The KonMari method

the art of ‘having less’ and ‘sparking joy’

While we may often feel we are the kings or queens of our castles, it may be our castles, and what is contained in them, which are ruling us.

The state of our surroundings has much more than a visual effect on us, and can, in fact, affect our mental well-being, health and productivity. Many may have heard the phrase “A tidy house is a tidy mind,” and this may ring true in more ways than we choose to believe.

Clutter can physically interfere with our lives, making it difficult to find things, or challenging to shutterstock_178186562navigate around our houses and closets. Studies have shown that multiple stimuli (think clutter) can affect the ability to focus. In an uncluttered house, time spent searching for belongings, or periodically throwing out some items, can instead be spent doing something more productive or enjoyable. It means more time to enjoy our island paradise rather than being stuck indoors.

Health can also be affected as mess, excess belongings, and incorrect storage techniques can harbor dust and mold, and also affect psychological health by causing stress and anxiety.

The Internet is littered, excuse the pun, with tidying tips and sorting advice. Different methods may appeal to different people, but over the past two years a new and quite intriguing method has come to the forefront and proved extremely popular with the aspiring neat freaks among us.

KonMari method

“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing”, and its companion book “Spark Joy,” outline Marie Kondo’s method for tidying and decluttering. The Japanese organizing consultant says only two skills are necessary to be successful: “the ability to keep what sparks joy and chuck the rest, and the ability to decide where to keep each thing that you choose and always put it back in its place.”

Kondo’s KonMari method incorporates the principles of Feng Shui and a more thoughtful clearing method, and has been praised by many reviewers as being life changing. Touted as a “guide to acquiring the right mind-set for creating order and becoming a tidy person,” the method promises that once you have de-cluttered in Kondo’s manner you will not have to again, and that the benefits will expand into other areas of life.

Before beginning to de-clutter, Marie Kondo advises people envisage their life as clutter-free, and focus on what they would do in this life, without having to spend time controlling their belongings. Beginning in this way clarifies why you are undertaking this task and what sort of life you envisage afterward.

The KonMari method then goes against the grain somewhat, diverging from the advice of many other declutter guides, in that it directs people to go through every item they own by group, instead of by room as many of us automatically do. For example, start with clothes, move on to books, and do not get distracted from that category until it is done. She also advises decluttering your house all at the same time, instead of bit by bit.

Working on the philosophy of owning things, the method asks owners to hold each item and ask if it sparks joy, and if not, discard it, with the aim being to decide what to keep as opposed to what to discard.

The lucky items that are left must then be put in a specific place, one that’s visible and easily accessible. Kondo prefers folding clothes in a dresser to shoved in a nook or hung in the back of a closet as these methods of storage encourage hoarding and re-accumulation of clutter.

Folding in a dresser also allows utilization of her unique folding technique which enables vertical organization, easy access and the least number of folds possible to avoid creasing. To aid in the vertical display, drawer dividers or small box inserts can be used.

Kondo’s advice also covers organization, moving and packing, as well as dealing with necessary items which may not bring you joy.

Kondo’s books guide readers through her methods, with her words encouraging a deeper thought process than traditional clearing methods. While many may not want to invest such psychological energy into decluttering their home, Kondo’s basic rules do still provide an excellent framework for clearing unnecessary, or unjoyful, belongings from your home and allowing for more space, satisfaction, mental and physical well-being and productivity.


shutterstock_486606913The six basic rules of tidying

  • Commit yourself to tidying up
  • Imagine your ideal lifestyle, clarifying why you want to tidy and identifying the kind of life you want to live once you have finished
  • Finish discarding first, before you plan where to store things
  • Tidy by category, not by location
  • Follow the right order: clothes, books, papers, komono (miscellany), and, finally, sentimental items
  • Ask yourself if it sparks joy


“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing”

by Marie Kondo