Many of us have difficulty keeping our homes tidy because we were never taught how. But tidying is a simple act, and there are actually only a few reasons why we have difficulty tidying. People who can’t tidy fall into three categories: they can’t get rid of things, they can’t organize things, or a combination of both--most of us fall into the last category.
In this 1-page summary we share a high level overview of the KonMari method, but if it’s unclear, there are many more details on how exactly to implement these steps in the full summary.
The basic process is to discard first, then organize what’s left.
Most people tidy by going through a small portion of objects first, usually by convenience, and then trying to put that small portion away before they start on everything else. Think of a desk: you go through the stuff on top of your desk, discard whatever you don’t need anymore, and then immediately try to put what’s left in the drawers--but then you find the drawers are full and cluttered, because you haven’t gone through everything first, so you give up and the clutter remains.
The KonMari process helps you avoid these stopping points. Don’t do it little by little, do your whole house in one go (as much as you can depending on your schedule--it’s fine if it takes up to 6 months). And go by category, not by room.
For each category, gather all the items together in a giant pile, discard first, then organize what’s left.
Here’s the correct order that makes things mentally easier:
For each category, go through every single item like so:
After you’ve discarded items in a certain category, then you can move on to organizing what’s left in that category. When you organize, keep your storage as simple as possible: use what your home already has, as opposed to buying a lot of complicated storage solutions that ultimately end up cluttering your space more.
Ideally, you should be able to see everything you own at a glance and get whatever you need easily. Vertical storage is better than horizontal storage to accomplish this, like books upright on a bookshelf instead of stacked on top of each other--it’s much easier to see all your books and take a single book out when they’re organized vertically.
If you have a lot of clothes or want a more organized approach, break it down into subcategories: tops, bottoms, hanging clothes, socks, undergarments, bags, accessories, event-specific clothing like swimsuits, and shoes.
There are 2 major categories of clothes people have difficulty dealing with: 1) clothes they bought but never wore, and 2) clothes they hope to fit into one day.
Folding and storing vertically is better than hanging in terms of storage. **The goal for folding is to make the smallest, smoothest, simplest rectangle...
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We tidy a space only to have it cluttered again in no time. What are we doing wrong?
We can’t do things if we’re not taught how. Tidying is something we’re supposed to know how to do, yet we’re never exposed to actual techniques.
Some guides will tell you to find the right tidying method to suit your personality, but this overcomplicates the act. Tidying is simple: you should be able to put things away when you aren’t using them, and this means you can’t have more things than storage space. There’s no personality to it.
People who can’t tidy fall into only 3 different categories:
Tidying is really just the sum of two physical acts: 1) deciding whether you want to keep something, and then 2) deciding where to put it. If you do these two simple things the right way, you can actually achieve perfection in your home.
Here’s the KonMari method, at the highest level:
KonMari goes through five categories in specific order: Clothing, Books, Papers, Miscellany, and Sentimental Items. As we’ll explain later, this saves the hardest emotional items to discard for last.
This sounds easy, but in practice you’ll find it hard to discard items and to confront how much stuff you have (which is why you own more stuff than you need right now).
The rest of this summary is about how to execute these steps effectively. You’ll learn how to get over the psychological hurdles that prevent you from tidying to the most effective extent.
Here’s what to expect:
Use this exercise to help you visualize what your ideal home looks and feels like.
What would your ideal space look and feel like? If you’re having trouble answering, try focusing on a specific room instead: what would your ideal bedroom look and feel like? Remember, the more specific you can be, the better.
Now that we’ve covered the high-level process, let’s break down the first phase of discarding into more detail.
For every category, once you have everything in one pile, you’ve got to discard first, all at once, completely. You can’t start putting things away until you’ve finished discarding. It might sound intense, but this is going to be the key to tidying effectively.
Pull out all the items from one category from anywhere in your home. Then, at your pile, pick each item up and ask if it sparks joy. Then start a keep pile and a discard pile. Remember to go in the correct order of categories.
Do not let any item slip by when you gather by category. When starting with clothing, get ALL your clothes. After you’ve finished discarding your clothes and organized what was left, move on to your books and take out ALL your books.
This raises an important question: what standard should you use to decide what to keep and what to...
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It can be tough to understand what something “sparking joy” really feels like. Use this exercise to help pinpoint what it feels like to you, and use it to remind yourself what joy feels like once you start tidying.
