Over the past couple years, you may have heard a few things about the KonMari method of organizing and decluttering your house. Created by a brilliant lady by the name of Marie Kondo, the principles of the KonMari method of organizing your home is fairly straightforward and simple. Her objective is to help you live your happiest life, one that is full of joy, by carefully and methodically removing all objects and possessions that don’t spark that joy from your life.
While it can seem a little bit daunting at first to get started on employing the KonMari method of organizing your home, it can arguably be one of the most rewarding things you do for yourself. If you were interested in learning more about her methods in decluttering and tidying up your home, then keep reading — these simple tips aren’t just clever in their understated simplicity, they’ll also allow you to finally let go of the items that have been weighing you down.
Keep only what brings you joy
If we had to summarize what the number one principle of the KonMari method was, we’d have to argue that it’s, “Keep only what brings you joy.” While everything else is definitely important and can help you in regaining control of your disorganized home, this one stands out as the most essential guideline of her decluttering methods.
What does this concept mean, exactly? It’s simple: if something that you own doesn’t make you happy, then why are you hanging onto it? Instead, just throw it out.
Organize things by size
There are many ways to sort your belongings. Some people prefer to organize them by color. Other people like to sort things by shape. However, the KonMari method advises that you organize your belongings by size.
That can help make it easier to not only sort them into attractive piles, it will also make it easier for you to remember where exactly something is. You’re not going to look for a box of paperclips with your laundry detergent, for example. This suggestion makes perfect sense when you consider it like that.
Work on categories (not rooms!)
When you first start decluttering your home, it can be very easy to get overwhelmed. This is especially true if you glance around a room and all you can see is messes, chaos, and disorganization. Instead of trying to tackle an entire room at once (and subsequently wearing yourself out before you begin), try to approach the mess by categories.
For instance, today you’ll work on culling out your paperwork. Tomorrow, you’ll approach your massive pile of winter sweaters. That way, you can also earn a sense of accomplishment that much sooner.
Make often-used items accessible
There’s probably nothing more frustrating than to be looking for something and not be able to find it. Even if you tear your entire home apart, you may still wind up empty handed. Of course, you found a bunch of other stuff — things that you’re not even using right now, and you have no idea why you’re still hanging onto it.
Does that scenario sound familiar to you? Instead, keep the stuff you use more often front-and-center so it’ll be exactly where you expect it for the next time you need it.
Avoid excessive sentimentality
If you’re like most people, you probably have a box — or two or three! — of things that you don’t want to get rid of because you have an emotional attachment to them. This can include concert ticket stubs, a shirt that your ex-boyfriend gave you over ten years ago, and your grandmother’s old recipe card collection.
While we would never tell you to throw away something that would actually emotionally devastate you to toss, if you’re only clinging onto something because you think you should, just throw it out.
Treat your stuff with respect
How many times have you ever walked into your closet and looked down and saw all of your expensive designer shoes sitting in a haphazard pile on the floor? Or what if you peered into your jewelry box and saw your heirloom gold and diamonds just in a messy heap?
Listen, these items are not just only very costly, they obviously mean something to you. You shouldn’t treat them like they’re garbage. Instead, organize your shoes neatly onto a rack, and polish and sort through your fine jewelry. Give them the respect they deserve.
Trust in the process
Getting started on a massive decluttering project can undoubtedly be exciting at first. You’re motivated, you have enthusiasm, and you’re ready to see a brand-new you emerge from the mess. However, once you start, you may find yourself wondering what you got into and if this was even a good idea in the first place.
These feelings are totally normal, and pretty much everyone goes through this when they decide to declutter their homes. Don’t let self-doubt hold you back from following through and seeing this project to the end.
Learn how to fold
You may think you know how to fold your clothes properly. Either your mother or another cherished adult taught you how to do this, or maybe you worked in retail. That said, you may need to throw out everything you thought you knew about folding and start over from scratch.
The good news is that it’s simpler than you think. To fold a shirt, lay it out on a flat surface, front-side up. Then fold one side of the shirt to the center and fold the sleeve back. Repeat on the other side. Voilà!
Sort belongings into piles
One way to help facilitate the decluttering process is to sort all of your belongings into piles. This can work for everything from clothing to kitchen appliances to random piles of paperwork.
Once you have these neat little piles situated directly in front of you, you can then see at a glance what exactly is bogging your home down and causing all of this clutter. From there, you can then decide what is worth keeping, what can be recycled, and what can be thrown away.
