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Master The KonMari Method With This ULTIMATE Beginner’s Guide (Free Checklist)

This blog post is your BFF for all things KonMari Method. You’ll have everything you need to declutter your entire life. ✨

(Trust me, you’re going to want to bookmark this one. 🔖)

BEGONE boring facts and figures, I’m giving you all the USEFUL, PRACTICAL information from someone who’s actually lived it and learned it – me! 🙋🏼

There are a tonne of tips from others too so you can truly hit the ground running.

Let’s go.

(Small side note that this post contains affiliate links. I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase through them. Your support will go directly to funding my strawberry trifle addiction. 🍓😘)

A blog post that's an ultimate beginner's guide to the KonMari Method

I’m not here to waste your time so if you already know the basics of the KonMari Method or just want to jump to a specific section, here’s a table of contents for you. Otherwise, feel free to read right on through. 🙂

TAKE THE OVERWHELM OUT OF DECLUTTERING

I’ll send you a checklist that will break down each category in your home.

You’ll know exactly what to tackle, and see your progress as you tick things off, on your journey to a clutter free life.

What is the KonMari Method?

Created by Marie Kondo, the KonMari Method is a simple, step-by-step way to tidy and organise your entire home. By using the guiding principle of whether something “sparks joy”, you clear the clutter to live a life you truly love. It is important, however, that you follow the correct order of categories.

Lucky for you, I’ve listed those a little further below.

Beautifully organized bathroom drawer with toiletries • Bathroom drawer organization • Small bathroom storage solutions

Who is Marie Kondo?

Marie Kondo is a Japanese organising consultant. 🇯🇵 Her particular style of tidying is called the KonMari Method, based on the first few letters of her surname and first name.

Born on October 9th 1984, she was fascinated with tidying from a young age, devouring books and articles on the topic. (This half horrifies me because I was also born in 1984 but I was more fascinated by video games – Pong! PacMan! – and light-up shoes. 🙈)

Though her experiments in organising and decluttering weren’t always appreciated by her family members, she honed her process over time. Soon she built up a long waiting list of clients.

Her popularity soared with the publication of her first book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, with the English translation introducing her to a global audience.

Nowadays Marie Kondo boasts multiple books, her own product line, and not one but two Netflix series, among many other things.

She is generally regarded as the world’s foremost tidying expert. (Who knew that could be a thing?)

The cover of "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing" book by Marie Kondo, on bookshelf. It outlines the KonMari Method of decluttering.

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” was first published in 2011 and became an international bestseller. It introduced a radically new way of decluttering.

With an English translation being published in the US in 2014, which is when I first heard about it, the KonMari Method became a viral sensation.

Lest you think you can skip it, 38% of the people I surveyed said they found the book incredibly helpful in understanding and completing the KonMari Method. (I agree. Having first learned about it online, I started the Method while waiting for the book to arrive. After reading it, I decluttered significantly more. And I still return to it on occasion.)

A further 52% said that while they didn’t feel it was essential, it was still helpful.

Only 10% reckoned they could have done it without the book.

It’s an easy read so, while this post is a solid guide, nothing beats the original.

Other books by Marie Kondo

📖 Spark Joy. This follow-up to “The Life-Changing Magic…” goes into more detail on certain topics, and includes guided illustrations for how to store certain items and how to fold clothes the KonMari way.

📖 The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up. A fictionalised, manga version of the original book, this is a fun, easily digestible intro to the KonMari Method.

📖 Kiki & Jax. This cute children’s book teaches kids how to tidy (though, fair warning, it didn’t work on my daughter 😂).

📖 Joy At Work. Co-authored with Scott Sonenshein, this book applies the KonMari magic to our working lives and spaces.

📖 Kurashi At Home. (Seriously, where does she find the time to write all these books?!) Expanding her brand to the lifestyle genre, the most recent book from Marie Kondo (at least for now) teaches how to embrace intentionality in all aspects of our lives.

Getting started: How to KonMari your home

Unlike other methods that advocate a ‘little at a time’ approach, the KonMari Method is to be tackled all at once so you can clear the clutter in one go.

(I can feel your panic here so let me just say that “all at once” and “in one go” does NOT mean “in one day”. I’ll cover this more in the section about how long it should take, including how long it took me personally, plus the results of a survey I ran on how long it took my followers. That will give you an accurate idea of what to expect.)

Marie Kondo quote about the KonMari Method: "Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle."

Instead of proceeding room by room, the KonMari Method goes by category – clothes, books, papers, ‘komono’ (miscellaneous), and mementoes (sentimental).

