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The 5 Categories of the KonMari Method & How To Complete Them With Ease

You’ve heard about the 5 categories of the KonMari Method but what exactly are they? And why do they feel so incredibly overwhelming? I mean, putting the entire contents of your closet in a pile? Yikes! 😬

You want a solid strategy that takes you step-by-step through each category, telling you the best and easiest ways to tackle each one.

Yup, we’re making this manageable.

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 about the 5 categories of the KonMari Method and how best to complete them – KonMari clothes, books, papers, komono or miscellaneous, and mementoes or sentimental items

Before you embark on your “tidying festival” you should first have an understanding of the 6 rules of the KonMari Method.

They’ll form your foundation so if you need to brush up on those, now’s the time.

All set? Great, let’s dive in.

WHAT ARE THE 5 CATEGORIES OF THE KONMARI METHOD?

The KonMari Method has 5 clear categories: clothes, books, papers, ‘komono’ (miscellaneous items), and mementoes (sentimental items). It’s important to follow them in order, as they range from the easiest to the most difficult.

Now you might be thinking, ‘Ugh, clothes definitely won’t be the easiest for me.’ (Believe me, I’ve been there.)

But trust the process.

I’ll guide you through each step with ease.

Cleaning supplies in drawer

THE 5 CATEGORIES OF THE KONMARI METHOD & THE BEST WAYS TO COMPLETE THEM

KonMari Category 1: Clothing

THE PROCESS

First, gather up all your clothes from around your home. Empty your closet, your dresser drawers, your laundry hamper, that chair in your room where you pile stuff, your floordrobe… 😏

Also included in this category is underwear, outerwear, jewellery, accessories, and bags. Basically anything that would make up an entire outfit. 💃

If you’re following the KonMari Method strictly then anything you don’t include is an automatic discard so be sure to check everywhere you think these things might be lurking. (Looking at you, socks behind the washing machine.) 🧦

Put everything in a pile… and prepare to be horrified. 😱

I’ve done this a few times so you’d think I’d be used to it by now but nope. The size of that mountain still makes my mouth gape.

KonMari clothes, bags, and shoes in bedroom, 'before'.

Go through each item one by one, asking if it sparks joy. ✨

If it does, you keep it; if it doesn’t, you discard it (preferably by donating or recycling in some way).

For the items you’ll be parting with, be sure to say goodbye to each one. 👋

Yup, you heard me right.

I initially scoffed at this idea but it actually helped me let go with gratitude, so try it.

The ‘keeps’ go back in your closet.

Hanging Rainbow Brite jumper in closet

Marie Kondo recommends folding as much as you can (more on KonMari folding below). For the things you’re hanging they should “rise to the right” – longer and darker items go on the left, with shorter and lighter items on the right.

According to Marie Kondo this creates an uplifting feeling in your closet. ↗️

(I personally don’t do this but see if it works for you.)

50 slim, non-slip clothes hangers

CAN YOU HAVE A MAYBE PILE?

If you’re unsure about an item and would like to try it on before making a final decision, set it aside for now.

Interrupting the process will only slow you down so try to make as many decisions as possible upfront. Keep your momentum going.

Once you’ve made all the easier decisions, then you can come back to your try-ons and see how you fare.

Examine not just for fit but for how they make you feel. A perfectly fitted shirt is all well and good but if you don’t feel great in it what’s the point? 👕

Also, don’t fall into the same trap I did, looking at an outfit and thinking, ‘I could make it work.’

That’s not the goal we’re going for here.

It either sparks joy or it’s buh-bye.

Marie Kondo quote: 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.

WAYS TO MAKE IT EASIER

If you’re freaking out just from reading about the process, fear not. It’s perfectly acceptable to break things down into subcategories.

When I first tackled the KonMari Method back in 2015 I did all my clothing in one go but left accessories and swimwear for a separate session.

But you could even break your clothing down into smaller groups if that feels more manageable to you.

I have a free decluttering checklist that you can easily follow for those quick wins. It covers all the categories, not just clothing, and will give you clear guidance on what to tackle next.

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.

If you’re still unsure about something, snap a photo. 📸

It’s amazing the difference between what you see in the mirror and what you see on a screen. There’s something about a photo that helps put a little distance between you and the subject.

You can see things with fresh eyes. 👀

Doing laundry, putting clean clothes on bed

Remember that your closet is only for items you’re currently wearing. That doesn’t mean you have to get rid of your old band t-shirts from the 90s but if you’re no longer wearing them, add them to the sentimental category instead.