It’s a common misconception that the KonMari method of decluttering means that you should just throw everything that you own away. That couldn’t be further from the truth! Instead, you should take a moment to feel grateful for everything you own.
Then, when it’s time to get rid of it, take a deep breath and thank the items for what they represented in your life and what lessons they have taught you. Then (and only then) can you truly feel peace when you throw them out.
Everything in its own place
If you’ve ever glanced around your house and saw piles of clutter and belongings that were just sitting out, then you probably understand firsthand how hard it can be to find a spot for everything you own. Even after you’ve reduced your material possessions, you may still find yourself with items that don’t have a place.
Don’t let this stuff continue to sit out. Instead, find it a place — even if it’s a decorative wicker basket — and store it there for safekeeping, until you can find it a more permanent home.
Set a timer
Whether you live in a teeny-tiny studio apartment or you live in a multi-level house, it can be daunting to try to get everything done when trying to declutter. Instead of forcing yourself to do it all right now, at once, give yourself permission to do it in small chunks.
Even a narrow window of time (for instance, five or ten minutes) can help you accomplish a lot when decluttering your home. Set your timer and promise to work through it. Once the timer goes off, you can then decide if you’d like to continue.
Shred (and recycle) old paperwork
In the past, owning a filing cabinet was almost like a rite of passage. It meant that you had Very Important Documents that needed to be kept. And while it’s definitely true that some paperwork shouldn’t be thrown away (such as legal documents, like your marriage license or birth certificate), other stuff can be thrown out or recycled.
As proud as you are of your straight-A college homework assignments, do you really need to cling onto it? You can always just check your transcripts! This can, of course, be tossed.
Donate unused belongings
Not everything needs to be thrown away. Sure, if it’s broken or useless, you can recycle it or simply throw it away. Other things, though, can easily be donated to a good cause.
Either reach out to some friends who may be in need of a new stand mixer or that sweater that you never wore, or call your local charitable thrift store and see if they have any need for these items. You can get a warm fuzzy feeling for doing the right thing and, in some cases, you can get a tax write-off.
Store clothes vertically
This tip may seem a little bit confusing at first, as it flies in the face of everything you thought you knew about storing your clothes. After all, doesn’t everyone store their clothes horizontally in their drawers?
As logical as this may seem, it makes it harder to see what you own, especially if a shirt is hiding beneath another shirt. By storing your clothing vertically, you can see what you own at a glance. This can help make it easier for you to get dressed in the morning, too!
Start from scratch
You may not like this tip, but we have to include it because it really is that important. If you’re going to undertake a major decluttering project, you do need to start from scratch. That means that if you’re going to clean out and organize your closet, you need to pull literally everything out of it.
That way you can start with a clean slate and a fresh template. Only then can you recognize the extent of the mess — and know how to approach it properly — to help ensure you do everything correctly.
Most people aren’t born with an innate knowledge of how to keep their homes tidy and free from clutter. This is a skill that, like other important life skills such as cooking and paying your taxes, needs to be learned. Before you begin, you need to understand yourself and why your home is cluttered.
Even more importantly, you need to recognize the source of these behaviors. This can help prevent you from doing a massive declutter…only to discover six months down the line that your home is totally messy all over again!
Tackle the entryway
When you step through your doorway, you may not be able to see your entire home at once. Sure, you may be able to sneak a peek at your kitchen or living room, but your upstairs bedroom is firmly out of sight. That’s why it’s a good idea to start with your entryway.
It’s one of the first things you see when you get home, and by tidying it up first, you can get an immediate (and, of course, very rewarding!) sense of accomplishment for having organized it.
Increase your cabinet space
There’s nothing wrong with having a small kitchen, but if the size of your kitchen is causing undue clutter, then it may be a good idea to reconsider how you are using the limited amount of space in there. One way to help maximize a tiny kitchen is to make the most out of your cabinet space.
Organize your dishes and flatware carefully, as this can help prevent clutter. And by investing in larger cabinets, you can help make sure you don’t have piles of plates and mugs sitting around on your countertops.
Make your bed
Your bedroom is more than just the place where you go to sleep at night. It’s also your retreat at the end of the day. Many people look forward to going to bed at night, but having an unmade bed can detract from this enjoyment.