The five categories are outlined in detail below with some research into which ones people found hardest. (But fear not, I’ve also included plenty of helpful hints and tips to help you breeze through them.)

Marie Kondo describes this process as a “tidying festival”. (I guess “decluttering drudgery” didn’t have the same ring to it. 😉)

Before we dive in, though, it’s important to understand the rules of tidying.

THE 6 RULES OF THE KONMARI METHOD

1. Commit yourself to tidying up

As with anything, you’re going to see the best results when you follow through.

This is your chance to reset your life and your home, so set your intention to stick with it. (And then, you know, ACTUALLY stick with it. 💁)

2. Imagine your ideal lifestyle

Clarifying the way you want to live and how you want your home to feel is an important part of the process. Doing this before you begin ensures that you are moving in the right direction from the outset.

Plus, discarding decisions are easier when you have a vision for what you want your life to look like once you’re done.

(Don’t worry, though, if your vision changes. You’ll likely learn a lot about yourself through this process so it’s fine if your ideas evolve as you go.)

Depending on which way works best for you, you could write this out, sketch it, close your eyes and visualise it, create a mood board, etc.

A lined notebook opened on a blank page with a gold pen on top.

3. Finish discarding first

I know you’re ready to jump ahead to all the pretty containers and organised spaces but the job’s worth doing right.

First, it’s important to learn whatever lessons your decluttered items have to teach you, so take your time. Confront your feelings (like whyyy did I buy this?!) and express your gratitude before moving on.

This introspection will help you to make better decisions in future (or at least to repeat the mistakes a little less often 😏).

Marie Kondo quote about the KonMari Method: "To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose."

Also, as you move through the categories you’ll free up more and more space in your home. It’s important to continue discarding before you start organising so that you have a better idea of how much you have and where things might go.

I learned this the hard way, spending ages organising my items like Tetris pieces in a small space… only to end up freeing an entire shelf immediately afterwards. 🤪

4. Tidy by category, not by location

When you tidy by location, you may miss the fact that you have duplicates of certain items all throughout your home. You also won’t be able to grasp the sheer volume of items you own. (Trust me, when you see them all in a pile, it’s an eye-opener.)

A pile of fluffy blue and white towels stacked in a woven basket.

5. Follow the right order

The specific order of the categories is important, as they range from the easiest (clothing) to the most difficult (sentimental items).

The logic here is that you learn to flex your decluttering muscles on the more replaceable items before building up to the hardest parts. You’re honing your skills with each category so that by the time you tackle sentimental stuff, you’re more sure of yourself.

Starting with clothing is also important because your closet is a space you see every day. Having it tidy will be the motivation you need to keep you going.

(Tidying things that are tucked away in an attic, on the other hand, won’t have the same impact on your daily life.)

Pale-coloured clothes and socks neatly folded and standing upright in a drawer.

6. Ask yourself if it sparks joy

This is arguably the defining aspect of the KonMari Method. You hold each item in your hands, ask yourself if it sparks joy, and pay attention to your physical response.

If you feel a little jolt of happiness, you should keep the item. 🥰

It’s a very personal experience, and one that can be difficult to tune into at first. I recommend starting with an item you know with certainty you love and adore. Notice how you feel when you hold it (for instance, a desire to hug it close to your heart) and use that as your benchmark.

Probably the most common question at this point is what to do with items that don’t necessarily spark joy but that you still need, such as a vacuum cleaner.

I’ve made a whole video on this topic that you can watch below but, essentially, usefulness can be a form of joy too.

If you’d like a much more in-depth description of each, including my best advice for making them work with your lifestyle, read this post on the 6 rules of the KonMari Method.

The KonMari Method categories

For each KonMari category (clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous, and sentimental), you take every item you own from that category and bring it all to one place. Then you go through each item in turn, asking if it sparks joy. If it does, it goes in the ‘keep’ pile; if not, it goes in the ‘discard’ pile. 👋

Be sure to thank the items you’re parting with. From personal experience, while I initially scoffed at this idea I ultimately found it helpful in letting go without guilt.

You don’t move on until each category is done.

While it’s best to take out every single item in each category, this isn’t always practical. In those cases, it’s acceptable to proceed by subcategory.

If you’d like a checklist with a suggested breakdown of each category, I’ve created one for you. You can download it for free here:

TAKE THE OVERWHELM OUT OF DECLUTTERING

I’ll send you a checklist that will break down each category in your home.

