Inside: An honest review of the KonMari Method three years after the fact; what helped, what didn’t help and the places where clutter builds back up.
I know it’s really en vogue to be talking about Konmari because of the new Netflix special called Tidying Up. I feel like I don’t want to watch InstaStories right now because it’s just everyone folding things and purging things and gasping at how much stuff they are giving away. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been there. I just don’t want to live it again – you know? Most of my new readers don’t know that this blog, and therefore I, had a life-changing experience THREE YEARS ago when Dan and I did the entire Marie Kondo method on our house.
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We followed the instructions in The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up to a tee and in fact, we followed them so closely that I ended up gifting the book to someone else – just as Kondo professes we do. You can see our entire KonMari Series of 8+ posts here.
So while what seems like half the Internet is falling in love with this Japanese art of decluttering and folding, I’m three years beyond that initial honeymoon phase and figured I could give you an honest opinion about what happens after you Konmari your Life and if the Konmari Method really does work.
First of all what is the KonMari Method?
I assume if you’re reading this post, you’re at least curious about it and have heard of it. But essentially, it’s a full system for evaluating the things you choose to have in your environment and a way to create a personalized decision framework for what to keep.
The Konmari method was created by organization expert Marie Kondo and the name of the method is just a blend of her first and last names. She is not some deified guru, but rather a woman who is just really good at organizing and throwing things out. She’s also really good at marketing her system.
The First KonMari Changes
Here’s the misconception – Konmari doesn’t necessarily profess minimalism, but somehow the two have become conflated. The end result of many Konmari journies is to toss or donate a significant portion of your belongings.
In fact, that definitely happened to us. What Kondo does differently from other tidying experts is she creates a clear and direct correlation between what we own and how we FEEL. She shows us how some objects spark joy either by bringing up good memories, serving a distinct purpose in the way of shelter, warmth or food or by sparking creativity and harmony.
The life changing aspect of the Kondo Method is that most people realize they have surrounded themselves with empty things that do none of the above and therefore they throw everything away.
Learning to Fold the KonMari Way
The second part of the Kondo method is how she folds things into tight little packages to keep drawers and cupboards looking perfect. Here’s where I’ll be honest with you. We did this for a good year… A YEAR of taking the extra 20 seconds to fold every pair of socks, jeans, tea towels, you name it…and eventually it stops being fun and you stop caring. I’d say, learn how to fold the Konmari way, but don’t count on doing it forever.
The Long Lasting Benefits of KonMari
I’m going to start with the positive benefits first because they far outweigh the negative. The first major benefit is that yes – you do get rid of a crap ton of stuff and your house feels amazing.
The secondary benefit to that is 100% in how you feel about your space, but also in how easy it is to clean. In fact, I totally credit our KonMari journey with sparking in me a joy for cleaning our house. We have a lot less stuff that clutters up the main living areas, so when I do clean, I’m able to do a good job and get it done rather quickly.
The third benefit is that if you follow this through for even a few months, you will save money. I’m so deliberate when I shop now, even to this day. I won’t purchase clothing that I don’t 100% love, I won’t spend money on home decor that doesn’t translate beyond one season, I won’t spend money on shoes that only go with one outfit and so on.
I also have started to only buy new things when old things literally fall apart. I know that doesn’t make for the most Insta-trendy home or whatever, but that is KonMari in action. We wait until something has given us all the JOY it can give and then we release it and replace it.
A good example was our old living room rug. It was starting to get holes in the corners and we knew we’d used it beyond its proper utility. So we kissed it goodbye and replaced it with one that we both love.
Another smaller example is how I use office supplies now. That was a HUGE stumbling block for me along the KonMari path and I wasn’t even self-employed when we did it. I now use every page in every notebook I have before buying a new one. I had too many notebooks and for whatever reason, I was emotional about them. Now, I use them to their fullest and then release them. My office thanks me and it’s easier to stay organized.
The Long Term Drawbacks of the KonMari Method
Ah, so here’s more honesty. The long term drawbacks are hard to see until you are pretty far removed from doing the Method. And I will preface all of this to say that these drawbacks only really apply if you have followed the prescribed KonMari Method to a tee to begin with.
If you are simply decluttering based on watching the show on Netflix or on reading blogs or based on what you see everyone else doing on Instagram, these won’t apply to you, I don’t think.
The first major drawback is that you 100% will fall off the wagon. Things will start to pile up again, but not the way they used to. For us, it’s definitely paper work, my DIY studio space (pictured in that horrific photo below lol) and clothing. Those are the three areas that we seem to struggle with the most. I think the clothing thing is in part because it’s time consuming to purge it all and because we have so much weather where we live, it’s easy to justify the utility of almost every type of clothing.
The second major drawback is that at some level, it will create guilt and anxiety around ‘things’. If you are at all prone to feeling anxious about money, finances or wasting resources (and I feel most people are), KonMari will heighten those feelings. Since our KonMari Journey, we have paid down six-figures of debt and are living almost 100% debt-free, which is phenomenal, but I still have a lot of guilt associated with buying things I can’t immediately justify.
And that’s not always a good thing. For example, I think we’ve gone too far to one side in the ‘we don’t buy each other gifts’ category. I don’t splurge on self-care EVER because in my mind, the KonMari Method says that joy associated with something like a pedicure or a facial, for example, is fleeting and therefore not worth the emotional investment.
I know that’s not necessarily true and that is why I caution those who take the method seriously to not let it impact decision making on a level deeper than the literal things you have in your home.
Will KonMari Change your Life?
The book makes big sweeping claims about people who do the KonMari method and divorce their spouses, quit their jobs and sell their homes and move to the beach… but I don’t think it’s healthy or wise to tie anything of that emotional magnitude to a method created by someone who’s just really good at folding clothes.
If you let it, it will change your life. But isn’t that the case with any new habit? Our home is infinitely more liveable than it once was. I have the benefit of looking back at pre-KonMari blog posts and laughing at all the STUFF we owned that I don’t even remember owning. It makes me laugh and smile.
Want to read more about KonMari? Check out these posts below