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Keeping a tidy home is something nearly everyone struggles with. Either your home appears tidy and you’re cleaning all the time or your house is just plain cluttered and you feel at a loss on how to change that. Clearing clutter from your home takes you one step closer to sustainable living. Easier said than done? Let’s find out.

The KonMari Method, outlined in the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying up – the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, claims that with her sustainable living method, you can tidy your house once and it will stay tidy forever.  Sounds pretty amazing, right?

KonMari - The Life changing magic of tidying up

Sustainable living magic?

At first, I thought it must be too good to be true. There’s no way you can tidy your house once and it will stay that way forever. However, after reading this little gem (the book is a quick read at only 206 pages), my opinion has been changed. I can see myself tidying my house following her method and having it stick – as long as I can get my family on board.

So, how does the KonMari Method work? At the core, it’s all about listening to your intuition and bringing more joy and beauty into your life. It’s very different from any organization method I’ve read about or tried before. Simply stated, Marie Kondo says,

“When you are choosing what to keep, ask your heart. When you are choosing where to store things, ask your house.”

The book goes much deeper than that though. It is a deep dive into precisely how to tidy your home, step-by-step so that you’re surrounded only with things that bring you joy – sustainable living 101 if you will. Kondo also gives a ton of background and insight into how the process was developed and why you must follow her method precisely for the tidying to stick.

I’ll give you the Cliff Notes version of the KonMari method here. If it speaks to you, pick up the book before you get started tidying. Her insights on the process are invaluable!

Visualize the outcome before you start

Before you even start thinking about the tidying at hand, Kondo suggests that you visualize precisely how you want to live. See your house as it would be in your dreams. After you have a clear visualization, ask yourself why you want to live that way. Really let yourself understand the reasons for your vision.

Step 1: Discarding

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Photo: / Shutterstock

According to Kondo, effective tidying involves only two actions: discarding and deciding where to store things. Discarding must always come first. You’ll need to do this all at once. If you do it a little bit at a time, it will never be complete. So be prepared to tidy all at once – it usually takes 6 months to complete this process.

Unlike most organization methods, with the KonMari method, you’ll be choosing what to keep, not what to get rid of. To do this, you’ll hold each item in your hand and ask yourself, “Does this spark joy?” If it does, keep it. If it doesn’t, discard it.

Sounds simple, right? But if you look around your house it can be an overwhelming thought. Where do you start? Fortunately, the KonMari Method lays that out for you very precisely. Here are some of the key principles.

Tidy by category, not location

People often store the same types of things in multiple locations, so they never realize how much stuff they actually have. It’s better to tidy by category than location so you can really take stock of what you have and what you need to get rid of. For example, tidy all of the clothes in your house at once and all of the books in your house at once, regardless of which room they are located in.

Begin with easy categories

The best order to tidy your home in is this specific order: clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous then mementos. It begins with the easiest things for people to part with and ends with the hardest things for people to part with. The book breaks it down much more deeply though. These categories are broken down into sub-categories and she gives tips for when you get stuck on an item. There is definitely a method to this process to make it more digestible.

Start with your own stuff

A common concern for people when they begin the KonMari Method of tidying is how they will get the rest of their family on board. Kondo stresses that when you begin the tidying process, it’s best to begin with your own things and only your own things. It’s important not to worry about other family members – she says they will get on board when they see you tidying. She also recommends leaving communal spaces for last.

Get the environment right

Having the right environment set up when you begin your tidying is important. It’s best to tidy using the KonMari Method in a quiet atmosphere so you can really listen to your own intuition. No music with lyrics and no TV should be on – let’s call it sustainable living zen. If you absolutely feel you need music or background noise, it’s best to choose ambient noise or instrumental music with a very simple melody. As for the time of day, it’s best to do your tidying in the early morning.

Step 2: Storing things

Organized shelf - sustainable living
KonMari a great method not only for minimalists, but for anyone that wants more joy, beauty and sustainable living in their life. Photo: Africa Studio / Shutterstock

Once you’ve completed the discarding step, it’s time to start working on how you’ll store things in your home. In the KonMari Method, there are only two rules for storing:

  1. Store all items of the same type in the same place and don’t scatter storage space.
  2. Each person in your home can have their own place for storage, but each item must have a place.

Another thing Kondo notes is that most people make the mistake of storing things where they think that item will be used. In the KonMari Method, it’s much better for everything of the same type to be stored in the same location, so you always know where to look.

Another tip that she stresses is to always store things vertically and avoid stacking. When things are stacked, they get forgotten. When clothes are stacked, they get wrinkled. Storing things vertically keeps them visible and in better shape.

Kondo has far too many tips on how to properly store things in your home to share in one article about the KonMari Method. Be sure to pick up a copy of the book so you can understand the entire method. I read the book in only two days so it’s not a huge time commitment.

As you can see, the KonMari Method is a great way to tidy your home once so that you’re surrounded only by the things you love. It’s a great method not only for minimalists, but for anyone that wants more joy and beauty in their life.

Sustainable living and reducing waste truly are universal languages.

Have you used the KonMari Method in your home? Share your experience in our comments section below.

Feature image Africa Studio / Shutterstock

By Chrystal Johnson

Chrystal Johnson, publisher of Happy Mothering, founder of Green Moms Media and essential oil fanatic, is a mother of two sweet girls who believes in living a simple, natural lifestyle. A former corporate marketing communication manager, Chrystal spends her time researching green and eco-friendly alternatives to improve her family's life.