To see this category in action, and to get a bit of motivation, here’s a video of one of my closet clear-outs:

HOW TO FOLD CLOTHES THE KONMARI WAY

I have a full video demonstration on KonMari folding that you can watch below. The only thing I’ll add here is that items in your drawers should go from light to dark, meaning darker items go at the back.

Congratulations, you’ve just completed category 1 of the 5 categories of the KonMari Method.

Now let’s move on to category 2.

KonMari Category 2: Books

THE PROCESS

As with clothing, pull out all your books and pile them up in one place. (For safety’s sake I recommend making several small piles instead of one large pile if you have lots of books.) 📚

I know it’s tempting to keep them on the shelves and just skim the spines but you won’t get rid of as many that way.

An additional but unnecessary step is to tap each book pile to “wake up” your books. I personally didn’t do this but Marie Kondo incorporates this into her sessions.

Then hold each book in your hand and, without opening it, decide if it sparks joy.

Separate out the tomes you’re willing to part with. Return the books you’re keeping to their rightful spot.

Marie Kondo's collection of books on the KonMari Method

BUT I’M A BOOKWORM…

As an avid reader something that helped me immensely was remembering that I could easily replace almost every book I owned if needed, whether by buying another copy or borrowing one from the library.

If this is a difficult category for you too, think of the joy you’ll bring to a fellow bookworm by donating the reads you no longer need.

There are so many wonderful books out there; don’t waste your time on ones that aren’t floating your book-loving boat. 🤓

Marie Kondo quote: There's no need to finish books that you only got halfway through. Their purpose was to be read halfway.

KonMari Category 3: Papers

THE PROCESS

This category can be a beast but you’ll get through it. (Having a few snacks on hand won’t hurt.)

You know the drill by now – gather up all your papers and put them in one place.

This can be daunting but don’t worry, you’re 2 categories down so you’re a decluttering demi-god.

Go through each piece of paper (totally fine if it takes you multiple sessions to do this, it certainly did for me) and get rid of what you don’t need.

Filing papers in folders in a filing cabinet

This category’s a little different from the others in that Marie Kondo recommends going in with the mentality that you’re going to get rid of everything.

That way a piece of paper really has to justify its place in your home.

(I’ve since adopted this mentality with everything in my home and it’s really helped me declutter so much more.)

You’re judge, jury, and executioner here. But in a sham-democracy kinda way. NO MERCY.

WAYS TO MAKE IT EASIER

It’s ironic that in this digital age the influx of papers seems to be greater than ever.

If you have children you’ll know that their schoolwork and artwork alone is responsible for the destruction of a small forest. 🌳

And between bills, receipts, schedules, forms, invitations, etc. we’re bombarded on a daily basis.

In fact, papers are the weeds of your home. You deal with one and then five more spring up to take its place.

Stem the flow of papers permanently by cutting them off at the root source. Get off junk mail lists, switch to e-statements, politely decline any flyers or leaflets…

Have a ‘no paper crosses this threshold’ policy at your front door and stick to it as diligently as you can.

Open lined notebook on white desk with gold pen

For the inevitable stuff that sneaks in, make it a habit to deal with it immediately.

When you pick up the post, don’t put it down. Walk straight to your recycling bin and dump the junk in. Action and file as much as you can, or place it in a dedicated spot for sorting later in the week. (I set aside time every Sunday to deal with my paper in-tray. It takes just a few minutes.)

And as you’re looking at each thing, ask yourself one simple question: How can I stop this from coming into my home in future?

Again, this is all about stemming the flow (and saving the rainforests).

Paper piles & archive box on bed. KonMari Method papers 'before'

During the decluttering process have a shredder (I use this one) and recycling bin on hand so you can immediately discard papers you don’t need.

Trust me on this.

It’s easy for papers to get mixed up, especially if it takes multiple sittings to get through them all. You don’t want to have to do the same job twice.

Plus, shredding is very satisfying and will help you see more immediate results than if you were just creating separate paper piles.

To take complete control of your paper piles, I created a video training that walks you through my entire system. It’s a simple process to reduce your paper clutter and easily stay on top of anything new that comes in.

I even take you through my small filing drawer so you can see how I have it set up and which folder categories I use.

Declutter papers with this video training

WUHOO! You’re halfway through the 5 categories of the KonMari Method. But you’re not out of the woods just yet so stick with me.

KonMari Category 4: Komono (Miscellaneous)

THE PROCESS

Look, I’m not going to lie to you, this one can be tough. This category is essentially every single thing that’s left in your home, apart from sentimental items.

Yup, it can be a lot. 😰

The good news is that you follow the exact same process as before: pull the stuff out, go through each individual item and ask if it sparks joy, and put back what you’re keeping.

