Konmari Method: What No One Tells You

Konmari method helps people tidy their homes by decluttering their possessions. Though it is about decluttering and minimising your possessions it is different from traditional decluttering.

What is Konmari Method?

Konmari method focuses on deciding what items to keep and then discarding those items which do not spark joy ( or give you that happy feeling inside).

What you don’t know about Konmari? Konmari is not about organising or simply tidying. It is about going through your possessions and deciding what to keep.

The book mentions that once you tidy up, you are set for life. The book does not mention how to maintain a house daily, how to deal with clutter which comes into the house daily. Kids toys are also one topic which I felt was lacking.

I share my experience below as I had been introduced to the Konmari method a few years ago.

The Steps in the Konmari Method

Marie Kondo advises to follow these 6 rules for decluttering and tidying up.

#1 Commit yourself to Tidying up

This is the first step in which we are making a mental shift and committing to tidying. Make a promise with yourself to start tidying and commit to the process. It might take a few hours to a few days, it all depends on how much you have accumulated over the years and how ready you are to let go.

#2 Imagine your Ideal Lifestyle

In this step you are supposed to imagine what you want to acheive with tidying. Is it having a clean environment, a calm place to relax in, a space which feels like a bread and breakfast. This is a crucial step ( I belive) as if you can have the end result in mind, it will make the process much faster.

I personally wanted the freedom to the clutter. I wanted to be able to reduce the time I spent cleaning the house. I also wanted to bring a sense of calm and peace to my house.

I wanted to be able to find things easily and quickly. I wanted my kids to experience living in spaces which helped their creativity and were relaxing.

#3 Finish discarding first

Konmari asks you to let go of stuff. Prior to Konmari when I was trying to get some sense into my life, and put an end to chaos at home, I was frustrated by how every other book and article spoke about organising stuff.

Konmari and Flylady were the only systems which spoke about starting with letting go of the stuff on hand.

When you first declutter, you have no need to purchase organisers. I was able to get rid of a lot of things including organisers.

Removing unwanted things which do not serve any purpose for us, frees up a lot of space and simplifies life beyond measure.

#4 Tidy by Category, instead of Location

This is one of the important idea I have gained from Konmari’s book. Before Konmari I used to declutter and tidy I was just spinning around in circles.

The most important aspect of Konmari’s method is to declutter and tidy category by category. Marie Kondo asks us to work with the following categories

  • Clothes
  • Books
  • Papers
  • Komono or Miscellaneous
  • Sentimental items

Another important aspect to getting your house in order is to follow her steps blindly. She mentions working category by Category. She also mentions collecting everything in a category into one place. So if you are working with clothes, you have to gather clothes from all spaces ( cupboards, dressers, washing baskets, washing machine, basement).

I liked this a lot because this helped me get a visual picture of all what I owned and I could immediately decide whether I wanted to keep things or not. Prior to this I was decluttering and organizing clothes again and again ( because I had not checked the other spaces where the clothes were in).

It really helps to get all items into one huge pile and start working on it.

#5 Follow the Correct Order

You are supposed to work in the 5 categories mentioned above sequentially and stick the order. So, we start with Clothes, then move onto books and papers… I was okay with working within one category. This helped to remain focused and not get sidetracked with other things.

But, I did not want to follow the categories in the order she mentioned. This is because I find it easier to work with Clothes, Kitchen items. I am not at all comfortable with Books and Papers. I am actually okay with albums and childrens projects which fall in the sentimental category.

So I just cheated and skipped the books and papers and moved on to the toys and kitchen items. Books were handled last and it worked much better at my house.

This step I think is not universal, and I might be wrong but that is my opinion.

#6 Discard based on what “Sparks Joy”

Konmari asks us to take each item, hold it in our hands, feel it. She says if you get a good feeling or vibe or a zing… you keep that item. If it doesn’t spark joy or feel good, you can thank the item and let it go.

While it made totally sense for me with clothes and kitchen items, it failed miserably with books and toys.

My family owns a lot of books. We read a lot. I can let go of books easily but for my husband and kids, they fall in the sentimental items category ( I guess). Working with books was painful and in the end though I donated a lot of books, my bookcase is still full of books.

What are the drawbacks of the Konmari method?

I found many things I was unhappy with the Konmari method.

#1. Daily Clutter

The book does not help us solve the issue with clutter which comes in daily. This could be the mail, gifts, kids homework and sheets. Konmari assumes that once you have understood the tidying and decluttering mindset, you can magically understand how to tackle daily life.

I find the book needs to address this subject and help people with what to do on a day to day basis.

#2. Once is Enough

At the beginning of the book Konmari mentions that once you are done with all the categories you are done for good.

I used her method years ago. With a few months, the house was back to where it was ( almost). Initially I criticized myself an wondered if i had done it right.

Now I realise that this promise was not realistic, it was too ideal. We do not live under ideal circumstances. Yes, I have decluttered once, but I have not yet built the muscle of deciding what to do with new things which enter my house.

I have found my own ways to declutter my house and keep it in order in recent years. The Konmari declutter phase was the starting point though.

#3 Rigid Methods

Internally I rebelled with some of her methods. I am not okay with how she folds the clothes. Though I loved it and tried it and even made a Youtube video about it, I realised it wasn’t practical at all.

I have a single wardrobe which I share with my husband. If I make mini packages and store the clothes, they just wont fit. Also I would have to layer them one of the other as I have high shelves which are not very deep. Also I have only a few shelves, so if I do not stack my clothes, I cannot keep any clothes and believe me I have very few.

I can only work this out if I buy extra storage..duh

Konmari mentions that socks should not be stuffed into another. they need to breathe. I tried that. It drove our family nuts. We could never find pairs because the neat little packages open up when kids move clothes around.

They do not care to maintain the neat little packages. Now I am back to folding the end of one sock on the other so that they stick in place.

That is what works for me.

When Konmari asks to empty the purse every night, I might have collapsed. I just cannot do that. It is too much trouble. I cannot keep the contents of my purse out every day. I cannot imagine how people can do that every night, it doesnt make sense.

#4 Routines

This is again about not having a system in place to maintain tidiness. I have read the book, listened to the audiobook, and I still am not able to maintain it.

I feel the author has failed to consider the different personalities of people. For me routines are key. I need systems in place. When someone says keep something if it sparks joy, it is too abstract for me.

Experience with Konmari Method

I cannot lie the first time I listened to her audio book, I cried my eyes out. I just loved the innocence, the assurance and the simplicity.

I was having health issues which meant I had to be selective about what duties I could do and couldn’t. I couldn’t bend, and could barely drag my self out of bed every morning.

So things just piled up. Stuff was everywhere.. I was always in fatigue.. When Konmari came into my life, it was life changing ( just like the title).

I started working as per her instructions and somehow managed to clear up spaces.

This cleared up my thoughts as well and I moved into a better space. My family noticed the difference and pitched in.

They got rid of things which I never could imagine they would let go of.

So yes, I am grateful for the Konmari method as it did help simplify my life. As I said earlier it was not enough though.

I found the Flylady method and started incorporating routines. I used her routines as an inspiration for my house.

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