Decluttering your home can be a liberating experience. True, it can be tempting to hold onto old belongings, hoping they will one day come in useful. What we too often forget, however, is the joy in living a more minimalist life. This is the philosophy of Marie Kondo, tidying expert and best-selling author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Her solution to clutter is her category-based 'KonMari Method', an approach to tidying that stresses the importance of only holding onto items that bring you happiness.
The KonMari Method is a one-size-fits-all way to declutter your home. It’s quite an involved process that takes real commitment, but devotees claim it can change your life. The main reason for its potency seems to be its philosophical approach to tidying, which addresses the deeper psychological reasons for gathering clutter. In this way it’s broadly similar to Swedish lagom or French mise en place.
Rather than tidying by location, the KonMari Method advocates tidying by category. You begin with clothes, then move on to books, papers, komono (miscellaneous items) and finish with sentimental items. Kondo also recommends storing items according to these categories to maintain order.
What really distinguishes the KonMari Method is its unique approach to choosing what you keep and what you let go. In a nutshell, you only keep things that bring you joy. If you feel no emotional connection with an item, you simply thank it for its service – then let it go. Kondo’s book outlines a full ceremony for this process, which allows you to release any lingering guilt or worry associated with an item.
As you go through this process with each category of items, Kondo has six rules that you must follow at all times:
Commit yourself to tidying up. This isn’t a chore, it’s a lifestyle choice and must be followed through.
Imagine your ideal lifestyle. If you can see the space you want to live in, you will have a stronger idea of the items that matter.
Finish discarding first. Don’t be tempted to collect more items, however appealing, until you’re rid of unnecessary belongings.
Tidy by category, not by location. It may seem more efficient to finish the bedroom all in one go, but this method isn’t about speed – it’s about success.
Follow the right order. The KonMari Method is designed to follow a specific path, and it always begins with clothes and ends with sentimental items.
Ask yourself if each item sparks joy. This is central to the method, as it grounds all of your decisions in your emotional self.
If your desire to declutter your home is for aesthetic rather than lifestyle reasons, you might prefer a more design-led approach to creating a modern, minimalist living space. You can move room-by-room as you please, curating your spaces according to an image and plan.
However, if you’re really worried about clutter, or want to be more mindful with your belongings and interior design, the KonMari Method is worth the commitment. It can remove irrational cognitive biases that trip you up and encourage impulse purchases, and help you forge a more meaningful connection with your home and belongings.