You’ll sleepwalk your way through the routine at this stage, so the only additional thing that’s required from you is pure grit to get it all done.

KonMari toys, living room bookcase 'after'

WAYS TO MAKE IT EASIER

It’s best to break this one down into subcategories. (Again, my decluttering checklist will be an absolute life-saver here.)

Unless you’re already living a very minimalist life (in which case I don’t know what you’re doing here but hi, please share your tips in the comments), this is going to amount to a LOT of stuff.

Slow and steady is the name of the game.

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.

Now, some subcategories will be pretty obvious, like toiletries, cosmetics, pots and pans, utensils, etc.

But others won’t be so clear, which is a big difficulty I ran into. I mean, what subcategory does the fire poker belong to?

And honestly, even just the work of subcategorising every single item can be exhausting. Too many decisions!

What really helped me here was to do the main, obvious categories (like aforementioned toiletries) and then, when I was all done, I worked my way around each room, tackling whatever was left.

Storing rolled towels in bathroom. Bathroom organisation.

I’ve compiled a playlist of me decluttering some of the main ‘komono’ subcategories so if you’re looking for a little guidance or inspiration, you’ll find it here:

If storage spaces (think attic, basement, garage, etc.) are something you’re dreading, I have a video training to help take the overwhelm out of these areas.

You’ll take those spaces from cluttered chaos to organised archive in no time.

Declutter garage, basement, attic, and other storage spaces with this video training

KonMari Category 5: Mementoes (Sentimental)

THE PROCESS

We’re on the home stretch! If you haven’t already given yourself a pat on the back you should do that now because you’ve come such a long way. 🥳

Here’s where things take a bit of a turn.

Wooden memory box with polaroid photos, sentimental items

While we can form some level of attachment to a lot of our belongings, this category will pull at the heart strings like no other.

The good news? It’s the same process you’ve come to know and understand – pull it all out, go through it one by one, and put the joy sparkers back.

The better news? You’re a decluttering pro at this stage so while it won’t be plain sailing, the waters will certainly be smoother than if you’d started the whole journey with sentimental items.

You’ll put your decluttering muscles to the test and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how strong you really are. 💪

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."

WAYS TO MAKE IT EASIER

Let me start with the single biggest thing that helped me, and it’s something I never saw coming!

My husband, the least sentimental of us (but somehow also the least minimalist), was able to offer a more logical, rational perspective. He helped me see that I was holding onto certain things for no good reason.

If you can get the advice of someone who’s a little more objective, but still loves and respects you, take it.

Trust me, I never thought I’d see the day that my husband would actually help me declutter!

If you don’t have someone like that in your life, or just feel that you’re extra sentimental, I have a video that’s helped thousands of people let go with ease.

Other people can also be extremely helpful when it comes to moving things.

Sentimental items are often stored in awkward, out-of-the-way places, and sometimes in heavy boxes and plastic tubs.

A second pair of sturdy hands can alleviate some of the suckiness of this category.

Decluttering and moving boxes in garage. KonMari Method.

Speaking of awkward spaces, if they’re particularly bad do what you can to move the items to somewhere more comfortable.

Trust me, it’s a lot easier to get through the process when you’re not cooped up in a cramped, dark corner of your attic. (I speak from experience.)

It has the added bonus of making it less likely you’ll want to put all that stuff back, so you’re extra incentivised to declutter as much as possible.

Boxes of donations in car after KonMari decluttering

And once you’re done I recommend you give the items a second pass.

Because here’s the thing, stuff that’s been stored away, particularly for a long time, feels extra special. It feels sacred because you’ve kept it for all these years.

Plus, it may have a little bit of novelty attached to it. (”Ooh, I haven’t seen this in years!”)

But the more you look at that stuff the less special it’s going to feel. In fact, some of it will seem downright ordinary when it’s been exposed to the cold light of day.

So once the newness and excitement has worn off, see if it still feels as valuable to you.

Decluttering bookmarks sitting cross-legged on floor. KonMari Method.

If you’d benefit from some extra guidance in this area, I’ve compiled all my best advice into a video training for you. It’ll help you say goodbye to sentimental clutter and let go of all those yucky, guilty feelings.

Cheers to creating space for new memories!

Declutter sentimental items with this video training. KonMari mementoes

Of course, while the 5 categories of the KonMari Method are a fundamental part of the process, there are so many other elements to consider.

To get the absolute BEST experience, you’ll want to read my ULTIMATE guide to the KonMari Method. It has absolutely EVERYTHING you need to know from start to finish, including how long you can expect it to take, whether or not you need to read the book, additional advice from this community, and so much more.

It’s one to bookmark because you’ll definitely want to come back to it. 🔖

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