How to Declutter Your Life with the KonMari Method

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This article appears in partnership with Udemy, a global learning platform with more than 55,000 courses taught by expert instructors. If you want to try the KonMari method in your own home, check out "Tidy Up Your Home: The KonMari Method," taught by Marie Kondo.

The new year brings a sense of renewal. Unfortunately, it also brings leftover wrapping paper, empty shipping boxes, and Christmas gifts you never really wanted. Many people make a New Year's resolution to keep their home tidy, only to lose steam a few weeks into January. That's why Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo's KonMari method — from her New York Times bestselling book and her new online course through Udemy — is so appealing. It takes a completely different approach to tidying and promises to turn you into a tidy person for life.

Spark Joy

Many tidying methods recommend a little-by-little approach: maybe you put away 20 things every night, or you focus on one room a day. The KonMari method, by contrast, cuts clutter cold-turkey: every room and every belonging, all at once. "Tidying is a special event. Don't do it every day," Kondo writes. "If you tidy up in one shot, rather than little by little, you can dramatically change your mind-set. A change so profound that it touches your emotions will irresistibly affect your way of thinking and your lifestyle habits." To make a big change in behavior, you've got to make a big change in thinking.

So how does the method achieve this earth-shifting change? By taking an unorthodox approach to the traditional "keep" and "discard" piles. Instead of figuring out what should be thrown out or donated, Kondo recommends focusing only on what you truly want to keep: the things that make you happy. "The best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away is to take each item in one's hand and ask 'Does this spark joy?' If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it."

There are no shortcuts. You can't just look at your aging DVD collection and decide it all "sparks joy" — you need to take each item in your hand and think about the emotions that come to you in its presence. After all, the point of having a tidy home is to make your life more joyful. If you make sure that everything that surrounds you sparks joy, you've made it a long way toward your goal.

Putting Words into Action

Kondo's book, "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up," has sold more than 3 million copies since it was published. But even so, Kondo herself admits that not everything she teaches in the book is all that easy to get across in prose.

"I'm sure that many people have learned to tidy from my books," she says in her course. "But there are some concepts that are difficult to explain in writing. So I created this course to explain these concepts and share the magic of tidying with even more people."

Folding, for example. The KonMari method recommends folding your clothes into small rectangles and storing them vertically; a concept much easier explained through an audiovisual demonstration than through the written word. Kondo does this in the fourth unit of her Udemy course. Likewise, she provides a visual demonstration of how to organize miscellaneous papers to keep your desk tidy, and goes in-depth to explain how to sort through and organize all the little odds and ends — what the Japanese call "komono" — that clutter up junk drawers and medicine cabinets.

It may seem counterintuitive, but Kondo promises that taking on the KonMari method will actually make you think about tidying less, not more. "The only ones who need to spend their lives, year in and year out, thinking about tidying are people like me who find joy in it and who are passionate about using tidying to make the world a better place," Kondo writes. "As for you, pour your time and passion into what brings you the most joy, your mission in life ... Life truly begins after you have put your house in order."

If you'd like to try the KonMari method for yourself, check out "Tidy Up Your Home: The KonMari Method" on Udemy, taught by Marie Kondo herself. That Udemy course and more than 55,000 others are only $10.99 until January 11 — a savings of more than $49, with no coupon code required!

Tidy Up Your Home with Marie Kondo!

Written by Ashley Hamer January 3, 2018
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