Marie Kondo is a Japanese organising and decluttering professional and her book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up has sold over five million copies worldwide. So popular is her method that ‘to kondo’ has even become a verb.
So what’s so ‘life changing’ about her process?
Her book breaks down her two-pronged approach to tidying:
First, put your hands on every single item you own, ask yourself if it sparks joy, and if it doesn’t, thank it for its service and throw it away.
Second, now only your most joy-sparking belongings remain, put every item in a place where it’s visible, accessible, and easy to pick up and then put back. Only then, Kondo says, will you have reached the holy grail of housekeeping, and never have to tidy again.
The book is well worth a read, but here are five of the best tips from the book:
Tip 1: Tackle Categories, Not Rooms
Kondo’s first rule is to tidy by category: deal with every single one of your shoes at once, for example, otherwise they’ll continue to appear in other rooms, and you’ll never control the clutter. She advises beginning with clothing, since it’s the least emotionally charged of one’s possessions (books are next, old photographs left until last).
Tip 2: Focus not on what to bin, but on what to keep
When doing a big clear out, most of us focus on what we’re going to throw away. Kondo’s approach is the opposite, she says we should look instead at what we’re going to keep. It is overwhelming to part with sentimental items, especially those attached to parents, children or cherished friends. By first identifying which items are true treasures, it’s much easier to say goodbye to the rest.
Tip 3: Fold, Don’t Hang
Once you’ve sorted out the things to discard, you can decide where the remaining things should go. And in the case of clothes, rather than hanging in a wardrobe, Kondo thinks a lot of our clothing would be better off (or as she’d say, happier) folded in drawers using Marie Kondo’s special folding technique.
Kondo’s vertical folding technique makes everything easy to find and hard to mess up (you don’t have to turn a whole pile of t-shirts upside down every time you want something at the bottom). Folded this way, clothing looks almost like origami, lining your drawers in neat rows.
To keep these little folded packages standing perkily in the drawer, Kondo suggests using shoeboxes as drawer dividers. A smaller box is perfect for knickers and pants, a deep one can go on a bottom drawer for jumpers or jeans.
Tip 4: Fall in Love with Your Wardrobe
This is why people become so obsessed with the Marie Kondo method. Once you’ve cleared away the clutter and put things away, your dresses and skirts - the good stuff, is finally visible. There’s actually room between pieces, so you no longer have to fight to see your clothes. All of which means you get a hit of excitement just opening your wardrobe, whether you’re getting ready in the morning or planning a party outfit.
Tip 5: Streamline Your Photos
Tidying your photos should be the final stage in your journey to clear the sentimental clutter in your home, says Kondo. She recommends that you collect all the photos you have around the house and lay all the photos on the floor according to the year or period in which they were taken. Let go of any that are similar and if you have several photos from the same day, choose the best one. And negatives? Just get rid of them. Another smart rule is to only keep pictures in which you, or your loved one, is looking good.