Updated: Mar 12, 2020
Marie Kondo is a tidying expert, bestselling author, star of Netflix’s hit show, Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, and founder of KonMari Media Inc. Her novel, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, is jam-packed with tips that will turn your messy room into a neat, minimalist oasis. Read along for 10 genius pointers from Kondo that will change your life in minutes.
Keep only what brings you joy: Would you have seconds of that buffalo shrimp macaroni and cheese if you didn’t love it? Would you continue to watch a bad movie? Um, no. So why should you treat your belongings any different? Marie Kondo’s advice is simple: Keep what brings you joy and get rid of everything else.
Tackle categories, not rooms: Decluttering your home is a huge undertaking, so it’s important you have a plan before you get down to business. Organizing room by room seems efficient, but Kondo urges you to focus on categories. Think about it this way: You probably have a lot of towels scattered throughout your house. By taking stock of all your bathroom, kitchen and powder room towels at once, you can get rid of any duplicates or towels that have overstayed their welcome.
Don’t let nostalgia cloud your judgment: A movie ticket stub from your favorite film or a program from your kid’s school play may tug at your heartstrings, but these mementos aren’t doing your space any favors. So why keep them around? We know what you’re thinking: What if yesteryear’s trinkets bring you joy? Find a way to consolidate. Instead of having a box with old birthday cards from Grandma Sue, place them in a scrapbook that can fit on your newly organized bookshelf.
Respect your belongings: Look at your closet. Are dresses slipping off intertwined hangers? Are expensive shoes scattered all over the floor? It’s OK, you’re not alone. We’re not sure what we think of Marie Kondo personifying clothes—she asks her readers to consider their clothes’ feelings—but we do see the importance of taking care of them. Regardless of how much their clothes cost, nobody wants to face the world in wrinkled, stained or scuffed pieces!
Learn the art of folding: If you don’t have a dresser, we recommend you get one, stat. According to Kondo, your clothes will be “happier” if you fold them. After you fold your scarves, dresses, and pants, Kondo recommends stacking them vertically in your closet—she claims you can fit 20 to 40 folded piece where you’d normally be able to hang ten.
Get rid of the paperwork: Speaking of superfluous systems, your filing cabinet needs to go. It’s the digital age, after all! You can find copies of almost every paper in your home office online. As for those important documents—like your birth certificate and recent W2s—Kondo advises whittling down your paperwork into two piles: “Papers to Save” and “Papers to Deal With.”
Ditch the fancy storage systems: Before you whip out your credit card to buy that fancy spice rack, Kondo recommends detoxing your home first. She argues the only reason we think we need those pricey filing systems is that we have too much stuff. Go ahead, donate what you don’t need. You and your space will feel infinitely better.
Store everything standing upright: If you’ve spent the majority of your life stacking your socks, bras, and underwear on top of each other, you’re in for a surprise. The organization queen recommends you store items side by side, so they look more like a row of book spines. Why? “This will allow you to see what’s inside at a glance and take inventory of what you own,” Kondo said told Architectural Digest. “If you store your clothes in a drawer standing upright, you will be able to survey how many articles you own that are the same color. This will prevent you from unknowingly buying more of the same type of clothing.”
Start from square one: We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you want to give your wardrobe a complete overhaul, you’ll need to remove all your clothes from your closet. Sure, it sounds time-consuming, but Kondo argues it’ll be easier to spot duplicates and items that don’t bring you joy. Once you donate the clothes you don’t want, you can replenish your closet with your favorite pieces.
Dig deep: Saying goodbye is never easy, but there are some items we can’t bring ourselves to discard. Before you start your organizational awakening, Kondo urges you to ask yourself why. She explains most items fall into one of three categories: an attachment to the past, fear of the future or a combination of both. The better you understand why you can’t part ways with those old kitchen gadgets from Grandma, the easier it’ll be to conquer that obstacle and have a brighter (and indisputably cleaner) future.