Instead, make sure you make your bed within a half hour of rising in the morning. Don’t do it right away, though. Let it air out for a few minutes first, as heat can get trapped beneath the covers, leading to unwanted mildew from forming.
Put your walls to work
If your kitchen is on the smallish side, then you may be wondering where you can store all of your pots and pans. After all, you don’t want them taking up space in your cupboards — that’s where you need to keep your cups, plates, and bowls! In this case, you may be surprised as to how effective a pan rack is in keeping your cookware organized.
Even better, you can either attach it to your ceiling or to one of your walls. Not only does it work like a charm, it also looks fantastic, too.
Put dry goods in clear containers
When you go grocery shopping, you may find yourself stocking up on essentials like dry rice, beans, flour, oats, and other similar goods. While their plastic or paper bags may have worked just fine in getting them home from the grocery store, once you get them home, they can be an absolute eyesore.
To help make your dry goods look more attractive, while also taking up less space, immediately transfer them into clear containers when you get home. That way, you can see everything easily, and it’ll look nice in your pantry, too.
Organize your spice rack
Having a disorganized spice rack isn’t just a major annoyance. It can also lead to you purchasing additional herbs and spices that you don’t even need. If you don’t know what you’re running low on — and what you have plenty of — then you may find yourself wasting money at the grocery store.
Instead, a new spice rack is a simple and affordable way to help you keep track of all of the flavors that go into your foods. It’ll also help make your spice drawer look nice and organized for the next time you cook.
Get creative with storage
It’s far too easy to get trapped in a cycle of black-and-white thinking when trying to declutter and organize your home. For instance, a laundry hamper is for dirty clothes and nothing else, right? Wrong. Many storage items can multitask, which means an unconventional storage device can work double duty in your home.
If you’re struggling to keep a particular space organized, you may want to reconsider how you’re approaching your storage containers. A bookshelf can also hold clothes, toys, or other objects. All you need is to just get creative with it!
Improve under-sink storage
The space underneath your sink is an under-appreciated resource, but you’d be surprised at how effective this area can be for keeping your home organized. If you’re like many people, though, it may be completely cluttered.
Instead of letting bottles of shampoo, bars of soap, and spare tubes of toothpaste take over this area, you should instead invest in small tubs and containers to help you maximize this space. Not only will it look much better, it’ll be easier to find what you’re looking for next time you run out of deodorant or hair conditioner.
Store towels in a pretty basket
While there’s not necessarily a right way or a wrong way to store your towels, you could definitely improve on how you keep them organized. Yes, it’s perfectly fine to fold them up neatly and place them in your linen closet, but how boring is that?
If you sprung for some attractive and decorative baskets, though, it can help elevate your closet to the next level. Not only does it look so much better, it’ll also make it easier to keep this area nice and organized moving forward.
Throw away expired products
Having old and expired products in your medicine cabinet isn’t just an unsightly mess that you need to deal with right away, it could actually be putting you in harm’s way. While expired soap may not be too dangerous, what about medicines that have passed their prime?
If you wind up taking them, they may wind up ineffective or — worse — they can make you seriously sick. For both a tidier cabinet, as well as the safety of yourself and your family, you need to throw out all expired items from your medicine cabinet right away.
Make your laundry hamper multitask
If you’ve rested a basic plastic laundry hamper in your bedroom, thinking that it’s good enough, then think again. Your laundry hamper is actually a great way to not only organize your bedroom but to also increase the functionality of this item.
A laundry hamper that doubles as a storage cabinet, for instance, will allow you to keep your dirty clothes out of sight. And you can also store a nice lamp on top of the hamper, too. Just make sure you don’t fall into a trap of piling up clothes on it.
Clear you kitchen counters
Even if your kitchen is completely spotless, having clutter on the counters can immediately make it look ten times worse. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have any messes sitting out; piles of old mail, food that could otherwise be stored in the pantry, and other items may make it appear as though this space is sloppy and messy.
To help improve the appearance of your kitchen, remove everything unnecessary from the counters. Small but attractive appliances (like your espresso maker or toaster, for example), may remain out on the counter.
Spring for underbed storage
It’s safe to assume that your bed is arguably the largest piece of furniture in your bedroom. Even if you have a tiny twin bed, that’s still several square feet that is being used exclusively for your sleeping. If you’re not taking advantage of the space beneath your bed, you’re missing out on quite the bounty of storage room.