You’ll know exactly what to tackle, and see your progress as you tick things off, on your journey to a clutter free life.

1. CLOTHES

This is where your KonMari journey begins and will be one of the most rewarding categories. Because you interact with your clothes on a daily basis, the impact will be immediate.

Put all of your clothes in one pile. This includes those from your closet, drawers, laundry basket, coat rack, etc. Every item of clothing you own should be in the pile. (If you’re like me, this will be an eye-opener. And not in a good way. 😳)

When working with clients, Marie Kondo warns that any clothing items not included in the pile must automatically be discarded. This prompts people to do another sweep of their home, usually turning up some additional items.

A messy pile of clothes sitting on a wooden floor.

The clothing category also includes shoes, bags, jewellery, hats, scarves, and any other outfit accessories. Personally I did these separately the very first time I did the KonMari Method, but if your clothing category is more manageable than mine was back then you can certainly do them all together.

Once you have everything in a pile, it’s a matter of picking up each item one by one and asking if it sparks joy. ✨

While the answer should be a straightforward yes or no, any items you’d like to try on should be saved until the end so you don’t break your momentum. (Trust me when I say that trying things on will slow you down and sap your energy.)

Your ‘keep’ pile should be returned to your closet while your ‘discard’ pile should be bagged up for recycling, donation, etc. (From personal experience, it’s best to get decluttered items out of your home as quickly as possible. Lingering items tend to creep back into regular rotation.)

To see the process in action, here is a video of me decluttering my closet using the KonMari Method:

Closet organisation

While Marie Kondo recommends folding as many items of clothing as possible (more on that below), some items will still require hanging. For those, she suggests starting with longer and darker pieces on the left, moving to lighter and shorter items on the right.

This “rise to the right” ↗️ approach is meant to give an uplifting feeling.

An additional, but unnecessary, step is to use matching hangers for a clean, uniform look. If you’re short on space, slim ones work well.

While I know velvet hangers are trendy, I personally prefer these ones:

KonMari folding

The KonMari Method of folding means that your clothes should stand upright of their own accord.

In this video I demonstrate how to fold all of the common items of clothing, including underwear, as well as my own adjustments.

Essentially, the aim is to create a rectangle shape and then fold it as many times as is needed. (The height of your drawers may determine how many times you need to fold an item to get it to fit.)

When storing clothing items in a drawer, lighter coloured items should be in front with darker items at the back.

My top 3 tips for completing the clothing category of the KonMari Method

As someone who’s completed multiple closet clear-outs over the years, I have learned a lot of lessons. Please allow me to impart some of that wisdom here. (Bonus: This advice will apply to all categories.)

  1. Make quick decisions. You can come back to it later but stopping to try something on or to reminisce about the last time you wore it is only going to slow you down and break your momentum. If you’re unsure about an item, set it aside for now.
  2. Skip the sentimental stuff. Some items of clothing are more mementoes than anything. It’s perfectly fine to keep these but if you’re not currently wearing them, get them out of your closet. Save them for the sentimental category.
  3. Don’t keep an item of clothing just because it cost a lot. This was a mistake I used to make, thinking that I had to force myself to wear certain items to “get my money’s worth”. Nope.

    The money is gone and it’s not coming back no matter how many times you wear it, nor are you going to feel better about it by wearing the item. All you’re doing is continuing to punish yourself. Let the guilt, and the item, go.

For a deeper dive into the above, plus more of my top tips when it comes to the clothing category of the KonMari Method, watch the video below:

Difficulty level

I polled my audience on how difficult they found each category (and included my own answer). This will hopefully give you a better understanding of what you’re facing, and reassure you that you’re not alone if you’re struggling with a particular category.

You can see that most people found this category moderately difficult, with my own answer leaning slightly more towards the harder side mainly because of how many items of clothing I started with. (I also had a small space in which to work, and a young toddler at the time.)

2. BOOKS

As with clothing, bring all your books to one place. (Yes, it’s important to take them all down off their shelves. No, you can’t just glance along the spines.)

Marie Kondo often takes the additional step of tapping each pile of books to “wake them up”. This isn’t a necessary part of the process, and I personally didn’t do it, but if the idea appeals to you, go for it. 📚

What’s important here is that you don’t open or read any of the books; you simply take each one in your hands and ask if it sparks joy.

You keep the ones that do and discard the ones that don’t.

A stack of books on a desk against a white brick background, with pages facing forward so we can't see the covers or spines.

How many books does Marie Kondo say you should keep?

