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New Year Spring Clean: Declutter the KonMarie Way

Updated on November 8, 2019
Beth Eaglescliffe profile image

Scientist and author, Beth enjoys living life in the slow lane. She takes time to enjoy the little things in life.

Marie Kondo's book is the #1 bestseller in Zen spirituality on Amazon.
Marie Kondo's book is the #1 bestseller in Zen spirituality on Amazon. | Source

What is the KonMarie Way?

The KonMarie method is the brainchild of Japanese lifestyle guru Marie Kondo. She projects a Zen-like calm when she visits client’s homes and offers advice on the best way to clean and declutter. She believes that her method of house cleaning and tidiness leads to an inner tranquility. Her teachings are akin to mindfulness and result in a kind of spiritual renewal that will enable you to reorder and change your life.

Decluttering your life and home the KonMarie way has a spiritual quality that has been likened to the contentment obtained by the followers of Zen Buddhism. Whether or not you agree with this analogy, there is no doubt that Marie Kondo’s method has touched a nerve for her many millions of fans around the world.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying-Up

I was intrigued by the popularity of the KonMarie method and the almost religious fervor of its followers. So, I read The life changing magic of tidying up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing to see for myself what the buzz is all about. It contains many practical ideas as well as some more esoteric philosophy (more of which later). The book is an international publishing phenomenon. It’s remained in best seller lists around the world since it was published in 2011. It’s sparked thousands of articles about self-help and has helped millions of people make changes to their lives.

The international bestseller about tidiness and joy.
The international bestseller about tidiness and joy. | Source

Marie Kondo Wants the World to Feel Joy

Most of us acquire material things as we go through life. They can be useful, like the set of pans your mom gave you when you first left home. They may be forgotten fashion items, like your favorite mini-skirt and platform shoes from the 1970s. Or they could be items that pull at the heart-strings when you look at them; the old photos of your grandparents and the simple drawings you did as a kid.

You’ve hoarded all this stuff for years. Each time you move, you hide them in the attic or in a spare closet. And you never get around to unpacking them until the next time you need to move house. It’s time for a good clear out!

Marie Kondo introduces the concept of your feeling joy from the objects around you. If you enjoy your living space, she says, you will become more joyful and at peace with yourself. Create a spiritual connection with your home and possessions. As you tidy and declutter concentrate on your ideal life and how you want to live.

Before and After Extreme Decluttering

Life Changing Tips From KonMarie

  1. Your decision. Commit to tidying because you want to, not to satisfy someone else.
  2. Visualize the future. Imagine your ideal life and the changes you will make to achieve this.
  3. Tidy by category not location. Think big, not room by room.
  4. Easy things first then move to difficult. Start with things that are easy to tidy and work up to the more difficult ones in the following order; clothes, books, papers, Komono or miscellaneous stuff, and finally, sentimental items.
  5. Be organized. Collect every item from a particular category and put it into a big pile.
  6. Feel the joy. Hold each item and feel your reaction to it. Only keep items that spark joy; does the item make you feel glad?
  7. Be thankful. Before discarding anything, thank it for being a part of your life.
  8. Lead by example. As you succeed with KonMarie you shine more brightly and contagion occurs. Other family members will follow your habits and the whole house will become tidier.

Mindfulness and the Art of Folding

The philosophy of the KonMarie system has something in common with that of mindfulness. The program relies on concentrating on being in the moment. Marie Kondo promotes a basic folding method which she describes in the video below.

She says you need to be aware of the feel of the fabric as you fold the clothes. She believes the action of folding is a way of demonstrating your love for the clothes and the protection and happiness they bring you. In her view it is almost a secondary effect that by folding clothes neatly you can save space and store them compactly.

Marie Kondo's Basic Folding Method

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My Experience of Decluttering with the KonMarie Method

I found many of Marie Kondo’s tips useful. I didn’t expect to be touched by her magic, but I was. Her way of sorting possessions category by category, makes a daunting task more manageable. She has some good ideas about how to make the most of limited storage space. And I like the way she focuses on creating a calm home environment.

However, I found the spiritual aspect of her system less captivating. She talks about deciding whether items spark joy and thanking discarded items for their contribution to the household. This may be helpful for some people, but I find the concept of treating items as if they had a soul slightly spooky. I prefer to use my common sense when deciding what to keep and what to give away. I know which items of clothing I feel good in and which books I enjoy reading. I don’t need to make those decisions based on sensing joy.

On the plus side, reading this book has motivated me to have a good clear out, a kind of spring-clean out of season. It’s a novel way of approaching domesticity and cleaning, but in all honestly, reading the book has not changed my life. However, there were many gold nuggets of useful information hidden within its pages and I found it a good read.

Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix

Marie Kondo and Netflix

The original bestselling book has now become a popular Netflix series. Aired from January 2019, each episode shows the diminutive Marie helping someone make changes to their life by removing unnecessary clutter that’s holding them back. She has great screen presence and self-belief.

The Netflix series helps people remove the mental barriers that are stopping them achieving their ideal lifestyle. Through practicing her philosophy of feeling the joy she’s captured the hearts of millions with her tidying and cleaning rituals.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


Submit a Comment
  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 

    2 days ago from Sunny Florida

    I have not read the book but I have heard of her methods. i have been decluttering and downsizing over the past 6 months, and I am not done. I imagine thinking categorically would be wise on my part as I have been a bit more room by room. I appreciate your article and I may buy the book to see if it oves me along faster. Thank you.


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