You don’t need anything fancy, either. Some flat plastic tubs or wicker baskets can go a long way in allowing you to declutter your bedroom and move some of your personal items underneath your bed.
Limit your tchotchkes
While having various knick-knacks can be a sweet and sentimental way of remembering trips or showing off your unique personality, they can quickly veer into “clutter” territory if you’re not careful. Not only can they look messy (especially if there’s no theme or color pattern to these items), they can also start to gather dust.
KonMari strongly encourages you to either throw away many of these tchotchkes. Or, if you can’t part with them due to sentimental value, carefully store them and hide them away in your attic.
Don’t overwhelm your bookshelves
Reading a lot of books is a fantastic way to learn new things, expand your horizons, and escape to faraway lands. However, if you have dozens of books to your name, they may start to take up an excessive amount of space on your bookshelves.
If you loved a particular book, by all means…keep it around! But if you’re only hanging onto the book to take up space on your shelf, it may be better to just give it away to a friend. Perhaps they’ll enjoy it as much as you did.
Organize your cords and cables
In today’s technological era, it’s not surprising to have several electronic devices in your home. Between your computer, your DVR, and your television set, you may find yourself tripping over the cords and cables in your house.
While these items are definitely important in order to keep your appliances working, they shouldn’t be lumped together in an unsightly mess in your home. To help keep your room looking nice and tidy, you should keep these cords and cables neatly organized. You can use zip ties to help bind them together.
Keep your coffee table clean
Your coffee table is, ironically, probably not used for holding coffee cups. Sure, you may use it for that every once in a while, but that’s probably fairly rare. If you’re like most people, your coffee table is most likely buried beneath a pile of magazines, junk mail, and maybe a few ornamental knick-knacks.
One of the best ways to reduce clutter in your home is to go through all of those old junk mail and throw it out or recycle it. You’ll be amazed at how nice your living room looks afterward!
Make sure there’s flow
Very few people talk about flow when they discuss the layout of their home, but the value of easy movement in your home is sadly largely unappreciated. Not only are you striving to make sure you’re not tripping over clutter as you move through your house, you also want to make sure it’s visually appealing, as well.
Having heaps of junk or haphazardly styled furniture can increase your stress and reduce your enjoyment of your home. Maintaining the flow of the living space, on the other hand, can make you much happier!
Spring for drawer organizers
Keeping your drawers neat and organized doesn’t have to be some impossible chore. In fact, if you invest in some drawer organizers — which are surprisingly affordable! — you can keep your drawers nice and tidy. This can help make it easier for you to see what clothes that you own.
Not only will this make getting dressed in the morning a cinch, it can also make it easier for you to avoid impulse fashion purchases. Once you can tell that you own three blue blouses, it’ll make it easier for you to avoid purchasing another.
Maximize your closet space
Your closet is arguably the home for the majority of your clothing. Sure, you may keep some of it stored in your dresser, but your closet does the majority of the work in keeping your clothes organized. To help make the most out of your limited amount of closet space, you should get some multifunctional storage items.
For instance, hangers that double as scarf holders can keep your neckwear nice and organized. Or a shoe rack for all of your heels and sneakers can also make it easier to keep this space tidy.
Tidy up your linen closet
At the end of the day, nobody likes to fold and put away all of their towels and washcloths. However, while this may seem like a tedious chore, it’s essential to perform this task if you want to properly KonMari your home.
If you’re worried about how long this task will take, you may be pleased to know that a few attractive storage containers can help make this chore much easier. Once your linen closet is nice and tidy, all you need to do is maintain its upkeep.
Hide your laundry supplies
Trying to keep your laundry room organized can seem like a frustrating task, but it doesn’t have to be a major undertaking. One of the ways you can help make this chore easier is to transfer all of your laundry cleaning supplies in attractive containers.
Transfer your laundry detergent pods into glass jars, for example, and store your dryer sheets in decorative boxes. Then place them on a shelf, out of sight and out of mind. It’ll make a huge difference in keeping this area organized.
Clear off your nightstand
Your nightstand will never be perfectly clear of personal effects, but you can start to take strides in organizing it by removing all unnecessary objects from it. Throw away old magazines, put your favorite paperbacks back on your bookshelf, and bring your empty water glass back into the kitchen to be washed.
You can certainly leave your reading glasses there overnight, and a lamp is a nice way to illuminate your bedroom, but other than that? You need to keep this area free from all unnecessary junk.