Grab something that you know you love. (If you’re a clothes person who loves to get dressed, grab your favorite item of clothing. If you’re a book reader with a personal library, pull out an all-time favorite book. If you love to cook, pick an item you love using.) Whatever the item is, find it, pick it up, and hold it in your hands. Write down what you love about the item, and how it feels to hold it.
For a given category, you’ve made it through the discarding phase. Now your task is to find a place for each remaining thing, and put each thing in its place.
It may seem like this will take a long time, but it won’t take as long as discarding. You’ve only got to find a spot for each item once. Items without designated spots are much more likely to end up all over the place, causing you to rebound back into clutter.
When you are deciding what to keep or discard, ask your heart. But when it comes time to decide where to put things, ask your house. Your home has enough space to contain the things you need--the trick is to learn how to store everything properly.
Many people think they organize to “go with the flow of their house”--that the layout of their house determines what goes where. But if you look at their organization and the subsequent flow, it’s actually not determined by the house or anything other than where they’ve decided to store things.
Flow doesn’t determine where we store things. Instead,where we store things dictates the flow of our daily lives.
For example, a lot of people put a long, thin table near the...
Now that we’ve discussed the big-picture process and the general principles of discarding and organizing, the next 5 chapters will focus on the individual categories (in the correct order!). Each chapter will address discarding first, then organizing. The first category is clothing.
Kondo breaks this category down into subcategories:
If you have a lot of clothes, you can also use these subcategories to help you tackle smaller portions one at a time.
Gather all your clothes from all over your home and put them in one place, on your bed or on your bedroom floor. When you think you’ve finished, ask yourself if there could be anything else hiding anywhere else.
Books are deceptively hard to discard in. Unless damaged, books are always functional. Even if we’ve read them, they always contain information. And many of us who own books have emotional attachments to them. If you remember, these are the 3 reasons we keep items, and 3 reasons we find it difficult to get rid of items--so you can see why this category gives people trouble.
This is also the only category without the discard/organize divide. This information is entirely about discarding. Organizing books is relatively straightforward: arrange them vertically on shelves. Some people put their books in horizontal piles--we’ve covered why that’s a worse way to organize anything. Books may be the only category that people don’t need help organizing.
The problem most people run into is that they have too many books to store, which is why discarding is the primary focus of this chapter.
As with clothes, take all your books off the shelves, and put them in a pile on the floor.
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Papers are essentially any mail or documents that we receive, notes we take in school or outside classes, or manuals and instructions that come with appliances or electronics.
Remember, this category doesn’t include things like love letters or special cards--those are mementos, and go in the last category. And it doesn’t include any books or magazines, but it does include newspapers.
General rule of thumb: discard all papers. This takes a lot of the guesswork out!
Here’s a few subcategories people commonly end up holding on to:
Here are the categories that fall under komono:
Look at the order of that list: it’s an intentional order that goes from more personal items to more communal items.
Many of the items in this category are things we keep “just because.” This results in many odds and ends that take up space and clutter our...
Sentimental items, mementos, keepsakes--these are usually reminders of times or people that gave us great joy. But think about the most important moments in your life--would you forget these moments if you didn’t have a physical object to remind you of them? Probably not.
Too many keepsakes might suggest that you’re living in the past, and not appreciating the present or thinking about the future.
When we handle each item from our past and decide what to keep and what to discard, we ultimately end up processing our past and putting it in order. If you hide these things away, your past can become an unseen weight that prevents you from being fully present.
These are some common kinds of keepsakes, and how to approach them:
Now you’ve learned why we should undertake this, how to discard and organize, and how to make your way through all the categories--you’ve learned to tidy! Tidying is a simple process through which we restore the complex balance between ourselves, the things we own, and the home we live in.
A major takeaway of this book is to appreciate the things you surround yourself with daily. These things support you and provide service, and most of us don’t treat our possessions with a lot of respect.
Actively appreciating your belongings will not only give you a deeper sense of gratitude, which is proven to be connected with a healthier and happier mindset, but it will also increase the longevity and usefulness of your belongings.
Everyone that successfully goes through Marie Kondo’s process has a major revelation about their habits, their spaces, and their lifestyle. Go through the tidying process, then complete this exercise. Then come back to your answers if your space ever starts to feel cluttered again to remind yourself of the impact tidying had.
What’s one thing you learned or noticed throughout the tidying process that surprised you? It can be a good surprise, or a not-so-good surprise--both have value.