You may have heard that Marie Kondo recommends that you only keep 30 books. Bookworms everywhere were horrified.

However, the advice was taken out of context. While she does offer it as a guide, and explains that this is the number of books she herself tries to stick to, she’s always been clear that if something sparks joy, you can keep as many as you like.

So your book-loving heart can breathe a sigh of relief. 🤓📚

Marie Kondo quote about decluttering books as part of the KonMari Method: "Imagine what it would be like to have a bookshelf filled only with books that you really love. Isn't that image spellbinding? For someone who loves books, what greater happiness could there be?"

My top 3 tips for completing the books category of the KonMari Method

As a card-carrying member of the Bookworm Club (can that be a thing, please?), I know it can feel daunting to deal with this category. So many adventures await, so many things to learn, so many mysteries to solve.

Here’s what helped me whittle down my collection:

  1. Check your library’s app. If you can easily get your hands on another copy, whether physical or digital, it makes it easier to part with your own copy. Bonus points if it’s from the library because it’ll be free, but also check online bookstores. I was able to let go of a lot of books purely because I saw how easy it would be to replace them if I wanted to.
  2. Don’t deprive a fellow bookworm. As a lover of books I understand the joy they bring. Why would I keep something sitting on my shelf gathering dust when someone else could be diving into its pages?
  3. Ask how excited you are to read a book. Over the years I picked up a lot of books that looked interesting. But then they’d sit there because I wasn’t truly excited to read them.

    Listen, life’s too short to read 💩 books. There are eleventy bajillion out there; you don’t have to force yourself to read something that isn’t speaking to your soul. If you don’t want to curl up with it this weekend, send it on its merry way.

    Even if you’ve already started one, you’re not obligated to finish it. (As a perfectionist, this took me a while to learn but it was ultimately incredibly freeing.)
Marie Kondo quote about decluttering books as part of the KonMari Method: "There's no need to finish reading books that you only got halfway through. Their purpose was to be read halfway."

Difficulty level

This is another moderately difficult one according to my Instagram followers. Personally I found this on the easier side, mainly because I’m a big library lover and don’t tend to keep too many physical books.

3. PAPERS

The paper category of the KonMari Method differs slightly from the others in one aspect – you are advised to discard all papers unless they’re truly essential. A little ruthlessness is what’s required.

This makes sense given that this is mainly a utility-based category, with paper generally being a necessary evil instead of a joy sparker.

Plus, this can be an overwhelming task for most people, with piles of papers in all corners of the home.

This category is where most people lose steam. But remember your commitment, your vision for how you want to live, and all the progress you’ve made so far, and those will carry you through.

If you need some extra assistance or inspiration, I share my top paper decluttering tips in this video:

It’s not entirely necessary but I recommend a good shredder for this category. It will be put to good use. This is the paper shredder I personally use, but there are plenty of other options out there. (If you’re concerned about identify theft, go with a cross-cut one instead of one that simply shreds into strips.)

My top 3 tips for completing the paper category of the KonMari Method

Listen, there are no two ways about it, this category can be a beast. If your resolve is going to wobble anywhere, it’s going to be here.

Implement these 3 tips to keep yourself moving forward:

  1. Get comfortable. Let me tell you, spending hours sitting on the floor hunched over piles of papers does not make for an enjoyable experience. Ask me how I know. 😓
  2. Ask if it’s replaceable. So many statements and user manuals can be found online these days. Unless it’s something like a birth certificate where a hard copy is necessary, you can let go of anything that exists in digital form.
  3. Stem the flow. Paper clutter is tough because it keeps coming through the door. Do what you can to cut it off at the source – switch to e-statements, get off junk mail lists, cancel unwanted magazine and newspaper subscriptions, etc. That way all your hard work won’t be undone the next time the mailman arrives.

Difficulty level

I’ll be honest, the answer to this one surprised me. I found papers tough, and I get lots of comments on my YouTube videos about how tricky this category can be. So if you struggle with this one, you’re definitely not alone!

4. KOMONO

‘Komono’, or miscellaneous items, is the fourth category of the KonMari Method. It includes every item in your home that’s not clothing, books, papers, or sentimental items.

This is where subcategorisation is so important. Again, my checklist will help you tackle this task in manageable chunks, but here are some examples:

  • Toiletries and cosmetics 🧴
  • Stationery and office supplies 🖇️
  • Kitchen items 🔪
  • Decorative pieces 🖼️
  • Hobby and craft supplies 🎨

Here is a playlist of me going through some of these categories in my home, starting with toiletries:

The process is the same – you place all items from the subcategory in one pile, go through each one in turn asking if it sparks joy, and you keep the things that do.

