Unless you live under a rock (no judgment) you probably have heard of Marie Kondo and the wave of decluttering she has sparked with her book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” and new Netflix program, “Tidying Up with Marie Kondo”. The tiny Japanese organizational guru is all anyone can talk about this January, and for good reason! Her KonMari method of organization and decluttering is helping us to see the excess we have, and to truly appreciate the things that are important to us. While it is always a benefit to declutter and organize your space, if you are planning to sell your home or change apartments this spring, Marie Kondo’s teachings could SAVE YOUR DANG LIFE! I will do my best to summarize what I have learned from binge-watching the show and googling how to fold things into tiny rectangles:

Marie Kondo sitting at a table

When you begin the process, you have to commit to it. There is a considerable amount of time involved, and once you begin it gets messier before it gets better. You approach decluttering your home in five categories rather than room by room. The categories are

  1. Clothes
  2. Books
  3. Papers/Documents
  4. Komono (Miscellaneous items: kitchen, bathrooms, garage)
  5. Sentimental Items

According to Kondo, this keeps you from becoming distracted or overwhelmed by the process. In each category, you finish discarding items that no longer “spark joy” for you before you begin to organize the items you keep.

Woman putting folded items into a box, and a basket with folded linens
To start in clothing, she instructs people to take all their clothes and put them in a pile on the bed. Every. Item. Of. Clothing. This generally results in a horrifying pile the size of Mt. Crumpet. It also forces you to come to terms with exactly how many articles of clothing you own (and realize, no… you probably don’t need 17 black sweaters). You then must take every item, hold it in your hands, and decide if it “sparks joy.” This idea of sparking joy is a stumbling block for some, but it is just way of asking yourself if the item matters to you. Do you feel happy when you touch it and would you be sad if you lost it? Then it sparks joy for you. When you hold an item and realize it doesn’t spark joy for you, Kondo says to thank it and then let it go. This idea of gratitude runs throughout her work (she kneels and greets each house before she starts, thanking it for providing shelter to the family). Once you have finished paring down your wardrobe, it is important to ensure everything you own has a comfortable home. Kondo teaches to fold almost everything into small rectangles and then stack them vertically in drawers and boxes. This allows you to easily see everything you have. This applies to large items like jeans, and tiny items like socks (I just Kondo’d my dresser, and it is seriously a game changer! It is so easy to reach in and grab gym clothes… to wear while I binge watch Netflix).


A large stack of booksThe next category is books, and this is what has a lot of critics on Twitter UP IN ARMS. The book defense memes are flying fast. HOWEVER, Marie Kondo states that the purpose isn’t to get rid of everything and live a minimal lifestyle. The purpose is to clarify what items are important to you and be able to enjoy them more fully in an organized space. Although she did suggest owning only 30 books… I can only imagine that was a joke that was lost in translation. My 500 books all spark joy for me, so I moved to the next step of color coordinating them on shelves and stacking them neatly.

Papers and documents should also start in a big ol’ pile. Papers that are no longer of use should be thanked and recycled. The remaining papers should be sorted into three categories: Pending, Important and Miscellaneous. Organize them into three boxes and ideally store them together.

In the Komodo category, which encompasses MANY items in your home, you find yourself asking “um… does a spatula bring me… joy?” And for utilitarian items, the question becomes “does the activity that utilizes this tool bring me joy?” So, cooking for your friends and family might bring you joy (or everyone being fed and alive brings you joy at the very least). But if you hate making sugar cookies and own 28 cookie cutters… you know what you can eliminate. Also, at this stage of organizing you’ve increased your confidence in knowing what to hold on to, and what to thank and let go.

Three stacks of plates and bowls

The final category is without a doubt the hardest: sentimental items. There is a reason this is saved for the end (when you’ve become a pro) because photos and family items can seem impossible to part with. Kondo recommends going through every photo and categorizing them by date. If you have two similar photos, select the one that brings the most joy. As with everything, she encourages people to store their sentimental items in a way that shows respect and encourages you to enjoy the items. Your photos should be in photo albums that you can flip through with your family. Your grandfather’s pocket-watch should be stored in a beautiful box that shows its importance to you. The sentimental items you let go of should be given an extra moment of gratitude and reflection.

Living room with a ladder and rug

Marie Kondo teaches to “envision your ideal lifestyle” before you start. This helps you to clarify what it is you hope to gain from this process of tidying up. Picture how your home will look, and how it will feel. This isn’t just a quick fix before you have visitors or a simple process of decluttering. It is a lifestyle change that will hopefully spark joy throughout your life, as you approach your belongings and your home with a new sense of purpose and clarity.

If after you finish tidying up your home, you find you still don’t have enough space (or now have way too MUCH space), we can help you find a new home to store all of your perfectly folded belongings.


No matter what stage of life you’re in, P.J. Morgan Real Estate is here for you. We offer commercial salesleasing, and property management; residential salesleasing and property managementbusiness brokerage and real estate auction services. We’re with you for life.

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