my life.
If you’re interested in making a change in your lifestyle, I highly recommend you give Marie Kondo’s book a read. I hope it works for you, too!
Have you tried the KonMari method? How did it go? Share your story with us! Or, are you interested in trying it out? What are your own personal decluttering methods? All comments are welcome!