Your discards can then be recycled, donated, etc.

Frankly, I feel if you’ve made it through the preceding paper category, you can make it through anything.

My top 3 tips for completing the komono category of the KonMari Method

This is a tricky one because it covers so many different things in your home but I’ll do my best.

  1. Forget collections. You don’t have to keep something just because it’s part of a set. Unless it’s truly a collector’s item, you can keep the individual items you need and discard the rest. A good example is pots and pans. (I know you have a favourite.)

    This is also true of things that came with a lot of accessories. (Looking at you, vacuum cleaner.) If you don’t use all the extra bits and bobs it came with, you don’t have to keep them.
  2. Just let go of “just in case” items. We can imagine all sorts of scenarios and give ourselves all sorts of justifications for keeping things, but our homes would be overrun. Ask yourself how likely the scenario is, and how easy it would be to make do without the item if you decluttered it now, or to find a replacement if necessary.

    I’ve decluttered things in the past and afterwards faced a situation where I could have used it. (This was rare, though.) And guess what? I just got on with it. I found a way to make the situation work anyway. You will too.
  3. Stop being selfish. This is a bit of tough love I use on myself to great effect. The stuff that’s sitting around your home could be benefitting someone else. If you’re not currently using and/or loving it, you’re depriving someone else.

Difficulty level

You’ve probably noticed that slider sneaking up and up as we go along. This one is certainly moderate to difficult, with my own experience placing it firmly in the difficult ballpark.

What’s tough here, I think, is just how many subcategories there are. It can feel a bit never-ending at times. But keep going! 💪

Again, my decluttering checklist will help break that mountain down into small molehills.

5. MEMENTOES

Mementoes is the final and most difficult of the five KonMari categories. This is when you tackle all your sentimental items – the things tucked away in boxes in the basement or up high in the attic. It’s the photos, baby clothes, first words and curls, trophies and tchotchkes, and all the physical representations of your fond memories.

You know the process by now and, though your decision making skills will be much better, this will still be a tough category.

Strolls down memory lane can be time consuming, mentally taxing, and emotionally draining.

A top-down shot of some old, faded polaroids in a small wooden box. The top photo shows a street scene of terraced houses.

What helps here is to remember that you’re not required to discard anything. If you’re not ready to part with something, you don’t have to.

When you decide to keep an item, whether because it brings you joy or because you haven’t yet processed your feelings around it (in which case it brings you more joy to keep it than to discard it), do so with confidence.

To see my own sentimental cull, click below:

My top 3 tips for completing the mementoes category of the KonMari Method

  1. Give yourself grace. Don’t expect yourself to complete this category in one sitting, or to ruthlessly get rid of a lot. There will be a lot of memories and emotions to process and you’ll need plenty of breaks along the way.
  2. Don’t suffer. Some items will be very tough to face. That’s normal and natural and not something to shy away from. However, neither do you have to dwell. If you find that it’s all getting a bit much and you’re overwhelmed with grief or sadness or anger or regret or guilt or anything of the sort, set the item aside. If you’re not ready to deal with it you don’t have to force it.

    Just like you wouldn’t expect a single therapy appointment to sort out all your problems, neither is one decluttering session going to allow you to process everything. You can face it all today, but you don’t have to fight it all.
  3. Separate the memories. Something that helped me was realising that the item itself wasn’t a memory, it was simply a reminder. Memories can often be stored in other ways – through the telling of stories, or by taking a photo of the item, or by journaling about the experience.

    Memories are stored in your heart and in your head, and getting rid of the physical item doesn’t erase them.

Difficulty level

The most difficult of them all. I attribute this to the emotional drain that comes with this category. But the finish line is in sight so stick with it!

Additional tips for completing the KonMari Method

There are plenty of articles out there about the KonMari Method but, as with everything, it’s often best to learn from someone who’s been there, done that.

