KonMari, Organizing

The KonMari Framework: 6 Basic Rules of Tidying

Before I delve into my own KonMari journey, I thought it would be helpful to talk a bit about the KonMari framework (you know, for the newbies 😉 ). Plus, knowing the ropes may be helpful if you plan to tackle your clutter right along with me, which I strongly encourage you to do. Bonus points if you share your progress with me along the way! (@seesierrasave)

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According to the KonMari Method, there are six basic rules of tidying:

  1. Commit yourself to tidying up.
  2. Imagine your ideal lifestyle.
  3. Finish discarding first.
  4. Tidy by category, not by location.
  5. Follow the right order.
  6. Ask yourself if it sparks joy.

I plan to implement this process pretty much by the book. Because I am a super nerd in a lot of ways, and I operate in extremes. And because I totally drank the KonMari Kool-Aid. AND because I want lasting results. Really, there’s no shortage of reasons.

Moving on…

1. Commit Yourself to Tidying Up  

Undertaking this process may not be a walk in the park…especially if we’re looking for results that last longer than like….5 minutes. It’s a serious commitment. A commitment of time, energy, and mental resources. And the more stuff you have, the bigger a commitment it will be.

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I have mentally prepared myself for this, and that’s why in my last post, I swore I wouldn’t put any sort of parameters on my own KonMari journey. Because I’m not interested in a quick fix. I’m interested in developing habits that help me feel more relaxed and joyful in my home. So I’m OK with it taking a bit of time and energy upfront.

2. Imagine Your Ideal Lifestyle

This rule is really about finding our “why”. It’s reminds us to embark on this journey with a clear view of what we’re trying to achieve and how it will improve our lives. Because, you guys, actually having the kind of space we envision for ourselves and our families can SERIOUSLY IMPROVE OUR LIVES!

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So, picture the kind of home you want, and how you want to live in that home. Is your focus:

  • Comfort?
  • Relaxation?
  • A romantic feel for your bedroom?
  • A stimulating, rather than overwhelming, play environment for your kids?
  • An enjoyable space for the whole family to gather?
  • A place to store tools that are easily accessible when you actually need them?
  • A home for every item, so those daily cleaning tasks don’t feel like such a burden?

Once you’ve clarified your ideal lifestyle, you’ll be better equipped to discard the items that don’t fit.

Can you tell from my examples where my priorities are? 😉

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3. Finish Discarding First

In other words, we’re not supposed to organize as we go. Rather, we’re supposed to finish the entire process of discarding first, then go back and determine how and where we’ll organize our belongings based on what remains.

If we pause and organize between categories, we may find that we end up purchasing unnecessary tools (baskets, bins, boxes) to help us manage and store our stuff. If we wait until the process of discarding is complete, we’ll likely find that many of the systems we thought we needed are no longer necessary.

4. Tidy by Category, Not by Location

Marie Kondo cautions against going room by room. The main reason is that often, like items can be scattered all throughout the house, and without bringing all of those items into one spot to begin with, we may not fully grasp the sheer volume of stuff in each category.

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Let’s take clothing for example. I keep clothes in my bedroom closet, dresser, coat closet, and guest room closet. And that’s just my stuff. My husband has his own closet, as does my daughter.

Now, I’ll be honest. I bent the rules on this one a little. (Stay tuned for my KonMari: Clothing post this week!) I had about two loads of my own clothes in various stages of laundry completion, and I was not about to finish that process before I began discarding. Because apathy. So I didn’t technically have all of my clothes in one place at the same time. But I did tackle the remaining clothes all at once and I promptly addressed each basket of clean laundry as it emerged from the dryer.

Depending on how much stuff you own, seeing it all in one place may just be the kick in the pants you need to purge the excess.

5. Follow the Right Order

Marie Kondo recommends that you start with the categories that require the least mental and emotional energy to tackle. For instance, she begins her list with clothing and finishes it with memorabilia.

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While some people are very attached to their clothing, arguably a greater number of people are more attached to those childhood keepsakes, yearbooks, sonogram pictures, baby teeth (Awwww! But also ewwww.), and the like.

The idea is to save these items for last, with the thought that by starting with the less emotional items, you will slowly cultivate your ability to decide more quickly between what actually sparks joy and what you’ve held on to simply because you’ve always had it.

6. Ask Yourself if it Sparks Joy

The last rule is often the one that many people bristle at. Who has time to hold each item in her hands and ask herself if it sparks joy? It’s a HUGE undertaking, to say the least. But it’s a deliberate component of this process for a reason.

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Many people, including myself, balk at the idea of discarding the things in their homes that don’t necessarily spark joy, but that serve a definite function or purpose. Like driveway salt, for example. If I had to count on my fingers the times I was happy to be holding a container of driveway salt in my hands, I would have no fingers up. But if I discard it, I might fall on my @$$ when it’s icy outside. And that would not spark joy.

My interpretation of the strange and unconventional method of holding each item and asking yourself if it sparks joy, is that its sole intent is to help you become more mindful of the things you allow into your home.

The process doesn’t actually have to evoke warm fuzzy feelings and make you want to cry with happiness.

It does, however, require that you acknowledge honestly which items serve you and your family and which items simply add to the backdrop of useless clutter.

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a toy that obviously sparks joy

Here are some examples:

“I don’t want to MARRY this whisk, but if I discard it, I’m going to have a harder time making pancakes on Saturday mornings, which IS something that sparks joy.”

“This couch is stained and lumpy, but it fits my whole family comfortably on our weekly movie nights. And family movie nights definitely spark joy.”

As with any new habit we try to implement, we have to balance the theoretical with the actual. The ideal with the practical. In short, we have to make it work for us.

In many cases, if someone arrives at the decision that they need to declutter their home, it probably means that they’ve begun to allow things to accumulate that do not bring them happiness or serve a definite function (and who hasn’t!?). Because imagine the reverse: if everything around you either made you feel happy or helped you move through the motions day to day, you probably would not feel overburdened by stuff. And, if that’s the case, perhaps you don’t need the KonMari Method.

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**If you want to dive deeper into the KonMari Method, I highly recommend reading The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. You could buy it (used!) or borrow it from your local library (you may have to wait a little while, as it’s become super popular again).

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