If you haven’t gotten around to doing your Spring cleaning, or you’ve started but hit a wall, perhaps you just need some advice from an expert. Marie Kondo, author of the New York Times Best Seller, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”, became famous for her excellent organizing, tidying, and decluttering tips. Many people around the world have used her book for Spring cleaning tips, and have used her advice as a guide to complete this grueling task.
In this insightful book, Marie Kondo explains that many people aren’t tidy or organized because they simply never learned how, and they’ve developed messy habits. It’s tough to be an organized, tidy and clean person if you don’t know how. So, if you haven’t finished your Spring cleaning, or you haven’t started and you’re getting frustrated, keep reading this article to get some much-needed motivation and tidying tips. Below, we’ll review some of Marie Kondo’s top tips for tidying up your home or apartment. We’ll explain how to put the KonMari Method she swears by into action, so you can achieve that sense of peace, happiness, and increased confidence that comes with living in a tidy, decluttered, and organized space.
1. Start Your Spring Cleaning by Discarding Unnecessary Items
The most common reason for a messy, disorganized, cluttered home is that you own an incredible excess of items, and you’re unaware of just how much you own that you don’t need.
Marie Kondo says you must start with the act of discarding. Many people dread this step of Spring cleaning because of the time it involves, and the difficulty of parting with certain items, even if they’re unneeded.
Discarding can be a big job that could potentially take days, especially if you have a storage closet full to the ceiling of stacked bins to go through and discard.
However, there are many pros of this step of tidying. You’ll learn how to live with less, your home will look tidier with less stuff, and you’ll be able to donate items to people in need.
A pro of cleaning out your storage closet and discarding a bunch of unnecessary items is that this storage closet can now be re-organized and used to store your keepsakes. Perhaps some of these keepsakes were taking up room in your bedroom closet, which can now become more organized because you’ve transferred items to the newly freed-up space in the storage closet.
2. Be Ruthless When You’re Discarding and Only Keep What “Sparks Joy”
Discarding clutter and unneeded items will make a huge difference in your Spring cleaning success, but you have to be ruthless.
Marie Kondo famously said, “Does it spark joy?” What she means is that when it comes to discarding, you must be ruthless and only keep items that spark joy. This is especially true for clothing, but it can also be true for coffee mugs, books, and other items.
Let’s use clothing as an example. Yes, sometimes it’s easy to make a decision to add a piece of clothing to your ‘discarding’ trash bag if it’s too small, you haven’t worn it in years, it’s out of style, or no longer in good condition. Other clothing items, however, will be more difficult to discard. That’s why you should follow Marie Kondo’s advice of asking yourself this important question while holding a specific item in your hand: Is what I’m holding something that sparks joy? If it does, keep it. If it doesn’t spark joy, discard it. Marie Kondo explains, “Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest.”
This method of discarding allows you to enjoy a new type of lifestyle at home where you’re only surrounded by select items that spark joy and touch your heart. As Marie Kondo says in her book, “Imagine yourself living in a space that contains only things that spark joy. Isn’t this the lifestyle you dream of?”
As for your bags of discarded items, the less fortunate will appreciate the generous gift.
3. Focus on One Category at a Time While Spring Cleaning
Marie Kondo swears that you’ll do a more effective job of Spring cleaning, tidying and organizing your home if you focus on one category at a time. Clothing is one of the best categories to start with. When it comes to clothing, Marie Kondo says, “Search every room of the house. Bring every piece of clothing you find to the same place, and spread them out on the floor. Then pick up each outfit and see if it sparks joy. Those and only those are the ones to keep.”
If you have too many clothes, you can use sub-categories of clothing such as tops, sweaters, pants, skirts, etc. You can spread those out on the floor one sub-category at a time, discarding what does not bring joy.
In other words, to follow this expert tip correctly, you’re first searching your entire home for articles of clothing, and laying each item of clothing on the ground somewhere – likely in your living room. You’ll be able to see the clothing items, touch the fabric, and be honest about whether or not it sparks joy. You’ll know which to keep, and which to discard, and then you’re finished discarding in the clothing category.
At this point, you’ll do the same thing for other categories. For example, your next category to tackle might be books. You’ll lay books on the ground, and you’ll know which ones you haven’t read yet that you’ll likely never read. You’ll also know which books mean something to you, that you’d like to keep.
