Aspirations and necessities. Everyone’s got their priorities organized into these two buckets. One mistake people make is putting a tidy home in the “aspirations” category. To be honest, I didn’t realize that a clean home belonged in the “necessities” category until I read Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
A tidy home directly correlates to your personal well-being. Coming home to a messy house after a long day adds things to your subconscious “to-do” list and makes it hard to relax. Kondo’s book is full of useful treasures, but I’ve summarized some main tips for a happy and healthy home.
1. Dedicate time to tidy
If you’re ready to transform your life, the very first step is allocating the right amount of time for it. I would recommend trying to start tidying on a weekend. For the parents out there, contact your babysitter or set up a play date so you can focus your efforts and energy.
When I took my first step toward a decluttered life, I was completely overwhelmed. I kept thinking about how much time I would be wasting trying to initiate this lifestyle. However, after I got into the rhythm, tidying became part of my daily routine and I barely noticed the time.
2. Tidy by category
Breaking down your cleaning spree by category will keep you sane and save you time. Konmari suggests tidying your life in the following order:
First, put every article of clothing, all purses, and pairs of shoes on the floor. Start with seasonal clothing and decide what you can live without. If you feel yourself contemplating items, chances are, you can live without them. Separate items into a “keep” and “discard/donate” pile. Replicate this process with in-season clothing.
After this, you should end up with half or a third of your initial closet, which leads us into clothing storage. Konmari suggests folding in an upright fashion, shown in the video above, instead of stacking flat like a retail store. Organize your closet with heavy items on the left and lighter items on the right. Coats should be to the very left followed by dresses, jackets, pants, skirts, then blouses.
Like clothing, remove all your books and place them on the floor. This is essential because books are one of the hardest things to let go of. You won’t know if a book is something you can live without until you take it off the shelf and see if it grabs you.
For unread books, the general rule of thumb is that “sometimes” means “never.” So if there are books you’ve been meaning to read for years and haven’t gotten to it, go ahead and it.
Discard everything unless it fits in one of these categories: currently in use, need for a limited time, or need permanently. Start by sorting paper into two piles: save and need to deal with. Paper that needs attention could be letters or forms requiring a reply. After purging your house of unnecessary paper, invest in an organizer and keep all the paper in one spot.
Komono (miscellaneous items)
Komono translates to “small articles, miscellaneous items, and gadgets.” Think of this category as your junk drawer. Random items are often placed in random spots without much thought.
Sort your komono category in the following order: DVDs, makeup, accessories, valuables such as passports, technology, household supplies like medicine or detergent, kitchen supplies, and random (spare change, etc).
3. Everything has a place
Say “goodbye” to that junk drawer or decorative dish you’ve been keeping for knick-knacks. By creating space for miscellaneous items, you’re inviting clutter into your home. During your decluttering weekend, determine what goes where and why you want it there.
This doesn’t mean you should go spend $150 on a new closet unit. Reference the categories Konmari suggested above and dedicate bins and organizers accordingly.
4. Keep what matters most
The Konmari method focuses on purging your home of everything your family doesn’t “need” and keeping what brings you joy. It’s comforting to keep sentimental items from cherished times. Save pieces that bring your family joy and amplify treasured times together.
Revive keepsakes into decor that not only take up less space, but now have a perfect place in your house. You can do this by taking pictures of these items and printing them out. For visually appealing mementos such as concert tickets, display them in a shadow box.
5. Stay focused
Find some sentimental letters while you were organizing your coats? Put your blinders on and focus on the category at hand. It’s easy to get caught up in the nostalgia — before you know it, two hours have passed and your coats still haven’t been sorted.
When tackling each category, do your tidying all at once, not in segments. Avoid distracting detours, such as old photographs or letters you might stumble across. Fifteen minutes looking at pictures here and an hour sorting through nostalgic pieces there adds up.
6. Orderly house = Orderly life
“Letting go is even more important than adding.” Tidying forces you into a state of self-reflection and makes you consider what genuinely brings you joy. Kondo’s clients have experienced everything from feeling motivated and empowered to job changes.
After decluttering your home, it’s true that you become more self-aware of what matters most. You will realize that you now have time for activities or people that add meaning to your life. And those impulse buys from HomeGoods or Target will become easier to say no to.
7. Cleaning becomes much easier
Once you get into the groove, cleaning naturally falls into your “necessities” bucket. The lone pair of shoes in your living room will irk you and make you aware that something’s out of place. Because everything now has a dedicated space, you’ll feel much better when those shoes are in their home.
This goes back to what I was mentioning earlier about your personal well-being. When things are in the correct place, you will feel at ease and be able to relax. Cleaning becomes second nature and takes less time.
8. Respect makes everything look better
A common theme throughout Kondo’s book is treating your belongings with respect. She breaks down her tidying strategy into two steps: touching your belongings and then seeing if they spark joy. By creating a sense of unity between you and your things, you begin to respect them.
This concept makes sense if you think about it. You respect your clothing by folding and hanging them while also avoiding clutter. They look much better organized by category and color in your closet instead of lying on the floor.