While I’ve offered plenty of my own advice here, I wanted to give you as much guidance as possible. So I asked my audience for some of their best tips for beginners:

  • “Be prepared for emotions!” ~ @paisleytatto862
  • “It’s about the mindshift. Stuff is better off elsewhere than cluttering up my house not making me happy. It deserves better. 🌸” ~ @jac.que.li.ne
  • “It’s not an instant thing, it’s a whole process.” ~ @ruth_bowditch
  • “For me it wasn’t the method but the attitude towards things that helped most.” ~ @jedubeau
  • “Take it slow and have an exit plan for the things you are letting go!” ~@goodplansam
  • “Truly, collect everything in a category. For ex, you have no idea how many writing items you have!” ~ @chicgirl
  • “Always be kind to yourself.” ~ @bettina.becker.9066
An overhead shot of fluffy white wash cloths rolled up and contained in a white basket that a lady is holding.
  • “A lot is going on in your unconscious as you proceed in the practical process. That is very important.” ~ @sparkstotting1967
  • “Pair it with her Kurashi At Home book. Helps to visualise how stuff fits into your envisioned lifestyle.” ~ @wanderlust_on_wheelz
  • “A “maybe” category to keep momentum.” ~ @areyoutherejet
  • “For autoimmune, fibro, chronic pain, etc. take it in smaller bite sized steps. It’s a marathon. Pace yourself.” ~ @cyrce_recasha
  • “Understanding your ideal state or why you are doing it is essential to finishing all the categories.” ~ @tidyeverafter
  • “Watch the Netflix series if you are more of a visual learner.” ~ @daisymarie_80
  • “Start small to build the declutter “muscle”, scale up as things become easier!” ~ @kt_653
A lady's hand reaching into a drawer where there are file-folded knitted clothes in various pastel colours.
  • “Don’t be afraid to recategorize things as sentimental! This includes clothing.” ~ @sgatz.photo.art
  • “Don’t get overwhelmed and try to do your whole life if you are not ready. Little and often.” ~ @metropolitan101
  • “Don’t give up. 💕” ~ @myrasayersaitken
  • “Know that you don’t have to follow every advice to a T. Take what you need and run with it!” ~ @gingerale_ke
  • “It’s not a “once and done” thing – it’s a continual process. You’ll need to set up systems to keep spaces tidy.” ~ @shandijasmine95
  • “When in doubt, don’t declutter. Investigate why you can’t let go. Feel no guilt for respecting that.” @yasmin_akaa
  • “”Spark joy” is catchy but “generates a deep sense of satisfaction” worked better.” ~ @cornwallsharon
  • “Watch videos of others doing it so you get a view of what you’re getting into.” ~ @donnasb715

TAKE THE OVERWHELM OUT OF DECLUTTERING

I’ll send you a checklist that will break down each category in your home.

You’ll know exactly what to tackle, and see your progress as you tick things off, on your journey to a clutter free life.

How likely are you to complete the KonMari Method?

When I surveyed my audience, only 17% of those who had started had officially completed the KonMari Method at that point. That’s understandable, given how lengthy and taxing a process it is.

Don’t be discouraged if this number feels small because a further 27% said they were almost there. So in total 44% were done or nearly done.

The remaining 56% still made some progress. And I can tell you from my own experience that even a small bit of progress can have a big impact. Starting with the clothing category means that getting dressed in the morning is a little easier. And that’s worth celebrating.

How long does the KonMari Method take?

In “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” Marie Kondo estimates that it will take approximately 6 months to go through each item in your home. However, she has since made it clear that the timeline will vary vastly from home to home, depending on the size of the home, how many people live in it, how much time and energy you can give to the process, etc.

From my own personal experience, I think 9 months is realistic. (For context, at the time I completed the KonMari Method I was living in a 950 square foot home with a husband and toddler.)

When I polled my audience 30% said it took them a year or more, so don’t be discouraged if you pass the anniversary date of when you started.

What happens after completing the KonMari Method?

Once you’ve gone through each category of the KonMari Method and discarded everything that doesn’t spark joy, it’s time to find a permanent home for what you’re keeping.

Marie Kondo suggests storing items of a similar material together, for instance all papers in one place, all cords and cables together, etc. This will make it easier to know where everything is.

Where possible, items should be stored upright to save space. Boxes you already have on hand, like shoe boxes, can serve as great storage solutions and drawer dividers to corral similar items together. (I’ve found tissue boxes to be great drawer dividers.)

After that, it’s simply a matter of maintaining your space by returning everything to its home when you’re done using it, and evaluating new or current items to see if they (still) spark joy.

A lady in grey pyjamas placing rolled white towels into a basket on a checkered bathroom floor

There isn’t much guidance otherwise. You won’t find any advice on how to cut back on spending, or curb impulse purchases.

The general feeling is that once you’ve finished your tidying festival clutter will never be a problem for you again.

Personally, I don’t believe this to be true, particularly as your circumstances change. If you move home, add to your family (or lose a member), or go though any major life event, it’s likely that your surroundings and stuff will be greatly impacted.