4. Clothing Storage, Organizing and Arranging
If you followed Marie Kondo’s above tip of laying all clothing items on the floor and discarding everything that did not spark joy, you should be left with much less, making it much easier to tidy, store and organize your clothes. Marie Kondo says, “My clients are usually left with only a third to a quarter of the clothes they started out with. As the clothes are still piled in the middle of the floor, it’s time to start putting them away.”
Kondo goes on to explain that most of your clothes should be folded, as hanging them up takes up more space.
Kondo explains, “The goal is to fold each piece of clothing into a simple, smooth rectangle. First, fold each lengthwise side of the garment toward the center (such as the left-hand, then right-hand, sides of a shirt) and tuck the sleeves in, to make a long rectangular shape. It doesn’t matter how you fold the sleeves. Next, pick up one short end of the rectangle and fold it toward the other end. Then fold again, in the same manner, in halves or thirds. The number of folds should be adjusted so that the folded clothing when standing on edge fits the height of the drawer. This is the basic principle that will ultimately allow your clothes to be stacked on edge, side by side, so that when you pull open your drawer you can see the edge of every item inside.” In other words, this folding method allows you to stack your clothing standing up, rather than laid flat, so that your drawer is now organized and allows you to see every item at a glance once you open the drawer.
Kondo explains that most clothes should be folded. This means that you may want to invest in another dresser or chest of drawers, and perhaps even some hanging shelves for your closet. However, certain items such as jackets, skirts and dresses are best hung up in your closet.
When it comes to arranging the clothes hanging in your closet, Kondo suggests this: “By category, coats would be on the far left, followed by dresses, jackets, pants, skirts, and blouses.” The most important part is that you hang up your clothes in ‘sections’ or ‘categories’ of items.
5. Designate a Space for Each Category of Items
Now that you’ve started Spring cleaning off with a bang by discarding excess and unnecessary items, it’s time to categorize.
Having a tidy and organized home requires a designated space for each thing. For example, perhaps your den has a drawer that is your designated ‘notebooks and journals’ drawer. Suddenly, your coffee table doesn’t look cluttered with random notebooks.
It may help you to draw a sketch of each room in your home that has drawers and shelves. From there, decide which drawer or shelf will be for which category of items, and you’ll stick to that plan.
Marie Kondo explains in “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” that the beauty of designating a space for everything is that your home is less likely to become cluttered again if everything has a home. “The reason every item must have a designated place is because the existence of an item without a home multiples the chances that your space will become cluttered again.”
Is it in Your Genes to be Messy?
You might wonder if the reason why you’re messy has to do with your genetics. Sometimes, messiness runs in the family, and other times, you legitimately have a genetic health condition such as ADHD that impacts your ability to be organized and tidy. If someone with ADHD found a way to focus for a day and used the above tips from Marie Kondo, they’d likely make progress, but that doesn’t mean it’s not more challenging for them. After all, tidying and organizing requires executive functioning skills that some people struggle with due to a genetic condition such as anxiety or ADHD.
Executive dysfunction can certainly contribute to messiness or disorganization.
Find out through a CircleDNA test if you have genetic traits that could be making it more difficult to be tidy. Do you have something in your DNA that impacts your executive functioning skills? However, know that anyone can learn to be tidy and organized, especially if they follow an expert’s tips such as Marie Kondo’s tips.
Final Thoughts from Marie Kondo on Tidying Up
Below are some of the most useful quotes to remember from Marie Kondo’s book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.”
On not letting your home get back to how it was before, Kondo says, “Clutter is caused by a failure to return things to where they belong.” (Remember her advice about giving everything a designated home such as a designated drawer or shelf, and remember to always put those items in their home.)
On how only being surrounded by select items that spark joy improves your mood: “I can think of no greater happiness in life than to be surrounded only by the things I love.” (Remember that you can achieve this if, when discarding items in your home, you only keep what sparks joy. This way, you no longer lament that your home is full of junk you don’t use. Now that you’ve finally done the leg work and discarded the junk, you can live in a home where you’re simply surrounded by the items you need and love. This improves your mood and sense of peace at home.)
On how tidying up or Spring cleaning could change your life: “Tidying dramatically changes one’s life. This is true for everyone, 100 percent. The impact of this effect, which I have dubbed ‘the magic of tidying,’ is phenomenal.” Kondo goes on to say, “When we reduce what we own and essentially ‘detox’ our house, it has a detox effect on our bodies as well.”
So there you have it. Spring cleaning and tidying up – the right way – feels like the detox you needed.