Posted by Katie Gambone
I have great ambitions to organize and streamline my house. Too much stuff lying around that I continually need to pick up makes me a little nuts. If you’re reading this I’m guessing you can relate.
I recently heard about a book that helps you get organized permanently: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing written by Marie Kondo. Her tidying/organization method is called the KonMari Method. It is simple and effective, and the promise is that once I do this to my entire house, I WILL NEVER NEED TO ORGANIZE MY HOUSE AGAIN. No more spring and fall cleaning and purging that takes forever and then reverts back in two weeks.
I interviewed a few people who have applied the KonMari Method and they all had good things to say.
“The positive benefit has been a general feeling of having less ‘stuff’ and the weight that goes along with managing a household bogged down with so much ‘stuff.’ Life seems simpler and I feel lighter whenever I have finished with a big purge.”
“Yes to the positive benefits! I can find the clothes I need, when I need them! It’s amazing. Simplifying has helped me find the things I like that were hidden among the ‘meh’ stuff.”
I tried it too and I am happy to tell you that it really works! I started with shirts (because Marie recommends that you start here) and have plans to work my way through my house. I highly recommend you read the book yourself because I can’t fit everything I want you to know in this post. Here are three of the most important KonMari organization principals and how I applied them myself:
Organize by Categories, Not Rooms
Instead of the standard method of organizing room-by-room KonMari forces you to organize by category. There’s a good reason for this: most people store things that fit into the same category all over their house.
For example, when I went to organize my shirts, I had to pull them from four drawers, my closet, my guest room closet, and a storage bin in the basement. If you sort by room, you miss seeing everything you have and end up in an endless cycle of purging while never feeling like you’re really getting rid of anything.
When you are forced to confront all items of one kind you will be amazed at the sheer volume. See my pile of shirts below? I had A LOT of shirts! Ironically, every time I go to get dressed I feel like I have nothing to wear! Could I have been so wrong?
Sorting: Do I Love This?
Once you have all items of one category together, you then begin the sorting process.
The KonMari Method forces you to think about your relationship with the objects in your world (even down to your socks) by asking a simple question: “Do I love this?” If you do, great – keep it. If you don’t, then get rid of it. Don’t keep things out of guilt. Don’t keep things because you think you might use it one day. Just decide – if you love it, keep it. If you can’t honestly say you love it, let it go. She recommends that you do this process with no one around so you aren’t guilted into keeping things that you don’t actually love. She warns against trying things on. Just trust your gut instinct.
BOOM! This premise is mind-blowing and completely freeing. To really get organized, you need to change your thinking and this one question is the key to doing just that.
Back to my tops. I went through my shirts, touching each one just once and testing my gut reaction, “Do I love this shirt?” Sadly, the answer was “No – I don’t love you” for almost ¾ of them. In the picture below you see the shirts I love on the right and the ones that I don’t love on the left. The ones I don’t love filled three garbage bags! I’ve already donated them to Goodwill.
Are you worried that I now don’t have anything to wear and I’ll end up spending a lot of money on new clothes? Don’t be! It’s actually the opposite. By getting rid of the shirts I don’t love, I see clearly that I have a lot of shirts I do love and picking something to wear in the morning is now WAAAAAY easier. I don’t even feel the need to go and get more, because I actually have a decent selection of clothes that I enjoy wearing. I interviewed some other people who have used this method and they confirmed that this was true for them too.
So, once you sort your belongings, it’s time to store them.
Marie is adamant that if you truly keep only the things you love, you should be able to store everything you have all in one place. It turns out she’s right!
Post sorting, I can now fit all of my tops (from exercise shirts to summer clothes to fall and winter clothes) in two and a half drawers and I have a few things hanging in the closet.
How is this humanly possible?
The key is folding.
She has a very specific method so that you see all of one kind of item in one glance. You basically fold everything in a rectangle and then store it neatly stacked next to each other. Below is a picture showing you what it looks like when it’s done. If you want to learn how to fold your clothes this way, I found a helpful YouTube video you can watch by clicking here.
I was skeptical about this folding thing because I thought it would take FOREVER and would not be something I could keep up with. Honestly, it does take forever when you fold all of your shirts post sorting. But after that, when you fold the shirts you wear when you are doing your laundry it goes more quickly. My neighbors and friends who have tried this method say that they still use this folding and storing method and it hasn’t been a problem, so I think it will be manageable based on their feedback.
You may also be wondering if folding your clothes into little squares makes them more wrinkly? I’m not sure why, but it doesn’t. Trust me.
Is the KonMari Method Really Magical?
In short, yes. It is kind of magical. I find it easier to get dressed in the morning. I can’t believe how much space I’ve freed up in just step 1. A friend who went through this process said she hasn’t felt the need to go shopping in a while because she actually enjoys her wardrobe now. I believe her. I have a feeling it’s going to save me money in the long run.
How Long Does This Take?
People – let’s be real. It takes a long time. Just going through my shirts took me about 5 hours total. The people I interviewed for this post confirmed that it took them a long time too. Only one of the people was able to actually complete her entire house so far. Most of the others have applied it just to their wardrobe, but they do plan to keep going as they have time.
Mari Kondo actually says that it will probably take about 6 months. But she also brings up a good point – would you rather work at it for 6 months and never have to do it again, or work at it a little at a time and constantly be organizing for the rest of your life? I vote for 6 months of fitting it in periodically.
Whereas at the end of my desk organization project I thought “That felt good and my desk looks pretty and organized,” at the end of my shirt sorting experience I thought, “I think this is going to completely transform my entire house and, while it takes a significant amount of time, I can’t wait to tackle my pants.” How often can you say that about cleaning? For me…NEVER.
So, KonMari – it’s worth a try. If you do give it a try, let me know. I’ll keep reporting on my progress.