(After moving countries I fell into a re-cluttering rut. It took a long time for me to truly shed my old shopping habits.)

Also, our tastes change over time. A cherished or useful item may eventually become clutter.

Once a joy-sparker does not mean always a joy-sparker.

I’ve found it helpful to re-visit the categories every so often. For some things I declutter them about once a year (like my clothing) and for others it might be several years (like my sentimental items).

Does the KonMari Method work?

The short answer is yes. If done correctly from start to finish you’ll find you discard a significant number of your belongings, free up large amounts of space, and enjoy your remaining items all the more.

By consciously choosing what to surround yourself with you are creating the life you truly want to live.

Your daily routines will be made easier when you can find what you need and see what you love.

You will begin to apply the ‘sparks joy’ criteria to all aspects of your life, thereby only choosing the most fulfilling activities, engaging in the most satisfying hobbies, and giving your time and energy to things you’re most passionate about.

It’s much more than a decluttering spree, it’s a truly transformative experience. (And I don’t say that lightly.)

An overhead shot of three white containers, one containing bras, one contained rolled up socks, and one containing neatly folded underwear

Having said all that, it’s impossible to have a one-size-fits-all process. It can be a helpful guide but it’s not going to float everyone’s boat. (I discuss some of the pros and cons a little further below.)

By all means begin by following it as closely as you can, but if you need to tweak things to work better for you, or ditch it altogether in favour of another approach, do that.

Some popular alternatives to the KonMari Method include Swedish Death Cleaning and my own Wave Method.

These days I use a kind of hybrid method where I’ve taken the elements that work best for me from various different places, including the KonMari Method. You will likely find the same is true for you as you learn more about yourself through the process.

Here is the current decluttering method I’m using to tackle my entire home:

How much does it cost to KonMari your home?

It’s entirely possible to do it completely for free. However, there are some costs that you may incur along the way, including the purchase of some storage products. In the video below I outline the most common costs you may not have even considered:

Additionally, if you choose to hire a KonMari consultant or professional organiser, that will add to your expenses.

Obstacles to completing the KonMari Method

I’m a firm believer that forewarned is forearmed. Being aware of these common obstacles can help you identify and overcome them if they crop up for you during your tidying festival:

Is the KonMari Method the same as minimalism?

No, though the difference is a subtle one. While minimalism focuses more on eliminating items from your life, the KonMari Method emphasises what you’re keeping.

Marie Kondo teaches that if something sparks joy, it’s OK to keep it, even if you have multiples.

Minimalism, on the other hand, would question the necessity of duplicates.

However, the aim of both is to lead a life of freedom and happiness, with less clutter being the means to that end.

an overhead shot of a lady's hands holding a white container divided into small sections, with a pair of rolled up socks in each section.

How does the KonMari Method differ from other decluttering methods?

Most decluttering methods advocate for the ‘slow and steady’ approach, removing items from your home little by little. The problem with this is that clutter, particularly papers, can accumulate so quickly that it’s often a case of one step forward and two steps back. 😓

As the saying goes, ‘Tidy a little at a time and you’ll be tidying forever’.

Plus, as mentioned earlier, you may be unaware that you have unnecessary duplicates of certain items lying in various places in your home. (I don’t know how many screwdrivers one non-DIY person needs but I know I’ve wildly exceeded that number.)

By doing all the heavy lifting upfront you are confronted with everything you have, can see huge results, put management systems in place quickly, and are more motivated to keep your home tidy and clutter free.

A selection of baskets and storage containers in various sizes and materials – wire, woven, plastic, and fabric.

Also, the KonMari Method is based on the personal criteria of what sparks joy rather than sweeping or rigid rules like ‘if you haven’t used it in over a year, get rid of it’. By tuning into personal desires you can more easily make the Method work for your lifestyle.

Additionally, it differs in terms of organisation. While many methods recommend storing things where you use them, or according to the “flow” of your home and your routines, the KonMari Method has you organise by type.

By storing all similar things together, you’ll always know where to find something.

I’ve also found that her advice to store things upright is a great space saver. It’s my go-to way to organise things now.

A top-down shot of a white basket containing neatly folded white and blue tea towels standing upright. Next to it is a pile of similar tea towels that have not yet been folded.

The pros and cons of the KonMari Method

The KonMari Method is not without its downsides. For one, it requires a large amount of time and energy, something which not a lot of us have in abundance. (More on that below.)

Also, while there are guiding categories, they are at times broad enough to be overwhelming. There are times when it may be necessary to break things down into subcategories. Again, my checklist will be immensely helpful here.

Having done the KonMari Method myself, I created a video on the two biggest cons I experienced:

Having said all that, the KonMari Method is immensely gratifying. I had done multiple decluttering sprees prior to discovering it, and can firmly and honestly say that I never got rid of as much stuff as when I followed Marie Kondo’s steps.

The process is clear without being too prescriptive, it focuses more positively on the lifestyle you’re trying to create rather than what you’re trying to discard, and I have yet to find a better barometer than “sparks joy”.

A top-down image of a white, neatly organised bathroom drawer, containing a hairbrush, scrubbing brush, cotton pads and Q-tips, a loofah, and some sanitary pads. Everything is separated by a white drawer divider.

Reasons the KonMari Method isn’t for you

If you are lacking in an abundance of time, energy, focus, and good health, the demanding nature of the KonMari Method may not be for you.

Even simply gathering up all the items that belong to each category can be time-consuming and energy-sapping. Plus, once it’s all in a pile you may be under immense pressure to work through everything before you need to prioritise something else, such as preparing a meal or caring for a child.

I have felt this when trying to get through clothes I’d piled on the bed before bedtime, and kitchen items I’d piled on countertops before dinner time.

The Method does require a certain amount of physicality too. Moving and carrying things can be very demanding.

A top-down image of several white baskets on a large white, chunky-knit blanket. The baskets contain various folded fabrics, all standing upright. A lady's hands are holding one of the baskets.

Additionally, it can be incredibly mentally and emotionally draining. Being confronted by all your stuff, particularly when it comes to the sentimental category, can stir up a lot of old feelings, and not all of them pleasant. Trips down memory lane aren’t always enjoyable.

You may also find yourself feeling guilt or shame for the amount of stuff you have or the amount of money you’ve spent. I know I certainly have. It’s a humbling experience.

Add to that the mental toll of making one decision after another on potentially thousands of items and you can see why the KonMari Method is no easy feat.

A lady is placing a label on the front of a white basket that contains neatly folded fabrics. The label says "sheet". There are two other labels on the white chunky-knit blanket the basket sits on that say "towels" and "pillowcase".

Where to learn more about the KonMari Method

You can go straight to the source and check out all the articles and info on the KonMari website.

Marie Kondo’s books are also a great way to learn more about the KonMari Method and how you can apply it to various aspects of your life.

If you’re interested in learning from Marie Kondo herself she does have an online course that’s quite affordable. This one’s great for visual learners.

For the truly hardcore (and high earning) there’s also the option of becoming a fully certified KonMari consultant. You can learn more on the consultant certification site.

If you want to see how others are implementing the KonMari Method, and get a sense of what it might be like to have Marie come to your home, her Netflix shows “Tidying Up With Marie Kondo” and “Sparking Joy” give some great insights. These can be a good way to get a little extra motivation before tackling your own clutter.

With a significantly smaller budget but a more personal touch, my own KonMari Method playlist shares my entire journey and experience, starting all the way back in 2015. It’s fun to see how far I’ve come since then… and I’m still learning and applying lessons as I go:

If you prefer to read (and I’m assuming you at least have an interest in the written word if you’ve made it this far 🙋) you can check out my blog archives on the KonMari Method. One to bookmark and return to.

And if you’d like to save this blog post so you can come back to it (it’s meaty, I know), you can pin it:

The Ultimate Guide to the KonMari Method pin image

Congratulations, you’re now an expert on the KonMari Method. 😉

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4 Responses

  1. Great post! I’ve bookmarked to come back to as there are a lot of great resources listed. Thank you for taking the time to write this.
    One thing I had to do with the Method was skip the Clothing category (and start with Books) and come back to it later on. Clothes are hugely sentimental for me, so I found it debilitating to start there. Once I had gone through the other categories, it was so much easier to come back and go through my clothes.

    1. Oh yes, sentimental stuff can crop up everywhere and really slow your progress. I’m hugely sentimental about certain clothes too, so I also skipped those particular items and left them until the last category. Whatever it takes to get the job done. Thanks, Delphine!

  2. Thank you for your hard work and insights for decluttering! I have been working at it gradually over the years but feel intimidated by the thought of taking out all my clothes etc! I appreciate your clarification and nuances of what “sparks joy”. At 62 years old and 32 years of living in our Condo I also need to consider some Swedish Death cleaning! It feels good to know there are others in the challenging but worthwhile process.

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